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Watch in white high-tech ceramic set with diamonds (~1.6 carat). Self-winding mechanical movement. 42-hour power reserve. Water-resistant to 200 meters.

Spring Summer 2012

This issue is Le Cercle’s tenth, a milestone we felt was worth celebrating. What better way to do that than to return to the bare essentials and be at one with nature in a special ‘Back to Basics’ section? Spanning the globe, we visit a farm in South Africa where guests are invited to join in the harvesting and tasting of a vast array of homegrown produce. In Tunisia, Dar Hi by Matali Crasset is a beautiful example of growing interest from renowned designers in eco-lodges. Japan’s minimalistic culture, Finland’s melding of environment and design, and many more examples from Beirut to Sri Lanka make up the rest of our special section. This issue we also celebrate the summer season by checking out the hottest designs for leisurely outdoor days and take a tour of some of the coolest new hotels around the world. Closer to home, we revisit some of the capital’s most iconic architecture. While the city is ever-evolving, four striking examples of 20th century modernism continue to show that decades ago international names in design already had their eye on Beirut. All this and plenty more await in the following pages. Enjoy the experience.


01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Shopping 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Architecture 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Living 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 publisher : 58 59 City News Privilege 60 61 on behalf of Le Cercle Hitti 62 63 64 editor in chief : 65 Back to Basics 66 Anastasia Nysten 67 68 69 managing editor : 70 71 Helen Assaf 72 73 74 75 graphic design : 76 77 Genia Kodash 78 79 80 printer : 81 82 RAIDY | 83 84 85 contributors : 86 87 88 Owen Adams 89 Product Design 90 Dan Bratman 91 Miriam Dunn 92 93 Louis Parks 94 95 Paul Cochrane Art  &   C ulture 96 97 Alia Fawaz 98 99 Shirine Saad 100 101 Fernande Van Tets 102 103 104 advertising : 105 Books 106 107 108 t:  +961 3 852 899 109 110 111 112

Big Ben giant wall clock by Marcel Wanders for Moooi


the summer


goes window shopping for some of this season’s must-have purchases.


Tree vase

Sous les feuilles

Vanessa Mitrani

Refillable scented decorative candle

Blown glass h. 32cm

Esteban Paris

Vanessa Mitrani

ArcEnCiel Emu Group Painted steel w. 42.5 x d. 43 x h. 81cm Emu

Re-TrouvĂŠ Patricia Urquiola Curled up iron rod. Comes in six fashionable colors w. 66 x d. 60 x h. 78cm Emu


Dandelion Richard Hutton Ø 80 x h. 55 cm Laser-cut powder-coated aluminum Moooi



Pierre Paulin

Pascal Mourgue

w. 90 x d. 77 x h. 70cm

w. 65 x d. 34.5 x h. 35cm

Monocolor model upholstered

Moulded enamelled ceramic

in fabric or leather.

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset



Eric Jourdan

Luisa Bocchietto

Ø 35 x h. 60 cm / Ø 60 x h. 173 cm

Ø 20x h. 40 cm

Structure in turned wood, chintz shade

Handmade silk-screen printing with silver

Ligne Roset


Picnic Gamfratesiv w. 60 x d. 37 x h. 71cm Black-stained ash Ligne Roset


Bloom Hiroshi Kawano Ø 55 x h. 150 cm Shade in sculpted foam Ligne Roset

Hybride Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance w. 235 x d. 98 x h. 63/87cm Fabric, brilliant-chromed base Ligne Roset



Cedric Ragot w. 235 x d. 98 x h. 63/87cm Resin, polyester and fiberglass lacquered

Scented candle h. 16 cm, burning time 150 hrs Baobab

Roche Bobois

Bidum Laetitia Florin Ø 47/66 x h. 40 cm / Ø 80 x h. 50 cm Sprung steel, each covered in a strip of cotton Ligne Roset


GenevaSoundSystem Model XL w. 55 x d. 37 x h. 81 cm Wood cabinet, floor stand in satin chrome aluminum finish Geneva Sound



Vanessa Mitrani


h. 20 cm

Ă˜ 28.5 x h. 54 cm

Blown glass and metal

PVC/cotton shade, polyester base

Vanessa Mitrani




Stefano Giovannoni

Maria Jeglinska

w. 32.5 x d. 19 x h. 75 cm

Ă˜ 33.5 x h. 39.5 cm

3D pressed oak veneer, chrome base

Seat in polyurethane foam, uniform fabric


Ligne Roset

Okumi Studio Catoir w. 86 x d. 83 x h. 72.5 cm Structure & base in solid wood, seat cushion in polyurethane Ligne Roset


Tufty-too Patricia Urquiola Fabric, removable covers Modular sofa, varies in size B&B Italia

Overscaleflames Jean Marie-Massaud Structure made of metal profiles, natural wax candle, pure cotton wick Three sizes from h.20 to 50cm B&B Italia

Monsterbarstool Marcel Wanders w. 41 x d. 51 x h. 93 cm Fire retardant synthetic leather on foam upholstered steel frame Moooi

DelftBlue1 Marcel Wanders w. 18.5 x d. 11.3 x h. 41 cm Ceramic Moooi



Set of 7

Scented candle

w. 40 to 60 x h. 25 to 50 cm

h. 16 cm, burning time 150 hrs

Cotton and silk


Vanessa Mitrani


Doyl Gabriele & Oscar Buratti w. 48 x d. 53 x h. 79.5 cm Leather B&B Italia




Long vase

w. 93 x d. 130 x h. 270 cm

h. 32 cm

Solid oak frame and cast iron weights

blown glass


Vanessa Mitrani

Oblique Marcel Wanders w. 105 x d. 6 x h. 286 cm Solid oak stained and lacquered in 4 different colors Moooi

beau-Ty Luisa Bocchietto Ă˜ 12 x h. 35 cm silk-screen printing with enamel and silver Egizia


Words: L o u i s

P a r ks

A striking example of post-war Bauhaus design, Hazmieh’s Dar al Sayad building is one of Beirut’s most intriguing landmarks. Designed by Karl, or Karol, Schayer, a Polish architect who immigrated to Lebanon during World War Two, Dar al Sayad is perhaps Beirut’s clearest example of the tenants of this iconic school. Sitting upon raised columns and including a latticework façade, Dar al Sayad was completed in 1954 and remains an example of clarity of thought and the concept of designing while eschewing precedent. Utterly functional, at once modern, Dar al Sayad was a clear example of how forward thinking design should, indeed must, incorporate the latest technology wherever possible. Schayer and his team, interior designer Fritz Gotthelf, architect Wassek Adib and engineer Bahij Makdissi went on to create a number of other Beiruti landmarks including the AUB Alumni Club and the Shell Building in Raouche. None, however, has endured as well as Dar al Sayad, a prime example of clarity of design in the heart of Beirut.

