Meet The Maker: Farah Marafie, Founder of AOI

This month we meet Farah Marafie, the mind behind AOI, a luxury brand founded in 2021 that focuses on producing limited edition collectibles that highlight the time and craft taken to produce each unique piece. Farah’s fashion journey began with a BA from Parsons School of Design in New York, followed by an MA from Central Saint Martins in London. She worked for various fashion houses and streetwear labels, shaping her vision to create something new and different. AOI operates asymmetrically to the traditional fashion calendars, producing collectibles not collections. Each collectible is limited-edition, a hand-numbered work of wearable art, crafted in collaboration with skilled makers worldwide.

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

More news

The July Edit

Though our usual routines may lose a little of their rigidity over the summer, diaries seem to fill up faster...

Meet The Maker: Henry Rolnick

Could you tell us about what you are working on at the moment?   I have my first solo show...

Meet the Maker: Uzomaka Obiocha

Could you tell us about what you are working on at the moment?   At the moment, I am working...