BEIRUT: Beirut Design Week (BDW), now in its sixth year, will revisit the streets and districts of Beirut from May 19 to 26, marking the capital as an ongoing creative and intellectual force.
This popular event is a platform for cultural and economic development for entrepreneurs and designers from Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa region, Europe, and the US. It particularly highlights Beirut’s significant role and input to the world of fashion and design, both regionally and internationally.
Doreen Toutikian, Director of Beirut Design Week and president of the MENA Design Research Center, told Annahar that “the idea behind this year’s theme -- “Is Design a Need?” -- is that the definition of design has shifted into a more critically derived manner that raises candid questions about why we need design, what can we do with it, and whether or not it is to be considered one of the basic needs in life.”
“This year’s exhibition is a bit different from the previous BDWs, for we intended to focus more on the work of regional designers coming from Aman, Cairo and elsewhere in the MENA region, to emphasize on the potential and strength of regional capacities and to support collaboration among designers,” Toutikian said.
Curated by architect, independent researcher and writer Mohamed Elshahed, Cairo Now! captures the current design landscape of the Egyptian capital, and celebrates innovation and emerging talent in the fields of product, furniture, graphic and typeface design as well as architecture. Rana Beiruti and Abeer Seikaly, founders of Amman Design Week, which debuted last year, showcase a selection of pieces by Jordanian designers and invite the audience to visit their second rollout.
Moroccan collaborative collective Houna is an experimental platform for creative interaction and training that encourages meetings, exchanges and cooperation between designers, researchers and entrepreneurs. It is developing the first Casablanca Design Week next year, and will be introducing a new generation of Moroccan designers to Beirut.
The exhibition will also introduce and raise awareness about the concept of “speculative design,” with an exhibition of prototypes generated through a series of participatory workshops with nine Lebanese universities. “Through fiction, forecasting, and extrapolation the exhibition materializes possible futures and alternative scenarios through unusual future objects that challenge our tame views and the status-quo. Design is used as a medium to explore topics such as emerging digital anxieties, ethical machines, DIY (radical do-it-yourselfers) Currencies, living with cyborgs, techno-spiritualism, digital shrines, strange biospheres and mutations, ecosystems, and much more,” the event website noted.
Students will be presenting their work in the exhibit, next to famous regional and international designers, supporting a global exposure for young talent. There is an estimated participation of 150 studios and companies in this year’s design week, in addition to the intellectual input of international designers on the concept of critical design.
“We are a creative community living in a relatively close proximity that allows us to meet easily,” Toutikian said, “these aspects of the Lebanese community serve as advantages to hosting the exhibition in the city of Beirut, amid all the challenges Lebanese designers are facing in their careers.”
BDW will hold its opening ceremony at KED, a refurbished 1930s factory in Karantina, on Friday, May 19, followed by its conference day on Saturday at the Sursock Museum, and an open day of studio tours and trips on Sunday.
The event will continue to spread its vibes across key districts of the city, roaming Monday in Downtown Beirut and Saifi Village, Tuesday in Gemmayze and Sursock, Achrafieh on Wednesday, Hamra, Sin El Fil and Mkalles on Thursday, to be wrapped up in Mar Mikhael, Bourj Hammoud and Karantina on Friday.
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