Words: L o u i s

Being labeled “the father of the shopping mall” is something most of us would cringe at, and so it was with the designer of the Gefinor Center, Victor Gruen. However, Gruen’s meticulous attention to detail, urban planning and a keen appreciation for the flow and movement of people helped to create a most modern, architecturally fascinating building in the form of Hamra’s Gefinor Center. An American legend when it came to creating commercial areas, Gruen brought his talents to Beirut in 1970 when this famous complex was built. Featuring outdoor plazas, a rarity in today’s city, through roads that compliment the building’s design, and with unity in design linking the five blocks together in a harmonious whole, the Gefinor Center is an oddity within the city, a visually pleasing commercial center. At 55,000 square meters of office space, and made up of a twenty-story tower, three six-story buildings, and a three-story block, Gefinor somehow compliments the nearby AUB, a feat for which Gruen is rightfully lauded.

P a r ks

Words: L o u i s

P a r ks

The shopping center might seem an outdated concept, but in the 1950’s these all-in-one arrangements were a new concept. Designed by Swiss firm Addor & Julliard in 1956 and completed by 1961, the Starco Center was the first self-contained shopping center in Lebanon and was at the forefront of design. Divided into several levels, the lowest two being devoted to shops and travel agencies, the center features a 22-story tower used as office space. A mix of covered and open-air walkways and a central plaza linking the four buildings, created a sense of open space that was, and largely still is, absent from traditional shopping areas in Beirut. The idea that a commercial center could also be a social environment was clearly at the forefront of the design as space for a theatre was incorporated early on. Easy access, in terms of two main vehicle entrances and a generous 10,000 square meter underground car park set Starco apart from its contemporaries. Set between the burgeoning Hamra district and Beirut’s Downtown, Starco hinted at the future and was a clear predecessor of the modern mall.

Words: L o u i s

Located at the beginning of Beirut’s famous Hamra Street sits an extraordinary piece of architectural design, Centre Sabbagh. Famous as the home of Bank Audi in this bustling commercial area, the Centre Sabbagh is something of a landmark. Designed by architects Alfred Roth, from Switzerland, and Alvar Aalto, of Finland, in 1970, alongside Swiss firm Addor and Julliard, the building features an innovative double façade. Depending on the angle from which the building is viewed, Centre Sabbagh boasts two entirely different facades, making use of the building’s orientation and the angle of the sun at varying times of the day. Amid Hamra’s nondescript commercial and residential structures, Centre Sabbagh sits as reminder that inspired design can be married with practical applications.

P a r ks

AN NAHAR BLDG, +961 1 971 444/555 ZOUK HIGHWAY, +961 9 217 744/55 RING HIGHWAY, +961 1 971 573 555


comes home W o r d s : Owen Adams

Those who choose to wear Giorgio Armani often do so because they love the supreme quality, the elegant design, the comfort, the sleekness – utter refinement and good taste without making a flamboyant statement. The same principles apply to the Italian design guru’s latest venture: the Armani Hotel in his home city of Milan.


pened last November in the heart of Italy’s fashion capital, it’s a sequel to his resort within 39 floors of the world’s tallest skyscraper – the Burj Khalifa in Dubai - which opened in 2010, the first of at least three resorts and seven luxury Armani hotels to be created in association with Dubai’s Emaar Properties. Where better to concentrate on his second hotel venture than his home town? Giorgio Armani made it his personal labor of love – intricately designing all the interiors, including each of the 95 rooms and suites. Armani and Emaar chose a 1937 building designed by Enrico A Griffini, topped with a distinctive ‘glass hat’. The austere rationalist-style architecture – grand with no frills - was perfect for Armani to realize his stated goal of “concentrating all my efforts on delivering my personal aesthetic vision within a precisely defined ambience of total comfort”. The Absolute Armani experience is one which strives for total harmony, an exquisite sanctuary where nothing can puncture the sublime calm.

Accommodation, in Deluxe, Signature and Presidential suites, ranges from 45 to 200 square meters, in natural hues of creamy brown, green, mother-ofpearl and Armani’s own ‘greige’. Facilities such as minibars, cupboards and high-tech amenities are discreetly hidden, reflecting the stylist’s love of unfussy, non-cluttered order and space.

Privacy is also a prime component – with even the smallest rooms including a vestibule. All furnishings carry the Armani/Casa signature, but have been devised in a range of finishes to reflect the period atmosphere of the building and Milanese palazzo culture. Armani Casa linens and fabrics abound, with custom

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furniture, such as fabric-clad linear sofas and backlit wooden bed-heads, in harmony with the architecture. The Presidential suites are on two floors, and include internal staircases to rooms, with small entrance halls. The bathrooms are designed for use by two people, but the luxurious showers have one-way glass, making them opaque from the outside. Each bathroom’s floors and walls have a deliciously smooth Asian limestone finish named Silk Georgette. Unlike many hotels, the

communal areas – including the gourmet restaurant, Bamboo lounge, business center, spa with six treatment rooms and a suite for couples, fitness gym and pool – are located within the top two floors, the ‘glass hat’, with panoramic views taking in the nearby cathedral and La Scala opera house, as well as the main fashion shopping street – with sunscreen walls to repel over-bright light. In every fine detail, the most serene grandeur is assured by the man himself, Giorgio Armani.

B&B Italia brings its signature design to Sweden W o r d s : Owen Adams

Any visitor to the Swedish port city of Gothenburg will find it impossible to miss the new Clarion Hotel Post. Situated next to the central train station, the 1920s-built neo-classical former post office can’t fail to make a grand impression. It’s the flagship element in a post-industrial city that’s been revamped as the northern European center of all that’s cool and hip.


n 26 January 2012, 10,000 people witnessed the opening of a new chapter in the building’s history – a spectacular 4D multimedia projection extravaganza with orchestration and fireworks to mark its phoenix-like rebirth as a luxury 500-room hotel, the largest in the Norwegian chain’s portfolio. Local architects Semrén & Månsson ensured the historical features of the building were preserved, while adding a modern central block at the rear built in

symphony with the existing facades, from copper and slate, capped by a luxury suite with an outdoor swimming pool and sun lounge. The firm’s CEO, and Professor of Architecture, Magnus Månsson, said his designers used “classical and imperial colors that radiate the impression of splendor, luxury and light”, to neatly contrast with the black, white and gray flooring in stone, ceramic materials and textiles. The rooms have been furnished throughout by world-feted brand B&B Italia, dipping into its collections and also providing

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custom-made pieces for its first Scandinavian hotel venture, with Norway’s Anemone Wille Våge designing the interiors. Scattering modern art works throughout the vast building, he chose dark, warm colors to represent the new Gothenburg – a hotbed for creativity in architecture, fashion and technology rising from the former transport and manufacturing powerhouse – and to complement B&B Italia’s modern furniture. The result is a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. The hotel reflects a “jeans and tweed” rather than super-elite, image; modern, funky and functional but not cold and minimalist. It’s all aimed at creating a central meeting point, a giant ‘lounge’, for Gothenburgers and visitors to the city alike. Primarily designed as a business hotel, there are no less than 17 spacious rooms available for conferences and public events such as art exhibitions and fashion shows, including the

old letter-sorting room. Guests will recognize many of the features of the original post office preserved, such as the cathedral-sized Post Hall with its soaring decorative ceiling and high windows. In the spacious atrium lobby, the red panels of a post van are mounted on to the wall above the elevators act as a further reminder of the building’s heritage, while B&B Italia furnishings, a calculated mismatch with slanting bookshelves, adorn the creatively inspiring Post Bar. The beds in the rooms are scattered with cushions and pillows, continuing the atmosphere of leisurely luxury, laissez-faire comfort and convenience, with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and internet access all within easy reach of the beds, which – like everything here – are generally king-size.

