The user-friendly designAs personable as her melodious and enthusiastic English phrasing, the designs of the London-based Venezuelan designer Grace Souky speak a cosmopolitan, convivial language that aims to bring together different cultures around a common ambition: the daily wellbeing of its users.
A graduate in architecture from Simon Bolivar University in her home town of Caracas, Grace Souky has always liked drawing, especially its ‘analytical and graphic aspects’, and from very early on as an aspiring architect showed herself to be as talented as she is passionate. Yet her experience in the workplace quickly confirmed her clear penchant for the small-scale and for interiors projects, which she prefers to what she sees as the ‘more abstract’ designing of buildings themselves. The South American then headed for New York’s prestigious Pratt Institute from which she graduated in industrial design in 2009. Back in her native country, she wasted no time in setting up her own studio, with the aim of bringing together the endless wealth of local cultures with a universal contemporary aesthetic. Even then, the idea of ‘forging links’ was forming.
« The designer is a mediator – a role that I am both honoured and proud to fill »
she explains. For instance, the Olga chair that she designed at this time is inspired by outdoors chairs commonly used by Venezuelan families during impromptu, chatty evening gatherings under village porches. An homage to a lovely daily ritual, the practical seat is in this way raised by the designer to the rank of a design object that tells a story as well as being elegant, thanks to a more contemporary shape and the use of more solid materials.
The metal of the original portable structure is replaced by oak, while PVC strands replace plastic in the woven seat. Not content with relaying her country’s traditions, Grace Souky supports responsible production methods as well as working with excellent Venezuelan artisans in order to promote regional talents. Carried thousand of miles from her home country by life’s vagaries, the young designer has lived in London for several years. Though hectic and sometimes exhausting, the city hasn’t quashed the young woman’s creative aspirations.
Still as attentive to the habits, lifestyles and needs of her peers, souky continues to construct a formal and universal language that finds its source, first and foremost, in close study of her contemporaries. Always determined to provide her clients with high-quality, practical pieces, she works with great dexterity with noble materials such as marble, copper and wood, cultivating the art of mixing and matching materials and pop colours, which often feature in her design, like a trademark.
‘If my architecture studies and taste for modernism can still be seen in my focus on purity and simplicity, I still always seek to include a little twist in my objects to surprise people with a double meaning or several functions’. The Sube & Baja table, for instance, is delivered flat and fitted with a handle that allows one to change its direction easily. So it can be used both horizon- tally and vertically, which makes it perfectly suited to modern lives that are of necessity dynamic and always changing, and sometimes even nomadic. In the same vein, the Domestic Collectables collection of ingenious pieces, which oscillate between table art, practical utensils and building sets – available through designerbox.com have a place in daily life that is bothclever and elegant. Responding to the problem of a scarcity of storage space, Grace Souky has come up with an adaptable set, most pieces of which are multi-functional: the cover of a bowl can, for example, also serve as a base for a cake-stand or as a simple tray. It’s as a direct descendant of this latter collection that the designer conceived Reverso: reversible and handy for any purpose, the beech board with its ele- gant silhouette can be used as a serving bowl when turned over, which means it can take you right through apéritif and nibbles, up to the last sweet offerings...
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