Hella El Khiari and Thomas Egoumenides met at the National School of Architecture in Paris before forming their multidisciplinary design studio seven years later. Wanting to create something more personal, more playful and without restriction - Flayou was born. Working under the guise of ‘studio of joyful design’ – their work and presence is an exact reflection of this. When we asked to interview Hella she apologised for not being very ‘disciplined’ in interviews, we hope you will enjoy this refreshing ‘freestyle’ interview as much as you do their unique and wonderful designs.
Flayou is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Tunis, what more can you tell us about your studio and partnership?
The studio was imagined and created with sincere improvisation. "Flayou" is two people, so we thought the studio should be the pro-joyful mix of our skills and personalities. Thomas and I met at the architecture school, we launched flayou when we both wanted to work on something personal, non-briefed, non-boring. We try not to take design too seriously and to stay as free as we can. We love exploration, experimentation and communication but we try to work with a conscience for the planet – one who didn't ask for any "useful" and "practical" things from us.
We love that one of the pillars of your studio is based on adventure, tell us about the most recent adventure Flayou has taken?
Flayou is currently "playing around" with city garbage to collect a lot of abandoned materials. These weird treasures are full of potential if we manage to give them some ambition. The adventure of "saving dirt" is a funny daily exploration. We think that all (material) that already exists is enough for a lifetime and that (there is) too much "brand new materials" created by impatient humans.
What best inspires your creative pursuit?
Evolution. To transform ourselves and the objects we imagine. To challenge the definitions, the already known and the already done.
You both met at architecture school in Paris, why did you make the move to Tunis?
Because I'm Tunisian :) Thomas wanted to leave Paris and I wanted to get back to my country, so it was as easy as that. We also saw in Tunisia a perfect playground for our little quests. We managed somehow to see that we could only be free to reinvent things if the place where we live is full of unsolved problems. We wouldn't be able to begin this adventure in a super developed country where everything is polished and expensive.
Our challenge was to find a way to question use, form and trend without forgetting that the original 'untransformed' handcraft that is already perfect without us. We tried to find a way to honour the age-old techniques but to challenge it so it can swim with us in the present.
The Chich Bich board-games are created by potters who have learned the discipline over generations for the past 3000 years. How do you collaborate with the makers and what inspired you to create it?
The makers are the artists. The handcraft-women from Sejnane have worked clay and terracotta for thousands of years. They understand matter, temperatures and intelligent effort like no designer. Our challenge was to find a way to question use, form and trend without forgetting that the original untransformed handcraft that is already perfect without us. We tried to find a way to honour the age-old techniques but to challenge it so it can swim with us in the present. We also love to add some light humour in some details. With chich-bich it was with the packaging, as the wood-cooked board games are presented in pizza boxes.
Tigmi is Berber for my home, what can you tell us about recreating a sense of home in an entirely new place?
Home is probably the accumulation of material and non-material feelings. Home is an amount of lights, objects, sounds, colours, smells, comfort, harmony... Home is where we are supposed to sleep at night and trust it with our daily unconscious selves. Home can be movable; it can be outside. It can follow seasons or attitudes. I will borrow the words of a Tunisian singer, Hedi Jouini, that my grandfather loved a lot, that said "home is a place where you don't want to escape from."
What is next for Flayou?
Only the future knows. In magical garbage’s I guess.
Flayou is available exclusively in Australia with Tigmi Trading