Themed “Design and the City: ___________”, the seventh edition of Beirut Design Week was a chance to look into the current state of life in the city, from public spaces to the smallest details in the interiors of our homes, offices and places of recreation - hence the "blank space" was meant to be filled in by activists, environmentalists, artisans, entrepreneurs, agriculturalists and food experts, technology consultants and researchers to present cross-disciplinary initiatives that demonstrate how design can contribute to social change through good governance, social inclusion and environmental justice. In the end, five main topics have been questioned, discussed and curated.
Social enterprise Sarah’s Bag employs underprivileged women and ex-prisoners.
Local Industries (L) is a community of bold artisans and designers dedicated to industrial furniture makin; Artist Sibylle Tamer champions upcycling at Atelier S/Z (R).
At a time where massive immigration and cross-country migration has plagued the Middle Eastern region, design might be able to offer a way to transform the role of the city, from idly standing by to actively providing skills enhancement. For example, Jnoubi is a social initiative that employs female Syrian refugees to produce beautiful handmade notebooks and jewellery, while Sarah's Bag employs underprivileged women and ex-prisoners.
With ocean plastic being the most prominent environmental awareness campaign at the moment, more and more sustainable designers are featured here as well: artist Sibylle Tamer champions upcycling at Atelier S/Z; architect and artist Mustapha Jundi focuses on the built environment and its relationship with nature; while Nabil Gholam is committed to humane architecture that respects the natural environment; while theOtherDada aims to connect to natural ecosystems to devise new potential living habitats.
Urban Hives by Nathalie Harb (L), 21dB (R), a creative studio specializes in sound pollution.
Recent heavy sanctions on Qatar were also on people's mind here in Beirut Design Week. The food and beverage industry hence were encouraged to adopt a design-thinking approach that extends from the sourcing of ingredients to the production of goods. Under this concept came the public installation "Urban Hives" by Nathalie Harb. Last year, Harb was also here and created a pink wooden structure, dubbed the Silent Room, that sat on a parking lot beside a busy highway. This year, on the other hand, her focus was on food by building a low-cost, modular platform that covers a car parking space and is connected to a beehive, offering an opportunity for urban farming. It can be multiplied to become a large communal garden for local communities.
Greener-ontheotherside focuses on elevating nature and reconciling people with nature through conscious interventions.
inWASTEment by Vienna-based mischer'traxler studio
Can architects, urbanists and planners influence state policies related to the reconstruction of a post-war city? Various initiatives promote urban greening like Greenhand, Greener - ontheotherside have been featured to help with the effort. Not to mention Greening Bourj Al Shamali which solely focuses on a refugee camp in south Lebanon. Also, a tour of the neighbouring destroyed cities like Tripoli has also shown the new generation of designers as well as the general audience to some of the oldest and still functioning local crafts there.
What is the role of university-level design programs in addressing the needs of cities? At the "Design Education in Lebanon: Teaching Students to Make Cities Better" roundtable discussion, panellists Melissa Plourde Khoury and Mariano Alessandro both pointed out that students need to be prepared to engage the job market with larger social issues. And there's certainly no lack of learning space to do so here in Beirut: Arab Center for Architecture inspires young artists and designers to improve public and abandoned civic spaces; while Architects for Change provides young creatives with a platform for extra-curricular education, community engagement and collaboration.
Joy Mardini Design Gallery included a lineup of contemporary designers, both from prominent selection along with new additions of emerging and established names in the Lebanese design scene.
Last but not least, for those who're looking for emerging designs of the region, look no further than Joy Mardini Design Gallery, concept stores The Colony Beirut and The Semi Colon Story. Among them, we spotted Carla Baz, which will be featured in the next edition of RISING TALENT AWARDS LEBANON at MAISON&OBJET PARIS come this September. Watch this space!
For more information, visit the Beirut Design Week website.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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