Swedish-Iraqi designer Sizar Alexis experiments with objects that exude silence and a strong character through geometric shapes. His collections are rooted in the culture of ancient Mesopotamia and connect the stories of its history with contemporary design.
The designer's origins have a clear influence on his work. He was born in Ankawa, a city in northern Iraq. In 1997, he moved to Sweden, where he began to explore his interest in designing objects and furniture. His Chaldean roots can be traced directly back to ancient Mesopotamia, and this is incorporated into many of the pieces. Besides those personal and cultural stories from the rich history of the area, his work also conveys a keen interest in a brutalist aesthetic. We are pleased to show here some designs from the Lahmu and Ousia collections and a recent collaboration with Belgian textile designer Nathalie Van der Massen. The idea for the Lahmu collection came about during the pandemic, when the designer and his family isolated themselves in their home like so many others. It reminded Alexis of living in a protective bunker, which he also associated with the war in Iraq, when he and his family tried to protect themselves in their home as well. Both experiences inspired him to design furniture pieces reminiscent of a bunker, showing strength and reflection. The name Lahmu comes from Mesopotamian mythology and refers to a protective god who was supposed to ward off demons and diseases. The collection consists of a coffee table, a vase, and a large and a small console each divided into two pieces that also serve as side tables or seating. The pieces are made in burnt and stained black oak, natural oak, and natural cherry wood.
Unite historical research and contemporary design to pass on a part of the ancient culture
The Ousia collection also connects the designer to the heritage of ancient Mesopotamian culture. The designer collaborated with his sister Sinar to unite historical research and contemporary design to pass on a part of the ancient culture. The Ousia chair they designed is a direct reference to the throne or kursi on which only people in authority were allowed to sit in that culture. The chair's conical legs were inspired by the many excavated reliefs depicting gods or super-beings holding a bucket in one hand and a pinecone in the other. The pinecone is associated with regeneration. The levels are inspired by the ziggurat, a temple tower from ancient Mesopotamia, and its terraced composition of successive levels. A duo exhibition by Sizar Alexis and Belgian textile designer Nathalie Van der Massen recently took place at Atelier Ecru Gallery. Together they presented new work created especially for the exhibition, to which they added some older works. Although they work with very different materials (wood and textiles), they find each other in their love for heritage and craftsmanship and a shared passion for serenity, tactility, and geometry. For this collaboration, the Ousia chair was covered with a textile work by Van der Massen, which gives it an extra armour, so to speak. The result is one full of contradictions: black and white, sculptural yet fragile.
Sizar Alexis' keen interest in his origins leads to unique pieces with a story, characterised by strong monolithic forms and a sense of stillness. His work exudes an idea of strength without appearing too massive.
Photography by Tijs Vervecken