La Fondation Boghossian – Villa Empain sera exceptionnellement fermée le samedi 13 juillet à partir de 16 heures. Nous vous conseillons de vous présenter pour la visite des expositions Josef et Anni Albers et Beyond the lines au plus tard à 15 heures. Nous vous remercions de votre compréhension.

Sila est une initiative de design et d’artisanat à but non lucratif conçue par la Fondation Boghossian. Son objectif est de favoriser, de préserver et d’offrir un regard contemporain sur l’artisanat traditionnel, les savoir-faire et les cultures orientales à travers la création d’une édition d’objets.

Les civilisations millénaires orientales sont bouleversées. L’époque où leurs avancées scientifiques, médicales, philosophiques et culturelles rayonnaient sur l’ensemble de l’Europe est révolue, voire complètement oubliée par la mémoire collective.

Il est essentiel de faire revivre leur savoir-faire, de préserver leur patrimoine matériel et immatériel et de permettre à nos cultures délaissées de retrouver leur dignité.



Kia Utzon-Frank & Michel Mansour, ‘Soaps’


Tragic Magic by KUFstudios

In August 2021, SILA commissioned Kia Utzon-Frank, the designer behind KUFstudio, to collaborate with Michel Mansour, an 85-year-old artisan and Aleppo soap maker, renowned for his mastery of soap making tradition dating back to 1000 BC, in Lebanon for the creation of unique soaps.

Amid the pandemic, the once routine and automatic act of handwashing suddenly became a matter of life and death and turned into a neurotic chore. Kia wanted to change this perspective and instead create a sensory exploration. By playing with textures, colours, shapes and fragrances, the emphasis on handwashing shifted from the fear of a deadly disease to a lighthearted and thoughtful engagement.

After the dreadful explosion of Beirut’s port, in a nation already struggling with challenges such as hyper-inflation, restricted access to electricity, food, medicine, and fuel, the project unfolded into a compelling tale of hope. It became a story of creating a touch of magic amidst these tragic times.

True magic, however, manifested in the relationship between Michel and Kia. Despite numerous differences in their world views, life situations and initial hesitations, a precious dialogue emerged. This dialogue evolved into a mutual respect, creating a transformative learning curve as they shared diverse perspectives.

As the residency concluded, they had crafted hundreds of soaps, continuously experimenting with new patterns, shapes, and textures. Stones and rubble from the Beirut blast found their way into the soap, as a reminder of how the government had washed their hands of the Lebanese people for decades. Even a year after the tragic event, the remnants of shattered homes and lives were to be found everywhere. Kia used these fragments as foundations for the soap sculptures, rehabilitating them as resilient structures for creativity, understanding and cultural respect, as originally intended.

This story of hope and creativity between Michel and Kia is the narrative that SILA aims to share with the Boghossian Foundation and each of you. Preserving time-honoured craftsmanship, encouraging thoughtful dialogue, and appreciating the meaning embedded in each product we embrace.

SILA by the Boghossian Foundation

Soaps by Kia Utzon-Frank, Founder KUFstudios