Patience and perseverance are the hallmarks of a great designer, and Paris-based WALID AKKAD is blessed with these attributes. The famous fascinating curves of his jewellery pieces convey an unhurried elegance, illustrating the interplay of natural forms and architectural strokes – all materialised in striking, simple lines.
So what makes Walid Akkad tick? He is a devotee of design, and recalls that he found his inner calling at the age of nine. A Lebanese by birth, Walid, who was raised with a tough hand but had a loving childhood, was allowed to follow his heart. Since then, he has been working consistently towards seeking his life’s truth – studying to design and craft jewellery. After graduating from the École de la Chambre Syndicale de Bijouterie et de Horlogerie (BJOP) in Paris, Walid began his exciting and creative journey in the world of jewellery making. He is on a continual high ever since, as he has but one aim – to make the wearer of his jewellery experience the joy of owning a piece that is truly exclusive.
His spiritual equilibrium is worth admiring as he exhibits an unwavering focus on forms and gems that are the fulcrum of his design interpretations. The love for his craft is akin to a sacred love affair.
A look at his collection confirms the reason why he is considere d to be one of the top 21st century designers in the world. Based out of Place Vendome, Paris, Walid is a master at working with pleochroic gemstones, a property th at makes stones flash different colours when seen from altered angles. Walid allows himself the pleasure to experiment with such gems that give expression to his futuristic jewellery that transcends traditional boundaries.
BY SHANOO BIJLANI
You have been largely inspired by nature, and prefer the gemstone to do the talking in your one-off pieces, by especially situating them in a manner that they appear to change colour. What is it that fascinates you about it?
I’m fascinated by the choice of stones – sometimes you think you see something whereas you see something else. For example, the zircon changes colour from blue to green, depending on the light.
Tell us more about your inspirations.
Well, nature, and everything around me can be a source of inspiration. It could be a movie, a painting, a sculpture …
What is that one signature feature that each of your masterpieces possess?
I suppose the signature is the volume as well as the balance between the stone and the setting. Even if the piece is big, it has to be very comfortable to wear.
You prefer to etch out simple lines and yet you depend heavily on textures and large gems. What is your design philosophy?
Yes, it’s true that I prefer large gems. I also like the contrast between polished and brushed gold … the simplicity of the line as well as playing with the light between the stone and gold.
What made you take up jewellery designing? Are you a first-generation jeweller?
Yes, I am a first-generation jeweller. Why did I decide to design jewellery? Well, the idea came to me when I was about nine years old and it just seemed a natural path to follow.
You got a degree at École de la Chambre Syndicale de Bijouterie et de Horlogerie, BJOP, in Paris. After that, how did your life as a jewellery designer unfold?
I studied for four years at the BJOP which is a famous school for jewellery and clock making. After my degree, I conducted my first workshop and I started working for jewellers in the Place Vendome. At the same time, I started getting my own set of clientele, which I have been catering to over the years.
When did you start your own boutique and where?
I started my first boutique very soon after my degree at the BJOP.
If you were not a jewellery designer, what would you be? What according to you is the prime function of jewellery?
If I hadn’t been a jeweller, I would have been an architect. As for the primary function of jewellery, in my opinion, jewellery is first and foremost a pleasure; a pleasure for the eyes, a pleasure for the feeling. The material we use is completely natural. We extract it from the ground and we shape it, give it beauty, and give it life.
Do you design based on a gemstone or do you think of a premise or an inspiration and then start looking for the relevant gems? Gold seems to be your favourite metal. Why?
Both actually. Sometimes I have a theme and then I’ll look for the stones for this theme, or sometimes, when I come across a particular stone, I’ll imagine a theme around it.
Why do I prefer gold? I suppose it’s because gold can have different colours and aspects. If you heat it at different degrees, you can obtain various nuances of yellow, ranging from a brownish yellow shade to a lemon yellow tone.
We would like to know what goes on in your mind before you begin the process of creation. Do you tell stories through your jewellery or are the concepts abstract?
The process of creation can start from a detail, like a leaf, a sculpture, a textile. It’s possible to develop either a single piece or even a collection from this detail.
How long does it take you to produce a collection?
It’s difficult to say. As I mentioned before, jewellery is all about pleasure and ‘you don’t measure the pleasure’!
What are your bestselling jewellery pieces?
I would say the rings. Wearing rings is a pleasure for women because they can see them, play with them, or flaunt them. I like to create rings which are different for the right hand and the left hand because I follow the physiognomy of the hand.
From all your collections, which piece, in particular, would you want every woman to possess and why?
It’s very difficult to say. I don’t have the mindset to oblige people to wear the same thing. One piece alone cannot be worn by all women. I believe that each woman is different. Some of the stones may suit taller women better and some stone colours would complement darker complexions, whereas others would go well with fairer skin types.
What is the profile of your regular consumer?
Each client of mine is unique. My work touches both young and the not so young, but what they all have in common is that they appreciate and pay particular attention to quality and good workmanship.
Tell us about your other hobbies.
I enjoy gardening and cooking!
Do you have anything special on your wish list for the near future?
Yes, I would just like to add that I have fond hopes of returning soon to the fascinating country, India.