Nedda El-Asmar: between craft and business
Silversmith Nedda El-Asmar designs timeless objects. When she graduated over twenty years ago, she stopped to think about her future: how could she best leverage her skills and creativity to make her business profitable? Perhaps by focusing more on design and less on making unique pieces? She still has this debate today with her students at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
“During my last year at the Royal College of Art in London, we got a project which required us as silversmiths to limit ourselves to designing a piece that would be produced externally,” explains Nedda. “At first, it felt strange to relinquish my design, but the idea did inspire me later in the course of my professional career. As a result, I started working with companies and designing for them.” And she hit the bull’s-eye, by all accounts. Indeed, Nedda, in collaboration with her business partner Erik Indekeu, has designed for big names such as Hermès, Serax and Magnitude.
“Partnering with companies has its advantages when you are a designer. I come in contact with a lot of different sectors and enterprises. For instance, I’ve already designed medals and dishes, and cutlery and beds as well. As you can see, I don’t work only with precious metals. I also use glass and textiles. This is hugely enriching for my creative mind.”
Designs within the lines
“The nice thing is that I only have to concentrate on the design and can let my imagination run free. That’s because we don’t produce our designs and are not responsible for the distribution either. Of course, I have to take the market into account and assess which challenges the company would face. In recent years, I have noticed that companies prefer to take less or no risk at all and want designs that are easy to sell. You must always seek the balance between creativity, innovation and sales.”
You give and take when you inspire
“In addition to designing, I also teach. I often take my students along to exhibitions to broaden their horizons, but I let them collaborate as well. After all, a designer cannot remain isolated in his or her studio. He or she draws inspiration from the surroundings and from others. Some people find it difficult to let their creative minds merge with the minds of others, but I think it is important that they give it a try and maybe afterwards they will realise that they like it. My craft has been enriched by this exchange, helping me have an exciting career.”