DUBAI: It all started at a 24-hour party in Berlin in the middle of a heatwave.
When Saudi designer Laila El-Mehelmy and Paris-based design studio Golem’s Ariel Claudet saw partygoers cooling themselves down with ice cubes, an idea began to crystallize for the OoOoooOoooOh la l’ice necklace.
Netherlands-based El-Mehelmy said: “It felt post-apocalyptical. First of all, people were in masks. And then everyone was grabbing for frozen water instead of drinks. It was super strange.
“And it was funny to start. And then when Ariel and I started thinking about it, we were like, ‘oh, you know, it’s very mad.’ It’s like the party to celebrate the end of the world.”
Over the next six months, the duo worked out of their respective countries of the Netherlands and France as they designed several iterations of the ice necklace over Zoom.
Made in a simple-yet-striking design, the necklace features a string of silver beads with seven ice cubes frozen onto it. When not iced, it can be worn as a beaded long necklace or doubled as a choker. The necklace comes with a silicone mold with which the necklace can be refrozen endlessly.
Claudet, the founder of Golem, an architecture, art, and design studio, said: “The major challenge was to always come back to the idea and not to let other ideas permutate the origin of it.
“I think it was important to take a step back and make sure that everything had a purpose in not just the design, but also to make sure that the design represents our idea.
“And I think by doing that, we also make sure that once the object is made and is out in the world, you have the opportunity to make it your own.”
But the ice necklace is more than just an aesthetic and novel piece of jewelry. It also comes with a message about the preciousness of water.
“As a jeweler, I see that stones, metal, precious material, all of this has high value. But humans are the ones that put value into it. And for us, water is actually the most valuable material on Earth. No living thing can survive really without it.
“But somehow, we’re so used to seeing it on a day-to-day basis, that it’s just a little bit overlooked. As a human, you can live without a diamond, but water is something you cannot live without,” El-Mehelmy added.
Claudet, who has a two-layered reading of their sustainability message, said: “Water is so precious to us, so we want to wear it and we want to celebrate its beauty. I think it’s so beautiful that you wear the ice necklace, but then it goes back to the elements. Even though you have it and it’s the most precious stuff in the world, you will never own it, it will go back.
“We know that the three states of water, solid, liquid, and vapor, will always exist. We didn’t change that. However, when a human acts on it, it acts as a catalyst. So, it boosts this natural cycle, and this has bad repercussions on Earth. And so basically, the conclusion is that maybe it’s too late to change this or whatever, but maybe it’s not too late to slow it down,” Claudet added.