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Oriental Living, Portraits of Style Visionaries
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In our fourth issue, Esensual Living embraces the global style-makers whose inspiration is derived from the multifaceted cultures of the Mediterranean. Born in Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey, but also in the US, they are the architects of a new design landscape based on their own heritage or their fascination with these legendary shores.

 

We asked the following four key questions:

1. How does your Oriental heritage inspire your work? How do you interpret this in your design?

2. Is there a strong contemporary current in the Middle Eastern design landscape?

3. Which Oriental personality has marked your design philosophy? And why?

4. When traveling to the Middle East, what favorite treasures do you bring back with you?

Oriental-living Oriental-living
Defne Koz
DR
 

 

 

DEFNE KOZ

Globally acclaimed designer Defne Koz creates furniture, lighting, and tableware for international companies such as Alessi, VitrA, Panasonic, Nissan, Gaia&Gino, Arcelik. Trained in Ettore Sottsass’s studio, her work reflects her Turkish and Italian heritage. Her interest goes from humanizing new technologies to rediscovering beautiful craftsmanship. She continually aims to add more aesthetic quality to everyday life.

 

1. I feel strange answering questions about the influence Turkish culture has on my work as I feel above all multicultural. I’m terribly curious and interested in anything that can make our relation with objects and environment more beautiful and rich. With my design, I strive to add quality to everyday life by proposing new languages and new products that provide more intense emotions and give us the pleasant surprise of seeing something new and unexpected. Fortunately, I live in a world that helps this discovery by allowing me to travel, to know different people, to eat different foods, to meet artisans with different traditions. I think this is priority number one for a designer, no matter where she or he comes from. There is, however, a connection between my way of seeing design and the roots of my culture, especially as a combination of new-global and old-traditional.

2. I don't think design today can grow separate from the roots of our visual culture. It is true that Turkey has a strong visual tradition, but I don't see why it should look at the past to revive it. I think we Turkish designers have 'metabolized' that visual culture, meaning we do not need to quote the things of the past but we just leverage that culture and move it into the future. Turkish designers are, above all, contemporary intellectuals that live in a globalized culture. We don't necessarily need to qualify ourselves as a reference to our 'Ottoman' or 'Republican' roots. That's our past, we should appreciate it, study it and understand it, but the future is another story.

3. I identify with a city, Istanbul, rather than an oriental personality. I feel my path is similar to what happened there. In the last fifteen years, the city has expanded dramatically. Yet, it has maintained its own while growing a new identity. The new parts of the city don't mimic any of the heritage, there is no vernacular. What insures continuity between the old and the new is the certain way for looking at life: very energetic, extremely social and cosmopolitan. Istanbul has always been a place where it is difficult to distinguish East and West. It has always been a bridge between the two cultures. The same can be said about my design today. Every day tools, ancient customs remain the main reference for me as a designer, but my goal is to propose new visions for everyday life. I believe preserving an identity while accepting modernity is the best inspiration for my design.

4. I am not superstitious but I like to bring 'evil eye’ back to my friends when I go to Turkey. I find this object very simple yet strong enough to 'create' a positive vibe...

www.defnekoz.com

Oriental-living Oriental-living
DR
Oriental-living Oriental-living
DR
 
Oriental-living Oriental-living
@Caro&Jules
Oriental-living Oriental-living
Patrick Naggar
Béatrice Amagat
 

 

PATRICK NAGGAR

Born in Egypt, Patrick Naggar lives between New York and Paris. An architect, artist and designer, he blends ancient and modern cultures in his designs to bring together the functional and the symbolic. Mixing noble and everyday materials, he designs furniture, lamps and accessories that form an elegant contemporary language with a strong poetic dimension.

Next exhibition : Furniture at Ralph Pucci Gallery New York opening October 17th

 

1. I was born in Egypt and raised in a multi cultural environment so I’d rather talk about a cosmopolitan upbringing and about the general influence of the Mediterranean, where the East and West meet. Above any influence is the tradition of story telling, that of tales...I realize that most of the time, any one of my creations conveys a storyn whether it's an interiors project or a furniture design or an object, I have designed.

2. In my view, this specific design philosophy would mostly consist of a “ way of life”, where climate and a certain Oriental breeze combined with the importance of garden design and the relationship of water…. On the other hand, the fascination for the Orient (Orientalism) has existed in Occidental Europe and the West for a long time. Montesquieu wrote widely about this region in "les Lettres Persanes". And other great talent, writers and artists alike did too. Ranging from Byron, Vivant-Denon, Flaubert, Owen Jones and Delacroix or Matisse to name a few... A wonderful architectural example is The Viceroy’s House by Lutyens in New Delhi. A perfect hybrid match between Eastern and Western cultures. To me, Japan is a strong reference, as the very essence of Japanese design is modern.

