Lana Soufeh’s project Rooms Without A View is an amalgam of different threads. Its starting point is rooted in an editorial design class taught by Offshore Studio’s Isabel Seiffert, on the theme of On Goddesses. In being tasked with juxtaposing themes from a Greek text in a way “that connects to current issues of our society”, Lana says that she set out to answer the following question: “What do these old stories and myths tell us about the world and society we live in today?”
The story in question is that of the Greek Goddess of Spring, Persephone – a story of love, grief and imprisonment. Playing off this myth, Lana uses the home as a framework to interrogate and relay accounts of domestic violence and control. “The home acts as a space offering material and permanent protection that can be easily unstitched under pressure,” she says. But what really interests the Jordan-based designer is the idea that “the notion of 'home' does not universally inspire feelings of security and protection for everyone”. Consequently, Lana notes that Rooms Without A View "deconstructs the assumptions associated with 'home' in relation to the concept of 'domestic violence’ through different rooms and furniture".
The project is expectedly poignant but for more reasons than one. The editorial project is presented as a home furniture catalogue with each section being based on a different room. Lana employs a brilliant multi-layered storytelling approach in placing run-of-the-mill descriptive captions next to harrowing accounts of the way in which items figured into each victim’s story. Its melancholic dimension is further hinted at in the monochromatic and highly contrasted catalogue images provided by Berlin-based artist Moritz Jekat. Add to this the tightly rendered typography and defined contours, you get the feeling that it’s purposely unaffectionate in both its design choices and thematic framework. In Lana’s own words: “The day-to-day items that one familiarises with at home begin to trigger the feeling of discomfort towards the audience [...] the subtle captions juxtaposed with the items intensify the horrific use of such ‘weapons’ (furniture) at home.”
At the same time, Lana peppered in colourful and surreal images of rooms made by Moritz, which she says “romanticise the rooms in the home as an imaginative fantasy to the abused”. By exaggerating these colourful and free spaces, “the furniture that is seen in the editorial begins to entail a different kind of meaning and emotion", Lana tells It’s Nice That. The matter-of-fact compositions act as a sturdy apparatus on which rests Lana’s study of domestic violence and its world-altering effects. But these punctuating images represent an elusive but important hope for the people whose stories Lana shares.
She accounts the mystique and lyricism of the work to the division of labour between darker and heavy content that she was responsible for, as well as the “lighter and optimistic perspective” that Moritz deals with. “This collision was what gave the project its own life,” she says. In looking to present a comprehensive and accurate view of domestic violence, Lana made a point to “share stories and facts about bisexual and trans abuse, male abuse, teenage and child abuse”, she says. And while the project scores high marks visually and conceptually, for her the most important thing was to “include many links and emergency hotlines from all over the world that victims can reach out to".
GalleryLana Soufeh: Rooms Without A View (Copyright © Lana Soufeh, 2022)
Lana Soufeh: Rooms Without A View (Copyright © Lana Soufeh, 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That for three months as an editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design.