clé + kutleh
this collection of reclaimed stone from the eastern mediterranean is the brainchild of rula yaghmour, a female jordanian architect who has taken a simple idea – repurposing stone left over from construction projects – and created a line of objects and furniture called kutleh (the arabic word for block). while kutleh’s projects center around bonding layers of stone into a mass block, clé collaborated with yaghmour on creating strata linea, a tile line of different sized planks that feature the rich variety of leftover, highly sought-after stone.
recognized as a rising talent in the design world, we asked rula to give us some insight on her background and kutleh.
you have a unique vantage point as a female architect in the arab world. how does that impact what you do?
in a profession dominated by men internationally and even more locally, this is a definite challenge. however, in the arab world, with time and as i’m building years of experience in practice, i’m actually seeing growing appreciation. i was privileged to get support from my family and direct community, however i understand that this is not the case with the higher percentage of females in our region. this has been a motivation for me to keep going and not a day passes without me being grateful for being able to achieve this.
how has the reception to your designs been - in jordan and beyond?
i believe in simple ideas — people connect and respond intuitively to concepts that they understand and comprehend. kutleh is based on a simple and basic idea of creating repurposed blocks by stacking reclaimed tiles. it presents itself also as a redefined raw material, in which designers can carve out their limitless creations from, to introduce innovative forms. and i’m happy that we’re seeing a response from designers from jordan and the world, as we develop products out of this new medium.
how does kutleh play into the idea of environmental responsibility in jordan?
jordan is well known for being a resource-scarce country, repurposing goods is embedded in our cultural heritage and in our everyday encounters. add to that, being raised in an ever-growing young nation pushes us to think innovatively about the resources we have in hand and how to reclaim and reuse them. for me, the challenges we face in our region is the secret ingredient behind innovation and creativity, and scarcity for sure is aligning us with the right direction of international awareness towards environmental responsibility.
any future ideas you may be willing to share?
we believe in hybrids and in collaborations, between kutleh and industries that originally work with stone and marble. we see strata with cle tiles as one of the most fruitful marriages between kutleh and the tile industry. our next step is to venture into the art spectrum, we’re launching a new form of blocks in the upcoming amman design week this october, and we envision it to become a new art form. stone and marble sculptors were the first to lay their hands on this material, and we want to see kutleh move into the contemporary form of this practice.
one of the things that our clients have been responding to with the strata linea collection is the sense of history that is embodied in the stone. is this something people take for granted in jordan or is it equally appreciated?
amman, the capital of jordan is famous with its picturesque mountains with climbing houses clad with stone. people in jordan appreciate stone, and understand that even with being an abundant resource in our area, there is value in it and in the inherited craftsmanship and contemporary fabrication tools used for it. it is named as the ‘gold’ of construction materials. moreover, our early houses were built from stone blocks, and the technology of using stone has evolved also with time. people see value, pride and history in this material. and as an architect, we see this as a common request with client, “we want a stone house”.