T Sakhi’s ‘I Hear You Tremble’ is a contemporary tribute to a veteran craft
Tara and Tessa Sakhi, co-founders of T Sakhi
Photo Credit: Courtesy of T Sakhi
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T Sakhi’s ‘I Hear You Tremble’ is a contemporary tribute to a veteran craft

Lebanese-Polish sisters Tara and Tessa Sakhi unveil a series of 15 sculptural vessels in their first solo exhibition at San Gallo Church in Venice.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Oct 11, 2022

The past cradles the richness of history, the lessons left behind by our ancestors, and boundless inspiration for generations to come. Contemporary design finds a muse in and reiterates its affinity towards ancient relics and techniques time and again. What would contemporary interpretations of antique objects look like? Can the modern and the historic exist in tandem in a work in progress? Such questions have inspired and sculpted countless artistic manifestations. T Sakhi, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Venice and Beirut, lays bare its re-imagination of the past in its first solo exhibition titled ‘I Hear You Tremble’. Co-founded by Lebanese-Polish sibling duo Tara and Tessa Sakhi, the studio will unveil an ensemble of 15 sculptural vessels dubbed Jurat (urns in Arabic) that draw inspiration from the history of glass. This series of unique vessels is a culmination of three years of research and experimentation in integrating waste metal from Murano's neighbouring industry into glass.

‘I Hear You Tremble’ showcases 15 sculptural vessels dubbed Jurat
‘I Hear You Tremble’ by T Sakhi Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi
San Gallo Church in Venice
San Gallo Church in Venice Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi

Running from September 17, 2022, to October 14, 2022, the design exhibition will take place at San Gallo Church, an intimate 16th-century church around the corner from San Marco in Venice, during The Venice and Italian Glass Weeks 2022. The exhibition is organised in partnership with Le Lab, a new collectable design gallery founded by Egyptian art and design collector Rasheed Al Kamel, committed to fostering regional Middle Eastern artists and designers. “We want to provoke curiosity and stimulate the sense of touch and emotion through our work,” share Tessa and Tarra Sakhi. “We often experiment with raw materials and seek to decompose them by testing their strength and limits,” they add.

The sculptural designs experiment with integrating waste metal into glass
The sculptural designs experiment with integrating waste metal into glass Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi
‘I Hear You Tremble’ by T Sakhi
‘I Hear You Tremble’ showcases 15 sculptural vessels dubbed Jurat Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi

T Sakhi’s diverse and rebellious oeuvre comprises small-scale architecture, urban installations, commercial design, residential design, collectable objects, scenography and films. Sustainability resides at the core of their practice which features frequent explorations of recuperating waste and dabbling with recycled products to evolve new materials, shapes and forms. Beyond a design practice, their journey is one of continuous collaborations with different craftsmen that master their local materials such as Murano in Venice, metal and wood in Lebanon, Bejuco and macramé in Mexico and stone in Egypt.

The designer duo explored different techniques of glass blowing to achieve new textures
The designer duo explored different techniques of glass blowing to achieve new textures Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi
The sculptural designs are developed in collaboration with Venetian glass blowers
The sculptural designs are developed in collaboration with Venetian glass blowers Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi

The past three years were marked by T Sakhi’s experiments with Venetian glass blowers, traversing diverse techniques to achieve new textures in glass. Metal waste such as aluminium, brass, and copper was sourced from nearby factories and embedded within the glass by the designers. The process involves working with different states of metals – powder, molten and solid chunks—and initiating a reaction with different temperature capacities within the glass. The fusion becomes the origin of an array of otherworldly stone-like compositions between the two materials. The resultant lava stone-like textures entail a play of light as it seeps through the translucent glass-metal material. “This process makes our designs evolve spontaneously during execution, embracing surprises and accidents along the way. The techniques aspire to a creation associated with chaos and form, randomness and precision, spirit and matter and finally, natural vs man-made interventions,” the designers explain.

The rich history of glassblowing peeks through the textures of excavated eroded artefacts that adorn the forms of this new collection. Made on the island of Murano, the heart of the craft, Tara and Tessa built the designs on the connections and shared knowledge of glassmaking between the Venetian region and their native heritage of the Mediterranean territory, ancient Egypt and Lebanon.

Jurat Murano vessels by T Sakhi
Jurat Murano vessels by T Sakhi Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi
Jurat vessels draw inspiration from glass history
Jurat vessels draw inspiration from glass history Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi

Jurat bears an eerie resemblance to archaeological blown glass objects placed in tombs as offerings in ancient times such as cinerary urns and unguentarium. The vessels emanate an illusion of time travel and present themselves as objects unearthed from another century. On closer inspection, one finds conspicuous traces of contemporaneity in their form and texture. Once blown to form, each Jurat vessel is subjected to distorting techniques including pinching, flattening, poking, and compressing that change the value of time on objects. The scenographic design presented in ‘I Hear You Tremble’ consists of a lighting installation influenced by light infiltration, water vibrations, and reflections of the Venetian lagoon, weaving an enigmatic play of light and shadows.

The scenographic design of the exhibition consists of a lighting installation
The scenographic design of the exhibition consists of a lighting installation Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi
The introduction of lighting leads to a mysterious play of light and shadows
The introduction of lighting leads to a mysterious play of light and shadows Image: Courtesy of T Sakhi

T Sakhi’s association with Murano glass blowers dates back to 2017 and has birthed designs for collections such as Nomads and Tasting Threads. These tableware collections represented the embryonic stage of their experiments with combining recycled metal threads with glass. T Sakhi is best known for their ongoing collection Reconciled Fragments, a series of large and small table designs composed of recycled and fragmented waste materials such as marble and stone offcuts as well as metal waste from factories in Beirut. In their solo exhibition ‘I Hear You Tremble’, the designer duo showcases their journey with glass and the evolution of their experimentation with the material. The Jurat vessels are not only a homage to the product designers’ native roots, but also a contemporary adaptation of the time-honoured craft of glass blowing.

‘I Hear You Tremble’ will be on display from September 17, 2022, to October 14, 2022, at San Gallo Church, Venice.

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