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THE design ISSUE

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• Beirut Design Week 2014 • Special Section Curated By Studio Putman •

• In The Studio With Rabih Kayrouz • Thomas Heatherwick in Abu Dhabi •

• In Conversation with Zaha Hadid • Richard Serra in Doha • Salone del Mobile with Justin McGuirk •

issue # 26 | June-July 2014

ARTs / STYLE / CULTURE from the Arab world and beyond

Photo Michel Gibert. Photograph used as a reference only. Special thanks:

European manufacture.

Escapade sofas, design Zeno Nugari. Sofas and fabrics made for indoor and outdoor use. Indoor version: Carioca and Indy fabrics Outdoor version: plain or

patterned fabrics for Roche Bobois

Flying Flower coffee table, design Sacha Lakic. BEIRUT DOWNTOWN 33 rue Weygand Tel: +961 1 986 888/999

See for collections, news and catalogues.

l’art de vivre by roche bobois

Editor’s Letter

The Design Issue It was hard to press

us her connection to art

the ‘go’ button to send

and inspirations. Allow

this issue to print: with

me to introduce you to

such a wealth of art-

her world.




architects among our


pages, choosing which

took me to the Borouk

of them to feature on

Desert in Qatar, where

the cover proved to

walking amid Richard

be incredibly tough. It

Serra’s East and West

was natural to resolve

sculptures allowed me

such a dilemma with a

to witness a monu-

creative design twist.

ment that will be part

Not one but two covers

of history. In this erst-

have been designed,

while desolate spot it

each giving the spot-

really felt to me as if

light to two esteemed

the sculptures were in

names: Olivia Putman

a harmonious conver-

is paired with Richard

sation with the desert.



Serra, and Rana Salam with Zaha Hadid. The


Design Issue is very

highlights of this is-

broad and we move

sue, contributor Hilary


French, an architect





fashion, and from furniture and décor, to today’s cut-

and architectural historian, joins world-acclaimed

ting edge design challenges.

architect Zaha Hadid for a conversation about her upbringing, life in London, and why the future is all

It was in Paris that I met with Olivia Putman, after I was

about curves. Also don’t miss award-winning journal-

invited to visit the newly redecorated Sofitel Arc de Tri-

ist and critic Justin McGuirk who shares his thoughts

omphe in Paris by Studio Putman. It was a privilege to

on Milan’s famous Salone del Mobile. And of course

be given a tour of the hotel by Olivia Putman herself,

there’s much, much more waiting to be discovered in

and the hotel certainly impresses with its perfection

the pages that follow.

of the details that make the guest feel at home and its sheer elegance. In return I invited Olivia to share with





The Design Issue


Tannous Tower, Dora, Jisr area | Tel.: (01) 263111

contributors Hilary French studied architecture at the AA and history of architecture at the Bartlett. After many years in architecture and design practice, in Paris and London, she started teaching and spent many years as Head of the School of Architecture & Design at the Royal College of Art in London. She has published several books on housing design and the architecture of the everyday and is a regular contributor to architecture and design journals. Here she speaks with Zaha Hadid about her life and architectural practice. Justin McGuirk is a writer, critic and curator based in London. He is the director of Strelka Press, the publishing arm of the Strelka Institute in Moscow. He has been the design critic of The Guardian, the editor of Icon magazine and the design consultant toDomus. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. His book, Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture will be published by Verso in spring 2014. Justin shares his thoughts with us about this year’s Milan Salone del Mobile.

Houda Kabbaj is a photographer and architect living in Paris who originally hails from Morocco. She currently works in a multidisciplinary architecture agency that strives for design synthesis between poetry and physical reality. Houda has exhibited her photographs at the Biennale of Photography in Amsterdam, 2012, at the Arab World Festival in Montreal, 2010, and at WEF in Davos, 2009. She has also worked on the curation of the Biennale Off, 2012, in Marrakech, and Animal Dream at Art Fair 2011. For this issue she photographs Rabih Kayrouz in his Paris atelier.

