Farrah Sit is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer specializing in lighting, furniture and sculptural home objects. Farrah's lighting caught our eye as it is evocative in design and exudes a unique sense of tension and movement. In her work, she weds sparseness with the grace of natural elements and sees each piece as a contemplation on essentiality. Fascinated by Farrah's designs, we were eager to speak with her about her work and process.
Photography. Sharon Radisch
En Ville. What is your background and how did your path lead to designing lighting, furniture and sculptural home objects?
Farrah Sit. I have always had deep fascination with how things worked. I was meant to study science actually, but last minute I leaped at the opportunity to attend RISD, to study Industrial Design. I landed a dream job at Calvin Klein Home early on. I was gifted the time and freedom to design, which was rare in corporate, and I traveled around the world to work with small family owned factories.
But over the course of those years, big box stores boomed and the changing economy demanded cheap production overseas. Quality was no longer a value, which lead me to question my role as a designer in this world. I returned to making with my hands to get back in touch with the "why". Rather than letting the changing economy dictate the way my creativity would be realized, I took the time after work to design/fabricate again on my own terms and for the sake of understanding the material. This was where it started. Because I had to make everything myself, the process was intimate and I allowed the material to tell me what it wanted to be. This conversation was further explored at retreats at Haystack Mountain School of Craft - located on an isle off of Maine. My commitment to the craft led me to make a few strategic moves including leaving Calvin for a job that would allow me to create a nest egg, and later trading that money for time to develop my own work.
EV. I am always interested to hear how artists spend their free time. What do you like to do as a break from making your artwork?
FS. On the mat or cushion is where you'll find me pre and post work. I am passionate about Kundalini Yoga and meditation as taught by Yogi Bhajan, and I recently got into practicing Vinyasa at Lighthouse Yoga.
The practice of Kundalini Yoga facilitates the experience of expansive oneness of it all. It offers me a much needed break from the critical micro vision of design; yoga gets me macro again. In meditation, you are here and then suddenly everywhere, a space opens up to experience connectivity and infinity. It's a beautiful practice.
I love Vinyasa because my entire body is engaged and I feel like I'm on cloud nine afterwards. The space at Lighthouse Yoga in Williamsburg is inspiring in itself- I'm a sucker for a gorgeous interior with sweeping curved white walls and a lush garden.
EV. What kind of environment do you prefer to work in? Do you have any rituals that you do while you work (ex: listen to music etc)?
FS. I may be reflecting the pace of the city, but I like working in my own bubble while being surrounded by people. I like to give my team space to do their thing and rely on check-ins. Is this the introvert in me? Possibly.
EV. What is your favorite part of your process? What is your least favorite part of your process?
FS. My favorite part of the process is the honing of the final shape like filing or sanding to the highest grit. How the light bounces off its surface is what defines its form to me.
My least favorite part of my process is the very beginning where the object can be anything. My indecision sometimes gets the best of me in this phase.
EV. I am always fascinated to hear you talk about your work. The inspiration for your lighting seems to come from everything from gravity, weight and strength (Ida and Pingala), mid-century fascination of space travel (Satin Khora) and even sea life (Porcelain Cluster). Can you give us an insight as to how your thought process works (ex: from space travel and sea life to gorgeous lighting!?) from inspiration to realization?
FS. Maybe I'm capturing my own wonder and awe I have for the natural world. I've recently been interested in recreating tension or invisible forces. I want the negative space of a piece to have more presence. I sometimes think about how can I make the viewer uncomfortable with space/tension or how can I make the viewer uncomfortable with their understanding of how materials work such as marble pulling down on glass, etc. Maybe discomfort causes awareness. The theme can come from anywhere from concept to just wanting to play with a new material; it's not so systematic. But once it starts to take form, I chase its growth, and allow it to show me what it wants to be.
EV. I’m sure many of us (including me) have been too busy to get away this past year. Allow us to live vicariously through you! Can you share one of your most memorable travel experiences with us to take us away from our daily lives?
FS. This year, sailing on the Nile was a feast for the eyes and a journey felt by the soul. I took a Kundalini Yoga teacher training trip to Egypt where we spent 7 days on the tranquil waters of the Nile, and 5 days in Cairo traveling to far off sites. We traveled on a Dahibya where you're very low to the water, and we practiced yoga on a wide open wooden deck shaded by canvas. Yoga started at 5am before the sun rose. We finish in meditation and you would flutter open your eyes to see that the sun had risen to great you and sometimes there'd even be baby cows watching you in bewilderment. We slowly glided on the water passing miles of grassland and it felt as if time had stood still for centuries as the Nile River was mostly left undeveloped. We stopped and visited burial sites and temples daily after practice. I was blown away by the intentionality and immense effort to communicate through their craft: a story, a history, a belief in a way that would last an eternity. I deeply yearn to understand, to meet their yearning to be heard and understood for centuries to come. You can feel so much in some of these temples. To my surprise I had a knack for getting secretly snuck into tombs. I don't know why, maybe I just looked like I would contribute good vibes to their deities or something. I don't know how else to explain it but it happened a few times.
EV. What is your favorite spot in NYC and why?
FS. Bakeri in Greenpoint is my spot, the perfect off the beaten path neighborhood cafe where you might bump into 3 different people you know. The food is made with love and the decor defines cozy.
EV. What type of art do you enjoy to look at? Do you have any favorite artists?
FS. Fashion. I love how the wearer metaphorically becomes someone else in the glove of another's dream and creativity.
My favorite work is from Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan from the early 2000s. I am enthralled with the emotional rawness of Alexander McQueen's work; his runways shows transport you into his dream/nightmare. One of my favorite collections is by Hussein Chalayan, where he had created a living room of furniture and that then was gently unfolded/dismantled -slip covers became dresses, frames became suitcases, a coffee table telescoped into a skirt- and the models wore the pieces off the stage as an autobiographical expression of displacement caused by war.