11 July 2024

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder at the debut exhibition in Bangkok of Tunisian-French jewellery designer-turned-artist Shourouk Rhaiem. The renowned designer has turned everyday objects that are usually overlooked into eye-catching works of art and they are truly dazzling.

“La Vie en Strass” showcases extravagant artworks transformed from ordinary everyday objects such as a coffee pot, a packet of cigarettes, a snack pack, a soy sauce bottle, a medicine bottle, an instant noodle cup, and even the large bottle of a well-known soft drink. The creations underline Rhaiem’s talent and creative vision in elevating these objects to the same level as well-designed jewellery pieces.

Rhaiem intricately combines an array of stones, metals, and Swarovski crystals, crafting statement jewellery that frequently boasts vibrant neon hues. The artist also has an affinity for everything vintage. When asked how she discovered the Thai goods that inspired her creations, she told Thai PBS World: “I’ve visited Chatuchak markets many times to find the right products for this exhibition.”

A fruitful result of her trips to the city’s famous market is the collection comprising 27 vintage items and food products embellished with Swarovski crystals. This collection includes Prickly Heat (Snake Brand) cooling powder cans, local beer bottles, Hanfa brand mosquito repellent boxes, Thai brand instant noodle cups, and more, offering visitors a nostalgic journey into the past.

She also expresses multicultural traits and shares these with Bangkok at her debut exhibition in Asia.

The centerpiece, Ma Cuisine de Rêve (My Dream Kitchen) collection, features metallic shelves combining kitchen utensils, a mooncake box, and food packages. The artworks, she explains, are inspired by her visit to the Nana district in Bangkok. “I also wanted to mix Thai and Arabic culture. I have an Arabic background myself,” says the Tunisian-French jewellery designer and artist.

Another standout collection is Parfum L’heure Bleue De Guerlain, an assortment of perfume boxes, notably a rare original cardboard box from the ’90s. Among Shourouk’s early creations is a Swarovski-embellished design based on her mother’s vintage perfume box.

The exhibition is a joyous celebration of creativity, artistry, and the enchanting metamorphosis of everyday objects, presented in more than 70 works, each adorned with vibrant neon hues.

Rhaiem uses the “cut-up” technique to perfect her vision of life, noting that a little girl will always dream and that we remain children forever. Even the blue of the sky becomes brighter through the lens of advertising. She enhances each product that has accompanied her on her journey, which is sometimes filled with sadness, and makes them shine in the spotlight as if to thank them.

The artistic journey of Rhaiem began in 2005 after graduating from Studio Berçot. She’s renowned for her striking jewellery creations, featuring various stones, metals, and Swarovski crystals, often in vibrant colours.

Dubbed the “Queen of Bling”, Rhaiem’s work has captured the eye of such A-list celebrities as Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Her jewellery is worn by former US First Lady Michelle Obama and Princess Victoria of Sweden. We may have seen her works long before she came to Bangkok for her first exhibition, as her creations have also been worn by characters in popular series like “Gossip Girl”, “Sex and the City”, “Pretty Little Liars”, and “Scream Queens”.

Rhaiem has collaborated with renowned figures and brands, including Sephora, Lido de Paris, Philippe Starck, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and, of course, Swarovski. Her remarkable talent has also been celebrated by Sergio Rossi, who chose her as the face of the “Partner in Crime” campaign.

Arts and fashion enthusiasts can view her first-ever show and be dazzled by her showcase until December 6 at the Four Seasons ART Space by MOCA Bangkok.

By Thai PBS World Feature Desk
– Photo Courtesy of MOCA Bangkok