Eye on design
There’s no denying that Lebanon’s design community is thriving. From a wealth of incredible talent commanding attention at home and abroad, LT profiles four designers to keep on your watch list
Four Lebanese designers to follow
GEORGES MOHASSEB Architect
Lebanese architect and designer Georges Mohasseb, founder of Wood&, talks about the beauty of working with wood to fashion one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that reflect the spirit of this ever-changing age.
Describing the Lebanese as “entrepreneurial, daring and dynamic, with a keen eye for taste and refinement,” it comes as no surprise that Mohasseb incorporates such characteristics into his creations. “I work with wood as it is a natural element which, after being processed, takes on a life of its own. The smell, rich texture and natural colors amplify the way every piece looks and feels,” he says.
Mohasseb’s work has garnered plenty of international recognition and awards over the past two decades, during which he has also spent time teaching design at various European and American academic institutions. “Teaching is also a learning process about sharing thoughts and transmitting a savoir faire. One learns to listen to the students and strengthen one’s own approach toward design through research, reading, experimenting and prototyping,” he explains. Mohasseb’s pieces are unique in design, a testament to his disdain for mass production and uniformity. Referring to the “absence of the presence,” his creations shift the focus away from the material and onto the shape and form of the objects themselves.
He reveals that his real inspiration is no longer limited by geography, rather expanded by feelings, emotions, attention to detail, the experiences of people and travel, which are as infinite as the creativity displayed in his work. woodand.com
I WORK WITH WOOD AS IT IS A NATURAL ELEMENT WHICH, AFTER BEING PROCESSED, TAKES ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN
JOANNA DAHDAH Jewelry designer
Playfully creative, Joanna Dahdah is a young jewelry designer who, from the get-go, has received global recognition for her innovations and has been on a roll ever since.
Choosing to work with gold for its versatility, Dahdah’s fascination for this conductive metal and love for one of the world’s most renowned painters, Gustav Klimt, eventually saw the young designer crafting her first collection aptly titled “Muse.” Her creations caught the eye of an editor at Italian Vogue and soon afterward, she was awarded “Best Newcomer of 2010” at London Jewelry Week.
Explaining what makes her intricate work unique, Dahdah cites its detail. “My first collection was very sculptural, with large hollow shapes, bold colors and mat gold. Yet aside from the design, what makes it distinct is my outof-the–box thinking. The element of surprise is always present in my work, making it unlike anything else available on the market.”
As a designer who is relatively new to the scene, Dahdah believes that achieving success locally and internationally requires a great deal of patience. “The jewelry markets in both Lebanon and in Europe are fascinating. However, as any young brand name knows, the globally unstable economic situation could pose a serious threat, which is why we always have to find new ways to adapt and never give up.”
For that very reason, setting oneself apart from the competition is paramount. Evident in her work, she has drawn on her own experience by exploring Lebanese history and culture. “I love Lebanese heritage and built on that to create my latest collection. Titled ‘Tarbouche,’ it comprised 11 charms, an idea that has proven to be quite effective, not to mention identifiably-relatable, especially throughout the region.” joannadahdah.com
I LOVE LEBANESE HERITAGE AND BUILT ON THAT TO CREATE MY LATEST COLLECTION
MARTHA FADEL Fashion designer
Martha Fadel’s journey as a fashion designer began in 2001 after her first trip to New York, a city that has inspired much of her work. “New York has always been my muse: the architecture the skyline, the edges, the asymmetry.” After spending more than a decade perfecting her fashion-design skills and working relentlessly to create her own unique style, Fadel launched her first clothing line in 2013, offering everything from high-end, ready-to-wear garments to haute couture and bridal wear.
Talking about her connection to her work, Fadel says, “Fashion is all about creating and evolving year after year. You can put your own fingerprint on any outfit. There are no boundaries or rules.”
Fadel’s pieces are a harmonious amalgamation of sharp and daring designs, asymmetric cuts, contrasting fabrics and block colors. “Black is a dominant color in my collections in addition to white and nude. It exudes confidence yet maintains style. I also incorporate leather into many of my designs.”
Despite having dressed celebrities in the United States such as the late Joan Rivers, and the likes of Lebanese singing sensation Myriam Fares, Fadel remains true to her Lebanese roots. “I believe in my city. It is a small place with big potential.” She adds that all of the biggest Lebanese designers who have succeeded on an international level started from Beirut. “With minimal machinery, a few workers and a humble atelier, they managed to create these incredible pieces. It is because they had a vision and a creative mind that they reached Hollywood and red carpets events. I couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.”
Fadel showcases her collection twice a year in New York and Dubai. marthafadel.com
I BELIEVE IN MY CITY. IT IS A SMALL PLACE WITH BIG POTENTIAL
MAYA HUSSEINI Stained-glass designer
Maya Husseini has spent almost three decades creating intricate art out of stained glass.
Explaining the difficulty of working with such a fragile material, Husseini says, “To work with glass is a real challenge. The material urges us to conduct extensive research, especially when it comes to finding what other materials it reacts with best. As such, there is always an element of surprise and unpredictability related to thermoforming. In the furnace, where the glass takes the shape of the mold, the painting can reveal some unexpected results compared to those results achieved when combined with other materials.”
The surprises that continued to come Husseini’s way only strengthened her resolve and passion for a craft that was, to a degree, unorthodox. During the early 1990s, she fully immersed herself in glass making, more specifically, stained glass. “I began participating in professional exhibitions where I met with architects and private individuals. What I found interesting was that every exhibition I took part in and each project I worked on taught me that there was no one way of doing things since, every day, you create something entirely new.”
Husseini recalls that although being one of the first women in Lebanon to work with glass meant she could pursue the profession with greater freedom, customers did not always believe in her ability. This changed with time as Husseini’s name became better known, as did her incredible work. “Stained glass using glassblowing on the windows of the Nicolas Sursock Museum has been one of my most memorable projects. Another was the work I undertook for the Saint Louis of the Capuccins Cathedral in Downtown Beirut. The stained glass windows, which I designed, took almost two years to complete.”
It is clear that Husseini’s passion is mirrored by a deep sense of pride for the origins of her craft. “Glass is a rich material and should not be forgotten. It was in Tyre during the Phoenician era that the first glass-blowers were born and I plan to use my workshop to teach young furniture designers and architects how to include glass in their work to uphold this important tradition in contemporary creation.” email@example.com
GLASS IS A RICH MATERIAL AND SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN. IT WAS IN TYRE DURING THE PHOENICIAN ERA THAT THE FIRST GLASS-BLOWERS WERE BORN