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With a No-Holds Barred Approach, Sayar & Garibeh are Succeeding in the World of Collectible Design
March 1, 2024 Alia Fawaz

Stephanie Sayar and Charbel Garibeh are the Lebanese creatives behind Sayar & Garibeh. They recently received a huge boost in terms of global awareness when their brand was one of ten selected by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to contribute to D&G Casa, for whom they created the ‘Raytoid’ table (right). Like much of their other unique works, this particular piece exemplifies a distinctive aesthetic that combines organic and geometric forms with traditional crafts (and often forgotten techniques). The husband-and-wife team love to push boundaries and have a real knack for creating distinctive items so it’s easy to see why the distinguished Italian designers hand-picked the duo to contribute to their own brand.

The Sayar & Garibeh style can best be described as experimental, abstract, and even whimsical, but everything they do is executed using top-notch materials and techniques. To make the ‘Raytoid’ table for example, the pair went to great lengths to create a “tempting jewellery piece” as they put it, which required multiple artisans and numerous painstaking steps from glass blowing to sculpting, casting bronze and glass enamel working in order to take shape. Garibeh admits that the table reflects different pleasures and emotions in life. “It’s an exploration of nature, sexuality, and humour, inviting touch as well as other senses. Its design presents an escape to another reality.”

Indeed escape, idiosyncrasy, and contradiction are attributes you’ll find in nearly all Sayar & Garibeh’s works, including the ‘Lochness’ table and the ‘Bubble’ light, among many others.

“Our fascination with materiality knows no bounds, we enjoy discovering its endless possibilities. And at each phase of our design journey, we find ourselves drawn to a particular matter. For example, right now, we’re fully immersed in the world of stone, terracotta, and natural fibres,” explains Sayar. Much of their earlier works paid homage to their Lebanon’s cuisine, as you can see in the ‘Kibbe’ plate and the ‘Bangle’ mezza dishes. But as Garibeh explains, creativity is something that’s constantly evolving. “It shifts dynamically, weaving its way around habits, encounters, moments, and memories deeply entwined with collective nostalgia.”

Having met at university when they were both finishing master’s degrees in interior architecture, the two found synergy while paired during a class project. Fast forward a few years and they opened their Beirut design studio in 2014. Since then, their work has garnered plenty of recognition and accolades. Notably, they were selected as one of the Best of Milan Design Week for two consecutive years (2015 and 2016), in addition to being celebrated as the Best of Maison et Objet Paris in 2015. And in 2020, they received a prestigious Emerging Talent Prize from Condé Nast’s Architectural Digest Middle East.

Today, the couple divide their time between Beirut and Paris, with Beirut as their main production hub and Paris the incubator of their creativity. “The two cities provide a good balance that keeps our artistic spirit thriving,” says Sayar. They credit the artisans of their native Lebanon for continually allowing them to execute their complex prototypes and ideas. “Collaborating with Lebanese artisans is a true blessing; they are a wellspring of talent, experience, flexibility, and unwavering dedication,” stresses Sayar. And, Garibeh adds, “It’s a dynamic journey of pushing boundaries and nurturing creativity together.”

Like with most successful design duos, one complements the other. In their case, Sayar draws inspiration from the world around her, while Garibeh draws inspiration and ideas from within. “It’s like one of us creates with their eyes closed, while the other creates with a wide-open heart,” explains Sayar with a chuckle.

When asked if working and living together 24/7 as a couple ever gets overwhelming, Sayar was quick to support their seamless work life balance: “To be honest our personal and professional lives are so intertwined that we hardly notice the distinction. We might be cooking, having coffee, or simply hanging out, and the conversation invariably circles back to design. It’s a shared passion that fuels us both.”

Currently the pair are busy preparing for their first solo exhibition in the US (to be held from January to the end of March at R & Company’s showroom on White Street in NYC). The exhibition – entitled ‘Broomlithic’ – will feature various pieces formed from blocks of white Lebanese stone that have been transformed into softly formed functional objets d’art. It not only showcases their carving prowess but their ability to elevate the broom – a symbol of sweeping away the old and welcoming the new.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL HALAL