HUSAM EL ODEH

...turning the useless into the essential

My background? Since I always get this question, I might as well answer it unprompted: My mother is Lebanese, my dad is Palestinian (Westbank), I am German and have lived in London for the last ten years – in my view, that still makes me German and, as it goes for cultural identity, my word is law...

Ever since I was a teenager I was sure that I would be an artist and nothing else. I initially studied fine art (in Berlin and London) and suddenly got really fed up with all this self-obsessed creativity. For one year I was going to do something completely different (simultaneous translator was one of my favoured options) but it did not last. So jewellery seemed the lesser evil as it is almost secondary and essentially useless. I love useless things; they are undervalued in my opinion.

As for the things I make, my initial inspiration is always reality, and reality is, first of all, the body that experiences it. Everything else is to me in relation to the body. I sometimes collect things for a while and then leave them to mature in my studio. Suddenly, one day, I pick one piece up and it all makes sense and becomes a piece (I have dreamt of pieces that I made before). Of course I am not completely unconscious in my work; in fact I have a very controlled aesthetic (I think it’s a German thing), but I do like inviting accidents into my work.

Coming up with a seasonal collection theme is like an editing job to me. A couple of months before each collection, I sit down and look at all my research, then go through what excites me, what interests me and what personally I’d like to see in the collection. I then edit them down to make my collection. Sometimes, items that turn out nicely don’t actually fit into the collection, so I put them aside for future reference, or they become a starting point for other projects.

Nothing inspires me like...
Hoxton Street (the bad end).

Cultural influences...
I am a multi-cultural accident.

I got where I am...
Through blood and tears.

Fashion can sometimes...
(Sometimes!) make me smile.

I have never...
Been to Spain.

I once thought...
I had it all figured out.

Love is...
The devil.

My dreams are...
My favourite part of my day.

There's a new...
Magpie living in my garden – I think she needs a boyfriend.

I'm a perfectionist...
And chaotic at the same time.

The earliest memory...
Is stealing figs in the neighbours' garden with my cousin on a holiday in Lebanon.

My first crush...
Is one of my best friends now – much better that way.

My biggest regret...
Is none of your business.

I hope...
!

I love getting older...
Because I am like wine.