It was by coincidence that I passed by Dehab Jewellery store on Saturday, though I had seen a post about an event by Egyptian jewelry master Azza Fahmy that was to happen there.
Dehab is one of the unique jewelry shops to me. Though I do not consider myself to be a jewelry enthusiast per se (at least not as much as homeware products for example), I highly admire the jewelry making process and the well crafted pieces. And that is something I am sure to find at Dehab; since it is by Simone.
Simone Kosremelli was my teacher in architecture school at the American University of Beirut. And while I did have other inspirational teachers throughout my studies, Simone was the first that I considered as my mentor. It was her passion to share hers, and that is crafting spaces -different from just designing them. Other than just teaching me in classes, I also interned and worked part-time during my school years at her office. Even as a ‘boss’, Simone was teaching.
In Lebanon we do not have many well-known architects who are women. It is a field that had been dominated for a long time by men and I’m glad to see it changing now. My graduating year and the ones that followed had more female presence. And it is only in the recent years that I have started noticing that in different domains.
I do not know if that makes me a feminist. But I know I have always been an ‘equalist’-if that is even a word. I have always loved proving that I can do something which I have been told I cannot, and it inspires me to see other women doing the same and excelling! I guess being an Arab from the Middle East, attributed to Islam, and from a small village in the mountains of Lebanon makes this idea even more intense in my mind.
But it is not that easy. And anyway, nothing that is worth it ever is.
Being at the Azza Fahmy exhibition a few days ago brought back ideologies that I am very passionate about. What’s more is that I appreciate others who are passionate and who work from the heart to present beauty to the world and remind us of the little things; little things that are not so little.
Azza’s work first caught my attention a couple of years ago. Apart from their beauty, they carry an added value that is hard to explain but i will try to briefly and precisely gather my thoughts about this. Apart from the rich Egyptian culture that needs no introduction or explanation about its grandeur, the jewelry includes very well crafted designs. These designs are often adorned with sentimental sentences or lyrics from Um Koulthoum songs. The material, the craftsmanship and the sentiments, three directly proportional words that define Azza Fahmy’s work.
My favorite is a sentence carved on a wedding band: يا كل كلي ان لم تكن لي فمن لي
It was to my good fortune that when I visited Dehab, I met Nidal Achkar. Though I do not know her closely, i highly admire anyone who is keen on preserving our national artistic treasures. She was one of those who preserved Madina Theatre in Beirut, one of the only last few surviving theatres in Lebanon. Theatres and plays cater to a very specific audience, and though it’s growing, they faces a regular battle to preserve this culture.
These three women are participants in the creation of art and culture and they continue to inspire and touch others with their work. There are countless strong women that I have met that I admire and look up to. They are women who inspire me through their profession, through their strength and will of life, through hard work, or through their social actions that have affected millions. And I couldn’t be more proud that they exist to make this change.