Of my favourite jewellery boutiques around the world, Octium in Kuwait comes high in the top 10. Little can better the retail experience it offers, which sees jewellery showcased in a modern, über-luxe environment that feels more like a cultural salon than a shop.
Renowned for its strong design aesthetic, Octium is an emporium of exquisite jewellery, including a carefully handpicked and curated range of pieces from leading global brands, together with collections designed by co-founder and creative director Alanood Al Sabah. Called Series 1 and Series 2, Alanood’s collections feature the number eight prominently – either as a slanted and skewed octagonal outline on its own, or in clustered formations. The reason, as she explains, is that “eight has been a prominent number to me all my life. I was born on August 8 and I have a sentimental attachment to anything related to the number. It is also widely considered a lucky number and a symbol of prosperity in many cultures.”
A member of the Kuwaiti royal family with a background in architecture, she wanted to create an art gallery for her jewels. Working alongside her husband, Fahad Al Hajiri (Octium’s CEO), she asked leading Spanish designer/artist Jaime Hayón to realise her vision. Having already worked with clients such as Baccarat and Fabergé, Hayón created a striking showcase that draws inspiration from the art-nouveau and art-deco eras and blurs the boundaries between art, decoration and design. It is sublime.
Behind the store’s sleek, black façade lies a plush interior with lacquered wood cabinets, metallic gold pendant lighting, deep indigo carpets and powder-blue quilted-leather recliners. The carefully considered layout encourages visitors to move seamlessly between the viewing gallery, seating area, Dali-inspired display cabinets and VIP suite (for private viewings).
Hayón and the visionary husband-and-wife duo have fulfilled what they set out to do: create a unique shopping experience that leaves all who visit, especially me, wanting to come back for more.