i can’t control my excitement about this one! hadas shaham’s jewelry traveled the world and has been in some of the most well known design shops around the world. from the MoMA design store to the MAD museum.
i’ve been such a fan girl of hadas shaham for as long as i can remember. in fact, her earrings were the first designer pair that i ever bought for myself. and boy, do i still remember that sense of accomplishment. something about the clean lines, the perfect shade of concrete and the never ending conversations around her jewelry. whenever i wore them made me feel like a member of the shaham concrete cult! a cult i’m proud to be part of. but in resent years, hadas decided that it’s time to start anew and she started working with different materials other than her recognized polymer concrete. when i turned to her and asked her if she’d mind letting us in into her design process, i couldn’t be any happier when she agreed. so i’ll let hadas lead the way with her super honest answers and tell her story in her own words.
i’d love to hear about your journey, how it all began.
it all began at a very young age. i always knew that i’m going to end up designing but i didn’t know which field it would end up being. after i finish my mandatory service in the israeli army, i decided that architecture is the right thing to choose and italy seemed like the perfect place for it. so i announced that i’ leaving and i joined 50 other israelis who felt the same, traveling into the unknown. after I got there i ended up not study there because i felt like i needed to go through my undergraduate studies back home. so i just took my time, traveled all over italy. it was the craziest experience and i had the time of my life. when i got back to israel, i visited shenkar college and initially i was targeting fashion design, but a few days before my visit i decided to ask for a meeting with the head of the jewelry design department (which back then was prof. deganit schocken) just in case. it was a love at first sight and all the courses that i was introduced to fitted me like a glove. i must admit that i was super surprised by that revelation, because i never thought that this is going to be my path. jewelry wasn’t something that i was attracted to up until that moment but something about the goldsmith’s work, the craftsmanship which is intense and requires a lot of patience and precision combined with three dimensional thinking plus the massive amount of grungy work spoke to me.
the four years i spent in shenkar flew by fast. i enjoyed every step of the way and on top of that, while there, i met my husband and i gained some of my best girlfriends for life. immediately after i graduated back in 2004, i opened my own studio, and now 17 years later (oh.em.gee) i’m still enjoying my craft.
where do you live, what do you like about it and how does it affect your creations?
i live in tel mond. i feel bad saying so but tel mond isn’t the most inspiring town to live in. the people are charming but ended up here after being a city girl most of my life, and before moving here i we lived in jaffa and before that in tel aviv. even as a child i lived in a big city so it wasn’t the obvious choice or the most natural one. i must admit that the place grew on me and i learned to love the nature that surrounds us. a few years after we moved here i designed a collection that was inspired by nature, so you can say that moving here found its way into my creation. after years of creation with concrete, straight lines and urban design , i felt like starting anew, with soft, feminine, flowy, raw and unfinished like feel.
what’s the worst design job you’ve ever had and how did it make you a better designer?
from the moment i graduated, i never worked as an employee but i do remember a groundbreaking moment back in my freshman year in shenkar. we had a small assignment and the lecturer was super strict and i received a completely deadly critique. it wasn’t easy to take it, and it was the first (and last) bad critique i ever received. for the recored i totally deserved it. at the end of that day, i felt like something clicked and i absolutely think it made me a better designer.
i’d love to hear about your work process.
i’m not sure i have a consistent work process. i live and breath jewelry and the design process accompanies me all the time. it’s like it’s my best imaginary friend :)
i feel like i’ll never get bored or uninspired and i must admit that when i think of a new idea, it excites me exactly as it did the first time i started creating.
what does a normal day in your life look like?
ha! a day in my life… i start my morning with extra frothed latte that waits for me on the kitchen counter :) then it’s time to wake up the kids. i only have two of them, but during this covid period, it takes half an hour if not more.
i feel like the most amazing thing about being self employed is that everyday is different. i can start my day scrolling down my instagram feed for a bit of morning inspiration, then i’ll move to the studio for a day of producing. i’ll turn on the music and off i go to work. it can be shooting pictures, paper work or a day of running errands in tel aviv. and if i choose, i can declare a day off, although it doesn’t happen that often. but if it does, i always mix it with a few phone calls and costumers who drop by for a visit. i just love love love meeting my costumers, seeing what makes them happy and drawing inspiration from them. it’s such a treat and a much needed breath of fresh air.