Nicholas Chrisostomou is a British entrepreneur and former London nightclub impresario routinely rubbed shoulders with fashion designers and pop stars at his wild clubnights across Europe and as far afield as South Africa. Today Nicholas’ company, Coco Latté, advises the hospitality and nightlife industries and manages DJs and artists, whilst Nicholas spends his life criss-crossing the globe for work and play, shoe-horning long weekends and quick holiday jaunts in between meeting clients on four continents and living it up with the who’s who of the global party scene. Turn to his diary column for dinner party anecdotes from his first visit to Beirut. Rajesh Punj is a London-based art critic, correspondent and curator, with a specialist interest in so-called emerging markets, mainly across Asia. His undergraduate studies were in European and American art history at Warwick University, UK, and his postgrad was in curating at Goldsmiths College, UK. He has previously written for international art publications including Flash Art International, Milan, Deutsche Bank Art Mag, Berlin, Elephant, London, Art Zip, London & Beijing, Sculpture, Washington D.C., and Asian Art newspaper, London, among others. Rajesh is currently compiling a series of interviews with leading artists for a book planned for 2016. Here he interviews leading Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos Sheyma Bu Ali is an independent London-based writer and researcher. She is culture correspondent for Asharq AlAwsat, editorial correspondent for Ibraaz and a regular contributor to numerous other publications. Her writing has also appeared in edited volumes and exhibition catalogues covering topics ranging from historical archiving to cinema, political arts and Gulf urbanism. Previously, she worked for 10 years in TV, film and documentary production in Boston, Los Angeles and her native Bahrain. Sheyma considers Thomas Heatherwick’s new architectural scheme for Abu Dhabi in this issue. Merlin Fulcher is a writer, photographer and architectural journalist based in Battersea, London whose work focuses on political interaction within changing built environments. He is competitions editor and international news writer on The Architects’ Journal and has contributed to The Architectural Review, New Civil Engineer, Construction News and London Evening Standard. He is also programme director at Platform One Gallery – a community art project. Several of his poems, including a collection on regeneration in the British Midlands titled Modern Air – have been published by the Different Skies experimental writing platform.’ In this issue Merlin reviews a discussion at the Institute of Contemporary Art, in London, about the tropical utopianism of Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry.




Cover Art work for Selections The Design Issue by Rana Salam(above) and Liquid Glacial Table by Zaha Hadid (right)

In conversation with ZAHA HADID


the life of a conductor







in the studio with rabih kayrouz









Editorial Masthead Editor-in-Chief Rima Nasser Editor Kasia Maciejowska Designer Genia Kodash Pictures Editor Rowina Bou Harb In-house writer John Ovans In-house Illustrator Yasmina Nysten Contributing Writers India Stoughton Anya Stafford Nour Harb Lucy Knight Dan Hilton Roman Sinclair Alberto Mucci Editorial enquiries +961 (0) 1 383 978


Vivre, Inside sal Antelias-Dbaye internal road at Congress Center bridge +961 4 520 111



Cover graphic for Selections The Design Issue by Olivia Putman (above) and ‘Passage of Time’ by Richard Serra (right)


Nostalgia and street culture with Rana Salam














curated by olivia putman

Sales & Distribution Commercial Manager Rawad J. Bou Malhab Advertising Enquiries +961 (0) 1 383 978 Distribution Messagerie du Moyen Orient de la Presse et du Livre s.a.l. +961 487 999 Printing Chamas for Printing & Publishing s.a.l.

Tel. 01875 600 - - PO Box 113-5332/1103-2030 Beirut, Lebanon

In conversation with ZAHA HADID

Global architecture star Zaha Hadid has received every important architecture award there is. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004 and went on to receive the Stirling Prize twice, in 2010 and 2011. Her name regularly appears on media lists - the most influential figures, the most powerful women, important thinkers, as well as best-dressed. She was honoured with an Order of Chivalry of the British Empire for herservices to architecture in 2002 and elevated to Dame in 2013. Here she speaks with Hilary French, architectural critic, author, and former Head of Architecture & Design at the Royal College of Art, about her upbringing, life in London, and why the future is all about curves.


