From adornments and jewels, to talismans and prayer beads, beads have been indispensable cultural units—playing the role of meditative entities such as tasbih, rosaries or japa malas for aeons. These spiritual—sometimes decorative—orbs, conceived in a myriad materials to serve diverse purposes thus far, assume the form of a dynamic sculptural seating arrangement with T Sakhi’s latest multifunctional design. Venice and Beirut-based architecture and design studio T Sakhi have nurtured a practice that cradles cultural heritage, an intention that fuels their caricatured string of ‘pearls’ befittingly dubbed Sand Pearls. “We want to provoke curiosity and stimulate the sense of touch and emotion throughout our work,” share Tessa and Tara Sakhi, co-founders of T Sakhi.
Co-founded in 2016 by Lebanese-Polish sisters Tessa and Tara Sakhi, T Sakhi places social interaction at the heart of its practice in an era (in)famous for its tenacious velocity. Together, the sisters question contemporary perceptions of identity and living while calling attention to cultural heritage. They breathe life into both permanent and transitory spaces and objects, stimulating senses and memory through physical and emotional experiences. Their oeuvre traverses the spectrum of artistic disciplines, with projects ranging from urban interventions, public installations, hospitality and residential interiors, industrial designs, collectible objects, and scenography. Collaborations with diverse creatives fosters a simmering dialogue of cross-cultural exchange that harbours craftsmanship and innovation.
Sand Pearls is a refreshing interpretation of the traditional objects of prayer and meditation beads. These otherwise delicate entities are scaled into a large sculpture that embodies versatility, flexibility and playfulness. Owing to its multi-functionality and its ability to shapeshift from seating to a table design, the layouts and configurations it offers can be endless. The sculptural design caters to both indoor and outdoor environments, encouraging moments of stillness, interaction and community exchange in private or public spaces.
“We often experiment with raw materials and recuperate discarded waste to further decompose them by testing their strength and limits and finally achieve new textures,” the product designers say. “This process allows our designs to evolve spontaneously during execution, resulting in a different form-function relation that was initially intended, and embracing the surprises and accidents along the process,” they add. With Sand Pearls, the design duo experimented with local craftsmen in Beirut to contrive an innovative texture comprising Lebanese sand ground with the remnants of crushed resin waste recycled and moulded into spheres. Each ‘pearl’ or sphere has a diameter of 50 centimetres and an approximate weight of 40 kilograms. The seating is a composition of seven such spheres connected by traditional hand-trimming curtain rods in silk that are braided together and intertwine the symbolic ‘7 pearls.’
This ever-changing sculptural furniture design, bordering functional art, is meticulously handcrafted by local artisans in Lebanon with the aim to support and encourage regional and local artisanship and to develop a sustainable design process—an approach to participate in preserving the cultural heritage of the region while supporting its evolution. It also minimises the carbon footprint of the production of the products and ensures the repurposing of materials. T Sakhi collaborates with different craftsmen that master their local materials from all over the world, whether murano in Venice, bejucco and macrame in Mexico, stone in Egypt, textile and palm weaving in UAE. Retracing the path to traditional crafts, T Sakhi engages with local artisans and preserves the local heritage, all the while fostering economic and social empowerment within each community they collaborate with. Through their work such as Sand Pearls, the sisters merge art, craftsmanship, functionality and sustainability—a poetic union of heritage and modernity.