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

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS -

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.” cev­erre@dm.net.lb

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

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