Zaha Hadid by Brigitte Lacombe


Maxxi, Rome, 2009. Photo: Iwan Baan

The phenomenal success of Zaha Hadid is not based

category of the Designs of the Year at London’s De-

on following the rules. A Zaha-shaped world is very

sign Museum. In the context of so many prestigious

far from the world of conventional rectilinear buildings,

international awards how important is this one to

based on functional modernism, which we are all famil-


iar with. Composed of wildly curving surfaces, overlap-

Zaha Hadid: Of course it’s an honour but what I find

ping forms and soaring cantilevers, these are restless

most exciting is that people outside the profession now

spaces that demand our attention. Hadid’s work is syn-

know a great deal about architecture. Twenty-five years

onymous with a new style of architecture – a style that

ago it was only appreciated within the industry. It’s quite

eschews order, repetition and regular geometry in fa-

a change in such a short period and I’m pleased to

vour of a programmatic malleability and fluidity of space

have been part of this.

and form – called Parametricism. In the 21st-century urban landscape, where public spaces for interaction

Your work has a very distinctive style. Do you agree

might equally be the virtual spaces of social media as

with recent claims that it is the only viable paradigm

city squares or department stores, computer technol-

for our changing world?

ogy pervades our thinking and enables this vastly dif-

The dynamism of contemporary life cannot be housed

ferent approach.

in simple grids like the blocks built in previous cen-

Like her buildings, Hadid is an original. The first independent female architect to achieve fame, there was no prototype for her, no female role model to emulate. For those of us who witnessed her early years at the AA School of Architecture, it is shocking that it was to be

“At the beginning we were all workaholics. Often we didn’t know what the research would lead to but believed that all the experiments would perfect the project, no matter if it would take 10 years”

turies. The challenge is to move beyond outmoded, rigid modernism to address life today. Our research into managing complexity has led us towards natural systems. We often look at the beauty and coherence in natural forms when we create buildings, using con-

such a long time before her

cepts of seamlessness and

evident passion and talent

fluidity that enable complex-

were recognised and rewarded. We know that without

ity without visual clutter. Life is not made in a grid - think

hard work, talent will not flourish, but that she contin-

of a natural landscape.

ued with little encouragement in the early years demonstrates a level of commitment rarely seen. With this in

There is a view that great architecture should be re-

mind, I asked her about her beginnings, her evolution,

served for ‘special’ buildings, not the everyday. Is

and the new architectural style.

it important to you that your buildings become the frame or background to ordinary people’s lives?

On her practice today

Ultimately architecture is all about wellbeing; the creation of pleasant and stimulating settings for all aspects of life.

Hilary French: The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku

But I think it is also important to build projects that give

has just been named the winner in the architecture

uplifting experiences that inspire, excite and enthuse.


You have taught and lectured at some of the best-reputed architecture schools worldwide. Is teaching still important to you? Yes, definitely. I remember discovering that teaching was also a learning experience for me. It’s reciprocal not only about what I know, but about what my students know too. Many who work in our office were previously my students. They may be nervous at first but given a degree of freedom their only obligation is to work hard and do their best. On pushing the boundaries Where others might take the safe option, your work has always been at the cutting edge, experimental, daring. Is this specifically the result of research? There should be no end to experimentation. I’ve learned from experience that without research you do not make progress or find solutions. When you experiment you always learn more than you bargained for. What motivates your work in other fields, such as furniture and fashion? I’m always interested in expanding my repertoire. My architecture often








innovation research


Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, 2013. Photo: Hélène Binet

Liquid Glacial Table, 2012, at David Gill Galleries

ABOVE: Manta Ray seat for Swaya & Moroni, 2014; BELOW: Manifesto vase for Lalique, 2014

Technologies used for cars and yachts were adapt-

doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the difficulties are

ed for our Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel. Designing


products is important for the studio as pieces can be experimental; they are quicker to execute

On her background and education

than buildings, inspire our creativity, and provide an opportunity to test ideas.

