Meet The Maker: Farah Marafie, Founder of AOI

Please tell us about your journey into the world of design and craft, and the perspective you bring to it.


My journey into the world of art and design began when I was a little girl. I have always been very curious by nature. My father is Kuwaiti and my mother is Lebanese. From a young age, I was always eager to learn about different cultures and identities, and my travels and experiences in various countries only deepened this interest. I realised that design and craft are closely tied to heritage, rituals, and traditions, and I became fascinated by the way colours, textures, music, and techniques were intertwined with these cultural aspects.


With this growing bank of knowledge, I naturally gravitated towards design. It was a passion I’d held since childhood. I deeply respect creatives; everything around us has been considered intentionally and designed by individuals or teams, and that is beautiful. I wanted to explore it further and to truly understand its depths, by creating something entirely new. A way of feeling no limits towards my creative journey and allowing myself to explore my curiosity freely. Hence the name “ AN OCEAN of IDEAS” My unique perspective is shaped by the diverse cultures I’ve encountered in my life’s journey, inspiring me to infuse heritage and tradition into my creative work.


Could you tell us about what you are working on at the moment?


I’m in the final stages of photographing and preparing to launch my clogs. They are my babies that have been in the making for over a year. I’m so happy and proud to share them with my collectors. They’re launching very soon. Everything is so thoughtfully considered in my process and I’m most proud about the wood material we sourced because I care deeply about functionality. The wood chosen was lightweight in comparison to existing clogs I’ve seen before. I’m really looking forward to the launch. 


I have also been using a blend of both soft and hard materials, which is exciting and experimental. I am working towards my fourth drop, which is a dichotomy (each of my drops is an exciting dichotomous conversation). This drop will be skirts and sculptures. 


What adds to the excitement is the collaborative aspect of it all. I’m actively engaging with artisans in the realm of industrial design, and work closely with makers to craft custom products that merge the tactile with the structural. In addition to these partnerships, I’m collaborating with Italian Mills to weave bespoke textiles, specially tailored for my one-of-a-kind skirt designs. 


I have set AOI up to be dynamic and innovative, a brand that would constantly excite me so passionately as the Designer and Creative Director, as much as the collector listening to the whole journey each collectible has been on. We bring diverse elements together to create something truly exceptional and unique.


What do you enjoy about the materials you work with?


I most enjoy the sense of connection and respect I have for the materials I work with. There’s a unique pleasure in handling high-quality, natural fibres and well-woven fabrics and finishings. For me, design is not just about the end result; it’s about the entire journey. I treat each material with the same level of care as I do my prototypes, toiles, creative direction, product development, image making and archival process.  Every step of the process holds significance, and I approach it with deep respect.


Working with various materials excites me because I can relate to each of them in distinctive ways. Instead of forcing a material to conform to my vision, I prefer to honour its fundamental qualities and work around it. This approach allows for a synergy between my ideas and the materials themselves. Ultimately, it’s all about respecting the craft, valuing each element of the creative journey, and letting the materials guide me towards the best possible outcome.


How do new ideas emerge for you and what is the process for developing them into finished pieces?

New ideas for me don’t follow a standardised process. They can emerge from various sources, like a specific colour, a captivating texture, or the craftsmanship involved in a particular technique. A number of diverse elements mould a strong vision in my mind, that I’m then eager to bring to life. My brand name “An Ocean of Ideas,” gives me the freedom to explore unexpected and relatable concepts. Inspiration can strike anywhere, whether it’s a memorable dinner table setting, an art gallery visit, or the experiences surrounding these moments. Even something as abstract as a car ride on the way to visit a factory for example. I believe it’s not always the grand events but often the subtle details that trigger creativity. 


The journey and the time that it takes to master the craft is just as important as the final idea or creation. It’s a continuous process and I’m always drawing from ​​life, travel and culture, and the ideas that they inspire.


Where do you hope to take your practice in the future and why?


