“Simplicity is not achieved by shapes or materials only, staying humble and having a calm state of mind is a big part of it.”
Rooms, the the Tbilisi-based Interior and product design studio founded by Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia, prove that quietly perceptive and rigorously crafted furniture can still resonate in the contemporary design market. When it came to naming their latest collection of seven handcrafted pieces, the duo decided on ‘Wild Minimalism’, referencing the studio’s ability to synthesize competing aesthetics in a way that remains compellingly modern.
This subtle dissonance is a key part of the Rooms’ aesthetic: the rough hewn versus the refined, simplicity opposed to intricacy, archaic transposed against the modern. Inspiration for the Wild Minimalism collection also came from renegade filmmaker Sergei Parajano, whose films like The Color of Pomegranates convey a surreal lyricism. Like the filmmakers work, the furniture is humanistic, slightly otherworldly and exquisitely detailed.
Together with Vetements designer and Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia, the duo are spearheading Georgia, a tiny former Soviet country of less than four million residents, as a place to watch for cutting edge design. “I guess it turned us, along with our country into the Late Bloomers,” says Janberidze of their career trajectory. “Even 15 years ago, we were struggling with power cuts and economic difficulties, we had to survive wars and deal with tanks on our streets. We were in a complete information void and weren’t in touch with what was happening in the design world or whatever was trending.”
This disconnection from the West and the design establishment has worked to the brand’s advantage. “It has given us a lot of purity. It gave us a space and abstraction from being influenced by new and “happening” and helped us to form a very authentic and individualistic style,” says Janberidge. “Now, all of a sudden it’s like a creative explosion in our country. There are so many creative people doing amazing work.”
As suggested by their straightforward name, Rooms prize simplicity and visual clarity above an “overload of products and complex techniques.” The duo declares: “We don’t want to complicate product design, nor do we want to invent a new direction or come up with a technological breakthroughs. Everything has a graphic beginning, our graphic approach grounds us and brings us back to the “state of emergency” state of beginning, that’s why I guess we always go back to simplicity, it is more honest and human I guess, this is very important to us.”
But simplicity itself may be the ultimate elusive paradox. As any designer must understand, this concept appears easy on the surface but difficult to pull off. In order to elevate the primitive into something sublime, the duo draw on their background and modest upbringings. “Simplicity is not achieved by shapes or materials only, staying humble and having a calm state of mind is a big part of it.”