Beirut Design Week wraps up successful sixth year

BDW has established itself as the leading stage for innovative designers from across the region
by Khaled Rajeh and Nour Ghoussaini

30 May 2017 | 14:15

BEIRUT: Beirut Design Week (BDW) wrapped up its sixth annual event Friday with a closing party at the KED art space in Karantina, which signaled an official end to an event that attracted thousands of national, regional and international design enthusiasts to different locations across the capital.

Since its launch in 2012, BDW has established itself as the leading stage for innovative designers from across the region to showcase their production, tallying annually around 25,000 visitors, 50 international professionals, and 150 venues across Greater Beirut. Last week marked another successful iteration for the continually growing platform.

“We are witnessing great improvement with every year’s show,” Vrouyr Joubanian, co-founder of BDW, told Annahar; noting the increase in the number of studios, designers, and students participating in the event.

For Joubanian,“the biggest challenge in preventing Lebanese designers from going abroad, and convincing them to invest their talents in Lebanon, is having the government recognize that design is a very strong economic asset for us.”

He added, however, that all young Lebanese designers should find it reassuring that their local communities and markets appear to be expanding, and the public is beginning to acknowledge the importance of design.

The event’s core team has been trying to create and enhance awareness about the power and need of design, highlighting that it is not limited to the creation of beautiful things, but rather has the power to craft better societies.

The issue of whether our society “needs” design was the central theme of this year’s BDW. It also focused on introducing new concepts of design; critical and speculative designs that are portrayed as tools to question the discipline itself beyond the market-oriented norms.

Speculative Needs XOXO, a purely student-based exhibition, was very eye-catching to many attendees. “Students from nine different universities across Lebanon designed prototypes portraying a ‘parallel universe’ that expressed future possibilities and fears,” explained Tatiana Toutikian, Design Strategy & Communications Manager at BDW.

“This is something very deep,” expressed exhibition visitor Hanin Madi, reacting to Toutikian’s presentation of the displayed prototypes.

Madi was struck by the contrast between the humorous and frivolous manner in which the items were presented on one hand and their underlying meaning on the other. The alternative futures and bleak social implications these prototypes attempt to foreshadow are actually challenged by their manner of presentation.

“The way Tatiana is showing us this funny, sarcastic aspect of it, gives us the chance to decide otherwise,” she proclaimed.

This edition of BDW focused in parallel on regional talents from Cairo, Tehran and Amman to Casablanca to enhance collaboration between designers in the Arab world.

Ziad Qweider, a Amman-based designer whose designs centered on reviving Palestinian heritage, agrees that “collaboration between regional designers is essential, as exposure to every culture’s different approaches to design is very inspiring and enriching.”

Qweider described Beirut as a hotspot for designers from all around the world, praising the high quality of artistic culture in the country.

Annahar spoke to an art enthusiast and 3D animator, Thea Najarian, who was not only impressed by the items on display but also by the attendees themselves. “I was inspired by the way they looked,” she expressed, “very out there, very weird, very funky.”

“I was very surprised that something like this is actually here in Lebanon,” Najarian added, “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Co-founder and ‎Director of Beirut Design Week, Doreen Toutikian, expressed her satisfaction toward this year’s event and would like ‘design’ to be perceived as more than a luxury good, but as something that can help people in social impact, entrepreneurship and education.

“Design is a process that everyone should respect,” Toutikian added, “it’s that appreciation, value and awareness that we — as BDW—are mostly focusing on.”

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