In the future, I aspire to take my practice to new heights by transforming it into an inviting and immersive experience that is accessible to the public. While my work is rooted in luxury craftsmanship, I believe that the passion for craft is something people are eager to explore and understand all over again in today’s world. The word luxury also feels condescending to me today as so many of us use it so freely. It should not feel like it’s a luxury for people to touch and connect over well made products. I want to bring that angle back to life, accessible to all like minded individuals who have this passion for beautiful well made products.


It’s a passion that I want to continually share and nurture within my community. I envisage creating in-person experiences in an immersive AOI gallery where individuals can witness my creative process firsthand, shop and experience each collectible and learn about each technique and unique journey.  This allows for a deeper connection to my community and offers them the chance to engage with my craft on a more personal level.  I look forward to finding new ways to collaborate that push the boundaries of creativity, and building innovative partnerships with like-minded creators.


Whether someone decides to collect today, next year, or in the next decade, I want to provide a space where the curiosity and passion for craft can flourish, while also building a vibrant community of enthusiasts and creators who can share in this immersive journey together.


Visit AOI here

Follow the brand’s processes and updates on their instagram page @AOI

The July Edit

Though our usual routines may lose a little of their rigidity over the summer, diaries seem to fill up faster than ever. Make the most of precious remaining slots with our selection of experiences across the worlds of craft, art and design. From the latest talent at New Designers, to a particularly convivial Serpentine Pavilion and two revitalised institutions bouncing back onto the scene, there’s plenty of zip about town this summer. Knowing though that most of us will welcome a gentler pace as temperatures rise, we’ve included four day trip suggestions for a change of scene that’s still laced with well-crafted culture.

And, while calendars are to hand, why not pop in the dates for the tenth anniversary edition of London Craft Week, which takes place 13-19 May 2024.

We’re taking a break for August, so look forward to sharing our next round-up of cultural happenings and fine craftsmanship in early September. In the meantime, we will continue to share creative talent, events and experiences on Instagram, so please follow us there. Wishing you a happy summer.

Craft Capital


National Portrait Gallery Reopens

WC2, ongoing
The National Portrait Gallery has reopened, inviting visitors through its new Tracey Emin-designed doors. The bronze doors’ low-relief depictions of ‘every woman, throughout time’ foretell the more diverse and inclusive picture that is now painted through the collection on show. New Making Galleries delve deeper into the process of portraiture. Find out more


Young V&A Reopens

E2, ongoing 
Aiming to be ‘the most joyful museum in the world’, the newly reopened Young V&A is designed to showcase the power of creativity in children’s lives. A ‘doing’ museum, it encourages hands-on interaction with the various multi-sensory experiences on offer and offers a construction zone, a performance and story-telling stage, and an open design studio in which imaginations can run free. Find out more


Serpentine Pavilion 2023

W2, until 29 October 
Titled, ‘À Table’, the French call to join together around a meal, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion invites visitors to gather around the circular table that curves around its perimeter. The roof too is inspired by the architecture of community gathering, taking its lead from the togunas of Mali, West Africa. Its pleated form, which references palm leaves, sits low to create an atmosphere of calm conviviality. Find out more


New Designers

N1, until 8 July
New Designers at Islington’s Business Design Centre is the largest showcase of graduate designers in the country. Discover fresh designs by the newest businesses in the industry at ND Selects, a subsection of the event curated by London Craft Week Partner Louisa Pacifico, Founder of Future Icons. Find out more



Sarah Myerscough Gallery, W1, until 21 October
Sarah Myerscough Gallery marks its Silver Jubilee with the exhibition ‘Collections,’ an immersive and representative curation of their key artists and artworks. The show weaves together the makers, materials and objects who express the vision of the gallery; expect signature works from familiar names, as well as new directions and developments. Find out more


Andy Warhol: The Textiles

Fashion & Textiles Museum, SE1, until 10 September 
There’s a distinctly summery flavour to many of Andy Warhol’s textiles, currently on show at the Fashion & Textiles Museum. Warhol’s fascination with everyday items and artistic relationship with mass production emerges here, and the exhibition, the first dedicated to his commercial textile designs, showcases how this work contributed to the artist’s oeuvre. Find out more

