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RayXander’s layered designs blend Oriental intricacies with modish subtlety
Philippe Daher with his furniture pieces
Image: Courtesy of RayXander

RayXander’s layered designs blend Oriental intricacies with modish subtlety

Philippe Daher infuses his products with patterns that reflect the geometries witnessed in the natural world, as well as those typically utilised in Islamic art, design, and architecture.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Sep 03, 2023

Philippe Daher’s furniture designs, built under the moniker of RayXander, although defined by sleek forms and compact visages, remain redolent of the patterns, geometries, and intricacies paramount in the Orientalist style. They manage to prove suitable for contemporary locations, most of which demand the placement of objects commanding a subtle presence, and be easily sequestered in a small space. On the other hand, the imprints etched upon their surfaces allude to a grander, more maximalist style. “RayXander finds resonance in the patterns and synchronicities of the natural world and human reflection of those patterns, particularly Islamic art and the geometries that characterise it,” shares Daher.

Born and brought up in Damascus, Syria, Daher eventually moved to London, UK, to study architecture. The Syrian architect then went on to establish his eponymous studio Philippe Daher Architects in 2007, where he focuses on projects from the commercial, corporate, and residential sectors. More recently in 2015, Daher launched RayXander in Lebanon, with a concerted focus on conceiving product designs. Daher’s early experiences in a place that bears the imprints of various civilisations through history including Egyptian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Aramean, Persian, Greek, Roman, and more, guide his taste and inclination towards design. These archaic influences shine through in his works, albeit not as mere duplications, but as a form of personal and nostalgic expression that reflects these references.

Sharing the vision behind the initiative, Daher relays, “Rayxander seeks to develop and produce a universally appealing and current style, creating limited edition pieces that tell a story and challenge the viewer’s perception. The journey is not based on modernising Arabian works of art and design, but rather, creating a new urban mesh, and interpreting the historical works having travelled through various design eras.”

The Lebanese design practice, with products that feature forms and geometries evocative of finely inked artworks and deftly engraved etchings from the yesteryear, aims to pay homage to the complex interconnectedness present between different forms of life. “Simple yet paradoxical gestures dominate the sculptural designs. Organic meets inorganic, life meets death, oppression meets liberation, and flaws are beautiful. RayXander examines the relationship between nature and the forces that shape it, giving rise to unpredictable yet balanced forms,” the product designer and architect explains.

Apart from tending to the usual domestic and commercial needs assigned to furniture design, Daher intends to deliver an experience through his work. With RayXander, he aims to build objects that can catapult its users out of their routined reveries, to a more conscious state of being—where natural beauty and human inventiveness are acknowledged, appreciated, and taken inspiration from. “RayXander recognises and embodies the cyclical nature of creation and decay, birth and death, perfection and flaws, outward and inward, in every piece to create continuous movement and productive opposition. The interplay of inorganic and organic forms allows all elements to exist in visual accordance with each other,” he elaborates.

STIR delves into the design studio’s latest creations and the various elements and phenomena that inspire their distinct forms and decorations.

Sphex Bar Cabinet

The design of the 'Sphex Bar Cabinet' serves as an ode to the structural complexity of beehives. Referencing the symbolism of insects as creatures that have been considered spiritually relevant throughout history, Daher shares, “They are architects and builders, creating some of the most complex geometric sequences in the natural world.” The bar cabinet’s structure is at once, strong and fragile, just like a beehive. Made out of steel, burl wood, and crystal glass, the cabinet comes with a number of interior shelves and partitions. The juxtaposition of the atypical materials helps infuse the design with a dichotomous character—sturdy and delicate.

Sphex Desk

Much like its counterpart, the 'Sphex Desk' too, is inspired by the patterns of movement, structure, and composition of bees. “The spiritual relevance of bees and beehives inspires this bold design,” the designer asserts. The desk stands fulcrum-ed on a shelf compartment supported by a central steel spine. Its storage compartments are built using burl wood and the table is topped with a glass top.

Trinity Side Table

The form of the 'Trinity Side Table' is also inspired by acarid creatures. While the leg of the table bears semblance to the limbs of insects as well as their movements, its triangular top bears the potential of being configured with other objects to form a larger surface, as desired. The overall form of the side table references the movement of insects towards light upon maturation. The table design can be further customised in various colours as well. While the table's surface is available in variations such as raw metal and matrix, iron red marble, and ocean blue marble, its frames come in both dark red and dark blue colours.

Monarch Chair

The 'Monarch Chair' comes in two variations—a raw metal frame with black vintage leather, and a pink copper frame with red vintage leather. Its backrest and seat bear partial imprints of one of the most commonly witnessed oriental star patterns. Despite exhibiting only a fraction of the pattern on its surface, the reference of the pattern conspicuously shines through in the chair's design.

Gentleman Valet Chair

Composed of a textured steel frame and burl wood hangers, the 'Gentleman Valet Chair' is a sleek design that can easily fit both indoor and outdoor locales. It can also be configured to function as a shelving unit or a small ladder, with the help of an extendable and adjustable wood hanger, and an in-built mechanism that enables this shift. “The chair is a dynamic piece that captures the flexibility, adaptability, and practicality necessary to meet life head-on,” Daher explains.

Trinity Lounge Chair

Exhibiting a highly geometric form, the 'Trinity Lounge Chair' is composed of a series of triangles that spring out from the central spine. The lounge chair, an offshoot of the 'Trinity Side Table,' comes in two different variances—one with a metal shell made out of a sheet of metal folded together with an upholstered seat and back, and the other, wrapped in fabric. Its form is inspired by the process of creation. “Each angle of the chair is a new visual and perceptual experience,” the designer promises.

Kahilah Saddle Stool

Daher shares the Arabian legend of the five Bedouins and the five mares for this stool's design, “An ancient tale remembers five wild horses that escaped their captors during a flood, only to be recaptured by a group of Bedouins. The horses were tamed and given names. Kahilah was named because of her dark eyes.” Referencing the horse described in this tale, the furniture designer built the 'Kahilah Saddle Stool' which pays tribute to the creature with a dark visage and a design that not only resembles the saddle, but also imitates its rhythmic movement when rocked to and fro.

RX04 Stool

The 'RX04 Stool,' carved from a single piece of solid pine, is fairly simple in its form. The natural colours and textures visible upon its surface are subject to change over time, hence letting its owners decide ‘how to interfere with it and refurbish the stool as it ages.’ The stool design encourages ‘active sitting,’ hence promoting better posture, the strengthening of the core and the back, improved concentration, and the facilitation of better blood circulation. “RX04 is an ergonomic stool that supports both the mind and body,” the Syrian designer relays.

RX03 Stool

The 'RX03 Stool,' a new addition to the studio’s portfolio, is part of a larger series of furniture that Daher is developing. This series is inspired by staircases—architectural elements, which, apart from serving a primary function within buildings, bear the potential of enhancing indoor experiences, both in terms of movement across the structure as well as a visual element. In deriving inspiration from this element to build a series of products, Daher intends to borrow not just from its form, but also promote an alternate, more complex way of interacting with each piece. The 'RX03 Stool,' designed to integrate three levels, can function as a stool, an armchair and a soft table.

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