Interview with Noora Al Zain
artBahrain talks to Noora Al Zain, the new generation arbiter of taste and style from the family of Al Zain, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s premier house of jewellery since 1930.
Al Zain Jewellery was founded in 1930? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
In 1930, the family tradition of handcrafting jewellery started to take form by Hasan Al Zain who essentially was a pearl merchant at the time. Following several pearl dealings and a huge potential for growth, Abdulla Al Zain played a major role in the founding of Al Zain. At the time, our first workshop was opened and a factory was built in a later stage where we started manufacturing signature diamond jewellery and tailored one-of-a-kind designs for clienteles who wish to create something special and for themselves and their loved ones. Over time, my father, Nabeel Al Zain took charge of the company with a vision to open a large factory which to date has over 150 employees. He has also been dedicated to opening several boutique stores in the region – resulting in both gaining international recognition and winning various
Central to our mission are values of loyalty, choice and prestige. As Al Zain celebrates life from birth, to graduation, to marriage to anniversaries, we strive to be credible, honest and genuine with our customers with a firm belief that the choices we have to offer are original and unique, a reflection of individuality. We aim to meet the market with a brand that is genuine, enchanting
You are head of the Creative Department for Al Zain, when you first accepted the position, what was your vision for the department?
My vision for the creative department was to increase creativity and work as an inspirational motivator. I wanted to show the team how far they could push their creativity.
Early this year, you launched your new logo and slogan, what pushed you to re-brand?
We felt the need to evolve. We have a vision of where we want to be in the market. We have something beautiful but it wasn’t properly highlighted. We have a story to tell and the challenge was how to present it.
What was your design direction for Al Zain’s new re-branding?
Our design direction came very much from what we stand for as a family brand. We wanted to focus on our strengths and visually display who we are and what we do. I would say that our strengths are our valued relationships, our designs and our craftsmanship.
Tell us about the new identity, the packaging, and the redesign concept as a whole.
Our whole concept revolves around our most cherished value; our relationships. As we embrace life with you through all its stages, we wanted to visually present that. The logo symbolizes the embrace of a swan using Arabic calligraphy that spells out Al Zain. The swan is a symbol of eternal love, beauty and elegance. Our brand colours – lilac, cool grey and warm grey – are taken from our humble beginnings as pearl merchants. The colours are selected from the different shades of the Mother of Pearl. Our new shop concept takes the form of a circle representing the circle of life. Our boxes represent an embrace which brings us to our slogan “Embrace Life” as we celebrate life here at Al Zain. Our tagline “Handcrafted since 1930” shows that we design and manufacture our products in the heart of the Kingdom of Bahrain.
How does the new branding reflect your design style?
The new branding represents our design style in its simplicity and elegance. I think it clearly represents who we are as a family brand as well as our design style.
How do you feel the climate of the jewellery industry has changed over the last few years?
In the Middle East, people’s tastes are changing with the times. They are now very much influenced by the western world. Something that people would have bought ten years ago is very different to what people buy today. More and more people are starting to gain knowledge in the jewellery world and are starting to be more interested in larger stones and fine jewellery. As a brand in the Middle East, one of our missions is to educate our clientele about diamonds, semi precious stone and pearls through workshops and seminars helping them to better understand the industry.
On the personal side…
What is your background in art/design?
I graduated with a degree in Graphic and Communication Design from the University of Leeds. My focus was mainly in Branding, illustration and Photography. I later did a course in Jewellery Design.
Tell us about your personal art. How does that influence you in your jewellery world?
I find a lot of inspiration from different cultures. Whether it is here in Bahrain or wherever I travel to. I love walking around taking pictures of the people, their lifestyles, their symbols and the various ways different cultures use creativity through different forms of art, architecture as well as the nature that surrounds them. This has a huge influence in my work as a designer. I love finding patterns in the world around us and incorporating that into something meaningful for people to wear.
How passionate about jewellery are you?
I have been surrounded by jewellery at a very young age as my father used to take us to the office with him on weekends and during the summer. My passion for jewellery is ever evolving the more exposed I am to the industry. As soon as you start getting involved in it you see that there is so much to see, to learn and to create. It really is a magical world!
One thing you love about owning your own brand?
I feel extremely blessed that my father has created a base for us. He created something so wonderful for us. I watched him grow our business from something small to where we are today and that is the thing I love the most – having him as in inspiration.
What one thing have you learned in your family business about yourself?
I discovered my love for the business which I never really saw in myself till I started working. I have great mentors – my dad , my mum, Mohamed Hassan and my brothers Mohammed and Faisal who continuously encourage and guide me.
What do you feel are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
Well, to be honest not much of my work has been out there as I spent the past two years learning the ins and outs of the business, as well as managing the rebrand. But, I am currently working on some collections that will be launched very soon and hopefully that will show who I am as a designer.
Have you thought about doing anything else other than design?
I have completed a degree in Diamond Grading at the Gemological Institute of America in London. I hope to further my studies in jewellery soon by completing the Gem Identification Degree as well as a degree in Pearl Grading.
How do you stay inspired working for your own business, and how do you keep your team inspired and creatively challenged?
I love working for my own business because there is no limit to the creativity. We are extremely open to all ideas. I would like to inspire the team by making them notice the world around them and making sure they all do their first hand research and through that go through a thorough development process till we come up with the final designs. I am extremely hands on and try to push each concept to its limits. ab
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