WEST MEETS EAST

ZAIM KA­MAL, the cre­ative di­rec­tor of Mont­blanc, tells STEVE ROCKOWITZ about the brand’s lat­est lim­ited-edi­tion High Artistry col­lec­tion: the Homage to Em­peror Kangxi

#Legend - - SPARKLE -

WHEN DE­SIGN­ING ITS lat­est lim­ited- edi­tion col­lec­tion of writ­ing in­stru­ments, Ger­man lux­ury man­u­fac­turer Mont­blanc turned to an un­usual source of in­spi­ra­tion: Em­peror Kangxi (1654–1722) of the Qing Dy­nasty. With the High Artistry Homage to Em­peror Kangxi Lim­ited Edi­tion, Mont­blanc cap­tures the spirit of one of China's most her­alded rulers through a va­ri­ety of daz­zling jewels, gold work and com­plex tech­niques. Zaim Ka­mal, the com­pany's cre­ative di­rec­tor, ex­plains the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the Kangxi col­lec­tion.

You joined Mont­blanc about five years ago – what was your back­ground prior to that?

I at­tended Cen­tral Saint Martins in Lon­don. Af­ter I grad­u­ated in

1991, I started work­ing for shows, de­sign­ing shoes, bags and other ac­ces­sories. Since I was still a ju­nior at the time, they al­ways as­signed me to do the ac­ces­sories. I was given a hand­ful of ad­dresses in Lon­don, and I wan­dered off with my sketches and met some shoe­mak­ers – but I showed them my sketches and they told me I was do­ing ev­ery­thing wrong. Long story short, I learnt how to make ac­ces­sories be­cause

I was work­ing with the peo­ple who made them. Back in the day in Lon­don, there were these work­shops that did all of those things. I got into it and started en­joy­ing it, and over time, it be­came quite strange, be­cause peo­ple would come up to me and tell me to build col­lec­tions of ac­ces­sories for them, which was the com­plete op­po­site of what I was do­ing a few years back. Since I knew how to con­struct them and had been work­ing in that field for the past few years, it was fairly easy for me to trans­late my skills when I came to Mont­blanc.

When you were de­sign­ing this High Artistry col­lec­tion, did you have all of the brand’s var­i­ous prod­ucts in mind, or did you start with the writ­ing in­stru­ments and take it from there?

I started with the writ­ing in­stru­ments be­cause the High Artistry col­lec­tion was very much based on those. When we did the ba­sic out­lines, I had more of an over­all pic­ture. The High Artistry col­lec­tion al­ways has to be a lit­tle sep­a­rated from the other col­lec­tions be­cause it fol­lows very spe­cific rules and crafts­man­ship. Ev­ery time we cre­ate a High Artistry line, we al­ways aim to adapt a new and chal­leng­ing tech­nique to a spe­cial piece. You start with the per­sona and char­ac­ter, then you try to find the link to the mai­son. This is very im­por­tant be­cause it gives a rea­son for Mont­blanc to do a Kangxi col­lec­tion – we don't do it just for the sake of do­ing it.

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