Richard Yasmine’s furniture and decor collections need their own wing at the MoMA.
To delve inside the mind of architectural artist, Richard Yasmine is to gain a history lesson in Lebanese architecture and to see into the future of furniture design. He experiments frequently with new technologies like 3D-printed furniture, AI, and virtual reality. He shows us where the puck is headed, but not without reminding us where we’ve been. His experiments with technology are undoubtedly impressive, but equally so is the way in which he keeps his tactile, foundational training as an architect and product designer front and center, alongside his Lebanese heritage and cultural commentary. Scroll on to explore the highlights of his recent, renowned works:
Yasmine is always exploring how using simple lines can create an infinite range of thoughtful, minimal objects. “After Ago” is handcrafted and painted using a variety of materials including foam, lightweight concrete plaster, acrylic and stoneware/clay.
““After Ago” is an ode to an arch, a tribute to a city, an elegy of lost souls. It’s a hybrid collection inspired from the metaphorical Postmodernism/Memphis movement with a twist of graceful Art Deco lines and monolithic Brutalism sobriety.’” – Richard Yasmine
“The objects induce an emotional alteration of the self, sad/happy, mad/sane, anxious/calm, death/life hate/love, just like the fascinating history of my city Beirut with its multiple lives and layers throughout centuries yet after each disaster it always rises from the ashes longing for eternal life.” -Richard Yasmine
Made for the Sursock museum store, “Ashkal” is a reconstruction of the reflection of a human’s soul on a nostalgic but contemporary design object, inviting each of us to dive into our own memories. It’s also reminiscent of the early sixties when the Sursock museum opened its door. From that inspiration came “Ashkal” which means shapes or in this case faces, a series of magical yet simple vanity hand mirror mimicking different geometrical flat shapes. The bases are made of marble, brass or metal. The extremely thin hand mirrors figuratively cut a slice of these solid bases making a rift where it fits inside, giving the image of surrealistic oversized fashionable cutlery set.
FURRYBUM / SOFTBUM
“Furry/soft Bum” is a reconstruction of Yasmine’s childish naïve illustrations into an elaborate geometric piece of furniture. The series revolves around transforming basic two-dimensional outlines to create cosmic and comfy volumes, developing bulbous cartoonish armchairs.
“While a triangle expresses manifestation, illumination, exposure, and higher perspectives. It marks the cycles of evolution leading to an advanced state of existence and is best represented by yellow. The square represents structure and balance, law and order. It’s the laws of nature existing in the physical territory, yet a sense of security which can be seen in blue. The round symbolizes the notions of totality, wholeness, perfection, eternity, besides all cyclic movement, it’s as timeless as the red.” – Richard Yasmine
FURRYBUM is made of pastel synthetic fur or in black fur and ropes a version matching WOVEN WHISPERS collection and SOFTBUM in silky velvet primary colors.
“Woven Whispers” is a collection of poetic, nomadic furniture pieces inspired by bold modernism architecture, basic geometric volumes and “Arts and Crafts” movement. It is influenced from the oldest furniture making methods known –wicker and rattan. Dating back 5000 years, the popularity of wicker passed from ancient Egypt in the Middle East to Persia towards ancient Rome until reaching worldwide expansion.
For Milan design week the collection was displayed as an installation, a nod to “The City and the Tower.” It is a representation of a social system, highlighting the physical and psychological theories of a society and its infrastructure. It is a reflection of the social and geopolitical alterations represented symbolically by the design objects colors shapes and patterns.
The “NAZAR” cabinet was created for Scarlet Splendour. It is a discourse around the eye, its physical structure, and its mythological symbols. It is a sculptural surrealistic oversized eye shape cabinet inspired by eclecticism and polystylism styles and craftsmanship. “NAZAR” has a wooden structure and brass. The sclera (white part of the eye) are the door cabinets, made of mother of pearl inlay. The iris and pupil are covered with green patterns of semi-precious stones inlays. Leather ropes mimick the eyelashes on the lower border with brass lashes on the upper part of the eye.
“The eye is a symbol of protection, royal power and good health. Besides the power of sensing “sight and perception” nowadays we feel dominated and controlled underneath the social eye, while the social platforms mainly present themselves as connectors between populations and communities, [they actually] play the role of a watchful eye capturing moments, memories and stories while monitoring every individual yet storing the personal information that can be observed, collected, and analyzed for multiple purpose…our “NAZAR” impersonates the communities hiding behind their small screens acting the role of a surveillance spies. All these methodical and mythological symbols put together creates the main concept of “NAZAR”” – Richard Yasmine
“Calibre 32” is a circular stool whose base is made of upcycled wooden pieces. The top uses vintage joinery in an artisanal marquetry style.