Curated Day Trips



Wakehurst, Sussex, until 17 September

Wakehurst has commissioned a series of award-winning artists to create a series of outdoor installations in celebration of trees. Taking inspiration from Wakehurst’s varied landscapes and ecology, the eight works capture a broad range of artistic practices, from sculpture to sound. Visitors will discover a 10m explosion of neon, a series of human portraits carved from trees lost to Storm Arwen, a drinks bar made entirely from fungi, giant wooden megaphones and plenty more. Find out more


Joana Vasconcelos: Wedding Cake Tours

Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, until 26 October  

Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to display his collection of arts and entertain a fashionable elite. The latest Rothschild Foundation commission, the 12m ceramic tiled ‘Wedding Cake’ by celebrated Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos is a suitably generous and joyful addition to this collection, set as a folly amid the gardens. Visit this summer for a tour of the multi-tiered structure before going on to explore the collection of contemporary sculpture in the Water Garden. Find out more


The Collection of Victoria, Lady de Rothschild

Ascott House, Bedfordshire, until 17 September

Ascott House hosts the late Victoria, Lady de Rothschild’s collection of contemporary craft prior to its auction through Maak this September. Tomasz Starzewski curated the display across the house’s six public reception rooms. The historic domestic setting juxtaposes contemporary works with antique interiors, celebrating materiality and the quality of the hand-made, regardless of era. Find out more


Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery

Kettle’s Yard, Cambridgeshire, until 29 October 

The current exhibition of Palestinian embroidery at Cambridge’s Kettle’s Yard is the first to explore this beautiful and intricate tradition, in the UK, in over 30 years. Alongside historic dresses are artworks by five contemporary artists, films of embroiderers speaking about their work and rarely seen archive material. Consider then heading down the road to the Fitzwilliam Museum for their showcase of embroidery practices from across the Mediterranean.  Find out more

Meet The Makers: Uzomaka Obiocha and Henry Rolnick


Protection Collection with Uzomaka

This month, we get to know two New York-based textile designers we came upon at the recent North American Pavilion exhibition at No. 9 Cork Street. Both showed with Of The Cloth, an art and design gallery whose interests span the realms of textiles, ceramics, antiques, contemporary art, and furniture, always exploring how materials shape our experiences, evoke emotions, and influence our interactions.

Uzomaka Obiocha and Henry Rolnick share an intuitive and responsive relationship with the materials they work with, “I enjoy that within the woven and dyed cotton fibers, a structural dance unfolds, forming patterns and textures that bring my creative ideations to life. Through this process, the materials themselves become storytellers” (UO) “When I wind warps and weave in the wefts, I have a wide array of natural fibers and yarn sizes to choose from and I integrate them together intuitively, allowing for the materials to tell me where they want to be in the fabric.” (HR)

We hear about how ideas form and are developed into final pieces. “A significant aspect of my creative process involves invoking the wisdom and talents of my ANCESTORS” (OB) and “I find inspiration in propaganda, advertising, and product packaging, as they provide insight into the communication channels through which we inspire intentions and actions.” (HR)

The interviews close with a look ahead to where each artist intends to take their practice and an introduction to other artists they admire.

Read the full interviews here. Follow their work at Of The Cloth

Additional image credits

Craft Capital
National Portrait Gallery Reopens: The new doors at the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, London, designed by Tracey Emin. Photograph © Olivier Hess
Young V&A Reopens: Selection of doll’s houses to be installed within Rachel Whiteread’s installation Place (Village). © Jamie Stoker courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Serpentine Pavilion 2023: Serpentine Pavilion 2023, designed by Lina Ghotmeh. © Lina Ghotmeh — Architecture. Photo: Iwan Baan, Courtesy: Serpentine.
New Designers: New Designers 2022
Collections: Installation view by James Harris courtesy of Sarah Myerscough Gallery
Andy Warhol: Image courtesy Fashion and Textile Museum

Curated Day trips
Rooted: James Hillier work in progress, James Hillier © RBG Kew
Wedding Cake Tours: Wedding Cake 3D Rendering © Atelier Joana Vasconcelos
The Collection of Victoria, Lady de Rothschild: Image courtesy of Maak
Material Power: Everyday dress from Gaza or Hebron, 1935-1940, from the collection of Tiraz: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress