HRH Princess Noura bint Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud on building a design industry in Saudi Arabia

HRH Princess Noura - Gems of Arabia

HRH Princess Noura bint Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud sits down with Buro. Middle East contributor Hatem Alakeel to talk about the future of Saudi Arabia’s creative industries…

An advocate of Made in Saudi Arabia and a great talent in jewellery design, HRH Princess Noura bint Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Faisal Al Saud was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. After graduating from King Saud University, she moved to London to further her studies. During her time in London, Princess Noura took part in a private exhibition for jewellery and was offered an apprenticeship at a Place Vendôme workshop in Paris. Having learned the craft at one of the top workshops in France, she worked on private commissions in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, where she had the opportunity to develop her craft, before launching her high jewellery house, NUUN Jewels, in Paris in 2014. Nuun uses Princess Noura’s Saudi cultural design influences to create a cultural dialogue through her pieces.

Princess Noura is now in the process of setting up her second venture, Sougha, a platform that aims to support the emerging design industry in Saudi Arabia. With Sougha, Princess Noura hopes to help nurture a more sustainable design industry that champions high-standard local talent and helps buyers better access locally-made design products and services.

Your Highness, thank you for your time. Tell us, how did you start designing your brand and what type of challenges did you face when you first started?

The current NUUN brand has evolved very organically over the last few years. I think it is important to allow things to happen naturally within an overall strategy of course. Being a Saudi designer establishing a brand in Paris presented its own set of unique difficulties — at first being taken seriously was an issue, but with time and and hard work I hope I have helped present the idea of Saudi design talent to the international stage.

Tell us more about your fantastic initiative Sougha and what you hope to achieve with it? How can we better educate our youth on craft, credibility and moving their brands forward?

Sougha aims to identify the needs of the Saudi design market as well as the designers and businesses that are part of that market and to support building the infrastructure needed so that our local talents are able to design and manufacture to the highest quality locally. We are blessed with an abundance of talent in Saudi Arabia and we must enable and support them.

There are many ways we can help as experienced designers and business owners – we need to share our experience and knowledge so that they are prepared to run their businesses efficiently and maintain credibility as well as profit.

What are the next steps to be taken?

That is exactly what we are attempting to determine at Sougha. Right now we are doing the research needed to be able to identify the next steps and how best to achieve them.

Who are the people that inspire you the most?

I am absolutely inspired by the young people I meet every day through my work; they are so full of potential, it is intoxicating. I am also aware that we are able as women to work as we do today as a direct result of the labours of those Saudi women who came before. I feel that my generation is in the unique position of bridging between the heritage of the past and this bright future before us. That in itself is an inspiration.

Do you believe in collaborating with international design/production institutions?

Absolutely! Collaboration is essential to any form of growth, be it in the creative arena or any other. The sharing of knowledge and experience, in the case of design and art in particular, creates exactly the kind of cultural dialogue that is needed to create the thinking we will need to build our own design industry.

Who are the jewellery design establishments which have impacted you the most?

I love the history of the old houses Cartier, Boucheron and Buccellati for example but I find Hemmerle to be truly inspiring. [It has] such a unique style and attention to detail – two things that are essential for any design house.

JAR, of course, is someone I think everyone looks to in terms of innovative design. There are so many established and upcoming designers doing amazing things but I truly feel that it is important to appreciate and learn from those who have come before, but then one must find one’s inner voice and be true to that.

What is your creative process? What inspires you when you design?

Strangely enough it starts with music for me. I create a playlist that will evoke an emotion and that is my starting point. I am always inspired by my travels and the world around me, from art and architecture, there is so much to see.

What is style to you?

Style is an expression of self.

Less is more or more is more?