THE ART OF PERFECTION
Zohra Rahman’s design studio is the perfect amalgamation of form and functionality- a space which fuels art and creativity. We spend time at her studio and newly opened store to learn more about the spaces, as well as about how they allow for and lubricate her design process and display.
It takes tools, machines, files, anvils and vices to create the thoroughly original and perfectly executed jewelry that is signature trademark of Zohra Rahman. Commissioned pieces, one of a kind signatures and ready to wear collections are fresh out of the oven in this bustling, all purpose jewelry studio. The workshop answers to Zohra’s creativity by making manifest her visions in silver and gold in any which way she pleases.
“I took a lot of inspiration from my school because that’s where I learnt everything and that’s where I understood the importance of having a functional space where everything is under one roof: it fuels creativity”, says Zohra who needs to work through her designs in a clean, functional and fuss-free space.
The floor of her workshop is unembellished, showing only the raw cement finish that’s perfect for keeping a hardy workspace that’s easy to clean and is purely functional like every other design element within this neat studio. But it’s not just easy to clean- it’s easy to mess up too- she needed it to be a space where one isn’t afraid of work! It’s uncommon and perhaps the first precedent of its kind in Lahore to house such a comprehensive jewelry facility under one roof. “It’s a good place to actually be creative and at every step you have control”, says Zohra. The jewelry manufacturing industry is in pieces, with even big fine- jewelry houses outsourcing production from small vendors scattered across the jewelry manufacturing epicenters of the city. “Our in-house quality is just as good”, says Zohra who is able to closely monitor the quality from start to finish of her manufactured goods by having everything at her fingertips. For especially this reason, Zohra Rahman’s workshop is truly enigmatic.
Like many creative individuals transforming their visions into realities, Zohra’s design processes are different every time. A concept, a jumping off point is moulded into material and then manipulated further to let the process inform some of the elements and features of the initial thought. Melting, pounding, testing, polishing and rotating a crudely designed piece slowly reveals more about where it’s headed and where it wants to go.
It’s crucial to take a step back, maybe even a few steps, and then revisit the piece for broader introspection with a fresh eye. “It’s important to remove yourself from the equation and just look at it as a design and whether it’s working or not and what changes need to be made to it if it wasn’t my design”, says Zohra.
“IT REALLY HINDERS CREATIVITY WHEN YOU HAVE TO STOP AND PLAN EVERYTHING”.
This is also one designer who purposefully avoids design references, needing the clean slate of solely her intellect and imagination to create clean, exclusive and authentic works. Because of the many functional requirements of the space, Zohra’s studio is broken down into three main areas which all visually relate their intended use. She has no favourite spot in the studio but rather prefers being immersed in a host of activities that she finds energizing: whether it’s referencing her in-house materials library or teaching her employee the specific usage of the acid bath for a new toe of finish or charting out an email marketing strategy.
And of course, in the midst of machines whizzing and torches blazing and printers printing, there is an adjacent room where Zohra is allowed her quiet time- her office. A soothing midday cup of tea, a table full of sketching material to pen down the latest fleeting design idea, a place where one can enjoy solitude for a few brief moments, this room can be coined the sanctuary of her workspace.
It’s dimly lit compared to the sunny brightness of the other two spaces and features a wider open space, a few furniture essentials and a brooding Zen-like calm. We found it most interesting and refreshing that, to enter Zohra Rahman’s office to place an order, the client must first go through the manufacturing design workshops!
The entire process is on display- another first. It was important to Zohra that her work is presented with the same meticulous care and positive energy that accompanies the creation of her pieces. Her shop in Lahore is designed to toe the line between gallery and shop, with elements of each comprehensively worked into the tiny space.
A shop window, storage, sign and display area are housed alongside a swanky, bold interior that resounds with each glance of the jewelry display. A functional space is important to Zohra as we now know. The shop besides visually striking is made alive by the complete integration of every functional element.
“Being functional whilst creating a happy energizing environment is just good design”, says Zohra. It’s a wonderful change after the plethora of plush, velour covered couches and crystal chandeliers of the client reception areas common to many a local design house.
Zohra’s shop also distinctly and purposefully differs from the local jewelry shop, be it big or small: there’s no extensive seating area for families spending long periods of time hashing out dowries and trousseaus. Zohra Rahman’s clientele are the connoisseurs of art who are looking for a timeless piece- one that’s peaks to and of them when worn. These are those individuals who appreciate their jewelry handmade, with the utmost care and attention.
In a world of outsourced mass-production, inconsistent supply of designs and quality, Zohra’s shop and studio stand out as a benchmark for those with a love for intelligent and original design. The brand, the store, the workshop, the design and the thought behind it all stands for up-keeping the integrity of design and designers.