If Zaha Hadid's upright, organ-like building project in Cambodia – her first wood construction – seemed like a leap from the architect's signature shiny curves, she has bounced back to form with a new jewellery collaboration with Lebanese house Aziz & Walid Mouzannar.
Of course Hadid is no stranger to smaller-scale consumer products, having fashioned a 'Peekaboo bag' for Fendi, a superyacht for Blohm + Voss and a bottle for Austrian winemaker Leo Hillinger. Adding to that treasure trove is this 18-carat white-gold 'Petal Cuff', set with 1,084 white diamonds, at a price of £55,000. Of the limited edition of 12 sculptural art pieces, Hadid explained: 'Each immaculately detailed piece conveys formal complexity and precision with the highest standards of craftsmanship.'
Perhaps somewhat less known in this instance are Hadid's Lebanese collaborators, renowed as fine-art jewellers in the Middle East. Established in the mid 18th century in Beirut's legendary Jeweller's Souk, the Mouzannar family business is now headed by sixth-generation cousins Alia and Dori Mouzannar.
'My education is in architecture, which I studied before entering the family business,' says Alia, 'so by the time I graduated, I had heard and seen a lot about Zaha Hadid and her inspiring work. Little did I know, though, that years earlier I had actually been introduced, when she visited our family store in Beirut.'
She adds, 'I remember being totally in awe of her. She had such a tangible charisma. Hearing her speak about jewellery made me realise that quality, heritage and the artisan spirit have no boundaries.'
Years later, Alia plucked up the courage to contact Hadid. 'To my astonishment, she replied to my message in a couple of hours, and so the conversation began,' she says. 'Dori and I then flew to London, where she kindly met us and the collaboration started.' A digital chain of design communication continued from there.
So how did the renowed architect's perspective affect their design method, we wonder? 'It actually highlighted the similarities between our design processes,' says Alia. 'Both require vision, design, skill, technique and emotion. The point of difference is the scale. We hope the result offers the public a meeting point between architecture and design… where modernity meets heritage.'