Known for his fascinating and unique designs, interior designer Broosk Saib has recently ventured into designing jewellery, cufflinks, in particular. eniGma’s Iman Nayel spoke exclusively with Saib to learn more about the thought provoking stories and inspirations that influence his unique designs, be they for his interiors or for his jewellery.
Born to a Kurdish family in Baghdad and raised in London, Broosk Saib has earned his place amongst top-tier interior designers on an international scale, all the while maintaining his pride in his Kurdish heritage. “I was embraced by Britain, culturally. I was fortunate enough to have fallen into a very nice scene with good schooling and a lovely crowd of high-achievers,” says Saib, who had a successful central London showroom as early as the 80s and 90s, which put his name on the London high-street scene. “I was quite young compared to every other designer who was involved. They were sort of the grand gurus of design in England, and I remember them being fascinated by this new kid; and sure enough, I was embraced by even that lot. I really enjoyed being a part of the design community in London,” he adds, proudly.
Boasting a talent that is obviously multifaceted, Saib possesses a distinctive design vision and uses unconventional methods to reach his desired goals in a range of fields, from interior to jewellery design and even photography. His creativity was nurtured on a personal level as well as by external factors. “I was lucky enough to be surrounded by some great artists and designers in every field, even musicians and historians, and I was very much part of a social scene that was full of scholars,” Saib explains.
Notwithstanding the influence of many talents surrounding him, Saib’s road to success has always been an independent one. “I never really worked for anybody. I sort of jumped into the deep end, but I was backed by my family and friends,” he recounts. “I started and immediately the designs just started coming and I never looked back,” he adds. Whether in interiors or jewellery, from the start, he has always been particularly attentive to detail. To him, it’s all about the little things that make the whole come together.
“I find inspiration for new ideas through traveling and going to lovely museums and great old historic places. I love travelling. I love pulling in different materials and fields and moods of whatever it is that I see around the world. I love to mix and make it all work together,” says Saib.
Saib originally started making cufflinks as a hobby out of pure personal interest, till just over a year ago, when he decided to establish the company Brooski with his best friend and partner, James Archer. Much of Saib’s inspiration for his cufflinks comes from the ancient world. Many pieces in his latest collection of cufflinks feature ancient Greek or Roman coins, precious and semi-precious stones, and even meteorites that are thousands of years old. Brooski’s designs are unique in that they cannot possibly be imitated, simply because they are made with rare collector’s items, making each pair of cufflinks one of a kind.
Interestingly, the designer’s fascination with ancient civilisations extends beyond the relics they have left behind and to their creative techniques. Saib only uses the Roman hammering technique to make his cufflinks. “It’s different to what they do now; you hammer it into shape and so you really feel every hit on the gold – it’s very tactile,” he explains. He is proud that Harrod’s has taken notice of the uniqueness of his pieces and was the first retailer to carry Brooski’s cufflinks. “Having that endorsement from them saying you’re good enough for us put me in a lovely place,” he declares, with a smile.
Not surprisingly, a lot of Saib’s jewellery touches on his interiors, and vice versa. “In one of my interiors I put a chandelier that is made of argot, the semi-precious stone that’s normally put into necklaces or bracelets,” he recounts with delight. “I tend to look at jewellery the same way I look at a house, and I design lights and pieces of furniture like I’m dealing with jewellery, which gives it a lovely detail,” he adds.
Just as each artist has his or her own signature, the pinnacle of Saib’s signature style is the way he uses and works around lighting, which has always come naturally to him. “You know how sometimes people are born with a special voice and can sing? Similarly, I never had to think about lighting; it is definitely my strength,” he exclaims. “Believe it or not, no matter how beautiful the house is, if you put the wrong lighting, you can destroy it,” he adds.
Explaining how designs come naturally to him, Saib feels that when he walks into a house or a room, it talks to him, telling him how it should be designed. “I generally follow what the place asks me to do. The same happens with a piece of stone, a coin, or a piece of meteorite; it sort of tells me, ‘I’m this shape. And I go with that to highlight its beauty in all its details,” says Saib. Jokingly, he adds, “I don’t want to say I hear voices, because I don’t. But when I say a room speaks to you, without making it sound crazy, it does speak to you about the position of the door or the windows, for example. It tells you how it wants to be done.” Saib also posits that there are geographical as well as cultural attributes to design; where cultural or geographical components call for certain design elements. “For instance, when designing a residence in the Middle East, everything is around the parameters of the room because you want to be cooled down, whereas over here, in London, all you want is to huddle together and be warm, and thus everything is positioned around the fire,” he explains.
Despite the meticulous detail and remarkable aesthetics of his work, functionality remains a top priority for Saib. “I’m not going to waste space by designing a fantasy land. The design has to work; it has to function well. And it’s not a problem to actually have something functional and extremely beautiful. Absolutely, the two should go hand in hand,” he stresses.
Saib likes to describe himself as a ‘story junkie’. To him, the philosophy behind a design, whether it’s a piece of jewellery or a collection of art, carries great significance. “In fact, it was the ancient Egyptian civilisation that taught me that philosophy is a very big part of my life; in the way I think and the way I put things together. When I create a pair of cufflinks for example, I’m very aware and appreciative of the fact that I’m wearing a story rather than just a stone or a colour; and that’s what my clients look for when they seek me out – it’s the philosophy of it all,” Saib explains.
In conclusion, after learning this unique designer’s story, it comes as no surprise that he aspires to publish three books, one on each field he practices, and he specifically intends to include a book only about cufflinks. Like his own projects, his books will undoubtedly leave an imprint in the world of design.