Rania Elkallais an Egyptian industrial designer who designs and produces wonderful home accessories and small furniture. Not only the design of their products is special, but also the material from which Rania makes these accessories. I got to know Rania a few years ago when she came to Berlin with the intention of finding a university that would support her idea of producing a biodegradable material from nut and egg shells as part of her master’s thesis. That sounded adventurous! I admired her courage and wished her good luck. Up to now she won several awards for her material, which does not contain any chemicals and is 100% biodegradable – including the Italian “A Design Award” 2016.
We have become friends over the years.From time to time we meet here in Berlin when Rania, who now lives in Cairo again, comes to Germany. Each time I meet her I am fascinated by her energy and charisma, which is absolutely convincing and inspires everybody for her project. Rania has now founded her own company: Shell Homage, with which she sells her products.
Last year she asked me to design a few pieces of jewelry to see if the material could be used in jewelry. The jewelry pieces which were born out of this cooperation are very beautiful. The material can be used easily for making jewelry. It can be worked with simple goldsmith tools and brought into shape. In addition it has a look reminiscent of stone, so that e.g. large earrings can be made that are wonderfully light. Only at a second glance you can see that the “stones” are not real. Rania gives her material a wide variety of colors by adding natural color pigments to the still liquid mass. The surface of this material is rough and uneven, each pressed plate is absolutely unique.
Rania has created a very special material that is trend-setting. In combination with her light and very modern designs, she creates very special accessories that are practical, stylish and last but not least environmentally friendly.
Follow the links to find out more about Rania Elkalla and her company “Shell Homage”:
Yesterday I took pictures of Melissa for the first time. I am so pleased with the result of these beautiful photos and I am thrilled how good my jewelry looks on her. Every single piece looks just amazing.
This picture was painted by my daughter almost twenty years ago, shortly after we first saw the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos”, the Mexican version of All Saints / All Souls. Since then, the picture is on my shelf and from time to time I look at it intensively. I’m always amazed how exactly she captured this Mexican tradition. Two indigenous women are obviously on their way to the cemetery to commemorate the deceased. They are accompanied by numerous children, the little ones are tied behind their backs. In the background there is a pyramid on the left side and a church on the right side, Mexico lives still in this tension between pre – hispanic tradition and the Christian heritage of the conquerors. In addition, she painted two oversized corncobs, the staple food of the Mexicans in general: without Tortilla no meal is conceivable. Above all stands the skull, reminding us that death is part of our lives. P>
I am glad that this picture has survived all our moves and is still with me today.
My girlfriend Claudia works as a psychiatrist near Heidelberg. When I asked her to put on her favorite piece of jewelry in order to take a picture of her, she did not hesitate for a long time. She took her mother’s bracelet out of a drawer: a beautiful wide silver bracelet made by a goldsmith. It has been elaborated with an old goldsmith technique, where every element has been chiseled to give it three dimensionality. It consists of several identical elements, which are connected to each other by eyelets to guarantee the mobility of the bracelet. With this bracelet Claudia’s father proposed marriage to his future wife, so it is an extraordinary engagement jewelry piece.
Unfortunately, Claudia lost her mother very early when she was still a teenager. So the bracelet is a very important memento that remained from her mother and connects her with her while wearing it.
About a year ago I bought the notebook “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. After having done some exercises, I put it in a shelf and completely forgot about it -contrary to the explicit use instructions of the author-, who says, that you should always carry it around and do the exercises regularly. While searching for new inspiration and approaches for my work as a goldsmith, the book suddenly fell into my hands again and I was very surprised to see the exercises I had already done and couldn’t remember at all.
“OK. I’ll try again,” I said to myself and started the next exercise! Cross out the words, until you have written a poem, was the instruction for this new exercise. “I can not do that!”, flashed through my head! And certainly not in English! Somehow I then hang onto the words and took different approaches and went several times mentally in different thematic directions.
At some point, a special combination of words prevailed, and it is hard to believe, at the end of the exercise there was left kind of a poem. This was completely surprising for me, because I had never written poems, except maybe once in school when I was a teenager. Something had happened by staring at the words, as if the words had suddenly come out of the context and made up their own story. I was so excited about this exercise that I decided to carry the notebook around with me from now on.
On this day I went full of energy to my workbench and tried out a technique that I had had in mind a long time, but I had repeatedly postponed. The “playing” with words helped me in other ways to solve my blockage.