Safari Living Presents: Dyad Artisans - Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi

Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi of Dyad Artisans

Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi

We invited Manuela Millan of Meanwhile In Melbourne to meet with Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi of Dyad Artisans to talk about their current homeware collection and everything they’ve achieved in the short time since their launch earlier this year.

Dyad Artisans is a Melbourne-based company which specialises in purveying and commissioning contemporary and traditional Iranian designs for the Australian market. What makes Dyad Artisans special is their focus on collaborating with local Iranian designers and artisans to produce works uniquely suited to the Australian design palette while retaining their Iranian design heritage.

Architecture of Yazd

This concept of conversation and collaboration goes to the heart of Dyad Artisans and can be seen in the design history and quality of each of their pieces.

[PZ] One of the main goals of Dyad Artisans is to change the overly political narrative about Iran in Australia today and create a cultural narrative in which direct people to people contact overrides current political tides creating a personal relationship between the Australian consumer and Iranian maker by placing a piece of their unique art in the Australian home.

Copper workers in Zanjan
[MS] Dyad means the relationship between two elements or two people. For example Pouria and I, Iran and Australia, artist and designer, traditional and contemporary.

Their story began when Missy and Pouria travelled to Iran together after meeting at an Iranian film festival in Melbourne. Missy had been keen to return to Iran after travelling there three years ago, and Pouria was more than happy to have an excuse to travel back to visit his family. While in Iran they had the idea of bringing some of the local Iranian art and design to Australia as they wanted to share the rich culture with an Australian audience. In particular they wanted to highlight some of the unique and less well known Iranian designers and introduce a new aspect of Iranian design to Australia.

Rugged nature of Iran

[MS] Instead of bringing what everyone expects to see in Iranian arts, crafts and design, we wanted to work and collaborate with artists to show the unexpected side and to give a different view of Iran from what people are used to seeing through the current media.

Getting the balance right between retaining and featuring the traditional Iranian design styles and processes while trying to keep it fresh and contemporary was a challenge which Dyad Artisans has succeeded in meeting. Their curated eye has enabled them to find and select a cohesive modern homeware collection which would suit and enhance any design-conscious home while retaining the essence of what makes Iranian design special.

Bazzar of Zanjan

This meeting of worlds requires seeking out artisans who may be willing to alter or expand their existing collections and techniques, which is not always a simple task.

[MS] It was about looking beneath the works and meeting the artists and seeing how much flexibility they have and if they were willing to do something a little bit different, maybe a little bit paired-back or a whole new direction.

[PZ] You have to look for the people who are willing to take a risk. On one hand you have craftspeople who have had this master/apprentice relationship for hundreds or thousands of years, and you also have a separate group of contemporary artists and each one could be quite resistant to change for their own reasons.

Retaining and rejuvenating endangered techniques and traditions which have survived for thousands of years but are under threat today by force of mass consumerism and production is an important aspect of Dyad Artisans’ ethos and they have tried to ensure that their business is both sustainable and fair so that the relationship with the makers can last for many years ahead.

Metal workers in Zanjan
[MS] We want to be building long-term relationships with artists, so it’s important that we do that sustainably and that we respect the work that they’re doing.

[PZ] It is important for us to keep ancient traditions of craft alive, if we have an elderly master metal worker commissioned by us, we want him not only to be able to continue the work long term, but also to be financially stable enough to hire an apprentice that can learn and progress this ancient tradition.

Equally important is creating a connection between the artist and end-user and ensuring that the story of the artist can be heard and shared. This connection and history gives extra meaning to the products, and allows you to have a deeper connection with the items you bring home.

17 Mirror work

[MS] It’s really important to us that people can be proud of buying something which has been hand-made by an artist in Iran, and that they can feel that there’s a connection there. We love the idea that our community (which includes those who love culture in its many forms), can share their stories via our website and through the fun and creative events we have planned for the future.

Missy Saleeba and Pouria Zoughi

We can't wait to see the next collection and the upcoming collaboration between Melbournian and Iranian artists. It has been a pleasure to meet the minds behind Dyad Artisans and we can't wait to form a dyad of our own with these beautiful homewares.

Dyad Artisans Textiles

Safari Living currently presents a selection of textiles and brass trays from Dyad Artisans.

Words: Manuela Millan
Photos courtesy of: Meanwhile in Melbourne and M.Saleeba/P.Zoughi