RETHINKING THE WALLS OF LIVING SPACE
The ones who read Wallpaper are going to love it. It's unique, very cutting edge modernist. MONSOON HERITAGE magical creations between art and design, decoration and sculpture, pop and fine, profane and sacred.
By Raul Weiss
The year 2006 was the hottest on the planet in recorded history; there is open water for the first time ever at the North Pole; the snows at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro will probably disappear within 25 years. A power grid the size of Houston is being added to China every month; the United States, with only four percent of the world's population, emits more than 20 percent of the world's carbon. "Fifty years from now," a noted scientist speculates, "you may be living in a world where you don't go outside between one and four in the afternoon." In short, our increasingly brutish country, with its end-time mentality and barbarian attitude toward the environment, would gladly trade the last frog for cheaper gas prices.
The gypsy-visionary, bobo-alchemist, explorer-designer, eco-soul artist Yahel Chirinian will not be able to stop any of these things from happening. But her years away from West, to what she calls her "base”, a secluded old house, between fields and buffalos, in the India she loves where the weather is brutal, the snakes are poisonous, and the friendships are deep, is a glimmer of emotions, creativity, and vision in the face of technologically advanced cultures. Her “parti pris” of existence in India is a reminder that chaos is a choice breeding ground for art—an unknown zone and mental garden that can produce new thought patterns and contemporary artistic fruit.
Chirinian contends that in today's art world it is "necessary to find new ways to convey meaning and create experience." She says, "Like the desert, India opens for me enough thinking space to re-imagine all sorts of parallel new art worlds. A kind of counter-place that is outside other places but that also includes them." The desert's total lack of structure and its indigenous chaos combined with Chirinian’s utopianism created what she calls "gaps in which invention or change can happen." Curator Ann Rhodes eloquently refers to such places as "a position of elsewhere," by which she means “Chirinian creates situations ". Rhodes described Chirinian creations as “stunning and mystical” but she admits “the taste is very specific, people love it or hate it. The ones who read Wallpaper are going to love it. It’s unique and very special, impossible to categorize, very cutting edge modernist. “Yahel Chirinian is exploring the place where art and vision fuse. It's hard to place her work, because it doesn't really quite belong anywhere, somewhere magical between art and design, between art and decoration, between pop and fine, between the profane and sacred,” said Ann Rhodes.
Yahel Chirinian sat at the head of a Monsoon Heritage white table in a Monsoon Heritage white room. Dressed in a ultra light off white Jil Sander dress. So successful for its unique mix of glamour and seductive cool, Yahel Chirinian latest creations are at the nexus of high design and high living, more than ever glitterati and trend setters favorite. “We don’t see ourselves in luxury” she says. “Our work is about experiment.”
Sophisticated and subversive in a totally modern manner, Monsoon Heritage takes conventional design philosophy and turns it on its head. What make Monsoon Heritage truly special are its daring and brilliant juxtapositions. Each creation reads like a page ripped from the surrealists “manifesto”: a desire to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality, the pairing of seemingly unrelated objects, and a desire to return to the innocence of childhood where a freewheeling, "down the rabbit hole" approach to life is embraced.
Yahel Chirinian and Doris Zacheres have become the dynamic and sexy duo of conceptual art in design posh set. It’s a sensible kind of synergy. Yahel Chirinian, the unpredictable, brilliant and edge designer; Doris Zacheres the business-like (if stylish) German-born space consultant, who made her classes several years back in New York with renowned late architect-developer Michael Perez. “We go back 12 years” says Zacheres. ‘I know her from being friends socially here and there.” Here and there could easily mean trendy, dimly lit nightclubs, gallery openings, and private parties behind velvet ropes. But it took Zacheres ascent, and Chirinian frustration with the design industry, to bring them together as a duo. “We don’t step on each other’s toes,” said Zacheres of her partnership with Chirinian.” We let each other work and do what we are good at. Which is the basis of every good partnership.”
“Doris Zacheres is my partner, but more importantly before that, my friend” Chirinian explains.“Doris has a love and appreciation for architecture and space as I do, so it’s great to share all this with her, because that has been the great joy of my life. It’s really what makes me get up in the morning” About her partnership with Doris Zacheres, Chirinian says “we made a mental and aesthetic emotional connection.” Despite Doris Zacheres many high-profile design and architectural partnerships, she says “Often, I found I had to push (the designers). In Yahel’s case, I had to hold her back. Anything is possible; the sky’s the limit with her”
“As old institutions fade and social structure fall away, the world is a smaller place. We are more mobile, jetting from one side of the world to the other, moving from one role in the society to another. Nationality and class have been replaced by lifestyle. People find their place in the world through intelligence and taste. There are tribes of taste today…..Lifestyle is the way a person distinguishes himself or herself. It is the artistry of living” explains Chirinian. “I can get a bit esoteric about this,” warns Chirinian “But why should we all live in the same type of house if we have very different tastes? You are what you eat, you are what you wear – why not where you live?”
“When I say design, I don’t mean only shape and color, I mean conceptualizing the way a place moves and breathes. In the end you have nothing but the atmosphere you’re creating, the magic you’re trying to create, and the only tools you have to do that are light and space.” She says all of her ideas are self generated based on instinct, not market research or logistics. She said she sees things differently from others, and it’s often the obvious idea that is overlooked.” I’m interested in social phenomenon. How we react, how we respond.”
“Until it’s really great, I don’t want to show new work to anybody” she says of her new creations which she keeps under wraps. “I want to do something that will be incredibly special that epitomize natural light and had this feeling of a on-the-edge point of view,” Chirinian says. “I really never was interested in jumping on the the curtain-wall bandwagon that everyone else is doing”
When does she move on to the next thing? "Once something goes mainstream, it's over for me," Yahel Chirinian said. "My passion is to shake things up….to change things….to violate the status quo….and to have a real impact. What I like is creating an atmosphere. For me this is where art, architecture and design come in. Also, I still haven’t done my masterpiece.”
Chirinian's work has been collected all over the world and can be seen, amongst others, at: Monsoon Heritage (Goa), IFF (Paris), Margaux Borgese (Avignon), Jerry Petrossian (Los Angeles), Fouad Karam (Beirut), Pallate (Mumbai).
Monsoon Heritage is also currently involved in a number of additional projects in various stages of completion in the United States, Europe, Lebanon, India and around the world.