Meet Maysoun Kanaan, the “Spiritual Feminist” Making Jewellery Inspired by Goddesses, the Middle East and Denmark

Her jewellery line, Kinz Kanaan, is whirlwind of Arabic patterns, clean lines and powerful symbolism with a feminist touch.

The Danish design tradition is undeniably masterful, but quite uniform, too. For example, the fashion industry is united by an affinity clean lines, minimalist tones and timeless designs reign across multiple brands. In furniture design, staple items of Denmark’s cultural heritage (Arne Jacobson’s chairs, Poul Henningsen’s lights, etc.) have heavily influenced and shaped the furniture being made today. However, jewellery design seems to be the exception to this heterogenous trend: while minimal silver rings and geometric studs are of course being made by Danish designers, we’re seeing more and more new names whose jewellery styles are distinct and much less concerned with being minimal than their predecessors. One of the most prominent emerging designers subtly pushing the limits of what’s ‘acceptable’ in Danish design is Maysoun Kanaan, founder of jewellery company Kinz Kanaan.

According to Maysoun, Kinz is Arabic for ‘treasure’ while Kanaan originates from the ancient land of Canaan—a region historically renowned for its superior craftsmanship and artistic expression, and the root of her cultural heritage. As a result, Maysoun merges the classic with the contemporary and heavily leans on her diverse background: she’s lived in North Africa, Abu Dhabi, Cyprus and the Philippines before settling in Denmark.

Since Maysoun just added another retailer to her list – the newly-opened boutique Heroines, located in the heart of Copenhagen, is now carrying her line – we thought we’d chat with her about the aesthetics of her brand, the intent behind her design and what it’s like to merge multiple cultures into a singular vision.

At the opening of Heroines boutique. Photo by Abdellah Ihadian.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Maysoun. What’s the concept behind Kinz Kanaan?

Maysoun Kanaan: I have always loved the intricate designs of the Middle East as well as the minimalist aesthetics of Danish design. With Kinz Kanaan I combine the two design traditions.

It is my personal ambition to create jewellery which empowers women in their journeys. I believe in endless inner power and I believe in beauty, but I also know that women sometimes forget that they have those two things and much more. I see jewellery as an external reminder of our inner power, since we wear it close to us and see it all the time.

How did you get into jewellery design?

I’ve noticed jewellery around me since I was a child; when I was a kid, I loved to see how people expressed themselves by wearing these shiny, small treasures. My mom was a history teacher and she made us visit museums a lot. I was fascinated by the small details of the relics, for example; the tiny details of ancient ornaments or the brush strokes on huge paintings. That inspired me a lot.

Moreover, I don’t consider myself a “fashion addict” type of person. For me, designing jewellery is not about fashion nor about the jewellery itself, but the energy that it can contain—the feeling that it creates while we are wearing it. Think about amulets, for example: they are always there to remind us that we are protected. For me, jewellery is a kind of medium: it can be used as a reminder of our strength, intuition or beauty.

How would you describe the influences behind your brand’s aesthetics?

Throughout my life I’ve travelled a lot and lived in four different and wonderful countries. To be precise, I was born in North Africa and moved to Abu Dhabi, Cyprus and the Philippines before finally settling down in Denmark. The different traditions influenced me and I admired each culture’s artistic expressions. I remember being a teenager, coming home to my mom and talking to her about feeling split by my culture. Then she said something I will never forget: “Remember, you are twice as rich as others because you have two cultures.”

From that moment I wanted to be open, take all the things I find interesting and inspiring and merge them; combine them in a new way without having to follow any rules other than my own senses. For me, it has never been a systematic process: I believe that inspiration isn’t something that can be planned but comes from the subconscious. So I would say that the design reflects my personal journey in life, as a person, and artistically.

How have your aesthetics for the brand evolved from the moment you started until now?

Kinz Kanaan as a brand was formed little by little. Nothing was ever set and static, and since change is always present in our lives, so it is in within a brand. It will also change in time but the main inspiration will always be combining the two worlds that I have lived in.

What are the key lessons you’ve learned about running a brand through doing Kinz Kanaan?

Fail better! If you try to avoid mistakes you will never grow or be able to succeed—or worse, you’ll never start.

What have been some of your favorite items you’ve made and why?

My all-time favourite is the Adiva earring, which is one of my first designs. Over time, I have created different versions, and today you can find the Adiva in gold and in silver and with a great variety in stones. I have used diamonds, sapphires and rubies in a mix of colors.

The second treasure I would like to mention is about love. Love is all around, but we can still never get enough of it. I wear the Arabic Love necklace all the time, just above my heart; it reminds me to stay in love, share the love and feel loved, no matter what happens.

Describe the ideal situation a woman would be in while wearing your product. Go all in: what she’s doing, what she looks like, who she’s with, where she’s located…

A powerful woman full of ambition decides to climb the Kilimanjaro. She buys the Power Gold pendant and keeps it next to her heart. Whenever she touches her pendant, she remembers her power. The Power pendant reminds her of how strong she is, and she can overcome any fears through her journey to the top and defeat every obstacle that comes her way. And the great thing is —it actually really happened.

Do you have any particular points of inspiration you keep returning to? i.e. artists, other designers, feelings, cultures…

I believe in art and I respect every artist. I also think that all women are artists, in a way. I tend to go back to ancient eras and get inspired by different ancient goddesses like Inana, the goddess of love. I admire Shirin Neshat who is an Iranian visual artist; her work is mesmerizing. I also get inspiration from elaborately symmetrical and geometrical patterns, the beauty of calligraphy, Arabic letters and architectural buildings.

What’s coming up next for you?

Currently I am very excited about expanding the creative space of Kinz Kanaan. I cannot go into detail but in the near future, there will be events which combine Kinz Kanaan jewellery with the spiritual world. I am also working on some collaborative projects with different creative people.

And of course, I am always working on new Kinz Kanaan designs.

And finally—who is Maysoun Kanaan?

I am a universal, spiritual feminist.

Thanks, Maysoun.