A Walk Through the Labyrinth with Begüm Kiroglu

Begüm Kiroglu, the designer and founder of Begüm Khan, unveils her inspirations, rituals, memories and dreams shaping her unique creations.

A Walk Through the Labyrinth with Begüm Kiroglu
Nujoud Oweis

Renowned Turkish designer and founder of Begüm Khan (Instagram), Begüm Kiroglu, weaves dreams, culture, and nature into the fabric of her creative existence. Having commenced her studies at Bocconi University and furthered her educational journey in Shanghai for her Masters Degree, her profound fascination with art and culture burgeoned. Fond childhood memories of wandering through the historic streets of Istanbul and the diverse cultures she encountered along her journey converged to crystallise the dream that now stands as her jewellery brand, Begüm Khan. Today, as she unveils her latest collection, titled ‘Dragons’, she shares with YUNG the essence of her inspirations and the artful harmony she achieves in seamlessly blending traditional heritage with modern elegance.

Your designs draw from a diverse spectrum of historical and cultural influences, spanning from the Ottoman Empire to the Far East. How do you navigate the delicate balance between preserving the authenticity of these inspirations while injecting a contemporary essence into your creations?

Living in different cities can significantly influence one’s character as each city possesses its own unique traits, traditions, and contemporary lifestyle. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and personalities further contributes to shaping an individual. For me, the blend of Shanghai and Istanbul has greatly influenced my eclectic style and personality. One reason I feel a close connection to Eastern culture is the shared commonalities with our own culture, making it both similar and distinctly different. It’s a culture that is simultaneously introverted and open-hearted. Istanbul, being a remarkably diverse city, has played a pivotal role in moulding my personality to be more open, diverse, and eclectic. This, in turn, has equipped me with the ability to adapt easily to any environment and create unique pieces. 

At the genesis of a Dragon collection, what serves as your primary wellspring of inspiration? Where do you often seek the initial sparks that ignite your creative process?

I find inspiration from everything around me, whether it’s the conversations of people at the nearby table, the movies I watch, or the songs I listen to. Creative ideas can strike me unexpectedly; I might wake up with innovative concepts in mind or find myself conceptualising a new design while enjoying dinner with friends.

The dragon, symbolising power, balance, and harmony in Chinese culture, and specifically representing the 2024 Chinese New Year, is one of my sources of inspiration for this collection. I can say that the qualities the dragon symbolises in Chinese culture, such as power, balance, and harmony, are motivating elements for me.

Could you share a moment when you had a sudden realisation or epiphany that confirmed your passion for creating jewellery? A memory that marked the definitive lightbulb moment for you?

Since my childhood, I have been deeply fascinated by jewellery. Like many girls, I was the kind of child who would rummage through my mother’s drawers, wearing brooches as earrings, turning necklaces into belts, and eagerly waiting in front of the jewellery box as if in a candy store. As a young girl, I began collecting vintage jewellery, and later, I found myself crafting cufflinks. That journey ultimately led us to where we are today.

Begüm Khan

Are there specific childhood memories or experiences that have significantly influenced your approach to jewellery design? How do these personal narratives manifest in your creations?

I was fortunate in my childhood to grow up in a very loving environment intertwined with art. As a little child, constantly accompanying my family to auctions and flea markets, seeing beautiful paintings at exhibitions, and having all these artworks consistently present in my home, my eyes were incredibly trained and developed. I believe that the most significant part of shaping my aesthetic perception comes from here.

Throughout your career, have there been any particular role models or muses who have profoundly impacted your artistic journey and the evolution of your designs – be it a family member or a creative like yourself? 

Since my childhood, I’ve always looked up to my brother. When he started playing basketball, I followed him. When he began learning French, I did too. He went to England, and so did I. My first trip to China even happened by following in his footsteps. He holds a very, very significant place in my life. Always my unconditional and unwavering supporter, my closest friend, truly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. He has a serious influence on my life.

Begüm Khan

When transitioning from one collection to the next, what rituals or practices do you embrace to rejuvenate your creative spirit and prepare yourself for the fresh journey ahead?

I love the Sun—seeing it, feeling its warmth, and spending time in its presence makes me feel good. That’s why I can say that my biggest ritual is to see the Sun from the window when I wake up in the morning.

I believe that creative minds are constantly producing, absorbing everything inspiring around them—art they see, conversations they engage in, people they meet—like a sponge. I am one of them.

As a designer, what do you hope individuals feel or experience when they wear your jewellery? Is there a particular emotion or connection you aim to evoke through your designs?

Mystical Eastern vibes and modern lines are some of the elements that make up Begüm Khan’s DNA. The ability of my designs to seamlessly adapt to the wearer’s imagination without being confined to a specific framework is crucial. It is important for me to create designs that can evoke the same impact even 50 years from now, providing a sense that they remain relevant and timeless.

Begüm Khan

From your perspective, how would you define the quintessential Begüm Khan Customer? 

Begüm Khan customers are women who embrace their uniqueness with pride. Unafraid to voice their opinions, stay true to themselves, pursue their dreams, and assertively pursue their desires.

If you could envision one iconic figure, whether from the past or present, adorned in your jewellery, who would be your dream individual be? Someone who would embody your creations.

I would love to see my designs on Maria Callas and Grace Kelly.

For aspiring jewellery designers who are just beginning their journey, what valuable advice or insights would you offer as they step into the craft?

Even if they don’t conform to the beauty standards of the moment, if individuals trust their own ideas and designs, my primary advice is for them to stand behind their ideas, develop them through hard work, and have confidence in their vision. Believing that every dream can come true and consistently working towards it with passion is my insight.

Considering the transformative essence of your jewellery, could you share a fictional book or literary universe that particularly resonates with you, transporting you into a realm of inspiration and creativity?

I can say that the character of Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice and the book Medea have inspired me and influenced me in terms of creativity.

For more arts and culture pieces, like this interview with Begüm Kiroglu of Begüm Khan, explore our dedicated portal.