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Richard Yasmine: "My work acts as a reminder to society to connect with each other"


Richard Yasmine: "My work acts as a reminder to society to connect with each other"

Pink, mint green, and baby blue may not be colours immediately associated with Middle Eastern design, but somehow, Lebanese designer Richard Yasmine makes them work in his Hawa Beirut collection. His light and airy furniture is inspired from Lebanese architecture - hence the arches that are designed as the structure of armchairs, coffee tables and screens – trendy, yet traditional.

Yasmine's work also has deeper meaning and purpose. For example, the very conceptual Wake Up Call looks as if its light bulbs are sitting in a nest, while a rock stabilises its brass structure. The limited edition table lamps symbolise a cause acting as an alert to nature, a "Wake Up Call", to take action and to help preserve the natural world.

So who is Richard Yasmine? Surprisingly, he's been in business since 2003, and we think it's about time to re-introduce him to the world.

WAKE UP CALL is a limited edition of table lamps composed of brass and hand blown organic shaped sandblasted bulbs. This emphasizes the light on a landscape of multiple types of semi precious rocks while highlighting abandoned bird nests, accentuating the call for help.

For people who are not yet familiar with you, what's the most important thing about your background?

I am Lebanese born and raised and an interior architect and product designer. As a person filled with imagination, I use my imaginary world as a simulation to try out new ideas and create new objects, and that's how it all starts. My inspiration comes from everyday life, objects and emotions. From the human body, its physiology and its needs. But also from an internal chaos combined with a certain innate sensitivity, sometimes extreme and provocative and not even expected by others but still minimal. I always practice my imagination to create new objects. I never tend to identify the difference between reality and imagination, this is what helps me create intriguing and controversial design objects that are complicated in their production process. However, this is also distinctive in my personality.

Did you always want to be a designer when you were a kid? When was the defining moment that you knew?

Indeed it was since I was a kid, drawing was my number one hobby, and my ultimate dream was to be an architect, and that’s how it started, I studied interior architecture and product design, and started working in many firms as a conceptual designer. Lately my focus has been on products and fantasy objects.

Everlastingreen central table made in vert Gauguin marble, brass and metal structure. The concept is to revitalize this “Lebanese icon” rework the structure, emphasize and soften the lines giving it a fashionable twist while preserving the main identity.

You mentioned that your design is "minimal and simple, with a direct and targeted message combining a soupçon of surrealism". When and how did this realisation come about?

I was known for simplicity and minimalism since my university projects. But my lines and shapes gained maturity with time, and that's how I started melding the simple with the extravagant to achieve the desired result, so you can say it's a mix between my personality and its organic evolution.

You've also mentioned the Middle Eastern / Lebanese soul. How do you define this soul? And how has it influenced you in your design approach?

Well sure as a Middle Eastern and specifically a Lebanese, I am concerned with reflecting a dynamic representation of my city and country. Therefore, I constantly include additional methodologies in each of my projects related to my culture and ritual by choosing the lines, shapes, materials. I also collaborate with skilled craftsmen, occasionally in a muddled development contrastingly with clean and sharp outcomes. My ultimate concern is to keep integrating this Middle Eastern / Lebanese soul in the procedure of each of my products that I define as geometric, ornamente, rhythmic, poetic and nostalgic.

Hawa Beirut Collection.

You've shown at three different places during the last Salone in Milan. Which collection faced the biggest challenge in terms of production? Why?

Each one of them had a different process. 'Lav' for JCP Universe was a challenge knowing that as a perfectionist, I had to follow up each on every step during the process of the production. This time it was in Milan, and I wasn't able to inspect on a daily basis, yet the biggest challenge was working on the Hawa Beirut Collection which included multiple furniture pieces with various materials, collaborating and coordinating with several artisans to come out with an immaculate result in a limited period of time.

Hawa Beirut's colourful and curvy design is such a big contrast to the very conceptual ideas of Wake up Call. Do you go through different mindsets while designing for different types of products?

Indeed I work on totally different mindsets while working on different types of products. Sometimes because there is a theme to work on, sometimes it's because I want to reflect another vision and story through the created product to generate diversity in my collections.

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.

'Wake Up Call' also has an environmental context to it. Is that an approach to design that you'll be focusing on in the future?

The environment is a part of my obsession that I try carefully to work and help in preserving. However, I work on many other daily matters. With each design comes a different approach, and it all depends on the theme, subject and function.

Do you think designers these days are too slow in reacting to global crises like climate change and other environmental problems? Is there a way to fix that?

Not at all, many designers care, react and work forward on this matter. Note that we “designers” can't fix the environmental problems alone, but we can highlight it in our society, to let people and activists act towards what's happening in our environment and ecosystem. Our natural environment is a priceless part of universal heritage; all animals, forests, plants, minerals, soils, etc. have a role to play for our healthy natural atmosphere and all are fundamentally important in every eco-system. Therefore it is our responsibility to save it. 

We can start to fix that at least in our own society by using sustainable choices. We can maximise actions by raising awareness of local environmental challenges within our communities and push for policies that protect nature.

Wonderwood worked with Lebanese artisans in the marquetry field to create new, yet experimental representation of the ancient marquetry as design and/or functionality.

How do you see your studio developing in the future? What are your ambitions?

Year after year, design after another, I feel more responsible to transfer my messages through my designs and to keep on working hard in creating multifunctional objects with social matters. There will definitely be more surprises in the future, and this is my ambition - for new objects to see the light, adding several new furniture pieces and home accessories. I will also soon reveal the latest commissioned piece for a modern museum.

Lastly, design is important, because...'s a division of ART yet art is a message. As you can see my work is always based on a story or a subject related to a specific social case, focusing on problems or actions in society. I want people to think, ask and believe in diversity, equality, feminism, regardless of religion, skin color or sexual orientation. My work acts like a reminder to society to connect with each other, interact, and try to know the other without judgment.


To find out more about Richard Yasmine and his work, click here.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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