Design Diary

A personal review of design creations.

Le Charme Discret Du Souvenir

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With his new series ‘Dimanche 6’, Marc Dibeh evokes his childhood but also the never fading memory of his late mother.

Nearly three years ago, on the following morning after celebrating his 30th birthday, Marc noticed a missed call from his father. He immediately understood that his mother lost her battle and passed away. It was a Sunday.

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For Joy Mardini Design Gallery, the Lebanese designer and architect has worked on this sad episode of his life that brings also up a lot of sweet and melancholic memories of the 80s and the early 90s.

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From sketches, Marc brings his creations to life with a desire to explore the unknown and take himself beyond his comfort zone. He tackles various shapes — all  having a soft geometry in common — and uses white and its distinctive textures, as a starting point. He allows the light to caress the elements, creating softness by binding the curves and transmitting emotions through this sensory reflection.

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« Écrire pour se souvenir ? Non pour me souvenir, mais pour combattre le déchirement de l’oubli [...] » Roland  Barthes, Journal de deuil.

The show runs until November 3rd, 2018

Summer Design Diary - "The limits of Custom Made Design" by david/nicolas

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Summer Design Diary is a series I started few years ago asking designers to write short stories on design or design experiences they had during one Summer. Here is a text by Lebanese designers david/nicolas, produced in 2015.

Limited editions, custom made pieces and one-offs have never been so demanded. In the last decade, we can clearly see a much bigger aspiration to own something “rare”, something “tailor made”. It is, without any doubt, a reaction to globalisation, whether you are in Beirut, New York, Paris or Tokyo, you can always see the same brands, same restaurants, same objects, etc.. . Today people tend to have something different in order to stand out of the crowd, something not really “labeled” but certainly hard to get or find. We all look at the authenticity of an object, we like to feel that it was not completely machine-made, and that somehow a person was actually working this piece with his hands. The Polder Sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra in 2005 is a perfect example to illustrate that, the designer insisted on having the buttons that look “hand stitched” on the cushions in order to give some life to the object.

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This is also visible in the Gallery world, where we can see each year new proposals of pieces that are Limited Editions, that showcases either a knowhow or a vision. However, with the increase of demand, we are kind of going into a globalization of “limited editions” as well, in the sense that, we can easily start finding pieces that are handmade and/or crafty, but this is where a good Gallery stands out, and a bad one fails, it is not about selling anything to anyone, it is about knowing what you showcase and believing in the authenticity of the work and, of course, the designer.

So can we actually say that everything that is custom made is valuable? Of course not.

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Something we noticed in Beirut, and that most people fail to see is the importance of having IKEA. Unfortunately we don’t have IKEA in Lebanon, and we have been hearing over and over that its good we don’t have it here because it will take away lots of jobs from artisans. We don’t believe its true. Lacking IKEA in Lebanon created something else: Custom made furniture for everyone. In a sense it could sound cool, but the problem here is that people go to a woodworker to create a table, a stool, closets or even a kitchen because it is cheaper than buying one from a store. 

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There is a negative side to all of this that we started noticing and will notice even more in a couple of years. With all the work these carpenters have (none of which is really challenging because they happen to be the cheaper option) they will loose slowly their skills (because people started to get used to “good enough” in order to pay less) and they will become more “business oriented” instead of carpenters, it is much easier for them to make 12 closets than 2 rocking chairs and will probably get them more income with less mind stress. What we are trying to say is that it is true we need to preserve our artisanal work, but it is not by giving them more things to do that we will do so, it is by challenging them to always do better.

If we take the example of Italy, Portugal, Germany and Scandinavia, they all have IKEA and they are all very famous for their amazing artisans and craftsmanship.

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Maybe we should reconsider the importance of ready made, IKEA will certainly not kill our craftsmen, it will liberate them from doing the basic things everyone need and give them the chance to focus on their skills and they will surely find their way in the expanding Limited Edition world where craftsman and designer work together on making extraordinary things.


All our best,


Hawa Beirut & Wake Up Call By Richard Yasmine For Milan Design Week 2018

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Lebanese designer Richard Yasmine has a busy start of the year. He is presenting two collections during the 2018 edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan.

With HAWA Beirut, Richard presents a collection of very light furniture inspired from the Lebanese architecture and specifically the arches that are a trade mark in the country’s cultural heritage. I like the nostalgic reflection of the collection. 2 chairs, a low flippable coffee table and a screen including multiple materials are composing the collection with mild and soft colour panel. There is also a subtle and elegant touch of handmade silk. HAWA in Arabic language means a light summer breeze or even a deep love, a passion towards someone or something.

The collection will be on display in the FutureDome (via Giovanni Paisiello 6) as part of Ventura Future.

Wake Up Call responds to our general concerns about our environment and dying eco-systems. To Richard Yasmine, we of course all have our responsibility to save it. He creates a limited edition of table lamps composed of brass structure and hand blown organic shaped sandblasted bulbs emphasizing the light on a landscape on a landscape of multiple types of semi precious rocks (black tourmaline, emerald beryl and crystal quartz).

Wake Up Call will be on display at the Palazzo Siam (Societa d'Incoraggiamento d'Arti e Mestieri - SIAM 1838), via Santa Marta, 18.

Pictures courtesy of BizarreBeirut

This Side Up - 13 Designer Boxes

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I met Joy Mardini in 2013 when she did her first international design fair here in Dubai. At the time, her gallery was presenting both art and design. 

She has always supported young and emerging Lebanese designers, giving them not only exposure in their hometown but also abroad. 

In 2015, Joy Mardini decided to focus on design gallery only and moved her gallery in Beirut to become Joy Mardini Design Gallery.

Stéphanie Moussallem, Point de Croix - the Sewing Kit Box

Stéphanie Moussallem, Point de Croix - the Sewing Kit Box

Each year, the gallery presents an annual group show. Last week, This Side Up was unveiled. Thirteen designers were invited to devise thirteen boxes of various functions and reinterpret their conventional aesthetics. Each object reflects the designer’s unique narrative drawing inspiration from various motifs that were in turn derived from their personal backgrounds.

Embedded with a myriad of references, from symbolic and conceptual, to the history of design and craft, each piece highlights the designer’s particular aesthetic sensibility.

The show will present the outcome of their individual enquiries and step outside the established notions of what the archetypal box usually entails.