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Dori Hitti brings atmosphere to an exclusive abode Words: L o u i s

P a r ks


verlooking Beirut’s stunning new waterfront, Marina Towers is one of the city’s most exclusive residences. With sweeping vistas of the Mediterranean and Downtown alike, the location proved inspiring for Dori Hitti when he was commissioned to create a bespoke family apartment. As ever, Hitti approached the project with clear goals, “The client was looking for purity, harmony and a light atmosphere,” he said. Hitti’s clean,

minimalist style led him to create a sharp, modern interior, bathed in white light enhanced by the straight lines and sharp edges of the interior detailing. “We introduced a white ambiance to the apartment, lines give harmony and purity to the atmosphere, and a clean overall environment,” he said. This natural, simple elegance is balanced by the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, providing a stunning backdrop to this most sophisticated of apartments. “The view of the Marina and

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the seafront helped us to realize the design. We usually seek peace and harmony in our projects, and the combination of the fireplace on one side and the sea view on the opposing side and the earth beneath you, gives a sense of harmony for people sitting in this area,� said Hitti of the central sitting area. The fireplace itself is an example of fine detailing; gray stone and a modern take on a natural fire catch the eye, intriguing yet not overdone.

By far the most striking part of the residence is the lighting; the entire apartment is bathed in a warm, inviting light and much of that, according to Hitti, is down to the attention to detail paid to the lighting fixtures themselves. “The existing height we had in the apartment contributed to our creativity to suspensions and large scale ceiling fixtures,� he said. The use of mirrors allowed Hitti to play with the available space, creating the illusion that it was

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larger, and the wide, flowing rooms allowed light to pour through the entire apartment, he said. The simple, elegance of the apartment leaves room for personal touches such as the antique chest at the entrance, or the quotes written on the walls by the door, welcoming guests and the family into their home. Married with Hitti’s traditional, simple approach to minimalist design, these small touches add individual flair to this, obviously very personal, apartment.

Insula By Saifi Attics W o r d s : Al i a F a w a z

Exquisite homes that are conceptualized and designed to benefit space and to suit your needs


nsula is a new contemporary housing development in Gemmayze with a difference. It is a state of the art residential building which will provide its clients with an added option of interior design culminating in an investment that literally delivers a complete home; ready to move into. An in house design consultant is a relatively new concept in Lebanon as home buyers usually involve a third party and commission them separately. Insula has developed four stunning design options suggested and executed by its own internationally recognized and respected design consultant, Karen Chekerdjian. Keeping it harmonious with the architecture, the finishing and furnishings offered are of the highest standard all with a modern and timeless twist. Four apartment units on the second floor will come fully furnished while the rest of the units can be furnished upon request. There is no obligation to buy them furnished. “Insula is unique in that it offers a variety of different sizes ranging from 90 m2 up to 1400 m2. “Unlike ten years ago property prices have risen so much that most people cannot afford a 500 m2 apartment s in Beirut anymore,” explains Chekerdjian. “This is why we want to show clients that a 170 m2 is actually a livable space for a family.” Changing the Lebanese mindset that less can be adequate, Insula’s smaller four furnished units will be decorated in the different themes whilst showing how space can be cleverly maximized. “We are taking risks to do so many different apartment sizes. They are tailor made like a made to order dress,” she explains. These size options ultimately cost more for the developers, but give clients the flexibility to choose what suits their

needs and budgets. Modern and entirely inspirational, here are the different interiors that can come with Insula ‘In the moment’ is literally for those who wish to be living in the present when it comes to design practice. Home becomes a contemporary and edgy sanctuary with this option. Contrary to Zen, colors and shapes are contrasted to create an unexpected ambience. Furniture is new and entirely original. ‘Forever simple’ keeps the tone low key yet undeniably luxurious. Appropriately described as understated elegance, it is more modern mainstream. It is defined by straight lines, nice fibers and smooth colors. The theme that Chekerdjian feels will appeal to most people in Lebanon. ‘At a standstill’ offers a Zen domestic style where tranquility and purity is the objective. The key is balance. Light wood is selected versus dark and the furniture pieces are consequently sourced from Scandinavia and Japan. ‘Time and again’ is where success stories from the design world of the 50’s 60’s, 70’s and 80’s inspire the setting. The mood is high-end with pure comfort in mind. Timeless classics are featured giving the home a familiar richness. Here furniture can be reminiscent of the big maestros like Franco Albini, 50’s American dream team Charles and Ray Eames or even a Charlotte Perriand known for her trend-setting chairs. With its striking innovative architecture, tailor made approach and forward thinking interior design offering, Insula is sure to set the pace for more developers to start thinking outside the box and produce iconic residences that mark the new Beirut.

A Tale of Istanbul... Rixos Pera Istanbul The story, set within the historical peninsula and Golden Horn, is coming alive once more. Magnificent history meets with contemporary comfort and well-known gourmet venues, at Rixos Pera Istanbul.

Kamerhatun Mah. Meşrutiyet Cad. No:44 Tepebaşı TAKSIM - ISTANBUL / TURKEY T: +90 212 373 01 00

The temperature’s rising and that summer feeling is in the air. Join Le Cercle as it brings you the freshest serving of this season’s hottest outdoor style

dedon emu b&b italia outdoor ligne roset outdoor

p56 p58 p59 p60

If you listen to your senses,

you’ll experience all that’s beautiful and exhilarating in this world. Rolf Benz MIO, where i feel good.

Design: Norbert Beck


Design: Joachim Nees

back to basics


W o r d s : Fernande van Tets


or Le Cercle’s 10th anniversary, we wanted to go back to the basics; the basics of great design, the classic shapes which have endured, and the lasting inspiration that nature can be. From classic garments like the Little Black Dress, a staple in any woman’s wardrobe for timeless elegance, to the design of the Fifty chair which was inspired by a shape the designer found comfortable when lying on a sandy beach. We also explore ways that people are choosing to return to a basic way of living; in South Africa, Babylonstoren allows you to farm the food you eat, appreciating what nature gives back to

those who work the land. This idea of giving back to nature is also central to the Dar-Hi Eco-lodge in Tunisia, which offers a sustainable experience in beautiful surroundings. Lastly, we appreciate the quality of natural forms of design. This includes exploring the traditional handcraft techniques of Japanese design, which are often inspired by nature’s solutions; a hot stone bath for example. But we also turn to covetable, natural fabrics created in a sustainable way by Sri Lankan communities and a new natural line of beautifully packaged soaps which have become available in Beirut.

back to basics

FINLAND DESIGN Nordic lights W o r d s : S h i r i n e S aad

Finland’s stark nature has always inspired iconic Finnish designers such as Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen. Today, as the country celebrates its nomination as World Capital of Design, a new generation of designers reflects on the links between the environment and people. Hakku Kähönen

Ilkka Suppanen

Industrial designer Hannu Kähönen creates “design for all,” emphasizing accessibility and environmental impact. His birch plywood 2F Folding Chair (2005) unfolds backward and forward, in two different colors.

best way of influencing the environment positively is to design products that can be used for a long time. I try to design products that are made of local materials and by local people.

