In language, accents or diacritics have the power to change the meaning of words – they have been used for centuries, to emphasize letters and provide phonetic direction. Neat dots, perfect curls, tide-like strokes; these small glyphs are not only central to language, but they are beautifully decorative elements in their own right.
Silsal’s Accents collection offers a fresh perspective, putting Arabic accents in the limelight. Rather than seeing them purely as reading aids, it brings them to the fore, arranged in flowing, complex patterns, which weave and flow about one another. Bold hues of rich orange and vibrant teal accentuate the energy of each stroke.
Enhancing this vibrant color palette are rich metallic splashes, a nod to the region’s cultural and artistic wealth. The modern gold gilding offers a novel take on the ancient art of calligraphy – highlighting its timeless value, both as a function of language and an art form in itself.
Beautifully tiled mosques, patterned silk carpets and intricately decorated ceramic pots line streets permeated with the scent of frankincense and oud. Breezeblocks are embellished with angular patterns, while arched doorways display carvings of garlands and vines.
Decorative art is intrinsic to the cultures and aesthetics of the Middle East, and the philosophy of Silsal Design House. It was, and still is, used to transform everyday objects into artistic works that infuse beauty into life – an ethos Silsal revives with the Ashkaal collection.
Mesmerising, geometric arabesque forms inspired the Ashkaal collection. Shapes are woven together in complex combinations, which many believe represent the complexity of existence. The Ashkaal collection transforms common forms into complicated geometric patterns. Circles interlace other circles, squares evolve into stars and triangles intersect to create breathtaking patterns, which never seem to end.
For Silsal, every single shape within every single design is considered precious, but no single element stands out to dominate the others. Instead, shapes intertwine and connect, sitting together in perfect harmony – harmony that can only be achieved by dedication and appreciation of this ever-popular art form.
Combining technical know-how with the art of fine craftsmanship, the ‘Bubbles’ collection speaks the language of contemporary style, boldness and luxury. The trendy collection is emblematic of Silsal’s passionate commitment to creating distinctive and timeless designs, which serve different purposes. The collection’s polished finish reflects vibrancy and modernity, while its metallic, rustic rims lend dignified elegance and nobility to each piece.
Stretching from Europe, through Asia, to the Horn of Africa, the Ottoman Empire wassynonymous with eccentricity, grandeur and power. Diwani was the most famous andgrand of all Ottoman scripts, and used predominantly by Ottoman royalty
The script is characterised by its lively curvature, which is accentuated by a slight slant; its tight coiling glyphs, unraveling slightly towards the ends of words and phrases. Diwani’s uniqueness was cemented by unconventional letter connections, which had never before been seen, and made it difficult to read. Its complexity was ingeniously intentional; Diwani had been developed as a secret code, which could only be deciphered by special officials in the intrigue-ridden Ottoman court.
Inspired by the script’s own intrigue and drama, Silsal revives the calligraphic code with the Diwani Collection. Colourful orange and greens hues, reminiscent of the Ottomans’ opulent fashions, embolden the theatrical confidence of the script. The distinctive curve and signature slant are discernibly exaggerated, while decorative designs festoon spaces between words.
Silsal’s Diwani collection aims to both decipher and celebrate the mystique of the cryptic script, once reserved for only the most elite members of society. In doing so, it revives the opulence, confidence and spectacle of the Ottomans, tempered with a touch of modern minimalism.
From the domes of the Shah Mosque in Iran, to the doors of North Africa and Andalusia's tiled Alhambra Palace to the mosques of Samarkand, turquoise has long been coveted in Middle Eastern and Islamic architecture. Inspired by the magnetic hue, Silsal's Fairuz collection, which literally translates to turquoise, is a celebration of this much beloved color.
While some believed turquoise reflected the heavens, others said the shade represented water, and thus life. Silsal combines the signature turquoise with other rich tones of blue, green and purple found in the artwork, tiles and arches of the region – reminiscent of the magnificent peacock feather.
White porcelain is the canvas, upon which the vibrant colors dance and weave among one anoth- er; evoking the fluidity of a Monet watercolor. Space is used to contrast and highlight the rich depths of each tone, allowing them to be admired in their purest forms.
This cacophony of color is further embellished with bold strokes of striking gold calligraphy, celebrating the three words ‘Al Salam, Al Mahabah and Al Karam', which translate to ‘Peace, Love and Kindness'.
With its modern treatment of the ancient love of turquoise, the Fairuz collection not only evokes the art and colors of the Middle East, but its values and spirit.
Once described as “religious emotion frozen by art” by renowned Yale professor Franz Rosenthal, Thuluth is regarded as the most impressive of all Arabic scripts. Some even say that one cannot be considered a calligrapher until he has mastered it.
Silsal’s Ghida collection acts as a canvas for the unique Thuluth script. Curvaceous plump letters interlace with elegantly long vertical strokes finished with upturned hooks, which pull them heavenward.
Its ornamental style meant Thuluth was quickly adopted as the chosen script of architectural inscriptions for mosques, pillars, walls and even the decorative Sura headings in the Quran. It was often combined with Kufic script, which matched its timeless beauty and complexity.
