From award-winning jeweller to published author

Sima in her Oxo Tower Wharf studio

Sima Vaziry, part of our designer-maker community at Oxo Tower Wharf, has just published her first book.

Sima was born in South-Western Iran and came to the UK in 1978. Having worked in graphic design for 25 years, she decided to turn her passion for jewellery into a career. Since then, she’s had six collections at the British Museum – pretty impressive!

To add to that, she’s now published a book, ‘Patterns of Afghanistan’, which was born out of her most recent jewellery collection, Alina, for the British Museum.

When Sima started researching different tribes in Afghanistan for Alina, she noticed how they all had embroidery in common. She quickly came to realise there wasn’t any books about the gorgeous Afghan embroidery made by these tribes. Each piece of embroidery told a story; women and young girls would use them to express themselves.

It feels like you’re hearing the voice of Afghan history, throughout the generations

Finding herself with more time during the first UK lockdown, Sima decided she would create a book. It would detail 8 Afghan tribes’ embroidery patterns, so designers and artisans could use it as a basis for their work.

The designs are a steppingstone for designers and artisans so they can create beautiful work using the research I did

Sima created 720 patterns (90 patterns for each tribe)! She drew each pattern, simplified and modernised them and created different colour palettes - making them versatile and accessible.

The designs are royalty free, so artists and craftspeople can use the patterns to create whatever they’d like. Below are a few examples that Sima has created:

Sima was kind enough to do an interview with us about ‘Patterns of Afghanistan’:

What was your favourite pattern from each tribe you created?

I like them all but here are few of my favourites from each tribe...

Did your journey inspire future jewellery collections?

Yes, it did. I’ve already designed a collection for each tribe. The plan was to make them all originally. If the lockdown finishes and my health allows, I would love to make them with Afghan artisans.

Can you tell us a little more about the symbolism of the patterns and the stories they tell?

One of the symbols I like is the pomegranate, which may be given to newlyweds in celebration and hope of fertility, beauty and long life. Some of the other ones I really like are:

Blossoms - hope, renewal, and youth.

Geometric shapes of nature, hills, mountains - centre of the world, linking heaven and earth, towards the sky and the heavens.

Branches, greenery and trees - life, strength and growth.

Birds - life, rebirth, peace, hope, wisdom and love.

Flowers - life, purity, and loveliness.

Greenery - healthy land, revival and renewal.

Would you create another book, similar to this one, but for somewhere else in the world?

Yes, I’d like to create one for my homeland, Iran. I think I’d like to concentrate on the pre-Islamic, Persian period, as a lot of work has already been done on Islamic patterns in the world. I’m hoping it will be just as interesting!

What was the most interesting thing you discovered while writing the book?

Afghanistan’s population is made up of several ethnic groups or tribes and it was very interesting (for me) that, despite these tribes collectively residing in the region for hundreds of years, they have each kept their own distinctive ways of living which are defined by unwritten codes. 


Sima has published her book on Amazon in both paperback as well as Kindle e-book formats in order to make it as widely available as possible.

To buy Sima's book, click here
To see Sima's Alina collection, click here
To see Sima's page, click here