Hella El Khiari is the creative mind behind Flaÿou, a Tunis-based integrative design studio that works in object, graphic and environmental design. She left her job as an architect and moved to Tunis to launch Flaÿou in 2016 with former co-founder, Thomas Egoumenides. This interview was conducted in 2018 with both Hella and Tom.
What do you make?
Flaÿou is a brand about joyful design. Joyful design is above all a state of mind. We aim to infuse our identity and mood into each of our collections.
Your design ethos is…
To have fun
How are your products made?
We concentrate on local materials – terracotta, cork, resin, olive, palm wood. We are curious at each moment. Each new project becomes an opportunity to experiment with new techniques and materials. We particularly enjoy working with artisans. We learn a lot with them, and we can try everything and can almost reinvent everything with them.
What inspired you to start your business?
After a couple of years of travel with an architecture firm, we decided to open our own atelier. We wanted to explore other disciplines while staying close to our foundation. We were immediately attracted to object design as a way to experiment in another platform. In a way, object design is like small, inhabited architecture, with their scenarios and issues.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Our daily lives are our biggest source of inspiration. Each day doesn’t resemble the next, just like our collections. Each collection is completely linked to our environment, our moods, and our stories.
How do you draw from Tunisian culture and traditions?
We aren’t consciously inspired by Tunisian culture. Our environments and daily lives inspire us. But we like working with and being inspired by local materials and techniques, so we find a little bit of Tunisia in each of our collections.
What does Tunisia mean to you?
For young designers like us, Tunisia represents a magnificent playground!
What is your favorite place to visit in Tunisia?
We are urban dwellers – we love the center of Tunis. And the encounters! Each new encounter, each new story is a journey.