Why is Finnish design so deeply linked to nature? Most Finns live in a close relationship to nature and have great respect for it. Finnish design naturally reflects those values.

How can design create a better world? The designer has one responsibility: to promote values by which we can live a better life by designing things that are enjoyable for all and improve everyday life but don’t harm anyone or nature.

How is your work ecological? As a designer I feel that the

Ilkka Suppanen’s studio works in interior, product and concept design and architecture. His pendant lamps for Tikau were made in the village of Orissa in India, where artisans wove local bamboo into organic basketlike shapes. Why is Finnish design so deeply linked to nature? In Finland nature is pure, untouched. We all spend time

in nature during our holidays. How is your work ecological? It is long lasting and meaningful. So people won’t throw it away. How can design create a better world? I believe that design is actually an action where the world can be a better place.

Sari Anttonen Award winning architect and interior designer Sari Anttonen is also a trained cabinetmaker. In 1996, she created the Tubab project in Senegal, working with metal and wood craftsmen to produce a line of recycled furniture. Why is Finnish design so deeply linked to nature? Finnish lifestyle and Finnish design have a very direct connection with nature. Nature is part of our everyday life and it is deeply linked to everything we do.Â

How is your work ecological? Customers are more and more aware of ecological issues. In furniture design I am seeking long lasting and adjustable solutions and smart structures and materials. In interior design it is always possible to favor more ecological materials, fittings and products. How can design create a better world? Good design creates smart solutions, consumes less natural resources and produces little waste.

Anssi Lassila The two partners of this architecture firm, Anssi Lassila and Teemu Hirvilammi, work in Aalto’s spirit, favoring ecological designs and pure lines. Their churches are minimalistic and stark havens for contemplation, with solid, organic shapes and wooden interiors. Why is Finnish design so deeply linked to nature? Finns are allowed to hike in nature and pick berries and mushrooms regardless of who owns the land. How is your work ecological? I often include local expertise and materials into my design and try to find the most natural and suitable solution for each place. At its best, this means that the building is built using local timber and all the useless elements are discarded. How can design create a better world? Functional, aesthetic and reasonable design considers people and the environment. Seiji Lukkala, Globe Hope Globe Hope transforms recycled materials into clothes,

bags, jewels and laptop covers using army material, clothes, tent covers, navy sacks, sails, seat belts or advertising banners. Why is Finnish design so deeply linked to nature? Nature has always been very important to the Finnish people. Today, while Finnish society has become very technologically oriented and the economy relies more and more on businesses of technological expertise, the role of nature has become even bigger. How is your work ecological? All my work is based on ecology, ethics and aesthetics. All our products, clothes, bags, accessories, are made from recycled material. All our working processes are as ecological as possible. We consider ecology and ethics in all we do. How can design create a better world? Design is an efficient way of influencing society. We want to give people an opportunity to make sensible decisions.

back to basics

matali crasset Orientalist dreams Words by:

S h i r i n e

S aad

Often Europeans fall in love with the mysteries of the East and its sensual traditions and landscapes. For Matali Crasset, one of the stars of French design and a Philippe Starck protégée, the Dar HI hotel project in Nefta, Tunisia was an opportunity to create a dialogue with the surrounding dunes, palm groves and people.


ising in the desert, the eco-lodge consists of eight ochre structures housing simple bedrooms with panoramic views. The sand colored walls, palm wood furniture, traditional cotton bed covers and flashes of acid colors create an atmosphere of organic modernity reminiscent of the Star Wars décor, which still thrones in the nearby desert. When entering the majestic hotel, one removes their shoes and wears leather babouches. The smell of fresh

lamb couscous from the kitchen fills the lounge area with warmth and spices. Frédérique Grasset Hermé, a chef and the ex-wife of pastry master Pierre Hermé, supervises the menu, making light, tasty dishes using exclusively local ingredients. Outside, there are beds to read, chat or lie on in the desert sun; a saltwater pool and a state of the art hammam. Here, life is simple and healthy, and it mirrors the traditions of the city’s habitants.

Not your typical resort This fluid, grassroots approach is a signature of the HI hotel chain, which Crasset has created with hotel entrepreneurs Philippe Chapelet and Patrick Elouarghi. Together they work on creating unique contemporary hotel experiences that reflect local values. “The HI hotel wasn’t meant to be duplicated,” says Crasset. “It has been conceived as a laboratory that is not duplicable.” Every guest creates

their own experience depending on their needs and tastes, such as expeditions in the deserts, a visit to date factories, spa treatments and yoga classes. “Dar HI is not a hotel or a classical spa,” says Elouarghi, “but a place where you can experience withdrawal and benefit from a spiritual thalassotherapy a few hours away from Paris and in the middle of the desert.”

From rural to urban Crasset often credits her rural background for this fresh approach to design, where shapes are fluid and in touch with our surrounding environment. Born in Châlons-en-Champagne in a family of farmers, she studied marketing before discovering a calling for design. After graduating

HI-Matic from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle she worked for Denis Santachiara then Philippe Starck. In 1997 the city of Paris awarded her the Grand Prix du Design; the following year Crasset launched her own agency.

For those not able to travel to Tunisia, Crasset has recently opened a HI hotel in Paris, in the hip east Bastille area, an urban eco-lodge inspired by the Japanese riokan, the youth hostel and the country B&B. Each room is built like a cabin and is entirely adaptable to the guest’s needs; the bed turns into a sofa, the room turns into an office, a dining

space or a relaxing haven. In the lobby, essential oils and music by German label Kompakt create a warm, friendly atmosphere. Guests mingle there or at the restaurant. And for those who need guides or cds, the Hi matic shop in a vending machine offers everything you need. The main idea: total freedom.

back to basics

Flavor of the EAST Words by:

P a u l

C o ch r a n e

To the jaded contemporary traveler, Western countries can be likened to a box of chocolates. Shapes and flavors may change, but the commonalties outweigh the differences: you often know what you are going to get. The same can apply to the less developed parts of the world, which while having wonderful scenery and interesting historical sites usually lack the delights of high culture that give a “valued-added” experience.


