Al Mangam’s Ethereal New Collection is an Ode to the Human Element of Design

A tribute to creativity, movement, and the human body, local Egyptian jewelry brand Al Mangam’s latest collection ‘An Ode to Our Hands’ is a study in wearable art. Our hands give us the ability to dance, make objects, and express ourselves while speaking, inspiring founder Yasmeen Badawy to dedicate this collection to this part of our body that we often take for granted. Through all her work, Badawy strives to celebrate the human ability to create which is why the jewelry is made by humans for humans with an emphasis on the authenticity that exists in slow, handmade pieces.

The bafflingly beautiful designs are embellished with the finest silver and mother of pearl ornaments. All the dazzling pieces are handmade in the heart of Khan El Khalili and Al Azhar area with the skilled hands of local artisan ‘Am Yasser’. Dazzling in mother of pearl and silver, the latest collection is a celebration of the process of jewelry making according to Badawy, “During the process of making this collection, I realized that my hands feel different in different states. Each piece represents a unique and personal imagination of our hands. I hope it inspires gratitude and appreciation for our ability to create.”

We sat down with Badawy and took a deep dive into the story and inspiration behind Al Mangam. Here’s what she had to say.

How did the idea to launch Al Mangam materialize?

The idea to start Al Mangam came after a year of jewelry designing and making in my studio at home, a journey that started after a course I took. A year later, I had enough pieces to consider starting a brand. My mother motivated me to do so and I started working on more pieces. My initial desire was to make the jewelry myself in the studio but since I was still studying psychology back then and I wanted to pursue a career in psychology as well, I decided that it would be better to focus on designing and running the brand. We started looking for an artisan around Khan El Khalili and Al Azhar area to take my prototypes and professionally produce them and that’s when I started the brand.

What has the journey been like getting to where you are now?

The journey to where I am now has been full of ups and downs. There were challenges that made me feel like giving up many times. Since I’m running the business completely on my own with Am Yasser producing and me designing, packing, delivering, marketing, planning shoots and doing everything in between, it has been a tough journey. Thankfully, somehow I always find a reason to continue like hearing people’s feedback about my jewelry, having “aha” moments while producing with Am Yasser or seeing the pictures after a good photoshoot. My friends and my mom have been a great help throughout this journey as well as my loyal customers who manage to make every challenge worthwhile (as cliché as this sounds, it’s true).

What is the philosophy behind your work? What inspires you? What do you hope to present to people?

The philosophy behind the brand is to produce authentic, slow, handmade pieces that are unique and reflect me as a person as well as my inspiration. I think a big part of this brand is making the jewelry that I’d like to wear myself that I can’t find anywhere else. The process of making itself and experimenting with materials and shapes inspires me. Nature is also a big source of inspiration whether it’s the trees and greenery or the human body or even feelings that I try to materialize, all of which for me is part of nature. Jewelry making gives me the ability to express myself and place part of my energy into the piece I’m making and it makes me so happy to see other people wearing it. I aim to celebrate the human ability to create which is why the jewelry is made by humans for humans with the emphasis being on the authenticity that exists in slow, handmade pieces.

What is the process behind making the jewelry?

The process behind making the jewelry is a learning process for both Am Yasser, the local artisan I’m working with and myself. I really appreciate experimenting while working with silver since the piece goes through different stages from being on paper to becoming a 3D piece that undergoes multiple changes as we work with the material. I start by sketching out my designs or even experimenting through making the prototypes myself at my studio and changing the design as I go.

Then, I go to Am Yasser where we recreate my prototype professionally and I take his input on changes that need to be implemented in the piece as well. So, the piece of jewelry comes to life in a place where mutual learning exists. After a lot of back and forth with the design, I take the pieces home and wear them for a few days to try them out myself, to ensure their versatility and practicality. Often, that’s when I come up with new ideas and produce the rest of the collection. Finally, the pieces go through a finishing process of sanding and polishing.

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