Did your teachers or parents try to dissuade you from architecture? Was it not

You’ve proved that it’s no longer only

considered unsuitable for a girl?

a man’s world but have you always felt

Not at all! When I was growing up in Iraq


in the 1960s there were many women ar-

It’s still a challenge for women to oper-

chitects. As in so many places at the time,

ate professionally and in practice I do still

there was an optimistic belief in progress.

experience resistance. I have always had

Architecture was a key element in build-

the determination to succeed, but have

ing a new national identity. These ideas

learnt to adjust my thinking every once in a while to fit the moment. In the last fifteen years

of change and liberation were critical to my development. My parents gave me the confi-

there’s been tremendous change and you see estab-

dence to try new things and encouraged my pas-

lished, respected female architects all the time. That

sion for discovery. My father’s interest in progress


“Wildly curving surfaces, overlapping forms and soaring cantilevers, these are restless spaces that demand our attention�

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London, 2013


was matched by my mother’s great sense of style.

what it would lead to but believed that all the experi-

She was the one who taught me to draw. My older

ments would perfect the project, no matter if it would

brothers shared this spirit of adventure and sug-

take 10 years for a 2D sketch to progress. I would say

gested I should become Iraq’s first woman astronaut!

our practice evolves now with advances in materials

I remember my aunt building a house in Mosul in

and design technologies, plus our clients are increas-

northern Iraq. The drawings and models the architect

ingly calling for radical solutions and institutions are

brought triggered something in me. But it wasn’t until

more prepared to innovate.

I was studying mathematics at university in Beirut that I seriously considered architecture.

Is London still the attraction it was in the 1970s? My own work has developed entirely because I live

You went to study at the AA in London in 1972. What

in London, which in particular has always encouraged

prompted that decision? What was special about

creativity. As an architect, one of the most important

the AA then?

things about London

My brother was study-

is the extraordinary

ing at Oxford and told me the Architectural Association


(AA) in London was doing interesting work so I decided to visit. Compared with Bagh-

“My own work has developed entirely because I live in London. This city has always encouraged creativity. London inspires projects that are unpredictable”

dad, London in the




and skills available. London also inspires projects that are unpredictable.


most European cities, it still has large gaps and the opportunity

early 1970s was a gloomy place. There were strikes

for major new urban intervention – as we saw with the

and power cuts. We sometimes only had electricity a

Olympic Park in 2012.

few hours each day. But the AA offered an exciting critical forum for the exchange of ideas bringing all

On the future

sorts of people together for discussion. The students and staff at that time have been seminal to the past

Your practice has expanded beyond the boundaries

thirty years of architecture. The late Alvin Boyarski –

of architectural design to many other fields. What

the fantastic former chairman of the Architectural As-

will you tackle next?

sociation – offered me my first platform.

I would love to build a city quarter, to use all I have learnt about creating public spaces, indoor and outdoor ar-

On her London studio

eas on a larger scale. We’ve learned to apply our new architectural theories and techniques to urbanism. We

Your studio has grown throughout its 35 years, from

could develop a whole group of buildings, each one dif-

a few people to 400 employees. How has your

ferent but logically connected to the next. An organic,

practice changed in that time?

continually changing range of interrelated buildings.

At the beginning of my career we were all workahol-

With this approach we can do something radically dif-

ics. With nobody paying attention to us, we developed

ferent from the early 20th-century theories of urbanism

our drawing and research skills. Often we didn’t know

that resulted in lifeless and disconnected chaos.