illing that gap for the exotic, the traditional, the modern and the unexpected is Japan, a place that revels in attention to detail and has plenty of quirks to turn the head of the “seen-it-all-before” traveler. Take green Kit-Kat chocolate bars and ice cream made from wasabi (horseradish), the cornucopia of candies that line store shelves, or sushi bento boxes carefully displayed at train stations. Indeed, from a culinary point alone Japan offers a smörgåsbord of tastes and flavors, with dishes varying from one province or city to the next. High culture is equally in abundance at museums and galleries in

Tokyo, or out in the Inland Sea at Naoshima, an art island that boasts a collection ranging from Claude Monet to Andy Warhol to Japanese artist Kusama Yayoi. For the design enthusiast, there is little need to venture from Tokyo, where certain districts offer a glimpse of what a futuristic metropolis looks like, while stores stock cutting edge design and graphics. Innovative use of space is a further curiosity, developed out of necessity in a mega city where close to 13 million people live in an area of 2,187 square kilometers, equivalent to just 0.6 percent of Japan’s landmass. Such innovative design ranges from cubicles for sleeping in to automated parking lots that

© Paul Cochrin

© Paul Cochrin

store cars and bicycles in underground cylinders. The visitor in search of the more historical Japan will have to travel away from the capital, ideally on a high-speed bullet train, to the World Heritage sites of Kyoto and Nara, and the island of Miyajima close to Hiroshima. But venturing beyond the “tourist triangle” of Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima shows another side of the country. Down in the far south on the Satsuma peninsula lies Sakurajima, an active volcano that has minor eruptions throughout the day that covers the island in fine gray dust. Out of the core of the island springs forth hot sulphuric water, ideal for a foot bath or a visit to an onsen – a

public bath - where you can soak in 40 degree plus waters. Further along the coast in Ibusuki is an onsen with a twist. Right on the shoreline, bathers change into a thin cotton kimono and go down to a dark gray sandy beach to lie down. There two women shovel on hot volcanic sand, with the weight of the sand piling up until you cannot move. Some 15 minutes later the “sand bather” emerges soaked in perspiration. An alleged de-toxifier and blood purifier, the sand soak is followed up with a dip in the onsen and can be topped off with a local delicacy - raw chicken sashimi. Chocolate anyone?

back to basics

A natural escape Words by: H e l e n

A ssaf

Babylonstoren preserves the best of Cape farming traditions


trip back in time as well as through the glory of nature is what you get with a visit to Babylonstoren, which lies 45 minutes from Cape Town International Airport. This farm is one of the best preserved of those in the Cape Dutch tradition and was founded in 1690. Today it offers a gloriously natural escape from the hustle and bustle of life, either for day visitors or staying guests. The latter can choose from stylishly designed suites

whose whitewashed exteriors and thatched roofs recall those of the 17th and 18th century Cape Colony farm buildings. With a nod to the mythical garden of Babylon, Babylonstoren’s own garden is more than impressive, spanning eight hectares and integrating a formal structure. Over 300 varieties of edible plants are grown and harvested here year-round for use in the onsite restaurant, where an extensive wine list featuring wines grown on the surrounding Simonsberg mountains can also be sampled. Guests are free to join in the harvesting of vegetables, berries and fruits, picking their own salad should they desire, or simply enjoying a guided educational tour of the garden. Further afield walks past wild olives and oaks, or thousands of clivias in spring bloom alongside the bubbling stream, add to the idyllic ambiance that reigns throughout this peaceful resort.

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Barefoot finds its footing in Beirut W o r d s : Ow e n A dams

NEVER mention the word ‘factory’ to Barbara Sansoni: the artistfounder of Barefoot has spent the past 48 years singlehandedly bucking the trend for assembly-line machination in textiles while saving Sri Lankan rural handicrafts from extinction.


ach Barefoot item is individually made with genuine passion, in an ethical setting that means the end consumer can hold their head up high. Rather than corralling women into work, Barefoot brings work to women’s homes, many in villages with centuries-old weaving traditions. Without any need for brand promotion and advertising campaigns, Barefoot products have been muchcoveted and desired by the Sri Lankan elite since the 1970s, their high prices justified by the artisan quality, careful selection and vibrant designs. Even through new generations of management, the pursuit of profit has remained secondary to dissemination of the company’s high moral values and approach to continuing craft tradition and continuing to think local. Initially selling fabrics and finished clothes and other textiles from her home in a quiet residential street in Colombo, Barefoot then moved into a retail space in the city,

and began producing home furnishings, bags, soft toys and sarongs – eventually for tourists as well as the upper echelons of Sri Lankan society. While mass production for global apparel trades is the norm in Sri Lanka, Sansoni’s vision has ensured bespoke pieces made to commission by traditional craftspeople in their villages travel to an exclusive clientele across the world. Barefoot has deliberately expanded slowly to ensure the brand wouldn’t compromise on artisan quality, gradually reaching tentacles to trusted outlets, sympathetic to Barefoot’s people-centred ideals. Carousel Design represents Barefoot in Lebanon, as well as retailing other fabric and home items, carefully selected for their color and elegance, from Japan to Italy. Carousel’s collaboration with Barefoot is one important episode of a continuously evolving adventure, respecting trends and hailing innovation, while celebrating life surrounded by top-flight design.

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The Voice of Winds whispers desire to return to nature Words:

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A dams

In Japanese antiquity, the wind was sacred, and windworshippers listened carefully to the noises it made, and interpreted the sound accordingly.


he Voice of Winds, a dreamy visual and audio sculpture produced by Tokyo designer Kazunori Matsumura’s newly established Firm., encompasses those ideas with an urgent desire to get back to nature, to rediscover the natural phenomena he revelled in during a childhood spent in Hokkaido. Earthenware pipes arranged in shapes to form a two-meter wide, one-meter deep, and one-meter-high tree branch, with a blanched-white look suggesting the bones of animated beings, who each channel a soundtrack of winds digitally captured in the Indian desert last year by Matsumura.

His aim is to transform the elemental power of the wind into something that seems like a living being, one perhaps normally found while in a dream state. The creator sees it as more than an art work, but as an ephemeral tool. Matsumura explains: “This tool hasn’t a concrete practical utility for daily life, but we can wake up to the daily microscopic things around us if we use this. It’s important to become conscious of the unconscious. This tool is designed to communicate with nature and to get back the primitive conception of nature.” The work made its debut at the iMAGiNATURE Exhibition at Milan’s Post

Design Gallery (Memphis), moving on to the Italian city’s Fuori Salone space in April. The Voice of Winds comes in the wake of a range of work also heavily dipped in naturalistic impulses – furniture shaped like traditional boats, and a department-store installation in Tokyo of transparent fabric strips suspended to form a virtual misty pine forest. Matsumura’s new moniker, Firm., has presumably been chosen to signify his aim to create industrial, urban applications of the primitive, dream-based otherworld which came before the consumer age; rediscovered roots through unprecedented new tools.

