German jewelry designer Husam El Odeh originally studied painting at Hochschule der Kuenste in Berlin, with plans to become an artist. Art students were required to take a workshop class, and a friend signed him up for a course in fine metal. “I think I only went three times,” he recalls, “but I remember thinking, This is something I could do. Later, when I became fed up with the self-important fine-art world, I came back to it.” He created his first collection in 2005, while still at university. “My teachers weren’t that impressed,” he says. “They came around later, but at the time they didn’t like the idea at all.” His inventive, slightly off-kilter jewelry incorporates shells, crystal, precious stones, metals, pearls, wood, and plastics. He’s often tapped for collaborations — he has designed collections or one-off pieces for Marios Schwab, Acne, and Miharayasuhiro, among others.
The London-based designer won the Emerging Talent Award for accessories at the British Fashion Awards last month, earning him a nod from the Vogue EIC herself. “I got a personal e-mail from Anna Wintour,” he says. “I was like, ‘Wow — that’s not the usual spam e-mail in your in-box.’” Next month, his accessories collection with Acne will arrive at Opening Ceremony, and he’s working on another collaboration with Miharayasuhiro. We caught up with El Odeh to discuss his BFA win, offbeat design process, and good-luck charms.
What’s something you never leave the house without?
It’s this charm my mom gave me — it used to be this really awful Middle Eastern thing with ornaments hanging on it. I think maybe she gave it to me because she didn’t want to wear it, either. I melted it down, so it’s deconstructed, but the essence is still there. I also always wear a single pearl. It can become such a comfort; you start to think of them as good luck.