Q&A with Kiran Sidiki
By Zurain Imam
London-based jewellery-maker and textile designer Kiran Sidiki culls inspiration for her handmade jewellery from various cultures, and expertly melds the traditional with contemporary to create artisanal and ‘lust-have’ pieces. Here, she shares the genesis of her career; her multicultural inspirations and how she balances her eclectic design life.
MYFASHIONFIX: How and where did your love of textiles emanate from and what is your educational background in this field?
KIRAN SIDIKI: I’ve been creative since I was very young. My mother had a clothing business so I was surrounded by fabric, and that is where I really developed an interest in textiles.
I have an undergraduate degree in Textile Design from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA) in Karachi and a Masters in Textile Design from Chelsea College of Art in London.
MFF: Can you briefly describe the ‘Aha’ moment when you decided you wanted to explore your fascination with traditional embroideries and beads from South Asia to create artisanal jewellery? Did you ever study jewellery design?
KS: During my career, I was given an opportunity to source jewellery. In my travels, while buying and exploring accessories, I realized that I would love to move towards jewellery design as well.
MFF: Can you mention some random sources that have inspired some of your jewellery pieces? From where do you often seek inspiration?
KS: I take inspiration from different cultures and from my travels to various places; browsing in markets; and finding odd objects to create jewellery with using handmade textile techniques.
MFF: From which countries do you source traditional textiles and beads? Can you briefly describe the design process in which you personalize these sources and transmogrify them into your own signature style?
KS: I source my materials from various places; hand-painted glass beads from Ghana, wax resist fabrics from Nigeria, beads and gold/silver- plated brass trinkets and charms from Turkey, and traditional fabrics like Ajrak, Chunri and some silks from Pakistan.
I use traditional elements in my jewellery to then create contemporary pieces. Living in London has introduced me to a multicultural audience, and I want to cater to all kinds of people here.
MFF: How would you describe the signature style of your jewellery?
KS: I feel it’s a fusion of inspiration taken indiscriminately from around the world, and presented with a contemporary flavour.
MFF: Do you have an all-time favourite jewellery piece that you created that could be seen as your label’s signature?
KS: I think my favourite piece is a necklace from the first few pieces I made. I painted wooden beads with metallic pigments, and used coiling and knotting yarn techniques.
MFF: What are some of the most consistent metals and materials you use in your designs?
KS: I use a lot of gold-plated brass, wooden beads and glass beads, as well as semi-precious stones.
MFF: All your jewellery is meticulously handmade at your North London studio. How long does a set of artisanal earrings take to complete? Do you have other artisans on your team?
KS: It really depends on how complex the design is. It could take from half an hour to two hours. At the moment there is just me in my team. As most of my pieces are one-off designs, I like to create them myself by experimenting with different materials.
MFF: What are some of your all-time favourite handmade jewellery techniques, either developed by you or traditionally used over the ages? Are there any jewellers or jewellery houses that you particularly admire and why?
KS: The techniques I use are mostly textile related, and involve coiling and knotting. Some of my favourite jewellery designers are small emerging businesses making creative experimental jewellery.
MFF: Where do you stock and sell your jewellery? Which international countries are your best clients?
KS: So far I’ve sold to a multicultural clientele at different craft fairs and exhibitions in London.
MFF: What was your experience working with the embroidery team at Alexander McQueen and Victoria Bain Embroidered Textiles in London? What new techniques did you learn from each and what were your greatest contributions?
KS: Working with Alexander McQueen’s embroidery team was a lot of hard work, but it was definitely worth it. My main contribution was doing artwork for some of the pieces for their Autumn/Winter 2010 collection.
I worked closely with Victoria as a production coordinator and assistant designer. I did bespoke art work for her clients, designing embroideries for textiles used in interiors. I learned a lot about how to run a business, deal with clientele on high-end projects, and liaise with production houses.
MFF: You also led a multinational creative team at KHAADI which catered to stores across three continents. What was your intrinsic role at KHAADI and what are some of the highlights of that tenure?
KS: I worked at KHAADI from 2004 – 2008, mainly designing hand- embroideries for its menswear lines initially. I then moved on to designing woven fabrics as well.
After my Masters and working in London, I returned to Pakistan in 2010 and started working at KHAADI again. I set up their Children’s wear department, which took two years. After that I moved to sourcing and buying jewellery and other accessories for various departments at KHAADI. I left KHAADI in 2014 to move to London.
MFF: As someone who experiments with embroidery techniques and surface manipulation, what are some techniques you have created and what inspired them?
KS: I use the same embroidery techniques that have existed for ages, but like experimenting with them and doing a medley of sorts.
MFF: Apart from creating jewellery you also design textiles and accessories. What are some of the home accessory items you create and where do you market and sell them?
KS: My home wares collection is a social project for change, working with a group of artisans in rural Sindh and also in some parts of Karachi. It provides a livelihood to skilled women, who embroider at home and preserve the craft. The other side of the story is that I am very keen on bringing some global attention to these crafts from Pakistan.
In my home accessories collection, so far I have a range of cushions and throws which were made using a traditional technique of patchwork called ralli. But I’ve revived it and designed it towards a more contemporary ambience and an urban home. I sell my home wares at craft fairs in London, and online on Etsy. I’m also stocking some cushions at a lovely little shop called PITH in Karachi.
MFF: Do you still teach embroidery techniques and experimenting with different stitches. If yes, where?
KS: Yes! I love teaching embroidery as an art form, and at the moment I’m teaching jewellery-making at workshops around London.
MFF: How did you hear about MyFashionFix and what are the main reasons for you to stock your jewellery there? What will you be initially stocking at MFF?
KS: I came to know of MyFashionFix through Andleeb (Rana Farhan, COO of MyFashionFix), and I’m very keen on selling my jewellery to an audience in Pakistan as well as globally.