Nour and Maysa Sakkal, two sisters, partners and designers from Lebanon; The first studied architecture in Beirut and Barcelona, and the second studied interior design in Beirut, and each of them worked alone before establishing their own “studio” in Beirut, and later a branch in Kuwait. The studio’s work spans the interwoven world of design, from architecture to interior design and product design.
The works move, the two sisters’ aim is to make the viewer of their product or its user experience various feelings. The two sisters talk to “Madam”, in the following dialogue, about the nature of their partnership and the influences of their childhood on their work, as well as about the future of design, after the “Corona” epidemic has cast a shadow over it . .
The Gulf region looks promising in terms of design
Both of you live in different Arab capitals (Beirut and Kuwait) Does the work of each of the two sisters complement the other, or is it collaboration?
Norway: Our work is both complementary and collaborative; In some projects we complement each other in the sense that we divide the interior/architectural projects between us, with one of us taking the lead and the other doing the work. Other times it is completely collaborative, especially when it comes to designing products for our own brand or for international exhibitions.
In many interviews they talk about the effect of your childhood in Beirut, at the time of the civil war, on your productions. How did this period contribute to the approach to design?
Norway: I have many memories from that period; Sleeping at night, in the shelter, in the basement of the building we lived in, in Beirut, during times of bombing, with the unexploded bomb on the roof of my parents’ bedroom. I was a child then, 5 or 6 years old, so it seemed like a little hide and seek with my family from the sounds of guns, and it didn’t affect me psychologically. In terms of how our childhood during the war was characterized, our approach to design, I can say that Beirut is an inspiration for both of us. One of our collections, Pockets of Light, reflects the lasting psychological impact on the movement of people in the city, despite the removal of barriers between the two parts of Beirut. (The group consisted of vases attached to chains or iron chains, but when the pieces were placed in the kiln, the latter fell off, but traces of them remained in the accessories)
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They say that “the purpose of every design they implement, be it a piece of furniture or an accessory, is communication and an exploration of feelings, surprise and mystery.” Tell us more about this philosophy in your work?
Norway: Through each piece, interior design or building we work on, we aim to encourage the recipient to give feedback or express his feelings about the products (designs), or to communicate with the latter, as the design aims to stimulate feelings, and the success of the design lies in enabling the user (or The receiver) to communicate with him and develop his reactions towards him. Moreover, the works are not without ambiguity, and arouse the curiosity of users to look past them, or even sometimes just stop and think.
Last year you participated in the “Paris Design Week” with a group of vases; what about her
Maysa: The exhibition was called “1000 Vases”, and it was held under the umbrella of “Paris Design Week”. Our collection, entitled Chroma, is made of recycled glass, “chrome” and aluminium. As much as we love design on a grander scale, we believe that home accessories make a huge difference in interior spaces. We enjoy thinking about these small details that tie all the elements of the house together. We wanted to “inject” the houses with color by using these vases, which will again include colored flowers.
We draw inspiration from our daily life, nature and our childhood
Are there any general principles that apply to the designs that companies will need in 2023?
Maysa: In residential projects in particular, I feel that the principle that will continue to apply is to create “livable” spaces; The more people realize the impact of space in their lifestyle, the more they want their homes to be functional and in harmony with their lifestyles. Previously, we designed spaces, such as formal living areas, that didn’t really cater to the needs of the homeowners, but rather the visitors. Now, and also in the future, I believe, we design, and we will design, with the aim of meeting the needs and lifestyle of each customer, that is, looking at all home spaces from his perspective, while more make functional and useful in his daily life.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Maysa: From our daily lives, in general, and from nature and our childhood… The inspiration for the design of any piece is a personal journey; My sister and I think about the things that motivate us, the things that move us and the things that mean something to us… All of this leads to determination. The latter is a work that comes from within us, as we try to express our feelings through any piece.
Are there new concepts, in interior design, that were imposed as a result of the “Corona” epidemic, and that they still exist?
Norway: There are many concepts in interior design, and how to live; Concepts that started with the announcement of the Corona pandemic, and will continue. Through contact with clients, we feel the increasing focus on homes, and the owners’ desire to live in spaces that enable them to work, raise, exercise and play, all at the same time. The home has become a multifunctional space that should serve all aspects of an individual’s life. Another concept that started during the pandemic, and which we believe will continue as well, is adding more green touches to interior spaces, i.e. gardens, swimming pools, green walls, natural skylights, or simply adding plants to ponds . These are all elements of “biophilic design” that have proven to have positive effects on humans. This design is more and more desired by homeowners, especially as more time is spent on it. The pandemic has forced a new way of life and a new way of using homes, with telecommuting being regulated around the world.
What about the future of design in the Arab region?
Maysa: The Gulf region looks promising in this regard, especially since many people are becoming more and more interested in design and are really aware of its impact on their lifestyle. Additionally, the “boom” of social media allows people to learn about new trends in design. As a result, they become more receptive to new ideas and testing them in their homes and spaces in general.
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Nour Sakkal, an architect, completed her postgraduate studies at the Barcelona Institute of Architecture, after obtaining a Bachelor of Architecture from the American University of Beirut. Mayssa Saqal, an interior architect, graduated from the Lebanese American University in Beirut.
After graduating, they both worked separately for several years with well-known designers in their field; Maysa worked with Galal Mahmoud Architects, Nour with Nabil Gholam Architects in Beirut, and then with IMAR in Doha, Qatar. Then, during one of the summer holidays, when they were together in Beirut, they participated in the design of their first products for an exhibition presented by The Silly Spoon boutique in the Lebanese capital, and this was the beginning of many designs. Thus, the “studio” Saccal Design House was born, in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in 2014. The “studio” provides interior design and architecture services, in addition to product design. In 2018, the two sisters opened a branch of the studio in Kuwait City.
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