Photos by Mike Malajalian
“Referring to horology, a movement is known as a “Calibre.” In a few words it’s the “process of time.” “Calibre 32” is the wheel train transmitting the force of the power source to the escapement; in our case, back in time to the glories of Lebanese civilization, age of the old architecture and the traditional tiles rarely existing nowadays in Beirut, creating an interactive asset for a successful concept where structures, shapes, patterns materials and colors meet.” – Richard Yasmine
“Clou” is a series of marble and metal tables measuring 40 cm diameter and 44 cm height.
Photos by BizarreBeirut
“A nail (in french clou) is an elongated metallic piece used to connect two objects to each other. It consists of a flat end, sometimes enlarged called a header and a body usually ending with a pointed shape. My “clou” is a coffee / side table series made of different materials. This version consists of the following: One is made of pentelic full body marble and another of treated iron metal.Each, forming the shape of an exaggerated flat header and body connected to a pedestal from the same material.The visual reflects double symbolism; sadism and alliance, together creating one body.When the nail is enforced to penetrate the base, part of its body is buried in this second element or material, once done, the two elements are now attached, regardless the pain they become one.” – Richard Yasmine
“Plugged” is a series of carafe / jugs / soliflore and table lamps. Made of solid brushed brass and a very thin hand blown borosilicate glass mixed together to form one dramatically enchanting unit.
“Plugged is a sort of continuation in a way or so to my previous Glory Holes soliflore/table, I am trying to explore the Phallique shape and studying it from different angles, working on a certain philosophy or a story. I’m trying to work on how often I can incorporate it in our daily objects, but in a concealed way, making people using those objects for the daily propose, holding a piece of art which they usually classify [as] “taboo.” The shape [helps] me to create appealing [and functional] objects. When creating a design piece, I try to focus on taboos in our society, [which are so often] focused on [the] wrong problems. I want people to think, ask and believe in diversity, equality, feminism regardless religion, skin color, sexual orientation and lots of other matters that some are still scared to talk about. I urge…society to connect with the other, to try to know the other without prejudgment and that’s what makes me create controversial design objects.” – Richard Yasmine
Gloryholes table by Richard Yasmine | Photo by Mike Malajalian
For the lovers of natural wood, “Wonderwood” is designed as a set of multifunctional products, used as tableware or a freestanding fruit bowl or even a valet tray. It’s a collective work with Lebanese marquetry artisans. The concept was to create a new, experimental representation of ancient marquetry to form the trendy surface pattern. Wonderwood is treated by hand-linishing and polishing, followed by sandblasting to give it a rough appearance. It is then treated with acid, and finally: a thin layer of wax is added to preserve the outward feel of the product.
“When mixing contemporary design [with] traditional knowhow, a new wonder is born, here is “Wonderwood.” The limits of the design process are pushed to opposite extremes:, experimenting with layers of finishes and chemicals, making the final look of the product; used, rough, or as if excavated from the deepness of an old forgotten ground mixing multiple media and methods to give it the desired appearance.” – Richard Yasmine
Richard Yasmine’s “Silent Hollows” is a 3D-printed, AI-imagined installation that explores the relationship between nature and technology, which premiered this year at Salone del Mobile. The installation is made up of a series of interconnected pods that are inspired by the geological formations of the Earth. The pods are 3D-printed using a variety of materials, including foam, fiberglass, lightweight concrete, and tinted mirrors. The installation also includes an immersive three-dimensional VR experience that transports the viewer to an alternative and mystical planetary landscape.
Yasmine worked with a team of engineers and designers to develop an AI algorithm that could generate the initial designs for the pods. The algorithm was trained on a dataset of geological formations, and it was able to generate designs that were both visually stunning and structurally sound.The AI algorithm was also used to optimize the 3D-printing process. This involved finding the best settings for the printer and the materials, as well as developing a workflow that would allow the pods to be printed quickly and efficiently.
HAWA Beirut, a collection of light, airy furniture inspired by Lebanese architecture, specifically their trademark arches. They are made of powder-coated colorful steel, treated pink marble, blown stained glass inserts and decorative handmade silk-braided cords and tassels. HAWA in Arabic means a light summer breeze or deep love.
“Hawa Beirut creates a nostalgic…harmonious reflection [of] our ancestors, continuing the communication between the past present and the future generations. It is composed of two chairs, one with upholstery and the other one features a low flippable central table / coffee table and a “paravent,” or decorative separation panels including multiple materials.” – Richard Yasmine