Happy Weekend! Before we part until Monday, how would you like to journey with me to a quaint little street in Beirut to visit a lovely shop filled with gorgeous, colorful, and patterned unconventional pouffes? The shop is called Barjis, and the talented designer is Hala Habib.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit Barjis during my short stay in Beirut, and take you on a little shop tour with me because this gorgeous work deserves to be noticed! An old friend of my parents, designer Hala was so accommodating and happily allowed me to snap some photos while she told me all about her art, which began as a hobby – she just opened her shop at the beginning of this year! The name Barjis comes from an old Farsi game played on a velvet cloth with brass pegs and 5 shells.
Hala has so much drive and a great way of seeing things that translates into her work. All the pretty pouffes and pillows are handmade by the designer herself; she chooses the colors, patterns and designs, and puts them together to create different shapes and sizes. Hala speaks so passionately about her work, and oozes with positive energy, so I asked her a few questions about her work so I could share that element with you.
Please describe your process. Where do you find inspiration?
This is a little difficult to explain as it really just “happens”. But in the root of it all, it’s my love for fabrics, textures and colors that drive me. Plus my eternal interest in people’s psyche and needs, it drives me to create work accordingly. I imagine certain types of people and what would appeal to them and that inspires me to do certain designs. I hope this does not sound commercial, because it’s not at all. It’s just like a need to make people happy. And of course the comfort factor plays a big role. How can I make a set up look comfy and cozy. I used to worry that I could lose myself in that “psyche” bit and not find my own signature because of it, but I was very surprised to see that my signature is there, mainly because at the end of the day, they all truly express “me” in all my moods and tastes. And then of course, my trip to India left a big impact on me. The mix of colors so effortlessly and naturally blended together by the natives, it was amazing!
I love that the shop is decorated with the pouffes and accessories themselves, creating different focal points in the space and directing the viewer directly to the pieces. The shop itself is so inviting and full of energy and reflects the art so well, with a colorful, vibrant palette full of pattern and shapes.
What is the advantage of having a shared work studio and shop space?
First, it creates a very interactive atmosphere with the customers. My personal experience taught me that when I like something and get the chance to meet and converse with the artist/designer of that thing, and get a chance to watch how she/he work, the thing itself would have a more personal meaning and value. It’s good to touch the spirit of the artist of the designs you buy or fancy. Second, it’s of course very practical for me as I’m running a one man show, by choice, this way I can be working and designing instead of just sitting there waiting in anticipation for customers to come in. This way, I don’t wait, I just be. And it’s a great feeling really. When a customer walks into the shop while I’m indulged in my work it gives me a boost to do more, like a good omen. So, it’s both practical and interactive to have the atelier and shop in the same place.
I absolutely love the eclectic mix of fabric, patterns and colors Hala combines in her pouffes, creating unique, creative and fun designs. I actually ordered a custom pouffe and a pillow for my home and can’t wait to see the designs and how they will liven up my space! The mix and match look of this shop is divine, and creates a fearless and exotic style.
How do you find your fabrics and materials?
I get my fabrics from different sources. Some from the local market, others I order from catalogues, some I just find by accident. So far I use mostly European high end fabrics, by makers such as Rubelli, Sahco hesslein, Dedar, Designer Guild…etc. I care a lot for quality and feel. My aim is to travel to places like Turkey, Nepal, Iran, Latin America…etc in search for ethnic fabrics and blends.
What do you hope to achieve from your designs?
I don’t know really, I just do it because I like it and enjoy it. Maybe the first thing I hope to achieve, and it’s working, is self expression and definition, plus a state of joy that I derive from the act of creativity. It’s really mostly for the sake of creativity itself. I really did not have any target in mind when I started off this business (I don’t even like to think of it as a business), but seeing the positive favorable response from Barjis admirers, I would like very much to take this project further. I just hope I will always be inspired, driven and motivated. I would like Barjis to be in every home, mostly because each piece is made with love and a certain level of spontaneity that I wish for the whole world to have. I hope this doesn’t sound too lame, but it’s really how I feel. That is why I give my pouffes names. To me they have life and I like to share that life with others.
Thank you so much Hala for your time and for sharing your beautiful work with us!
(images: samia kallidis for burrs & berries)