De­sign in Le­banon

Beirut's first free de­sign school

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS -

There is some­thing spe­cial about the first floor of the Nazare­tian Build­ing in the artsy Mar Mikhael neigh­bor­hood. A group of pas­sion­ate and skilled cre­atives are busy sketch­ing and stitch­ing un­der the watch­ful eyes of Sarah Her­mez and Caro­line Si­monelli. “In or­der for de­sign to be used as an ef­fec­tive tool for so­cial progress, it needs to be in­clu­sive, in­cor­po­rat­ing vi­sions and voices from peo­ple of di­verse back­grounds,” says Her­mez, who in 2011 founded Creative Space Beirut with Si­monelli, her former pro­fes­sor at New York’s pres­ti­gious Par­sons School of De­sign. The duo de­cided early on that Beirut needed a free creative de­sign school for in­di­vid­u­als lack­ing the resources to pur­sue their stud­ies at ex­pen­sive fashion in­sti­tu­tions, and es­tab­lished Creative Space Beirut. The school of­fers a three-year pro­gram to its stu­dents, where they are men­tored by a team of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers and artists. Even the cost of their trans­porta­tion and ma­te­ri­als is cov­ered. “Af­ter the ini­tial three month pi­lot project, I was in awe at the raw ta­lent and de­ter­mi­na­tion I saw in the stu­dents, and at what we were ca­pa­ble of with such lit­tle time and funding - and I was cer­tain I wanted to keep go­ing,” adds Her­mez.

The holis­tic cur­ricu­lum adopted by Creative Space Beirut in­te­grates tech­ni­cal skills, con­cep­tual de­sign, and real-life ex­pe­ri­ence. Stu­dents col­lab­o­rate with ini­tia­tives in the de­sign world and the com­mu­nity at large, gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and forg­ing con­nec­tions within the in­dus­try.

At the end of each year, the stu­dents’ de­signs are ex­hib­ited and sold at pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tions. To date, they have ex­hib­ited at pres­ti­gious venues, in­clud­ing Beirut Art Cen­ter, Bokja De­sign Stu­dio, the Con­tem­po­rary Art Plat­form, 4 Con­cept Store in Kuwait, and most re­cently, Dar El Nimer for Arts and Cul­ture.

In the costly world of de­sign, fos­ter­ing ta­lent through free and equal op­por­tu­nity ed­u­ca­tion is what makes Creative Space Beirut re­ally stand out. Sur­rounded by cuts of beau­ti­ful fab­ric, Her­mez talks of her goals. “We are work­ing to­wards grow­ing into a free school for a va­ri­ety of creative stud­ies. Le­banon is full of ta­lented peo­ple, who just need a help­ing hand in mak­ing their dreams a re­al­ity.”

Hazem Kais, Hu­man Na­ture 2016

De­sign by Roni Helou. Photo: Tarek Moukad­dem

Sarah and Caro­line. Photo: Ge­orge Rouhana

Photo: Ge­orge Rouhana

De­sign by Fa­tima Noureld­dine. Photo: Tarek Moukad­dem

De­sign by Roni Helou. Photo: Ge­orge Rouhana

De­sign by Heba Nahle. Photo: Tarek Moukad­dem

De­sign by Aline Seuku­nian. Photo: Tarek Moukad­dem

De­sign by Fa­tima Noureld­dine. Photo: Tarek Moukad­dem

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