Beirut Design Week: A voice to design and its people

It was an event of opportunities, socializing, and creativity, under the bright summer skies of Beirut.
by Carla Richa

2 July 2018 | 12:56

Source: by Annahar

  • by Carla Richa
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 2 July 2018 | 12:56

This photo shows displayed furniture by Bokja for Beirut Design Week. (Annahar Photo/Carla Richa)

BEIRUT: Beirut witnessed a week full of different cultures, art work, and unique pieces, which lit the city with the spark of creativity.

It all started in 2012 when Doreen Toutikian, co-founder of the festival, decided to do her master’s thesis on the role of design in the community. Realizing that Beirut doesn’t offer a strong voice for this domain, she decided to come up with a design festival in Lebanon.

Ever since, every year a week was dedicated to Design, where different Lebanese designers, whether well-known, upcoming, or students, are able to participate.

This year’s theme was design in the city; highlighting what makes a city a city. Toutikian explained how the theme wasn’t only focused on what makes a city urban, but rather what makes it livable and friendly. “Design is about problem-solving,” she said, “so this year, it’s about how design simplified living in Beirut."

It started on June 22 until the 29th, consisting of different workshops, exhibitions, talks, and pop up stores. It occurred across Beirut, each day focusing on a certain area. For instance, the first day focused on Hamra and Verdun, while the third on Badaro and Jisr El Wati. An exception was made on the 24th where Beirut Design Week took place in Tripoli.

The festival is limited to the Beirut area, since most shops are located in Beirut, explained Toutikian, but also since most design festivals in the world occur in the capital. “We’re working on integrating different areas in the festival, but for now a day is chosen to be dedicated to an area outside of Beirut, like Tripoli this year,” she said.

The festival covered the different aspects of design, from fashion to architecture to art. Creative Space Beirut, a fashion design school, for example, was part of the festival. The students were given the chance to portray their work and portfolios for other people to see.

Pictures of different designs Creative Space Beirut’s students have created .

Minas Oghloukoian, a first-year student at Creative Space Beirut, explained how the festival offered him and his classmates the opportunity to showcase their work and meet important people in the field.

Upcoming designers such as Salim Charfan, known as Jeux de Mains, and Yasmine Saleh, were given the chance to show their latest collections in Sarah’s Bag’s shop in Tabaris. They were also asked to come up with a limited collection for the festival, where they are inspired by Beirut. Cherfan, for example, chose the traffic in Lebanon, where a pattern on his clothes was repeated mimicking the collision of the packed roads and cars.

Salim Charan’s limited collection about the traffic in Beirut located in Sarah’s Bag store.

Melissa Hajj, Fashion Design Student, has been attending Beirut Design Week for several years. “It gives us a chance to meet the designers personally and learn more about their brand,” she said. She explained how such a festival gives people an opportunity to walk around Beirut and discover not only the country’s designers, but the city as well.

It was an event of opportunities, socializing, and creativity, under the bright summer skies of Beirut. It had a friendly and heartwarming ambiance, as Toutikian said, “design isn’t just about luxury, but about making anything friendlier.”

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