Words by Tue Elkjær
All pictures courtesy of Kinz Kanaan
I met up with jewellery designer Maysoun Kanaan, the founder & creative director of KINZ KANAAN jewellery. The KINZ KANAAN brand is celebrated on the Danish fashion scene, for it’s unique architectural style, spiritual messages and for the high quality of their pieces.
On your web page, you say that you get inspiration from your own cultural heritage, how do you define that heritage, in regards to visual expression?
I’ve lived in four different countries, before I lived in Denmark. Originally I’m Palestinian, but I’ve never lived there, I grew up all over, in Syria, Libia, Abu dabi, Cypern and the Phillipines. When I was growing up I spoke Arabic and I grew up with the Arabic alphabet. I think the Arabic letters are just really beautiful. But here In Denmark the aesthetic is more simplistic and I think that’s really beautiful too.
Every culture has different expressions, and some are more subtle. That awareness has made me use different cultural aesthetics in my work. I’m really lucky in that sense. So I kind of use several cultures in my work and draw inspiration from them, which forms my own visual expression.
Necklace & Pendant by KINZ KANAAN
How do you balance your cultural heritage, with the Danish culture you’re also a part of?
Well, I’m a libra, so I’m just very balanced. Haha, just kidding.
There’s nothing to balance. My mother always told me to take the best of both cultures and merge them into my own cultural expression. I believe if you’re balanced from within – and that’s difficult – but if you manage to be balanced within, you can be open to the world and to other people. If not, you can end up being closed off from other people, and no one can live like that, completely isolated, like you’re in a box.
Does it affect your designs being, shall we say, bi-cultural?
Yes, I do have a double-culture and yes, that affects my design, because I’m able to gather inspiration from both cultures and use them in a new way. Much of my inspiration isn’t planned, inspiration comes from the unconscious, so it’s not a systematic process – for me.
Your collections all seem to be centered around spiritual messages, why is that? Do you see a special relation between spirituality and jewellery design?
I see myself as a spiritual being and maybe that’s why. I mirror that spirituality into my collections, but I don’t really think about it consciously.
In the introduction of your collection “Super Love Power”, you talk a lot about female empowerment and that the pieces in the collection, are reminders of that power, every woman has within. Do you see jewellery as generally being symbolic commodities of inner values?
I believe in our endless inner power. But I also know that women have a tendency to forget their own inner power and beauty. So it came to me, why not use jewellery as external reminders of that power, since we wear them and see them all the time. For example this ring, I’m wearing here (shows me a beautiful ring she’s wearing) is a reminder for me, because it’s a third eye. It reminds me to trust my own intuition and use that in my everyday life. But you can use that symbolism in another way, maybe to remind yourself of your own successes. You could buy jewellery to celebrate your success and wear them to remind yourself, that, ‘hey, I did this cool thing, that time’ just to remind yourself of what you’re able to accomplish. But jewellery doesn’t have to be symbolic, I can use jewellery just as beautiful objects.
Super Butterfly Black Ring
All your pieces seem very affordable, considering you work in 14 karat gold, sterling silver and precious stones. How do you manage to offer such high quality for such modest prices?
Actually, some of my pieces are expensive, because I like to work with diamonds and gold. So at times, I can go a bit overboard, but of course then the prices follow and go way up. But I try to do both extravagant and affordable pieces. So I produce some big, luxurious pieces with a lot of metal and diamonds. But then I also make pieces that are smaller, with less metal, and I’ll use rubies or white sapphires, instead of diamonds. Also I have two lines a silver line and gold line. Because all of my gold pieces are solid gold, they cost a lot more, than the silver pieces.
Why did you become a jewellery designer, what is it about jewellery that got your attention?
I love details, I love diving into the world of miniature things. All through my childhood, I’ve noticed jewellery, always. I’d notice the jewellery people around me was wearing and notice jewellery in random shop windows. It’s like, some people always notice shoes or watches or something like that, with me it’s jewellery, I’ve always noticed jewellery. When I go to a museum my focus is on antique jewellery. So it just came natural to me, to work with jewellery.
As a jewellery designer, why do you think people buy rather unnecessary luxury products, such as jewellery?
Since the dawn of time, humans have tried to express themselves, through colors, clothes, makeup and also jewellery. So I don’t see jewellery as unnecessary, but I mean it might be, compared to food and water. But you reuse jewellery, you keep it. Think about it, no one throws out jewellery. Have you ever seen anyone throw out a silver ring? No, you can always reuse the materials in jewellery, you can recycle the materials.
Have you ever seen anyone throw out a piece of clothing!
So compared to other luxury items, jewellery keeps, you have it forever, unlike clothes. In that sense, jewellery has a long life span, longer than a lot of other luxury products.
My Key Chain Earring
Do you think about utility, when you design your pieces?
No, not while designing. I don’t even think my jewellery has to be timeless, but I always think they end up being timeless. I don’t even try to attach any special messages to the pieces, when I design. The designs just come to me and then I can see a message and a specific meaning. My designs come from my unconscious and the designs tell me something, they send me a message.
What impact do you hope your work has? For both you, your customers, and/or the world?
I can only hope that my work inspires others.
What do you think, or hope, the future has in store for you and KINZ KANAAN?
I look forward to an international breakthrough, haha. I look forward to collaborate and design with other designers. I’d like to work with an artist or a clothing designer.