The life of a conductor by John Ovans

Harout Fazlian, conductor of the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra, talks blackouts and baton-waving as he takes us behind the scenes of his profession


“I think of conducting as like painting – a painter has a palette of many colours, while in an orchestra, a conductor has instruments. You have to be able to mix these colours, and to give your painting – your music – its different shades.”

There’s a job out there that involves stand-

manship. “It’s a very weird thing to be able to

ing on a tiny stage, wearing a tuxedo jacket,

convince your musicians to follow you,” he

and waving your arms around vigorously at a

muses. “In English we say ‘to conduct’, but in

large group of people. “Conducting is a very

French there’s an even better word, which

abstract profession,” Harout Fazlian tells

is ‘diriger’, to direct. It’s taking people some-

me when I query what it’s all about – and

where, and you have to have that special

I’m still none the wiser. But given the noises

energy, or else you’ll lose people.” On top

that consequently emit from the orchestra, I

of all this, Fazlian memorises the music and

know there must be method to such vigor-

conducts from the heart – although it’s not

ous gesticulatory madness. Fazlian is the ar-

always plain sailing as he recounts a recent

tistic director and principal conductor of the

encore in which he ‘completely blacked out’

highly successful Lebanese Philharmonic

and had to, with some difficulty, persuade

Orchestra, which is funded by the govern-

his first violinist to give him a glimpse of his

ment, and regularly plays to packed audi-


ences around the country, and indeed, the world.

Looking beyond borders, Fazlian speaks passionately about his belief in what an

“Anybody can move their hands, but you

orchestra has to offer on a global scale.

have to make music,” Fazlian says. “I think of

“I always say an orchestra is the best ambas-

conducting as like painting – a painter has a

sador to represent your country. Music is a

palette of many colours, while in an orches-

universal language, and more than looking

tra, a conductor has instruments. You have

at a painting or reading a poem, it’s the fast-

to be able to mix these colours, and to give

est way of communicating with people, be-

your painting – your music – its different

cause it just hits you, no matter where you’re

shades.” There’s another aspect to the role,

from. You’re not even thinking about it.

too, constituting control and a slice of show-

That’s the power of music.”



Two summer exhibitions reveal the private life of the legendary British photographer, costumier and set designer Cecil Beaton

Once you have come face-to-face with his circus-

society portraits are showing in a series taken from the

themed bed replete with unicorns, seahorses, bar-

Sotheby’s archive, curated by leading British interior

ley-twist posts and a statuette of Neptune, it quickly

designer Jasper Conran. Beaton used to frequently

becomes clear that they don’t make them like Cecil

attend parties at Wilton, a stately home owned by the

Beaton any more. Two exhibitions are currently run-

Pembroke family, and often coaxed his friends to pose

ning in parallel in the UK to allow the public a glimpse

for photographs here in flamboyant period costumes.

into a life that is absolutely worth glimpsing: that of this Oscar-winning costume designer and photographer

It is his private life, however, that unfolds inside the

who worked with American Vogue and Vanity Fair —

parallel Salisbury Museum exhibition, which contains a

and who most famously designed the sets for the film

veritable rainbow of relics from his houses Ashcombe

My Fair Lady — making Beaton one of Britain’s most

and Reddish. Beaton wrote of his first encounter with

legendary exports of the 20th century.

Ashcombe, ‘It was as if I had been touched on the head by some magic wand.’ Later filling the Georgian

This pair of exhibitions is part of a series that intends

manor with a magpie collection of sculptures, paint-

to explore significant British artists with links to particu-

ings, curiosities, and fancy dress costumes, Beaton

lar localities, and follows on from shows on Constable

sprinkled his own inimitable brand of fairy dust on it,

and Rex Whistler. At Salisbury’s Wilton House, Beaton’s

building what he referred to as, ‘An oasis of luxury and



Dorian Leigh in Modess because advert photographed at Reddish House, 1950s. Š Johnson and Johnson


