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The Feiz Brothers: Pursuing Clarity in Design

Published as: 
Brother Act
Two Iran-born brothers—each running multidisciplinary studios, 5,000 miles apart—discuss the similarities and differences in designing like a Feiz.
Designer Khodi Feiz (left) and his younger brother, Reza (right), congregate with their families every summer, usually in Europe. This year, Khodi prefaced a California road trip with his brood with a visit to Reza’s home and studio in Los Angeles.

Designers Khodi Feiz and Reza Feiz live and work in two far-flung cities—a great distance from their birthplace in Tehran. Khodi’s Feiz Design Studio in Amsterdam and Reza’s studio, Phase Design in Los Angeles, make different brands of graphical, minimalist furniture, lighting, and objects. What the designers have in common are simplicity and clarity—two difficult qualities to achieve.

First consider the brothers’ fraught early history: In December 1978, on the eve of the Iranian Revolution, Khodi, 14, and Reza, 9, fled their home country to Bethesda, Maryland, along with their sister. The three joined their mother, a former director of international relations at Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, and she filed for political asylum. Reza has not returned to Iran since, and it took Khodi 29 years to make the trip.

For Khodi, design is a calling. He taught his little brother how design can address specific needs with an integrated, sensor-laden scuba mask with a built-in communication device—a precursor to today’s “smart” technology—that he made for his 1986 senior thesis project in industrial design. After graduating from Syracuse University, he did stints at Texas Instruments (designing everything from printers to semiconductor processing equipment) and Philips Design in Eindhoven, Netherlands, where he was a creative director. In 1998, he opened his own office in a canalside building designed by Dutch firm UNStudio.

Two of his white powder-coated Wired lights are shown in situ in his Los Angeles home.
Today, Khodi makes sleek, voluptuous consumer electronics, household objects, and furniture: desktop accessories for Alessi, the Peel sofa for Council, and, for Offecct, the petal-like Moment chair. “We design projects in the context of mass production,” he says, “and whether it’s an audio system for Denon or a lounge chair for Offecct, I believe in the notion of the ‘mainstream’ as a liberator.”

Reza, self-taught, now counts Kiehl’s and Tom Ford as clients and has hotel projects—like the Mondrian London with Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio—from Sweden to Lebanon. Phase does design from conception to sales, all predicated on what Reza calls “strength in simplicity” and featuring solid woods, metal, and fiberglass. Notable, wide-ranging projects include planter boxes, ceramics, lighting, and bold—even cantilevered—upholstered seating.

Reza studied marketing and acting at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. This path eventually led him to Los Angeles, where the reigning midcentury aesthetic inspired him to design and build modern pieces for himself. Several one-offs and his Pose chair (which is still in production) were soon picked up by the design shop Orange. Since 2000, he has worked from the Studio City home that he shares with his wife and two children, though he recently moved to a new space in the NoHo Arts District to capitalize on the neighborhood’s thriving arts scene. “Contrary to popular belief, there is honesty in Los Angeles,” he says. “You are free to be who you are.” The same holds for both Feiz brothers, each pursuing clarity in design, from California to the Netherlands.

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