Is there anything in particular that fuels your creativity as a designer?
when i have a spare moment, i love scrolling down my pinterest and instagram feeds for a boost of inspiration. i’m usually drawn to interior design. the houses and the objects within excite me. i came to realize that industrial and jewelry design come from very similar worlds. but i must say that i find inspiration wherever i turn. as long as it beautiful and exciting, i’m inspired by it.
are you working on any passion projects/collabs at the moment?
during this last year, i have been focusing on a collection that is made out of gold.
i’ve been dreaming about it for years and somehow it never happened. i’ve come to think that i was too afraid. i wasn’t sure how to combine between the two wolds. i thought it would appeal to a completely different audience but from the moment i made the move, i feel like it was the right and most natural thing for me and for my costumers. somehow we grow old together and both of our needs changed in the same ways. i was sure that it would be difficult to attract new costumers, since the new direction i turned to is way different from my previous and my most recognized one. i’m happy to say that i was mistaken and within the year, it became my best-selling collection.
what was one of your biggest lessons learned since starting out?
in hindsight i think i learned to cut corners in a good way.
as a brutal perfectionist, who is critical toward myself at such a high level that would paralyze me in the early years. i learned that sometimes the notion of perfect is not necessarily the right thing, to be honest it reflects to so many other aspects in my life. i feel like i have a long way to go but i started working towards being a recovering perfectionist and i feels so gooooooooood.
where would we find you on a typical saturday morning?
a typical saturday morning is that there is no such thing as a typical saturday.
it can be a homey saturday morning with a luxurious israeli breakfast and a walk around the near by orchards. it may be a get together with friends or family or it can be an early morning wakeup call for a hike in nature or a visit to see the grandparents. and so to each saturday its own plan.
israel’s best kept secret?
ha! you’d be surprised to know that most israelis (besides me, but of course!) clap their hands the minute they land at ben gurion airport.
what’s next? what is your dream? and what are you looking forward to?
if you would’ve asked me that a few years back. i would have told you that i strived for my present.
two or tree years after i opened my studio, i worked with an israeli agent that represented me in the US market and for about 7 or 8 years i participated in design shows in nyc twice a year. we received an overwhelming amount of orders and i produced thousands of pieces of jewelry a year. it was beyond intense and over time i felt like i was losing the joy of creating. after each design show, the production work after each show was particularly difficult. my designs traveled to some of the most desired museum shops like the sfMoMA, MAD museum and the MoMA and each time, after i finished fulfilling all these orders i had to start working on the next collection. in hindsight, i realized that my jewelry can’t be commercial. although they look simple and clean, the amount of work that is required is crazy. i still remember that i was told that i’m too
precise and that maybe i shouldn’t be that much, since it is impossible to notice that the production is being made by hand.
the production of each item out of the urban collection that incorporates in it polymer concrete goes through several stages and is the exact opposite of commercial, and since i didn’t want to compromise, the production was too long, which made the process to not profitable enough. i had to decide whether i’m changing the production process or taking a different direction and i’m happy to say that i’m thrilled with the choice i made! although as soon as i stopped working with the US market in its previous form, in a way i started anew. i had to go back to the drawing board and research the israeli market that wasn’t that thriving during these years and also work on new marketing channels in the US.
today i’m focussing more on enjoying the process. my customers come from all over the globe but the design process begins and ends when i decide it’s ready and i don’t have all these grueling time restrictions.
at this moment in time, i wouldn’t change much. i just want my studio to continue to grow and thrive. i want to continue grow and expand the collections, to attract my base audience most importantly, keep having fun and enjoying the journey.
and finally, please share with us something nobody knows about you.
the device i’m most attached to at home is my beloved dyson!