Jordanian architects Nermin Al-Salaita and Omar Dahabreh approach furniture design from an architectural point of view, and they reflect architectural theories and standards in their works. In an attempt to shorten the description of the furniture they design, it can be said that it is contemporary, “solid”, dark in color and artistic, and that it elevates iron, making it difficult to give it a specific attribute style. On furniture, design vision and the future of product design in the Arab region, the duo of Al-Salaita and Dahabra talk to “Sayida”, in the following dialogue.
you majored in architecture; What led you to design furniture?
- Omar: Architects need to experiment in the field of furniture design, because the field allows the generation of new and diverse ideas, and helps to understand the space around them. By working in partnership with Nermin on various architectural projects and thinking of multiple scales, we wanted to transfer our experiences to the interior of the house together, so that this time the ideas took the form of pieces of furniture that mimic and reflect the designs of architecture. . a new school of thought, the school we dreamed of years ago.
Furniture designers around the world put environmental concerns first. How do you express respect for the environment in your designs?
- Nermin: Respecting the environment is at the heart of every designer’s interests. In our work, there is a reliance on natural materials extracted from the local environment, as well as recycled raw materials to create new forms of it and a different spirit, in addition to considering the materials and processes used in the manufacture of furniture. In addition, there is an emphasis on furniture that has a long life and is receptive to repair, in the context of extending service life, in an effort to reduce emissions and mitigate damage to the environment.
Comfort, attractive appearance, contemporary and practical use are all common elements that a furniture buyer is looking for. What about the designer’s point of view?
- Omar: In the first place, there is a focus in our collective work, on creating new furniture styles loaded with the spirit of architectural design and the combination of traditions, craftsmanship, passion, experience and creativity, with an interest in comfort, practicality and attractiveness. The difficulty with designing the art pieces is that the latter is “quiet”; However, this feature makes the mentioned artifacts interesting because it can attract the feelings and memory of the one who uses it, and thus transform it from lifeless to tangible!
Your connections with iron are remarkable; How do you see the material? Are other materials being tested to discover other aspects of them?
- Nermin: Iron is a solid material, but at the same time it is flexible and can be shaped and reshaped. In addition to iron, there are many types of metals, which give us opportunities to experiment and forge. So, we start the design work by using iron as a starting point, while allowing other materials to find their place smoothly. Other materials include: wood, marble and concrete.
Sitting lines and dark colors are evident in your works; Place “minimalism” or minimalism you?
- Omar: The tendency to “minimalism” can sometimes serve to express a specific design, because the said style is characterized by simplicity and clear lines. As for dark colors, it is a favorite of both of us, without it meaning that many other colors are not used, according to the idea behind the design and the place that the piece of furniture will house.
Your furniture designs are suitable for a home with a specific style, or can it be an addition to any interior?
- Nermin: We believe and believe that the pieces we design and manufacture do not belong to one place or time and are not limited to a specific style or environment. We also believe that good design lasts forever. We are very pleased to see that our designs are displayed in places far from their familiar surroundings or in a way that goes against tradition and the ordinary. It is important for both of us to continue to achieve new designs, extract innovative materials and create successful production and manufacturing methods.
How many sets have you designed to date? What is your purpose in designing furniture, and your future work?
- Omar: Since its inception, the following three collections have been released by Opus Design Collective, in 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively: The Pilot Collection, Modular Steel Kitchens, and Evoke Collection. In each group a novel of a different idea and uses of various forms of iron, and a collaboration with a skilled local workforce. Our ambition is to transfer ideas, design and production from the local market to Arab and international markets, as well as to annually produce new design collections and draw attention to our ideas and works of art. It is noteworthy that the collaborative approach is common in the management of the project, from the idea to the implementation.
What are your sources of inspiration?
- Nermin: We are filled with curiosity, and we are constantly looking for new inspiration that can exist in everything that surrounds us, whether in people, materials, places, music or shapes. Designs. exploration of raw materials, by conducting research on the situation of the local market; These different processes allow for design “solutions” that not only look beautiful, but improve the way we deal with the world around us, always drawing on the knowledge and experience accumulated from our previous projects, and focus on improving our environment by the power of design and always listening to what our clients require in their projects. Each new vision is an opportunity to advance design and improve manufacturing performance.
In short, how do you see the future of furniture design in the Arab region?
- Omar: The furniture design sector in the Arab region continues to flourish, relying on pioneering ideas and heritage that are an integral part of the interior design environment. There are many academic and industry initiatives that focus on the role of product design in linking heritage and contemporary. The increasing number of design weeks in Arab cities, in turn, testifies to the growing acceptance and enthusiasm for product design. Design in the Middle East has come a long way; This is not only due to the cultural prominence of design, but also to the fact that design is now accepted as an essential component of the local architectural and design community. The Arab region is rich in ideas, diversity, passion for innovation and modernization, as well as designers who have a clear brand. These people were a strong incentive for us to move forward with our vision, at the beginning of the launch. The future of design in the region is promising and full of opportunities, waiting for designers who are motivated to come up with new and unique ideas that reflect them in their designs and art pieces.
in line …
Nermin Al-Salayta and Omar Dahabreh, two Jordanian architects living in the Jordanian capital, Amman, and founders of Opus Design Collective, who design and manufacture metal furniture according to unique concepts and contemporary visions. The partnership between Al-Salaita and Dahabreh began at university campuses, as they both graduated from the same university and in the same group. According to Nermin Al-Salaita, she worked with Omar during the year of graduation, because the duo was motivated by a love of focusing on fine details and development in design, so that the latter with a distinctive artistic face and special for them visions. From here, the idea of establishing a partnership began.