Silsal’s adoption of the script is not just an act of artistic admiration; it’s a cultural resurrection of a painstakingly ornamental script. One that was once reserved for grand monuments and has now found its way into the homes and hearts of a new generation.
The organic shapes and simple beauty of Arabic calligraphy inspire Silsal’s Kalimat collection, which is infused with the rich, earthy hues of brown, orange and cream. Rewriting the rules, Silsal deconstructed and reinterpreted formal Diwani calligraphy, transforming it into beautiful interlocking and fluid designs. Letters and words dance, weave and swirl about one another.
It’s a contemporary departure from other forms of calligraphy, which traditionally are only written in cursive form, where the letters are joined. The Kalimat collection deconstructs calligraphy, taking a magnifying glass to the individual letters themselves. Standing them alone allows their intricate and elaborate forms to transcend their traditional roles, into masterpieces of their own right.
The Kalimat collection also reimagines the flow of calligraphy. Unlike conventional Arabic, which is written from right to left, Kalimat’s words and letters are not bound by direction. Instead, they are carefully curated; positioned in a way that liberates each letter, allowing their characteristics to take center stage. The reinvention echoes the history of Arabic script, which has long been shaped and transformed by the various cultures and communities who adopted it. Silsal continue this journey; carving new artistic forms from ancient traditions.
Inspired by its namesake, Silsal’s Kufic collection pays tribute to one of the oldest and most beloved of Arabic scripts: Kufic. Developed in 7th century Kufa, an Iraqi city 170 kilometres south of Baghdad, devoted calligraphers spent decades developing and perfecting the popular script. However, by the 13th century, the use of everyday Kufic became virtually extinct, due to its time-consuming, complex format. Instead, it was reserved for architectural inscriptions, thanks to its interesting angular lines and geometric shapes.
Silsal’s Kufic collection not only pays homage to the beautiful script, but offers a fresh revival of calligraphy from a bygone era. It brings an art form once reserved for grand monuments into the everyday home.
Silsal sets its Kufic script against contrasting block colours, allowing each letter to stand out. Long characters extend elegantly upwards, balancing the curved, squat letters by their side. Following the traditional cursive format, the collection links letters with exaggerated horizontal lines, creating a contemporary grid-like pattern.
Much of the collection is decorated with the words ‘Al-Sa'adah, Al, Barakah, Al-Noor, Al Yumn, Al-Irtika'a and Al'Suroor’, a sweet wish of 'Happiness, blessings, light, faith, prosperity and joy'. A fitting tribute to an art form that has brought wonder and delight for centuries.
Developed in North Africa and later in Spain, the Maghribi script’s imperfect bowls and swooping curves were not traditionally considered as appealing as the likes of Thuluth or Kufic. In the imperfections however, Silsal saw a unique beauty.
The collection celebrates the oft-overlooked script, and captures the originality of its irregular lettering – with the distinctive wavering line of its up-stroke and plunging elongated glyphs – which was likened to a chaotic spider’s web.
Where other scripts flow obediently through perfectly uniform arcs, Maghribi pours passionately, like a river spilling its banks; nourishing all those who gaze upon it. In its proud imperfection, it has a depth and soul few scripts can rival and Silsal’s embrace of Maghribi embodies its intrinsic philosophy, that there is beauty in everything – if you only dare to look.
Wild lilies sway delicately, while hard-working bees collect nectar from ruby red anemones. The six-petalled black iris stands in the shade of an ancient cypress and birdsong dances through the mild spring air.
Samar Habayeb, founder of Silsal, recalls long days as a child spent exploring her grandmother Odette’s lush garden – a green oasis full of birds, native flowers and peacocks.
Odette’s love, and respect, of nature inspired her namesake collection, which takes its cue from the organic patterns and shapes found in the Middle East and beyond. From the familiar leaf of the banana tree to the perfectly symmetrical tulip, the beauty and magnificence of nature have informed both art and design for centuries.
But with Odette, Silsal celebrates the priceless legacy of one woman, whose children and grandchildren inherited her profound appreciation and understanding of the delicate harmony within nature. It’s a fitting tribute to a woman who was her happiest, and most fulfilled, in her garden.
With beautiful glyphs and flowing forms, the Tarateesh collection breathes new life into the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy. Complex calligraphic shapes are crafted with bold brushstrokes in confident colours, such as black, orange, turquoise and green, finished with playful splashes of paint.
The stylish collection personifies Silsal’s desire to preserve the cultural heritage and artistic practice of calligraphy, which has been revered throughout the Middle East, and beyond. Since the sixth century, wherever the script went, a new style of calligraphy was born. It was constantly evolving; being reinvented and transformed by the people and cultures that used it – bent and shaped by varying geography, worldviews and artistic preferences. It’s an approach Silsal Design House holds dear. They, in turn, have taken on an ancient script, broken it down and reimagined it, to create something unique and contemporary.
Silsal departed from existing calligraphic styles, to invent their own unique script – one that represents their experience, expression and artistic approach. With long exaggerated lines intersecting archetypal glyphs, Silsal’s calligraphy urges the reader to reconsider the preconceptions of language; instead, highlighting the symbolism and beauty of each word, and the myriad of meanings behind them.