A view of Ashcombe, painted by Whitsler, 1936

civilisation.’ His interiors minutiae likened his style of

While known for lavish hospitality — his visitor’s book,

living to his style of image-making, as if he lived inside

on display here, reveals a dazzling list of royalty, art-

one of his excessively detailed theatrical productions.

ists, and other guests paying testament to his role in the cult of celebrity – his neighbours also spoke of him

As one would expect, Beaton was certainly not be-

fondly for his engagement in village life, also record-

reft of character, being at once hilariously and loqua-

ed and presented here. For Beaton, his homes were

ciously vicious (he once described Katherine Hepburn

deep wells of creative replenishment, and against

as, ‘An obstreperous hoyden, with the rocking horse

extravagant recreations of his interiors and gardens,

nostrils and the corncrake, cockney voice’) and sensi-

today’s guests are lucky enough to be offered a sip

tive of spirit. The likes of vintage photographs, por-

from it – you’d assume, just as he would have wanted.

traits, original letters, diaries, and scrapbooks round the exhibition out into a fully immersive experience of

Cecil Beaton at Wilton continues until 14th September 2014 and

Beaton’s life, from his relationships with his lovers to

Cecil Beaton at Home:

his beautiful paintings of local children.

19th September 2014.

Ashcombe & Reddish continues until


“the subjective time in which you deal with yourself in the solitary experience of being a speck of sand in the desert�


East-West, West-East, 2014, steel. Photo Rik van Lent.

THE SPACE BETWEEN by Kasia Maciejowska

Richard Serra’s towering planes of steel measure time and space on a human scale in the scorching sands of Qatar

Lined up in quietude, gesturing between one horizon and another, four towering steel planks mark out a mile in the landscape of Ras Brouq nature reserve, 60 kilometres west of Doha. The new installation, conceived for the location, is classic Richard Serra – brutal, industrial, elegant, moving, and unrepentantly modern – as it waits night and day under desert skies for visitors to come and awaken its meaning. Named EastWest/West-East, the sequence marks a neat axis in a disorientating landscape. In Serra’s own words, “It not only describes your body as you move through the desert but measures your relation to the land and gives a direction in a non-directional space.”


Richard Serra by Matthew Sumner

“When I was out there doing my piece, no one ever walked through that pass, no one even drove a car through”

the commission to meeting leading Renaissance pa-

When initially invited by Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad

football and entertainment.”

trons the Medicis in the 15th century, commenting on the rarity of such an opportunity, and acknowledging with gratitude how unusual it is to be allowed to install within a nature reserve. “In my country, art comes after

bin Khalifa Al Thani in 2009 to install in the desert, Serra recalls, “I had no desire to do that”. After several

The 74-year-old American, born in San Francisco,

visits with an archeological guide, he was repeatedly

educated at Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Yale, is ada-

drawn to a particular spot. When he told H.H. Sheikh

mant that his sculpture remains about the medium

Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani about the location he final-

itself, as opposed to representing something else –

ly settled upon, the Father Emir was touched, as it was

including his country. “When I was invited to make a

a place his uncles had often taken him as a boy, where

piece in Washington with architect Robert Venturi they

antelope used to gather. “I could see in his eyes that

asked whatI thought of Venturi’s proposal to put flags

he was moved. He saw that I recognised a particular

on these pylons and my response was, ‘I don’t care

aura and significance here.” It took Serra two years

if it’s an American flag or a German swastika, I’m not

to consider the site and decide that his intervention

interested in art as patriotism – my sculpture is not a

would be to mark an axis there. The artist compared

patriotic gesture’.” The seriousness of his project, to


Passage of Time, 2014, steel.