3. Imhotep, builder of Saqqara, The neo-platonist Plotinus probably born in Egypt, Albert Camus if one can consider him as a Middle Eastern personality , Amin Maalouf Lebanese and French author, Anish Kapoor part Indian part British, Nogushi half Japanese half American, most are hybrids or are bridging Oriental and Western cultures …

4. A calligraphy and having a sweet tooth, a large box of loukhoum …

www.patricknaggar.com

Oriental-living Oriental-living
@Caro&Jules
 
Oriental-living Oriental-living
STEPHEN DI RENZA
Bruno Suet
 

 

 

 

 

STEPHEN DI RENZA

Stylist for Interview Magazine, Fashion Director for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, ultra-sophisticated Artistic Director for Alfred Dunhill in Paris, Philadelphia-born Stephen di Renza exudes all that is chic about a Parisian. He has now relocated to Fez where, in 2012, he opened restaurant Numéro 7 and a boutique guest house Riad N°9 with his French partner, chef Bruno Ussel. Their oasis is the perfect blend of contemporary Oriental style with traditional craftsmanship. A dream come true for any visitor…

 

1. The Arab world gave us geometry which is an archetypal form of design itself. To quote Plato “… geometry is the knowledge of the eternally existent.” The sense of geometrical proportion is everywhere in the Islamic applied arts. Personally, I find inspiration by stripping off or abstracting layers of embellishment and taking designs down to their geometric base.

2. I believe there is and actually always has been. It’s just that now we’re seeing designers using the geometric principles of ordered space that underline all Islamic art and rather than adding ornament are doing just the opposite. What many people are calling “Modern Moroccan” is exactly this rather than any kind of “fusion” with western styles.

3. I cannot say there is one particular personality who has marked my design philosophy. I would however say that I am extremely intrigued by the creation process – and design philosophy- at certain periods of history which correspond to my own process. During the early spread of Islam, in the seventh and eighth centuries, artists encountered a range of patterns and designs that they adopted…abstracting and adopting them into new forms to support new uses.

4. I have an artisanal perfumer in Fez who has an incredible range of natural essences. I tend to bring orange and violet essential oils as gifts for my ladies friends and pieces of musk which I put in my closets to perfume linen and clothing

www.riad9.com

Oriental-living Oriental-living
DR
 
Oriental-living Oriental-living
Taher Chemirik
Alain Cornu
 

 

TAHER CHEMIRIK

Born in Algeria, Taher Chemirik was elected one of the most influential designers in the world by Time Magazine in 2007. A multi-faceted creator, he started out by designing jewellery for Chanel, Hermes, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. His strong, geometric pieces are shown today at the Galerie Naila de Monbrison in Paris. He has built a very considerable following with the collectors of contemporary jewellery in Europe and across the globe. A self-made designer, he now creates highly stylistic sculptural furniture, on display at the BSL Gallery in the Marais in Paris.

Next exhibitions: Furniture at Galerie BSL Paris until June 22d ; Jewelry at Galerie Naïla de Monbrison June 4th to June 22d; Basel Art Fair, Galerie BSL June 11th to June16th.

 

1. Through my birthplace, Algeria and its history and geography, I feel more Mediterranean than Oriental, even though two of my pieces La Naïve and le Fiancé de la Naïve do relate to moucharabiehs. But they also evoke confessionals a reminiscence of my time with the Jesuits… but lightened of all sins.

2. The Mediterranean is a sea common to numerous countries which enables all to immerse themselves in cultures that are not their own. Mobility is facilitated by the rapidity of transports so we all carry baggage from different places. Multiple influences nourish strong currents of creativity. My work is impregnated by different cultures which go beyond the Mediterranean: primitive arts, Richard Serra, Brancusi amongst others. I reinterpret them through my own perception and sensibility.

3. I don’t think I inscribe myself in the history of design but more in that of decorative arts which inspire me and which I know well.

4. A carpet, which, to me, is much more than a decorative element but a piece of furniture in its own right.

www.taherchemirik.com

Oriental-living Oriental-living
Alain Cornu
 
Oriental-living Oriental-living
DR
 

 

 

 

 

MARIA OUSSEIMI

Ceramic artist and jewellery designer Maria Ousseimi embodies all the seduction and energy of the Levant. A world traveler, a curator at the Beirut Art Center and a self-made, wonderfully refined decorator, her latest project – Liza’s restaurant in Beirut opening next June – blends a revisited vision of Oriental style with an elegant contemporary aesthetic.

 

1. My levantine heritage is what defines me I suppose. It is my family, my way of life, my aspirations, what I look up to. I never question, it it is an intrinsic part of who I am. It is the meeting point of so many different esthetic influences. So I suppose that my eye, my codes are probably fundamentally oriental or what I perceive to be the Orient. A mix of many cultures, a place loaded with history, beauty and light. A place of welcome.

2. Absolutely. I can only speak about Beirut, a city I know well and where I live. Beirut is a city that has reinvented itself many times. Sometimes intelligently, sometimes beautifully but always with immense creative energy. So the contemporary current in design and art is not exception to the rule. Today after year of turmoil Lebanon has regained its place as the creative capital of the Arab world.

3. My mother who grew up in Damascus is probably the person who influenced me the most. Her impeccable taste, her attention to detail and her understated approach to her heritage A mix of silent pride and elegance. She taught me the importance of an interior and how it is a reflection of a persons history and soul

4. Tiles

Oriental-living Oriental-living
Medea Azouri & DR
 

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