The Iran-born sisters blaze a bold path for self-employed architects: Design everything in sight.
Gisue Hariri and Mojgan Hariri, founders of the New York–based firm Hariri & Hariri, have been close collaborators and complementary thinkers their entire lives. Their creative partnership began when they were children growing up in rural Iran, a year and a half apart in age, building “primitive architecture” with chicken wire, plastic tarp, cinderblocks, and scrap wood. “Our father was an engineer with the national oil company, and we lived out near the fields,” says Gisue. “We didn’t have many toys but we had a lot of outdoor space, so every day we’d create an environment. That kind of freedom, having the outlook that you can make anything and create your own world—that definitely planted the seed of who we are today.”
Who they are today are the heads of one of the most progressive and out-of-the-box architecture firms currently working in the United States. Their projects run the gamut from luxury apartments and hotels to bathroom accessories to single-family houses to high-concept, high-tech experiments. For the Hariris, design is a holistic, boundaryless enterprise. “Some firms do mostly residential or mostly hospitality,” says Gisue. “We never bought into the ideology of breaking down design into small parts.”
Witness the master plan they created for the new Sternbrauerei residential development in Salzburg, Austria, currently under construction. Their design, influenced by the geography of Salzburg, incorporates a man-made creek, two main courtyards, and a series of sculptural, angular buildings oriented toward the adjacent rock mountainside. Studies of geology and quarrying for this project began to inform their other work, and in rapid succession they created geology- and crystal-inspired office accessories, jewelry, and bathroom fixtures for Acme Studio, AF New York, and Atelier Swarovski. Such cross-pollination is par for the course. “You begin somewhere and you see how much potential it has,” says Gisue. “We’ve always liked to have continuity and flow, where everything starts to relate to each other in language, form, and materials.” What’s next for the perpetually curious, always-inspired sisters? “Fashion, I think,” says Gisue. “I’d like to design a coat.”