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Lagerfeld revisits a Chanel classic W o r d s :

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D u n n

Celebrities join design legend to pay tribute to the little black jacket


hat better way to celebrate a Chanel classic than by inviting a diverse mix of world famous celebrities to give the garment their own, individual stamp and then pose in it for the camera? You would expect no less from the design guru Karl Lagerfeld who has revisited one of the luxury line’s most iconic pieces – the little black jacket – and shown us just how versatile it can be by photographing a long list of celebrities, ranging from actors and musicians to models, wearing it. The stunning black and white photos will now feature in a book which marks a fascinating collaboration with the former model and once editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld. Aptly named ‘The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld’, the book’s photos capture the individuality of each model, all of whom were styled by Roitfeld, allowing their personality to shine through while also highlighting just how wearable and adaptable a Chanel staple is.

As an added tribute, Chanel recently held an exhibition in Tokyo, which showcased 113 of the beautifully-taken photos across two floors. The opening of the exhibition, which was attended by Lagerfeld and Roitfeld, featured a star-studded guest list including some of the Chanel ambassadors who appear in the book such as Vanessa Paradis, Gaspard Ulliel and Sarah Jessica Parker. The range of celebrities photographed is as diverse as one would expect

from the creative genius that is Lagerfeld, taking in Yoko Ono, Jane Birkin, Sofia Coppola, Claudia Schiffer and Uma Thurman. Male models, including Waris Ahluwalia and Kanye West, show us that the jacket is as unisex as it is timeless. Look out for Roitfeld who features in the book dressed in tribute to the queen of French fashion herself, Coco Chanel. See the photos at: http://

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Living Space III W o r d s :

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A dams

On first impression, it has the lookbut-don’ttouch aesthetic of sculpture, or even an architectural model, but Karen Chekerdjian has designed Living Space III as something you fully inhabit.


his show-stopping piece incorporates a lounger, coffee table, stool and magazine rack in one flowing object, the shape recalls Bauhaus and other early 20th-century avant-garde art movements, while the materials echo Lebanese tradition. A dark wooden

Baobab Collection Inspired by Africa w o r ds b y : F e r n a n d e V a n T e ts

The Baobab Collection hails from the steppes of Tanzania, and this African heritage can be sensed through the bewitching fragrances of its handmade perfumed candles.


aobab has a large collection of decorated candles presented in transparent and colored glass vases, which are all blown by craftsmen, or stainless steel holders. There are five different sizes, the largest of which, the ‘Maxi Max’, weighs an astonishing ten kg and burns for almost a thousand hours. The candles have been created in Belgium since 2004, and the brand is

frame supports rattan panels traditionally used on sidewalk cafe and trottoir seats in Lebanon, while its detachable embroidered cushion echoes the lhaf – the quilt used in Lebanese mountain houses during winter. Living Space III transcends the boundary of untouchable exhibition installation to laidback furniture

by sanding down sections of the black wood, especially at the head and feet, for an inviting, lived-in appeal. It was initially designed as one of an international range of limitededition commissions for the pop-up Corwan gallery’s recent Design Days Dubai show. The stylistic fusion of contemporary and traditional Middle Eastern and German-modernist coincides with the assertion made by Corwan founders’ Pascale Wakim and Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, that Beirut has changed from being the Paris to the Berlin of the Middle East, in terms of the city’s thriving underground culture and vibrant art, design and haute couture scenes.

committed to high-quality craftsmanship and respect for the environment. All raw ingredients are of the highest quality; the wax is mineral and non-oily and is of the most superior quality and purity anywhere. The fragrances are elaborated by a well known ‘nose’ in Grasse, the temple of the perfume industry. And the entire packaging process is created by hand, from the vase down to the label on the box and the finishing touch of a black ribbon tied lovingly around the product. The company encourages recycling of the containers, as a glass, vase or even a champagne bucket! Baobab candles are available globally in 500 select retailers, one of which is Le Cercle Hitti.

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Fifty: an update to a classic design W o r d s :

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DANISH modernist furniture design has been dragged 60 years forward into the present time with the Fifty chair by Dögg Gudmundsdottir and Rützou Amved.


he Copenhagenbased designers took as their template the 1950 Flag Halvard Chair of Hans Wegner, a recliner chair in metal and cord. The eminent designer dreamt up the concept while lying on the beach on holiday at the Danish seaside town of Aarhus, a chair that replicated the indents he’d made in the sand to relax his back and arms; legend has it he began weaving by hand 240 meters of cord for the seat while on the same beach. He attached it to a stainless-steel frame, and thus fused futuristic minimalism with supreme comfort. Also known as the PP225, the chair still represents the pinnacle of Scandinavian furniture design, and is still sought after by anyone wanting

comfort and timeless chic. The Dogg & Amved collaboration married their two interests in traditional craftsmanship and new

techniques, materials and textures, to hand-weave for the seat 350 meters of polypropylene cord, available in dyed tobacco or black – treated

with anti-UV material to stop deterioration, synthetic materials in organic form, contrasted by the minimalist black-lacquered steel structure. They elaborated on Wegner’s classic design so Fifty is equally suited to indoor and outdoor, and for the most flexible use. The pair designed a straight backrest suitable for watching TV, reading or resting, with woven ears on either side of the headrest to create a feeling of intimacy. The optional footrest can be applied for total relaxation. Fifty, whether placed in the sun lounge, in the living room or on the beach itself, has a mighty sculptural presence, as well as being designed for long life.

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Revealing the secrets behind La Secrète W o r d s :

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La Secrète is both poetic and functional – the multi-purpose secretary desk is the work of a graduate from France’s ENSCI (National School of Industrial Design), Philippine Dutto. Its striking individualistic design was considered worthy of inclusion in the latest Ligne Roset collection: the showcase of showcases for French designers.


ounded initially in France as a bentwood walkingstick manufacturer in 1860, from 1936 onwards Ligne Roset moved into upholstered furniture and other items, until it created an entire lifestyle range with global appeal, and continues to sign up the foremost European designers and rising stars to stay one step ahead in both innovation and elegant aesthetic. Dutto’s playful yet practical designs are inspired directly by sounds and moving images, both close at hand and

far off; she specializes in trying to turn wild imagination into grounded reality. La Secrète is a much-warranted update on the classic elegant secretaires of times past, and influenced equally by French comic titan Jacques Tati and the fictional secret service agent James Bond. The designer made the walnut and chrome combo piece as part of her graduate show Cabinet. Containing a drawer to conceal trinkets, and a space to stow a small laptop with a facility through which to feed the cable, as well as other recesses

for documents and other valuable items, the strutmounted flap lid can be used as a writing surface when shut. Mounted on four solid walnut legs, with brilliantchrome crosspieces and balance rail, the walnutveneered MDF structure extends to a folding document tray and drawers. Although petite, La Secrète is capable of containing a great many secrets. Yet the bold statement it makes in a room is a tantalizing opaque window into the unknown.

