Conceptualised by Saudi born Nour Al Tamimi, The Nou Project is a limited-edition line of sneakers designed in collaboration with up-and-coming artists. Through handpicking a select group of artists and bridging the gap between art and footwear, Nour creates inspiring, one-of-a-kind pieces, so you can now wear a piece of art on your feet.
Tell us about how you conceived The Nou Project?
The Nou Project was actually part of my final thesis at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York, we had to come up with a business plan to benefit the art world in a different manner. I was inspired by sneaker culture in the city and I wanted to offer artists a new platform to showcase their works.
How did the idea of combining exclusive art with sneakers come together?
When I first moved to New York, I realised it was necessary to invest in a cool comfortable pair of sneakers to walk around the city. That’s when I came up with the idea of combining art and sneakers, owning a cool pair of sneakers with a limited work of art to stand out.
Tell us about how you turn buyers into collectors?
Art has always been a powerful form of expression that reflects and provokes attention to the circumstances within society and culture, while in some cases influencing change within these cultures by bringing attention to certain issues. I wanted to give upcoming artists a chance to showcase their expression on something that is somewhat of a moving canvas. This allows for their message to be seen and heard within a larger community and audience, as well as allowing customers to walk with a purpose. I want the buyers to appreciate the message as well as the limited edition aspect of the sneaker, as it will never be reproduced. Also walking around with a cool design on a shoe allows the buyer to stand out and make a statement.
How do you choose the artists you collaborate with?
My first collaborations were with artists I knew directly or artists that I met through friends in the art world, such as gallery owners. After launching the first three artists, Rex Chouk from Saudi, James Rawson from the UK, and Nydia Lilian from Mexico, I started having artists approach us.
If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?
That is a tough question because there are so many great artists that have been instrumental within art history and within different types of art movements. But if I could own any piece of art it would definitely be either a Mark Rothko, abstract expressionism, or Damien Hirst, more contemporary.
What are you most excited about for the future of The Nou Project?
I am excited to meet with new and interesting upcoming artists as well as established artists, of course these would be more limited and more expensive, just as in the art world. But it is very exciting to be working with creatives and making something magical together. I am also excited to expand to other types of apparel such as t shirts and sweaters.
How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, elegant and edgy. I would say I am definitely someone that likes to make a statement with what I wear. I love accessories that stand out and that are different, I have a weakness for sunglasses and headpieces, and I love themed parties because I love to go all out.
Which are your go to, heels or sneakers?
Sneakers in the day and heels at night, although of course this also depends on the city I am in.
What does your personal shoe collection look like?
I have mostly TNP sneakers of course, but I also love Gianvitto Rossi and Aquazurra for heels.
Who is the woman, or women, who has inspired you the most?
I am one out of five girls. So, I have to say my mother and each one of my sisters have been a huge inspiration to me in different ways. They all have different characteristics that have influenced the person I am today.
What three films could you watch over and over again?
Sound of Music, Pretty Woman, and Clueless.
Who would play you in the film biopic of your life?
That’s a very tough question, but I have always loved Jennifer Connelly as I find her so elegant and an incredible actress.
If you could invite four people, living or dead, to the ultimate dinner party, who would they be and what would you serve?
Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. These women have been and are icons, and have affected society in so many different ways. I would have a tea party!
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Special K with two spoons of Nutella and milk, I know it’s weird, but I love it!
Do you prefer a night in or night out?
A night out of course.
What was the last piece of clothing you bought?
A crop top and very edgy high wasted pants by designer Yasmin Qanzal from Jeddah.
Tell us about your most prized possession?
My magnetic Midnight headpieces.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
Definitely an artist.
What is your earliest fashion memory?
Going on a shopping spree with my mother when I was 12. It was right before I went to boarding school and she bought be amazing clothes to wear out on the weekend when uniform wasn’t necessary.
What are the best and worst things about a career in fashion?
I think the brand is very unique in that it is a new creative concept, so it is fun because I feel it stands out. I think the worst is feeling pressure all the time because there is no time off!
Tell us the secret to your success?
To always believe in the project and the brand and not let anything stand in the way. The power of visualisation.
Who do you follow on Instagram?
Many artists, emerging and established, galleries and museums, as well as sneaker brands.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
To be confident and not care about what others think. 90% of style is confidence.
Where is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?
India, I love their ethos, the spirituality, the yoga, the culture, the energy, the colours and the happiness the people exert. They are so happy, and I love that about them.
When packing, what are your travel must haves?
My jump-rope and my workout clothes, a variety of sunglasses, body suits that I can either dress up or dress down and my Nou Projects of course!
Where is the next place on your wish list to visit?
Japan! I am dying to go because sushi is my favourite food and I want to dress in Harajuku!
What are your beauty essentials?
Dark lipsticks because they change your face, even when you are not wearing anything else, together with all of Charlotte Tilbury’s products, her eyeshadows are the best.
Tell us the best advice you were ever given?
My mother told me that confidence is the best accessory.
What was your life goal aged 10?
To be a poet and a writer.
And what is it now?
To turn the Nou Project into an established brand that represents artists and utilises them as designers. To also publish a book, or many, and to pursue my career as an artist. But I believe there is time for that, as there is no age limit when pursuing your career in art.
By Eliza Scarborough