DESIGN

Sizar Alexis’ bunker-inspired pieces reflect on last year’s isolation and childhood war memories

”Drawing from the similarities in experiences between my own childhood where there was a visible enemy to be protected from and my young son’s — where there was an invisible one,” the Swedish designer explains.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
November 17, 2021

In his practice, the Swedish designer combines a love for brutalist aesthetics and contextual inspiration from the rich cultural and architectural heritage of ancient Mesopotamia.

— I work with furniture pieces and interior objects that are functional and sculptural works of art through the use of raw and inherent beauty of natural materials, he explains.

This fall, he’s been part of the Discovered exhibition in London, showcasing his new design Lahmu.

— The project brief was to make an object totally in wood and inspired by the experience of living and working in isolation, with core values being touch, reflection, and strength. To channel our experiences into a piece that would represent our functional and emotional connections to everyday objects. My contribution to the project was two sculptural furniture pieces that work either as seating pieces or relief table pieces. I drew my inspiration from last year, 2020, in April when my wife and I came home from the maternity ward with our newborn son and we were isolating ourselves to protect him. I reflected that our apartment was functioning as a bunker, and reminded me of the war in Iraq when I was younger when my family and I had to protect ourselves in a room that was functioning as a bunker. From that, I got the idea to make a bunker-inspired furniture that would represent the emotional connection to these thoughts. Drawing from the similarities in experiences between my own childhood where there was a visible enemy to be protected from and my young son’s — where there was an invisible one.

— I then made two sculptural pieces of furniture to represent these two worlds defined by strong monolithic forms. I chose to work with American cherry, for its inherent warmth and color, and one half in red oak, with a textured surface treated with the Japanese burning method called shou sugi ban. The reception — both regarding the design and the personal inspiration and story behind it — has really been overwhelming and beautiful and it will be available very soon.

Can you take us through your design process?

— Before I start designing I have to get in a certain mood, to be able to channel my thoughts into emotions, and then I can start visualising the forms. The first step in this visualisation is typically allowing myself to express this form in many elaborate hand-drawn sketches to test and see the form taking shape and evolving, Alexis tells. He continues:

— Further on in the process is searching for the essence of the object, where I look closely at the volumes and the first step of how it should be constructed. To test the volumes of an object more accurately in terms of dimensions, I use 3D software and this is where I get to experiment with the volumes in different layouts.

— When I finally feel that the object represents the feeling I want to convey, I move on to making the first 1:1 scale prototype. This is where I get to see the volume in real life and can interact with it and make the necessary changes. I work mostly with natural materials, mostly different types of wood, to bridge the bond between man and nature and often base my idea on which material I will use.

— It sounds linear when I describe the process but it’s far from it, all the steps are interconnected and I go back and forth several times to achieve my vision. I am very motivated by curiosity and I tend to be more driven by seeing an object or project to its completion when I don’t know what the outcome will be — which allows me to be more experimental and where I see myself more courageous in terms of freeing myself of my predictions. Throughout the process, I have a certain feeling of serene emotion that I try to convey with my design. I keep in mind a certain environment, space, or interpretation that my objects will inhabit. like observing an ancient artifact or being in a Claudio Silvestrin designed space. A livable object for the soul.

Sizar Alexis is currently planning his first solo exhibition, set to take place in 2022.

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