Dream a little dream of Husam

Do you want to take a journey through the unconcious pathway of mind? Husam el Odeh’s jewellery designs are the one way ticket to this pathway which is full of surprises says Seda Yilmaz

When it knocks the door of their minds, people are afraid to let their unconscious in. Unlike most people, Husam el Odeh is a very hospitable host. He likes to invite his unconscious purposefully and then create unexpected pieces of jewellery. “Even when you are awake there is a degree of unconsciousness. Most people deny or stop it. I try to allow it to move freely,” says Husam. That’s why when he started collecting combs at one point, he let it happen without questioning his action. “I quite like random as well. Sometimes random and unconsicous come together and that creates a great combination.” His work reflects the happy marriage of random and unconscious with pieces like collar necklace, comb glasses and opera glove. By juxtaposing different materials he challanges people’s expectations. Familiar becomes surprising and bizarre in his hands.
“I refer to my dreams. Quite often I work in my dreams,” he remarks. If he were to live in the 1920’s, Husam would undoubtedly be one of the central characters of the surrealist movement. He would have worked alongside with Andre Breton, Man Ray and Rene Magritte and contributed their attempts to liberate the unconscious mind. “Once I came up with this idea and thought that someone else has done it already. It didn’t occur to me that I saw it in my dream. Then, I realized that it was my idea but I dreamt about it.”
Husam’s body conscious designs takes its roots from his fine art pieces that he created. Before started working as a jewellery designer in London, he was in Berlin studying fine arts. Eventually his art grew into jewellery. “My work as an artist was always very body related. Jewellery is one of those in-between fields which is perfect for me. I can work on conceptual ideas while designing jewellery,” explains the designer. His designs blurs the boundary between art and fashion. So, they are more like art pieces rather than jewellery. They make you think and question the nature of each piece. Metal is one of his main materials. “I like natural materials but I also like juxtaposing them with artificial materials. I use leather, fabric and wood as well. It’s nice to mix materials. I like my designs to seem extremely cheap and extremely expensive at the same time,” says Husam. He mixes opposites that work well with each other and create things that you don’t expect to see. That kind of contrast makes his designs strong and suprising.
Even though he likes shocking people, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Topshop sponsored him. He designed for the Fashion East in 2005 and was awarded with Topshop New Generation sponsorship for a couple of seasons. Success can be evil when it causes too much of an ego boost. But Husam doesn’t suffer from this “I achieved a lot so the world revolves around me” attitude. He prefers being modest and never forgets to add a pinch of smile to his modesty. “I suppose you can call my designs art work. They’re fairly artistic at heart,” he says when asked to describe his work. Then he smiles and adds “It sounds really pretentious.”
“I was fairly dismissive of fashion when I was doing fine arts,” he admits. This blase attitude towards fashion opened up new boulevards in his mind. He also owes a lot to his dual roots. Being brought up by Lebanese parents in Germany made him realize that there’s always another way of looking at things. “I think I’m really lucky as I have both Middle Eastern and European background. Having dual roots opened my mind for new possibilities,” he says. Even though it is hard to conquer, as he puts it, he feels like he belongs to London. “I’ve been living here for 8 years. I still love it because it surprises me all the time. It’s truely multicultural and this makes it open to new impulses. When I’m out of London, I feel like I’m missing out.”
Husam is fascinated by the works of Andre Breton, Meret Oppenheim, Hussein Chalayan and Rebbecca Horn. “I like the ironic nature of surrealism. Even though it comes accross really serious, it involves a lot of irony,” he says. He finds Hussein Chalayan’s conceptual designs close to his understanding of design. “I love Hussein Chalayan’s work. Marios Schwab showed me one of the images from his shows when I was in Berlin and was really dismissive of fashion. It was such a strong image that it stuck with me a long time. He has a strong relationship with the body which I feel my work has as well.” Husam likes designers who have a body conscious approach. That’s why he’s been working with Marios since his degree show. “We complement each other. I have an element of fetish and harshness in my work which goes well with his body conscious femininity and sexiness. I really enjoy working with him. He’s one of the most talented ones in the fashion scene now. His work is almost like sculpture,” says Husam.
Surrealism is not the only reference point in his designs. Ordinary things he come across in everyday life take a different shape in his imaginative world. His playful and ambigous work is a product of his strong imagination. That’s why he really likes finding random things. “They tell stories I don’t really know. They make me imagine the person who own them and it kicks off my fantasy.” He has the same eyes as we all have but his way of looking at things makes a big difference in what he perceives. When he opens the window of his eyes, he sees what others don’t see. “The glove thing started with this glove I found on the bus. Then, I saw this beautiful illustration about a glove that gets lost and has a strange journey. I really like that weird and over-the-top story. That’s how I designed the opera glove,” says Husam.Husam is not one of those people who is scared of running out of ideas. Because he knows that every time he opens the window of his eyes and the door of his mind, his imaginative world welcomes new ideas. That’s what makes him and his work extraordinary.

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