15 Minutes With… Haneen Saber

Lara Mansour   |   20 - 02 - 2018

Saudi designer, Haneen Saber, launched her debut jewellery collection in 2017, comprising earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and charms. Looking back at the great civilisations of antiquity, the brand focuses on historical heritage with a contemporary execution. We chat with the brainchild and founder of the brand which is based on a timeless concept of antiquity, and get an insight into her stylish life.

 

How did the idea of your jewellery brand come about?

Strangely, the beginning of my interest in jewellery design began during my stay in England. I lived in London for two years while I was doing my Master’s studies in History of Islamic Art/Architecture at SOAS University. Ironically, I never wanted to be a jewellery designer, though I have always been very passionate about gemstones and jewels. I wanted to attain my Master’s certificate in History of Islamic Art/Architecture to be able to restore one of the old buildings in my hometown, specifically in Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and turn it into a boutique hotel. However, on one of the trips to the British Library, we, the students, were allowed to visit the private room where the rare collections were kept and secured. One of the objects that grabbed my attention was the manuscripts of old Quranic parchments decorated with ornaments illuminated in the most vibrant colours of royal blue and fuchsia. It was then that I envisioned how lovely it would be if anyone could recreate jewellery from such beauties, to reflect art and history. In the days following this trip, I began to think that I could be this person, and started my research.

What are your favourite materials to work with?

I find gem stones so inspiring, and I like to work with all different kinds of gem stones, the emerald being closest to my heart. It has a sense of history and royalty. Each one has its own uniqueness.

What are you most excited about for the future for your brand?

I’m excited to discover new interesting historical objects can share their stories with the world. My brand is all about bringing the history of art alive by spreading awareness and sharing art over the centuries.

Who is the woman who has inspired you the most?

Well, my mother of course. She is passionate about art, so I had a love of art surrounding me from a young age.

What song or album could be the soundtrack to your life?

Every chapter in life has its own song, but now since it’s the new year I feel it is, ‘Feeling Good,’ by Nina Simone.

What three films could you watch over and over again?

Pretty Woman, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Ratatouille.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas and ignoring work for a while.

Which are your go to, heels or flats?

Flats, for sure.

Do you prefer a night in or night out?

I like both, but a night out with friends seems more fun.

What was the last piece of clothing you bought?

Asics running shoes.

What are the failsafe items in your wardrobe?

A simple black dress is always a life saver.

Tell us about your most prized possession?

A turquoise diamond jewellery set designed by my grandmother.

If you weren’t a designer what would you be?

I would work on restoring one of the beautiful historical houses in downtown Jeddah, and turn it into a boutique hotel.

What is your earliest fashion memory?

I remember sitting next to my mother watching her as she would design our denim jackets, which got me a lot of compliments, so thanks mum! I did the same thing last year with my daughter.

What are the best and worst things about a career in fashion?

The best thing about it is that I get to discover new things, tell stories, and above all there’s a great joy in seeing the outcome of the final piece coming together. The worst thing is when inspiration cools down and mental blocks interfere with my creative thinking.

Tell us the secret to your success?

It’s a learning journey as we go, I keep learning, and trying to work hard. It always pays off.

What can’t you live without?

My children and family

Who do you follow on Instagram?

I appreciate jewellery brands in general because they are unique in their own way of creating new designs. For example, I really like Harry Winston and Graff. However, I am really into antique jewellery which I find fascinating and which probably explains my interest in artistic history. Some of the designers I truly admire and follow are, Nikos Koulis & Hemmerle.

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Learn more languages. I wish I could speak 5 languages or more!

Where is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?

I’ve been to many beautiful places around the world, each one with its own particular charm. But I would say London holds a special place for me.

When packing, what are your travel must haves?

A good pair of sneakers, a little bag of dates and nuts, Lancôme mascara, and a good lip gloss.

Where is the next place on your wish list to visit?

Peru and São Tomé.

What are your beauty essentials?

Morning and night moisturisers.

Tell us the best advice that you live by?

Gandhi said, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’

What was your life goal aged 10?

To master roller blading like my cool sister!

And what is it now?

Enjoy the present moment and have a media boycott once a week.

 

By Eliza Scarborough