Spotlight on Richard Yasmine: the chaos and the calm of furniture design
We’re constantly keeping our ears to the ground in the design world which meant it wasn’t long after Milan Design Week that we heard the name Richard Yasmine and saw his delicate creations gracing the pages of magazines and blogs. With a distinctive style that carefully (and playfully) balances on the tightrope between minimalism and disorder, we wanted to know more about the man behind it all.
Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Yasmine has always held an affinity towards creativity and using his imagination to simulate new ideas. After gaining a Fine Art Master’s degree in 2003, interior architecture and product design came naturally to Yasmine who told us, ‘I never tend to identify the difference between reality and imagination,’ when creating new, intriguing objects. He is inspired by the world around him – ‘from everyday life, objects and emotions. From the human body, its physiology and its needs. But also, from an internal chaos combined with a certain innate sensitivity’.
ASHKAL / BizarreBeirut ©
Like his pieces, what Yasmine classes as his ‘workshop’ is a little out of the ordinary. When we asked where he creates his designs he replied, ‘I don’t know if I can say “everywhere”. As a sociable person I tend to be compatible and can live, yet create, my pieces in any place. I love creating my own atmosphere. I can generate better ideas when surrounded by my family, friends… smelling the jasmine scent from the balcony, feeling the warmth of my city while sipping a hot cup of coffee, listening to the birds, especially on a spring day when it’s totally calm in the narrow old street of my hometown Beirut. This is actually priceless. As an emotional, nostalgic person this makes me more productive.’
This close link to his surroundings can be seen throughout Yasmine’s designs. The unmistakable arches and lines found in Lebanese architecture feature heavily in his 2018 collection HAWA BEIRUT – ‘Well, as a Middle Eastern and specifically Lebanese I am really concerned with reflecting a vital representation of my city and country […] My ultimate concern is to keep integrating the Middle Eastern / Lebanese soul in the procedure of each of my products, whilst confirming my personality – a methodical chaotic craziness melted with sobriety’. It’s clear to see Yasmine’s cultural influences, as well as his character, personified within each piece.
HAWA BEIRUT / BizarreBeirut ©
When it comes to materials, Yasmine is pulled towards what he calls ‘noble materials’: rough solid stones and marble, and he often experiments with natural wood and leather. However, above all else, he prefers to work with brass, ‘reflecting [his] culture in its oriental feel through its extravagant golden finishing’.
Brass is one of the main components in GLORY HOLES, Yasmine’s piece that he says, ‘made the difference in my career path, and is still having a big impact’. The provocative table aims to feel more like a piece of jewellery – glamourous and extravagant. It is also multi-functional due to its ability to be turned upside down, changing from a set of vases to a flat table surface.
GLORY HOLES / Mike Malajalian ©
Yasmine believes that furniture design is a division of art, with his pieces being both sculptural yet functional. He told us ‘my work is always based on a story or even a subject related to a specific case’. And in the case of WAKE UP CALL – a collection of table lamps featuring brass, hand-blown organic-shaped sandblasted bulbs, semi-precious rocks and abandoned birds’ nests – Yasmine sought to shine a spotlight on the fragility of the environment, raising awareness of the steps that need to be taken in order to preserve the natural world.
We wanted to know if Yasmine had any top tips for furnishing an environmentally-friendly home and he had more than one pointer. ‘Some of my tips, most people will know, but still lets highlight on using recyclable materials, for example when buying wood, make sure it’s made from FSC certified wood or a product made from this sustainable source of wood. Pick up a plain thermal curtain lining. Make sure you use paint that is labelled low-VOC for wall finishing. Opt for real wood as a floor covering. Use glass and metal. Add as many plants and greenery as you can. Focus on what is sustainable, use natural products and try to give life to an old object.’
WAKE UP CALL / BizarreBeirut ©
With his sights set on completing the HAWA BEIRUT collection with some more furniture pieces, we’re definitely going to be keeping our eye on Richard Yasmine. There are one or two places in our apartments that we could see his chairs slotting into nicely!