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Ambrah Soaps W o r d s : M i r i am D u n n

Treasured recipe creates back-to-nature beauty in a bar


estled in the North of Lebanon is a company which is proudly keeping alive the fast-disappearing tradition of crafting entirely natural soaps by hand from cold-pressed olive oil. Ambrah Soaps uses a simple, yet treasured recipe dating back to 1875 which has been lovingly passed down through the generations to create a delightful range of soaps, ranging from large, rustic spheres which recreate the hammam experience in the

shower, to bars, luxury paste and even massage oils. With no heat involved in the crafting process, the soaps retain the valuable properties of their ingredients, including the wonderfully healing powers of botanical herbs, resulting in a moisturizing and long-lasting, yet beautifully mild product. Ambrah’s soap bars, with their trademark, rustic cut, are available in a wide range of fragrances, including rose, camomile, green tea, lemon and cedar. Created using natural olive oil, honey, and natural herbal and

floral extracts, they gently cleanse the skin, making them ideal for everyday use for hands, face and body. The soaps, which along with Ambrah’s other products are environmentally friendly, chemical and preservative free, and not tested on animals, are available at the company’s concept boutique in Badaro. Ambrah Concept Boutique, Badaro, Beirut Tel: (961) 3 757 455/(961) 3 859 575/(961) 3 555 349



01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 Shopping 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Architecture 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Living 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 W o r d s : H e l e n A ssaf 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 Back to Basics 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 This special design 74 75 collaboration has its roots in a 76 77 book, The Whispered Directory of 78 79 Craftsmanship, A Contemporary 80 81 Guide to the Italian Handmaking 82 Ability Vol. 1, which paid homage 83 84 to Italian craftsmanship. Noting 85 86 the common values of Maserati 87 88 and Fendi, the idea grew to 89 90 Product Design collaborate on an exclusive 91 Special Edition Maserati Gran 92 93 Cabrio Fendi designed by 94 95 Silvia Venturini Fendi which 96 Art & Culture 97 would be the vehicle of 98 99 choice for an Italian 100 101 Grand Tour voyage. This 102 would be no ordinary 103 104 grand tour, however, 105 106 Books as the journey was 107 108 filmed resulting in a 109 110 four-part 111 documentary. 112


Two iconic brands take to the road


hen two iconic Italian brands, both known for their design prowess and quality craftsmanship, join forces, the result can only be spectacular. This is certainly what happened when Maserati and Fendi came together to design the Maserati Gran Cabrio Fendi, which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. A range of distinctive features set this model apart – such as the 20 inch alloy wheels featuring Fendi’s iconic double F logo, or the use of a specially developed shade of gray with a unique iridescent gold effect. Fendi’s selection of the finest leather and wood for the interior brings an even more luxurious feel to the exclusive interior.

Each episode reveals some of the workshops and laboratories featured in the volumes of The Whispered, which were visited along the way. This spring the Maserati Gran Cabrio Fendi went on sale in a limited production series of 50, each numbered and no doubt destined for a select number of auto aficionados around the world. For those that miss out on the chance to own one of these exclusive autos, there is

some consolation. Fendi and Maserati extended their design collaboration to a special travel kit, featuring a range of items that includes eyewear, holdalls, a pashmina scarf and even a leather jacket. Bearing the quality and craftsmanship synonymous with these two brands, the collection ensures that everyone has the opportunity to travel in spectacular style.

French interior designer, Vanessa Mitrani is creating waves with her collections featuring pieces made from blown glass and metal. Having originally trained in furniture design, Mitrani’s latest collections largely focus on combining seemingly disparate glass and metal elements.


fusion of delicate glass and robust metals with intriguing finishes, her work is a blend of the fragile and the robust, a paradox that somehow comes together to create some of the most intriguing works on the market today. Mitrani’s vases, glasses and lamps, to name but a few of her creations, cradle fine, hand blown glass within, occasionally industrial, metal frames. The result is a contradictory marriage of sharp metallic lines and whimsical glass curves. For over a decade Mitrani has worked with some of the world’s most famous design houses. She first worked with Ligne Roset in 1999 and continues to do so to this day having recently completed a new collection for the distinguished brand. As with all of her work, the new pieces are hand crafted with care and precision. Pushing the envelope in terms of creative glass design, Mitrani’s limited edition pieces created for Roche Bobois are truly eye catching. The two-piece series, Bird on the Wire, features a fine, glass lamp and a vase pierced by metal perches, atop of which sit rows of glass birds, gazing out through the sides of the pieces. Winter, a collection including a vase and six glass mugs, lives up to its name; silvered birds sit upon wintry branches, evoking a sense of chilly style and stirring memories of snowy landscapes. Perhaps the thought of the cold birds tugs

at the heartstrings, but Winter at once seems as delicate as Bird on the Wire, despite the slightly more substantial rests upon which the birds perch. While Winter and Bird on the Wire are clear examples of Mitrani’s skill at working with fine detail and delicate materials, the collection titled No Limit is a an example of her playful side. Vases with a difference, porcelain fish jump and swim through the blown glass, in playful takes on the fishbowl. Full of life and fun, these pieces are at once a playful distraction and a demonstration of Mitrani’s talents, fusing the ever-present blown glass with the altogether solid appeal of porcelain. Taking cues from No Limit, Oxygen, a one-off narguile, injects a shot of humor into the traditional water pipe. Featuring the same blend of ceramics and blown glass, Oxygen is comprised of three bubbles sitting atop one another; from the bottom bowl a spirited porcelain fish attempts escape as the, imagined, bubbles of air flow over it. Mitrani’s appeal lies in her ability to fuse elements together, creating a blend of air, water and earth in a single piece. Her flowing glasswork stands in direct contrast to the, often comparatively imposing, metallic elements while fresh takes on classic porcelain create a range of work that is not only the result of extreme skill, but whose success lies in the wit of the creator.


Conscious & unconscious Doha hosts a Louise Bourgeois retrospective Words:

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C hat r i wala


massive 30-foot-high bronze spider dominates the open space in the new Qatar National Convention Centre, serving not only as a tribute to Louise Bourgeois’ mother, as the introspective sculptor intended, but also to the late French-American artist herself. Likely her best known work, Bourgeois has explained that the sculpture “Maman” represents her mother as a “dainty and clever” weaver. Growing up in France, her parents ran a workshop for tapestry restoration, and in her later years as an artist in America, fabrics and frail family ties continued to play important roles in

Bourgeois artistic expressions. A survey of her life’s achievements, including pieces from the 1940s and 50s, through to just before her death in 2010, are now on display for the first time in the Middle East. The show, entitled “Conscious and Unconscious,” is at the QMA Gallery in Katara Cultural Village until June 1. Philip Larratt-Smith, who worked as Bourgeois’s literary archivist for eight years, curated the 32 pieces in the exhibit, which range in media from sculpture, gouache, and fabric pieces, to installation. “Bourgeois worked in a variety of media well before this became common among artists,” he says, adding that the pieces in the collection were chosen to convey the “fundamental

01_____Louise Bourgeois

02_____Louise Bourgeois

03_____Louise Bourgeois

04_____Louise Bourgeois


SPIDER IV, 1996 Bronze, wall piece 203.2 x 180.3 x 53.3 cm. Collection Louise Bourgeois Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read and Hauser & Wirth



