"We never know what tomorrow brings or what it can take away,” says 24-year-old, Lebanese-born architect, Samer Bou Rjeily. “For the moment, I truly enjoy what I do. My work is more of a pleasure than a passion - the pleasure of bringing a sketch on a small piece of paper or an idea to life.” Samer has a much decorated background which includes internships from New York, Rome and Beirut. During his architectural studies, he worked for Beirut-based South Border Gallery, which represents artists from South America in Lebanon. This opened doors for him to collaborate with artists of different backgrounds and talents for upcoming projects and exhibitions.
Soon after his graduation in 2018, the young aspirational designer established the eponymous Samer Bou Rjeily architectural design studio in the heart of Rue Gouraud Gemmayze, Beirut, focusing on work produced in scales, architecture, interior design, exhibitions and product design. Through his work, the designer explores the relationship between natural materials, time and the beauty of imperfection. Inspired by the principles of authenticity and nobility, he strives to ensure that his projects are one of a kind. “I look for meaning and materials that speak to me,” explains Samer. Reviving the beauty of old Lebanese houses and giving them a new purpose is what lies in the heart of all of his pieces. “A texture that cannot reproduce a patina of time, age and that has character is what I look for.”
Naivete chairs by Samer Bou Rjeily
Samer’s usage of materials varies from recovered wood, patina, marble, stone and steel to anything that matures over a certain period of time and has a story to tell. His most recent work was showcased at Beirut Design Fair. Of note at the fair was the Central Library Table, which pays homage to an era in which the Lebanese society used to celebrate the art of dining and living. The materials used for this piece were recovered from demolished old Lebanese houses, serving to preserve heritage. For instance, the designer used traditional Kotrani cedar wood beams that were once used to support the ceiling of an old Lebanese house. Interestingly, the wood beams were dipped into cold liquid metal to freeze the texture and preserve authenticity.
The Central Library Table’s shelves, made from the same recuperated wood, have been carved thin for dual purposes; either to store books or to serve as a buffet table, giving the design a modern twist. To Samer, the work demonstrates timelessness, harmony and pure architectural beauty. The acclaimed project was recognised globally and received the Talent Award 2019 at the Beirut Design Fair. Another interesting work of his is a console table, which has been inspired by Roman sacrificial altars to represent sacredness and purity.
Central Library table by Samer Bou Rjeily
The use of Nero Marquina marble and brushed stainless steel was used to create Samer’s most revered arm chair and floor lamp, which are featured in the Versus series. “Versus is an ongoing project which consists of a collection of objects and unique pieces which explore the relationships between man-made surfaces versus natural ones.” The arm chair and floor lamp highlight the contrast between the natural beauty of Nero Marquina marble and hand-brushed stainless steel made by local artisans in the industrial city of Beirut. The concept of Versus came after many years of collecting rare slabs found at marble suppliers all over Lebanon. “I take each slab at a time, striving to seek a collaborative relationship between natural beauty and human beings.”
As a young architect, the designer strives to discover beauty and qualities which unite nature and humanity. As Samer states, “for me, every day is an opportunity to take a step towards the person you want to be. This way, I can lead my career on my own terms.”
All images courtesy of the designer