To make architectural statements, Gisue Hariri employs digital technology and modern materials—but the Iranian-born architect, who runs the New York firm Hariri & Hariri with her sister Mojgan, looks to ancient sources for inspiration. "We're fascinated with the world of rocks and crystals," says Hariri. "They connect us to nature." The sisters are creating projects across the globe such as a mixed-use urban development in Salzburg, Austria, and an inflatable, transportable art museum that will tour the world. Asks Hariri: "How do we interpret nature for our environments? It's a universal quest for architects."
Dr. Martens boots
"They're my party boots," says Hariri. "I'll wear them to construction sites, and then out in the evening. They're hardy, but so beautiful." (From $115, dmusastore.com)
"Everywhere I go," says Hariri, "I can give myself a gift by finding the perfect rock or pebble." She picked up this fragmented piece at the site of the Salzburg project.
Hariri picked up this towering, 50-pound piece of stone (with help from Mojgan) at a quarry in upstate New York. "Later, we were asked to create a lighthouse for a Lighthouse Foundation fundraiser, so we used the rock as an architectural model. A client bought it at the fundraiser's auction and then gave it to our office."
Inspired by traditional Persian tiles, the sisters are working with artist Saeed Badihi to explore a contemporary twist for a boutique hotel in Tehran, Iran. These tiles use not only ceramic but also resin and rubber, to achieve new effects. "Why not go back to our own culture," Hariri asks. "We come from a place that was No. 1 in making tiles."
Bang & Olufsen earphones
On long business trips, Hariri relaxes by plugging a pair of these earphones into her iPhone. "As artifacts, these are so fabulous. The idea of technology without art and design is unappealing." ($160, shopbangolufsen.com)
"There's something glamorous about crystals," says Hariri. The sisters studied these stones before creating a line of oversize jewelry for Swarovski, which required the company to manufacture entirely new shapes. (From $10.50, swarovski-crystallized.com)
Sennelier oil sticks
"I purchased these at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, after seeing Richard Serra's drawings," says Hariri, who uses the potent sticks to sketch. "Serra makes these drawings that are like tar on paper. It's a great medium." ($90 for set of six, metmuseum.org)
A version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.