Photo: Peter Bellamy

Photo: Christopher Burke

2000 Steel, aluminum, mirrors, glass, metal & water 274.3 x 304.8 x 172.7cm. Collection Louise Bourgeois Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read and Hauser & Wirth

Aluminum, hanging piece 166.4 x 106.7 x 63.5 cm. Collection Louise Bourgeois Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read and Hauser & Wirth

Photo: Christopher Burke


importance of the dynamic between conscious and unconscious in her work.” For Bourgeois, creating art was a deeply emotional experience, and she found the process to be both agonising and therapeutic. Explains the curator: “[There are] binary oppositions that animate all of Bourgeois’s work: male and female, abstract and figurative, active and passive, maternal and paternal, murder and suicide, rational and irrational, etc. In Bourgeois’ work these polarities are not mutually exclusive but constituent parts of the same continuum.” This is little better demonstrated than in the exhibit’s opening piece “CELL XV”. The installation of aluminium, steel, glass, mirrors and water, features a double fountain

05_____Louise Bourgeois, 2003. Photo: Nanda Lanfranco

Fabric, rubber, thread and stainless steel 175.3 x 94 x 47 cm. Collection Louise Bourgeois Trust, courtesy Cheim & Read and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Christopher Burke




whose waterways flowing together symbolise not just a couple joining together but also timelessness, as the liquid weaves around the sculpture in a figure eight, the symbol for infinity. Bourgeois’s psychological selfanalysis led her to adopt spiral motifs in her works, including two nest-like hanging aluminium sculptures on display. To her, spirals turn both in on themselves and outwards toward the world, representing her “attempt at controlling the chaos” of her emotions. Later in life, the artist - who lived almost a century - incorporated her own clothing into her works as a way of preserving some of the memories around them.

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Pause for thought Words:

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Meet Robert Hammond the British artist who brings new aesthetics and a new perception to art. Defying conventions & challenging the way we see everyday things, his collection VISUAL RITUAL is currently on display at the SMO gallery in Beirut. How was the reaction to your exhibition Visual Ritual by the Lebanese audience? The reaction was great - in particular the wall art. This type of art is relatively new for Lebanon. It encourages critical thinking and this is beginning to emerge more in Lebanon which is great to see aesthetics advance more. You started as an artist of oil painting. How did you decide to add more mediums and also work with objects? I studied fine arts at St. Martins in the UK. There they teach you about history of art in a deep informed way. They teach you to advance, make people look at things in a new way in a modern context. Paint has already been explored to the ninth degree.

The modern art world is about presenting painting with new materials. I try to introduce new ways of painting with steel and glass and in a multi dimensional way. Your wall paintings are very unique. They are outlined by metal behind polished glass surface. Why did you decide to give them this presentation rather than just a plain canvas? I love working with steel and glass. For example Mondrian was presenting squares. I use metal, glass and concentric lines as a new aesthetic, with humor and emotions thrown in. The wall paintings have an eclectic collection of styles and imagery. Yet they all have a common feature, like an animation figure with exaggerated facial expressions. When humans are given a field of picture, they naturally look to the face. When we are born we look at our mother’s face. We are quick to identify eye and mouth. In these pieces you see a collection of visual devices which are all assembled together to create an overall rhythm. Let’s talk about a few of your furniture pieces. I will start with the stool. You give it such a contemporary look and

make it playful, yet not changing how it functions. A stool is a primitive chair. It has humor. It’s cute. It’s affectionate. It’s a beginning. Beginning with something random challenges your conventions. The moustache desk is really playful and striking - a bit surreal. What is surreal? It’s something that activates something inside. You can’t say it in words. This piece is making fun of people who think they can hide behind a moustache. Yet they stand out! Blatant anticovering up. Which artists do you admire? De Kooning -the modern abstract expressionist of the 50’s, Renoir and Raphael. What they all have in common is that they are all absolute masters of their style. I admire how dedicated they were. They also happen to be the most expensive selling artists in the world. Did your parents encourage you to pursue art? Not really, I found my way. I think my mom (of Lebanese descent) had an aesthetic tendency and that made an impression on me. It seemed to suit my interest growing up and becoming an artist.

What’s next? Will your next piece(s) have a connection to Visual Ritual? Visual Ritual is a soft start. It will be more avant garde with a little controversy. Stuff to rub people up the wrong way! Are any of your pieces for sale? They all are. All small furniture is under $1000. The paintings go for much more. Is there any medium/material that you wish to use that is new to you? I love to work with modern art where everything is potentially a new medium. What other interests do you have outside of creating art? I like family get togethers. My wife and I recently had a baby and it’s such a humbling experience. I love time with friends, family and spending nice moments together.

What do you do if you get stuck in a rut? Say like a writer getting “writer’s block?” I have a cure for them! The expression that goes, you do your best thinking in B.B.B. Bed (when you get up in the morning), Bath (in the shower), Bus (commuting to work). When I get stuck in the studio I just give up. Just put yourself in a position to drift away from it. Do you have any advice for young students wanting to pursue an art career? Well, you don’t need to be gifted to be a great artist. It’s a wrong preconception. It’s about practice and perseverance. Real artists did not do their best work until the age of 40 and beyond. If you create something brilliant before 30-35 it’s likely to be a fad or luck really.

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here are few artists who inspire such a sense of mystery and outright controversy as Caravaggio. Undisputedly a genius, Caravaggio was an Italian painter living in the late 16th century. Famous well before his death in 1610, the artist was the subject of intense debate during his own lifetime. A master of the school of Naturalism, Caravaggio advanced the portrayal of the human form with his incredible attention to detail and understanding of the human form. His ability to create links between the viewer and the story the artist wished to tell was Caravaggio’s strong suit. Intensely detailed

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and rich, Caravaggio’s works have only recently been subject to scientific study. Thanks to science’s relatively recent ability to create large, high definition prints, art scholars are revelling in the incredible levels of detail in Caravaggio’s work. Masterpieces that have been studied for years are suddenly revealing new details, and scholars are uncovering aspects of Caravaggio’s style that they were only able to guess at previously. Caravaggio: The Complete Works offers an insight into this remarkable man and is a must for any serious fan of classical art.


Now! Vol. 8 Building the future W o r d s :

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This season’s coffee-table book selection is available instore from Le Cercle Hitti.


n encyclopedic look at the latest cutting-edge designs, Architecture Now! 8 gives the reader an insight into current builds the world over. Serving as a guide to the most exciting projects and recently completed buildings, Architecture Now! 8 introduces readers to the best contemporary architects and their latest works. From Joshua PrinceRamus, to Thom Mayne of Morphosis, to Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and Burkinabe Diébédo Francis Kéré,

Architecture Now! 8 captures the spirit of the latest generation of great designers and architects. A global “who’s who” of the architecture world, this book is a must for anyone serious about building design. An easy-to-navigate reference, Architecture Now! 8 contains everything you need to know to about the most inspiring architects in business today; concise biographies, lists of their current and completed projects and links to their websites enable the reader to get a comprehensive understanding of what’s going on in architecture today.

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