by Mona Bavar
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
~ Albert Einstein
In 2019 Lebanese-Polish sisters Tessa and Tara Sakhi of T Sakhi Studios made the world aware of the socio-political unrest in Lebanon with their instillation The WAL(L)TZ – a 15-metre-long wall made of recycled foam that had been penetrated with cracks and holes, encouraging visitors to communicate with one another.
The WAL(L)TZ is one of the many examples of the purposeful works produced by the multi-disciplinary sisters whose collective forms of expression range from architecture to film. The talented duo combine their diverse visions in order to create unique, thought provoking works which often blur the lines between fiction and reality.
Both sisters started their initial architectural studies at L’académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts in Beirut where they occasionally worked on projects together. After a short time at the Académie each sister went her separate way, living, studying and working in New York, Paris, Milan, Berlin - always at different times. This time apart shaped their unique collaborative approach and gave way to T Sakhi Studio, co-founded in 2016.
Through their constant travels and shared enthusiasm for exploring eclectic environments the sisters discovered their distinct talents. Tessa found her passion for philanthropy and humanitarian activities, while Tara honed her love for photography and film.
DLISH had a chance to speak to Tessa Sakhi about working with her sister, the thought process behind their creations and the ‘new world’ post COVID-19.
Mona Bavar: How is it working with your sister? How do you contribute differently?
Tessa Sakhi: When we get a project we always speak about a common concept and from that we go off separately coming up with ideas which we later presented to each other. This makes us want to defend our ideas and to convince one another on our concepts.
It's very funny because we have very different passions. My sister is very much into film and she has done a lot of art direction. She is also a fantastic photographer. On the other hand, I like doing humanitarian work and have been doing it since I was a kid. Regardless of our differences, our way of thinking and our approach to both architecture and design is similar - we complement each other. This is why we named our firm T Sakhi because the T is the unity of the two of us.”
MB: In 2019 at the Dubai Design Week, you installed a wall in order to bring to light the socio-political unrest in Lebanon. Did you achieve the results you had hoped for?
TS: Yes, and even much more than what we had expected. This is one of the reasons why my sister and I are inspired to work with installations - because the people bring our concepts to life, much more than what we can expect.
It was interesting because we saw how people would try to cross from a tiny hole in the wall to get to the other side. This showed us how much we as people are willing to challenge and push ourselves in order to overcome obstacles.
Because there were so many people engaging with the wall, at some point the wall started to deteriorate and that was totally not accounted for; but we thought how genius, that’s the whole point - for the wall to completely disintegrate.
MB: Tell a little about the Silent Echoes dining instillation you did in 2018 in Beirut.
TS: We were commissioned by Architectural Digest to create an installation for their ‘Art of Dining’ series where you basically use a space and create a dining experience. Tara and I decided to combine this concept of dining with how we live today by converting a normally dynamic corridor into a static dining space. We created a tête-à-tête dining experience by placing a mirror between the guests, with a phone holder. Diners had to dine facing their own reflections and communicating with other guests only through video calls. The tableware reflected the needs of today’s society; a comb replaces a fork, a medicine box replaces a knife, and oversized spoons represents modern excess.
The installation is basically a journey where your senses are stimulated towards a state of infinite reflection, disorientation and re-questioning. It echoes today’s world of individualization, self- absorption and virtual interactions.
Silent Echoes Dining Installation by T Sakhi
MB: Where did idea for your new tableware collections Tasting Thread and Nomads come from?
TS: The first time we went to Murano Island we were fascinated by how the components of the Murano glass and how beautiful and flexible it was to work with. There we decided to do something with the glass, wanting to play with its textures and boundaries. We would gather leftover aluminum, copper, and brass from metal factories in Venice and try to incorporate them with the Murano glass. It was not easy because we had to get the right temperature and timing for merging the metal and the glass.
The Nomads is a collection of alcohol flasks and alcohol is a substance that disrupts the social masks, revealing the full spectrum of human emotions in their rawest form. Its design offers different ways of consumption, each reflecting a particular state of mind, from solitary moments to social gatherings.
The Tasting Thread collection is a tableware collection highlighting the strong duality of two Mediterranean cultures – the beauty and delicacy of the Murano glass and the traditional iconic shapes of Lebanese tableware.
MB: T Sakhi has started creating short films in order to bring to life an otherwise static world of architecture. How did this idea come to be?
TS: Tara is passionate about filmmaking and we thought this would be a good way to add an extra layer to our projects. Through the intersection of film and architecture , fashion and music we are able to revisit the spaces we designed and create a story around them.
Our short film Lost in Transition was nominated at the Milano Design Film Festival in 2019. It is a film that brings architecture and film together, looking at the reconstruction of a space, along with the revival of its memory.
Tasting Threads Collection by T Sakhi
MB: If you were commissioned to create a Global Pavillon today, what would it be/say?
TS: It would be something that emphasized the human solidarity that’s taking place during this global pandemic. Regardless of geography, culture or religion we are all experiencing the same emotions, the same struggles and the same ups and downs.
MB: Are you worried about the global impact of the pandemic? What is your prediction for the world post COVID-19?
TS: I wouldn’t say I was worried. I believe that this time of uncertainty can actually be positive and give us a chance to recreate ourselves. We have to use it to our advantage.
I think there is going to be a clear division between the people who want to go back to making their millions and those who are more aware and more conscience of the environment and of overconsumption.
MB: What is a project you ladies are currently working on?
TS: We are working on a conceptual design of a nightclub with social distancing – a transportable structure inspired by a flower.
MB: Any suggestions for our readers for "thriving, not just surviving" during this period of social distancing?
TS: This can be a good time to sit and look back at everything we’ve done and find ways of evolving – reinventing ourselves.
Click here to see more of T Sakhi works.