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How ARE Studio is Reimagining Middle Eastern Heritage Furniture

At first glance, a piece of furniture from ARE may look familiar and homely. It might even invoke a sense of nostalgia with its classic geometric prints and meticulously carved wood that is reminiscent of the region’s celebrated craftsmanship.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll soon find their designs are far from conventional. ARE combines classic Arab architecture with digital futurism, exploring concepts such as data-moshing, glitches and pixelation, which results in furniture that looks like it’s from an alternate dimension.

Established in 2020, Dubai and Syria-based ARE Studio is making waves in the industry since its inception more than two years ago.

Below, GQ caught up with them to find out more about their particular rendition of heritage furniture and their innovative approach to design.

How does the merging of cultures come about in your work?

As a collective of designers, we embody the diversity that our pieces represent. We come from similar roots but are shaped by different experiences and perspectives, which we seek to merge in the design of our products. Our designs bridge the gap between the seemingly clashing and diametrically opposite ideas of tradition and the contemporary through craftsmanship.

Who do you hope will connect with the products you put out?

Our community is an explicit representation of our work. It encompasses the traditional, the more contemporary, the modern, and anyone in between. Our pieces speak to those people who are open to new ideas, who appreciate new perspectives, and who will find themselves in the blend of the traditional and the modern that ARE represents.

Some pieces in your collection such as the Data-moshing Seat and Sorted Pixel Seat project elements of technological surrealism onto traditional materials. What is this unconventional pairing intended to invoke?

Our debut collection, Reappropriating the form, was inspired by technological glitches and the unpredictable results of voltage spikes and fluctuations, captured and frozen in a moment in time. It presents the imperfections of our contemporary reality, and what happens when our fast-paced high-tech world collides with the precision and structure of the traditional handmade craft. Such unconventional pairing from two different and extreme worlds results in the apogee of balance.

What has the reception been from traditional MENA consumers to your products?

The revival of traditional handicrafts is highly appreciated by local communities. They enjoy the idea of being reminded of their cultural heritage while being intrigued by the complexity of our pieces. It resonates with them and leaves them interested in the story and inspiration behind our pieces as well as in the manufacturing process and the materials that make them so unusual and unique.

What are your future plans?

The direction for ARE will continue to hold the sense of community, both in the traditional and contemporary sense.  We see our products as a medium to connect people and form a community where they could reflect on and relate to the values and ideas that our pieces embody. We want to continue to showcase a harmonized representation of our ever-changing perception of our experiences, our culture, and our differences.

Head to ARE’s website and Instagram for more information.

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