Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia’s collaboration starts at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, where they studied Interior Design together, between 1997 – 2003. In 2007, soon after accomplishing their studies, Janberidze and Toloraia established the first female-run studio in Georgia working primarily on collectible objects and designing various architectural spaces. Rooms Studio is based in Tbilisi, Georgia since.
Following the turbulences of the newly independent republic, the cities in Georgia became flooded with precarious architecture, DIY extensions on social blocks and vernacular solutions to the street décor. The transformation era has been reflected in the duo’s creative thinking and gradually in their practice. Drawing inspiration from mostly Western European design principles, the duo started to work based on the international design tendencies of the times. However, in later series, such as 2016’s Wild Minimalism, the duo started to question their cultural past, going back in history as far, as the ancient and Medieval Georgian décor, or late Soviet times. Translating these old motifs into a contemporary design language, while reclaiming and re-creating a new design identity has been the studio’s one of the main fields of interest since. Ethnography, mythology, traditional and modernist elements hand-crafted using natural materials, such as: wood, stone and metal create Rooms Studio’s authentic language. This approach is vivid in their on-going Street Series, as well as, in older collections, such as, DNA Archives, Life on Earth and others. Nonetheless, re-thinking past stands as a point of departure for creating new forms and developing new ideas, which can be seen in Alchemy, or some of the ongoing series, such as the Golden Fleece.
There is a vast sculptural aspect to the Rooms Studio practice. Well represented in duo’s latest interior project, such as Gheama Restaurant, or the Sacral Geometry collection, functional objects are distinguishable in their monumentality and autonomous nature. Spatial thinking in disposition of objects in relation to architecture, puts Rooms Studio’s practice somewhere in-between modernist and symbolist styles, where the line between art, design and architecture is blurred.
Intuitive in its nature Rooms Studio’s working methodology is indirect and fluid. Working primarily on a collection-to-collection basis, with often recurring elements, creates a continuous ever-evolving body of work. As if, like in the architecture in their motherland, the historical layers are being added to one another, without abandoning and closing the previous chapters. Repetition, as one of the characteristics to the duo, reminds the viewer of their feminist approach, as well, as some of Georgia’s Oriental share of a culture. In this way, Rooms Studio creates a perfect blend of design, where East and West meet.
Text by Elene Abashidze