Jewelry designer Randa Tabbah’s pieces are directly inspired by the city. She talks to Lebanon Traveler about her designs
With a career spanning more than twenty years, Randa Tabbah was born into a long line of jewelers and craftsmen, with an inherent love of art and design. Her creations embody a passion for true craftsmanship and are deeply rooted in modern aesthetics. With this passion leading her from Beirut to Paris to New York and around the world, Randa has found beauty in architectural landscapes and the stories behind them.
Earning a degree in fine arts at Beirut University College, she honed her craft at L’Ecole de la Bijouterie et de la Joaillerie in Paris. Then becoming an apprentice as a wax model maker of jewelry and accessories. After returning to Lebanon in 1993, she opened her own studio in Achrafieh, and later a boutique in Saifi Village in 2007.
Her first collection, “New York”, was a breakthrough in contemporary design, inspired by the iconic landmarks of the city. Structural in form and with a focus on clean lines and geometric patterns, the collection was exhibited in the Aaron Faber Gallery in Manhattan and awarded the International Tahitian Pearl trophy.
How does your Lebanese heritage inspire you?
One of my latest collections “Somewhere in Beirut” started out while talking to my daughter about old Beirut. We would walk together and I would point out the street where I used to play as a child or where my father worked. We thought how wonderful it would be to be able to wear those memories, so we came up with the concept of a map to which gemstones [could be added] at key locations.
What is your design process?
Jewelry making is an organic process, unrestricted by preconceived notions of what the piece ought to look like. With an open mind and free hand, I let the natural shape and color of the stone direct the design. Sometimes I start sketching, inspired by the shapes around me and at other times I begin working directly on wax or metal without a design concept. When the piece takes shape, the atelier work follows.
How is the design scene evolving in Lebanon?
When I first started out, people looked at me as if I came from Mars. They weren’t used to the geometric designs of my pieces. Men actually were more appreciative than women, especially architects and those in the design field. Now, the situation is very different. People are more open and well traveled so they understand the concepts.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to new designers?
Design doesn’t come easily. Your first idea is not always the one that works. You have to work at it tirelessly. Once you’re happy with the design, you have to make sure that it’s ergonomically correct. It’s a process and one that is not as easy as you might think. You must take into consideration the aesthetics and the fit, as well as the finishing – then it’s a true masterpiece.
Moukhalassiyeh street, Saifi Village, Beirut