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Prismatic Pillars: The Egyptian Company Melding Science & Art

Melding science and art, Prismatic Pillars is the award-winning design company making its mark across Egypt.

Sun, sea, sand and that wooden wave installation at Kiki’s Beach. For Egypt’s North Coast out-and-about set, the intricate and undulating piece at the entrance of the popular beach bar and restaurant has proven to be one of the Insta-highlights of the summer, as are those signature chairs upon which many a sizzling summer afternoon was wiped away.

SceneHome decided to do a little design digging to find out more about Prismatic Pillars Design Lab, the creative company behind these stellar pieces and a myriad of stunning structures popping up across the country including in SODIC’s The Allegira, the achingly cool fitness destination, LA7, and in some of the most stylish homes in Egypt.

Prismatic Pillars Design Lab founder and architect, Eslam Abdelkhalek, is on a mission to seamlessly meld science and art to create fantastical furniture pieces that are as aesthetically exhilarating as they are functional. A graduate of the British University in Egypt with an MSc in Architectural Engineering from Cairo University, he takes tremendous pride in applying scientific theories to channel his artistic expression. “Architects are multidisciplinary designers,” he tells SceneHome. “We have to understand mechanical and structural engineering as well as the principles behind material science in order to successfully deliver a project"

Founded in 2016, the vision of Prismatic Pillars Design Lab stretches beyond the local market, with both his theories and practice ingratiating themselves in exhibitions, competitions and projects in destinations as far flung as South Korea and Norway.

While the design lab does have an expansive portfolio of services including architectural, interior and landscape design, Abdelkhalek craved the challenge of designing authentic furniture installations using algorithm-based design tools. “I was and always will be aimed towards architecture,” he explains. “However, furniture design felt like the most fitting introduction to my design signature at the time, demonstrating how science and art can come together to deliver a unique design.”

To a set of eyes unfamiliar with the parametric tools Abdelkhalek uses when attempting to bring an ambitious concept to reality, the process can look more sci-fi than furniture design. However, the mechanics are based on simple arrangements that organise the function of each input and generate a variety of possible outputs, in real time, which provides a level of versatility and flexibility to the designer unlike, well, literally any other design methodology.

After completing the software stage and reaching the intended structure with mathematical certainty, the designer is now faced with the difficult bit: executing it in reality, which may get mind-bending.

To create his signature ‘The Zofanyx’ piece, for example (which had its first public showing at the Cairo Design District event in 2019), 150 wooden strips are assembled in the manner dictated by the software, each with its unique curvatures. The curvatures are achieved by following ancient wood bending techniques that involve applying chemical compounds and then subjecting the strips to steam, altering its physical properties. See kids, science is cool - science plus art however, is even cooler.

To find out more follow them on @prismaticpillars.