DOWN TO EARTH:
We are crushing over neutral and earthy tones this season
Celebrating talent and craftsmanship during Beirut Design Week.
Beirut Design Week (BDW) is the largest design festival in the Middle East and North Africa running successfully for the 4th consecutive year. During one entire week (from the 1st until the 7th of June, 2015) more than 150 events in almost 100 locations around Beirut are gathered to celebrate the best of national and international design of all forms inviting more than 25,000 visitors. Today, U Magazine discusses the grand event with BDW’S Festival Director, Doreen Toutikian. U: How do you select the designers participating in Beirut Design Week? D.T: BDW is a platform to network, share knowledge and showcase talent in order to reinforce the creative economies, develop entrepreneurship, and promote Lebanon’s innovative culture. All designers and architects who would like to join this platform are welcome –provided that they follow our principles and are good asset to our creative economy. Ideally, participants apply online and follow the procedure, we do not select particular designers but invite all those who are like-minded to join us. U: Tell us a little bit more about the workshops? Is it open to the public? D.T: All events are open to the public, and the workshops in particular are o'ered in order to o'er new skills and expertise in a variety of design disciplines. "e goal of the workshops is to provide new tools for innovative design thinking in order to bridge the gap between academics and the evolving industry. U: Do you feel the design industry is growing bigger in Lebanon? D.T: Design is a growing !eld that is recently developing worldwide; moreover Lebanese designers today are part of the global conversation.
As the hub of creativity in the MENA region, the industry is growing at a fast pace and BDW is trying to capture its dynamism and provide a platform for its development and growth through collaboration, promotion and dialogue. U: What’s new about Beirut Design Week this year? D.T: "is year we are expanding our reach within and around Beirut city. "e number of participants has grown to more than 140. "e program includes 116 events throughout the week, with 24 intense and varied workshops on a variety of design disciplines. U: Tell us a little bit more about the conferences held? D.T: "is year we are focusing on the value of Design in Technology, Business and Social Impact, this is most evident in our International Conference taking place on June 2nd and 3rd at Cinema City in Beirut Souks. Some of the keynote speakers include Johanes Torpe, the Creative director of Bang & Olufsen, and Doug Powell, the Design Principal at IBM. U: What are your plans for BDW for the years to come? D.T: We want to grow awareness on design in Lebanon to the Global design prospect and develop our educational and cultural programs to include more experts and innovative ideas that will enrich our design scene in the country. U: Do you feel that the social media has helped Beirut Design week grow bigger? D.T: Absolutely, our audience is very active on social media, especially on Instagram and Facebook. We have concluded that most of our public is built through these platforms. Young creators nowadays
hardly look at traditional forms of media, this also helps us better understand their needs as it is so easy for them to give us feedback through messages and comments. Without them, we would not be growing at this successful pace. U: Do you always get new participants each year? D.T: Yes. Every year we have new participants, and contribution volume grows about 20% each year. U: How does the audience respond to Beirut Design Week? D.T: "ey see it as a young, innovative and distinct kind of event. Designers and architects are quite the subculture in Beirut. Also, as an organization MENA Design Research Center is quite young and part of this scene, therefore it is easy for the audience to relate to us and vice versa. U: Where is the Beirut Design week held? D.T: All over Beirut and beyond. Everyday is dedicated to a speci!c area or location such as Beirut Souks, Sai! Village, Gemmayzeh, Achra!eh, Hamra, Verdun, Karantina, Mar mikhael, Bourj Hammoud, Dora, Jisr Wati, and Sin el Fil. U: Which major industry is participating to Beirut Design Week? D.T: All design industries make part of BDW since we believe in the prosperity of multidisciplinary and appreciate the beauty in their internal collaborations. U: Is there a fee to attend the di$erent workshops? D.T: Yes. Most of the workshops have participation fees because they are valuable to the development of professionals in all design related !elds. U: What are you trying to achieve through Beirut Design Week?
D.T: We are trying to build a platform for Lebanese designers and architects to be able to share their expertise, and develop collaborations. We are also injecting the entire design scene with new skills and expertise from all corners of the world through cultural exchange by workshops, conferences, talks and exhibitions. U: Why do you think the cultural exchange is an important part of Design? D.T: Cultural exchange is important in all creative !elds, especially in Design. Every year with new international guests we learn new innovative production ways and smarter forms of sustainable design as well ass new forms of service and social design. Simultaneously, when our guests visit Lebanon, they are astounded by the city’s cultural richness, diversity, and advancement in the design !eld compared to other countries in the region. It changes entirely their perspectives, making us proud of our image as opposed to the negative one portrayed by the media. U: Do you think that BDW is opening up emerging designers to an international exposure? D.T: I de!nitely think that BDW is facilitating international exposure for Lebanese designers, and many of our newcomers exhibited their works in Milan and London a$er starting with BDW in the earlier years. We are working with the embassies in order to take the concept even further by organizing international expositions overseas in the coming years.