An interview with Aperçu.
Tark Hraish and Farah Kayyal met in Beirut in AUB, starting a friendship that would years later develop into a business collaboration under the name of Aperçu. Recognized around Amman, their inventive designs could now be spotted sporadically around different venues and offices, distinguished by their underlying sophistication and celebration of reclaimed materials. To know more about the designers behind these cutting edge pieces, I sat down with them for an interview.
First of all, let’s begin with the name, “Aperçu” what does it mean and what’s the story behind it?
Aperçu is the initial idea, impression, or sketch first created when designing. On the scale of architecture, it is linked to the first impression you get once you enter a new space for the first time. For us, Aperçu reflects how we begin every design project, translating that initial idea into a physical product. It also captures how spontaneous and impulsive our beginnings were.
What about the story of your partnership and how it came to be?
After getting our bachelor degrees in architecture from the American University of Beirut, we moved back to Amman with the intention of reflecting all what we have learnt and were inspired by during our studies. Design was our way of making that happen.
After working on a few interior design projects and studying the local market, we decided to start a line of furniture that is reflective of the younger generations’ aspirations and taste, which favored unique, timeless, and locally produced pieces, manufactured from up cycled and reclaimed materials, while narrating stories rather than being mere brand names.
Amman Design week gave you great exposure and introduced you to the local community. Looking back, how did it feel being part of it all?
Amman Design week played a great role in establishing the design scene in the city. It brought many local talented designers to the light, and revealed the creativity and authenticity of many upcoming local artists. It also proved that Amman, just like Beirut and Dubai, has the potential of becoming an important regional hub for design and arts.
For our first collection, titled “Beauty in the imperfection”, we collaborated with a number of local craftsman to be able to reuse leftover materials they had lying around their workshops, in a notion which emphasized the vital role skilled labor and craftsman play in the realization of any great design, and the added value of reducing material waste through up cycling. From a more poetic point of view, the imperfections and flaws of the reclaimed materials allowed us to construct distinctive pieces that reflected the traces of time, and allowed the materials to live on.
In 2017, what’s in store for Aperçu?
After the success of Amman design week, we were very appreciative of the support we got to represent Jordan in Design Days Dubai, which is the only fair for collectible goods in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
We are excited to be featuring our new collection in that fair, knowing that Dubai is our gateway to the region. Our aim is bring the attention to Jordanian designers which are internationally competitive and deserve to be put on the map by featuring a collection that has been proudly designed and manufactured in Jordan.
What design process usually precedes the creation of your different pieces?
We usually begin by examining the available material and allowing it to dictate the design it wants to turn into. After material selection, sketches and 3D modeling follow, with a continues process of trial and error, allowing the iterations to improve the design and expose the full potential of the materials, while also pushing the boundaries of furniture design and challenging the conforming principles we have been used to. With our “Beauty in the Imperfection” collection, wood inspired the design of the pieces, and steered us in the direction of resin to complement its imperfection and to create that contrasting dialogue between the raw and the refined, the knotted and the smooth.
In retrospect, what were the main challenges you have faced as upcoming designers in Amman?
Had we given in to every challenge we faced, we would have not accomplished anything so far. The biggest challenge is to step beyond yourself and build up the courage and the mindset to start. Another challenge is funding, but we believe that you can always start small and then grow and become better accomplished. Lack of exposure and recognition were also part of the challenges but thanks to Amman design week, an annual platform is now available to feature upcoming talents, and to raise clientele awareness and bring the attention to the value of well designed pieces.
Unavailability of skilled and professional labor and underdevelopment of craftsmanship was also an issue, sometimes limiting us in what could be done. Last but not least, finding a great partner that shares your vision and aspirations isn’t always easy, to team up with someone you can connect with and depend on to turn ideas from theory to execution.
At this point in your careers you were brave enough to quit your day jobs and commit to Aperçu full time. What advice do you have for all the talented designers who are still waiting for their big break?
Don’t be afraid to be the odd one out. Just do it, but also have the awareness to recognize the right time and level of expertise you’ll need to reach before taking that jump. The design field is very competitive, work hard and don’t underestimate the necessity of the long hours you’ll need to put into your designs before you can fully master the different skills. You can always rely on your day job, while developing your designs and schemes in parallel, taking on small design projects and exploring your full potential one step at a time.
Believe in yourself, dedicate yourself to your ideas, and the big break will eventually come.