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On Our Radar: 7 Years in the Making, Kuwaiti Brand “Aich” Launches

Hailing from Kuwait, the 32-year-old industrial and fine jewelry designer Hawraa Almaqseed, behind her brand Aich, conceived a jewelry collection in 2008—but kept it under wraps—until now. The 18-karat gold collection “Characters” is marked for its minimal aesthetic and consists of earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets that are unified through a geometric semicircle shape.

Working with a team of Kuwait-based talents, the lookbook was shot by art director and photographer Djinane Al Suwayeh, who told Style.com/Arabia, “The jewelry collection Characters is full of female energy and elegance like its designer. Hawraa’s pieces are powerful.”

In an interview with Nouriah Al Shatti, the Kuwaiti designer reveals why she held back the release of her debut collection, its concept, and the people that inspired her.

ON WAITING TO LAUNCH
I started working on my jewelry collection and developing its concept in 2008. Every day I was working with the goldsmith, making mistakes, and redoing it again. Then, in 2009, it was produced. It was ready to wear but I didn’t’ do anything about it. I kept it hidden from the world. From time to time, I would wear the earrings or the rings to social functions—but I didn’t talk about it.

ON THE CONCEPT
The inspiration is people around me. I observed how people wear jewelry and how it can represent their respective personalities. People have different traits—some are bold some are bossy—and I was imagining how a girl with these personalities would wear her jewelry. That’s how I came up with the concept of “Characters.”

ON GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN
One of the reasons why I didn’t launch my collection right away is because I thought people wouldn’t understand it. Around that time, statement jewelry was fashionable, and I thought, “Who is going to wear these tiny little earrings?” I kept it in my portfolio, and when I started showing people, it encouraged me when they would say, “You have a strong collection.”

ON THE POWER OF PATIENCE
While studying for my industrial design degree, I decided to shoot the collection using a professional photographer and a model. By chance, I was introduced to Djinane. I was on Instagram and I came across one of her pictures. I saw her work and thought, “I need to get to this girl.” I didn’t even know she was Kuwaiti or that she was in Kuwait at the time.

She didn’t’ get back to me until after a while but I was persistent because I wanted to do it right and I couldn’t find anyone in Kuwait that would highlight my collection and bring it to life the way that I pictured it in my head. As for the model, I had to wait for her, too. She had just chopped off her hair when I found her and I had to wait four months for it to grow out.

ON THE SEMICIRCLE AT THE CENTER OF THE COLLECTION
I came up with the semicircle shape because it represents the collection. It’s the center of each piece. Like a biomorphic shape, it can incorporate individual personalities without boundaries.

ON THE NAME “AICH”
The first letter of my name is an H. Also, while I was studying in the US, people were not able to pronounce my name correctly. So I told them, “Just call me ‘H’.” It became my new nickname, and I decided to name my brand after it.

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