One Ton Prop (House of Cards), 1969, lead. Photo: Peter Moore

Double Rift #3, 2011, paintstick on three sheets of double-laminated Hiromi paper. Photo: Robert McKeever

investigate sculpture itself and how it influences its

of a person when set in the grand frame of Mother

environment, can be felt around the works, through

Nature, and give each individual a way of contextualis-

their materiality and minimalism. Serra’s fervent anti-

ing themselves within the anonymising desert, a land-

ornamentalism is evident in the industrial character of

scape renowned to act as a mirror for the self.

his sculpture and it was no surprise to hear him say in Doha, “Most public art is terrible and it gives sculpture

Evoking four giant sundials from some ancient civilisa-

a bad name. I’m not into sculpture that is ornamen-

tion, the pillars communicate time as you move past

tal, that you pass by while

each one. “Anyone who

listening to music in the

walks that mile and walks

car, as you would a house or an advertisement. That’s for Las Vegas and it’s boring. I am interested in the

“The land itself prescribed the distance between each steel plane”

the mile back – whether or not they think it’s art or not – will have a different experience of time”. The time he

walking and the looking,

means is relative to the self,

and particularly in the time it

like an interior rhythm: “I’m

takes to walk and look. The duration and the physical

not talking about time on the clock, but the subjective

relation this journey has to one’s own sensibility.”

time that is the duration in which you deal with yourself in the solitary experience of being a speck of sand”.

Despite dwarfing the human form, the four planes of East-West/West-East function as measuring sticks that

Serra’s works invite a deep personal engagement,

give the body reference points within the epic scale

whether by their location out in the desert or by de-

of the desert. They bring out the inconsequential size

manding an extended attention span. East-West/West-


East and Passage of Time (a 2012 sculpture made

countered this, explaining that it depends on context;

especially for Alriwaq Doha exhibition space) both de-

“I’ve always been involved with ‘big’ as a force but I

mand commitment to travel from one end to another.

don’t think that scale and size is necessarily a virtue. In fact it can be a trap for artists because not every space

The East-West/West-East planes feel permanent as

can handle large objects”. The different heights and

they stand overseeing the vulnerable human bodies

the spacing of East-West/West-East’s four pillars are

that pass in the scorching sun. This same material-

a perfect example of how a specific site can define

ity also changes how space is felt in that part of the

the scale of a work for Serra, who sees the installa-

desert, as the rigid monoliths throw contrast onto soft

tion as taking shape according to the desert as much

human forms and the crumbly gypsum earth. The

as to himself; “I didn’t decide the spacing, the land it-

sculptor told us how it “contracts the space” of the

self decided it. I had a topographical map made so I

desert, meaning that it shrinks it to make it more con-

could understand what the land was actually doing.

ceivable by providing reference points. This capabil-

The place itself, its proportions and erosions, defined

ity to re-formulate space made Serra the first artist,

the place and height of each plate.”

as opposed to architect, to receive the prestigious President’s Medal from the Architectural League of

Two exhibitions in Qatar, at the QMA Gallery in Kata-

New York in April. Over the years, Serra’s metalwork

ra village and at the Alriwaq Doha exhibition space,

sculptures, in lead or in steel, have taken different

along with his existing sculpture 7 at the Museum of

“Most public art is terrible and it gives sculpture a bad name” shapes that invite certain behaviours, through which

Islamic Art, mean Serra is currently being celebrated

the viewer might re-experience a space. Playing with

in four different locations across the small nation. The

volumes, lines and geometries on a giant scale, he

retrospective in Katara shows drawings and sculp-

manipulates individual bodily experience and leads

tures from across 50 years, including the headline

the way in contemporary sculpture’s step down from

piece One Ton Prop (House of Cards), from 1969.

the pedestal into public territory, through which peo-

Most touching from this show are the black drawings

ple may swarm, pass, spend a moment, or walk in

that add a different dimension to our understanding

solitude. As all serious artists engaged with the pro-

of Serra’s preoccupation with simple solid shapes

gression of art through history and its responsibility

and a sense of weight. To escape gestural marks and

to pertain to the now, Serra is conscious of his role in

apply dense, abstract colour, Serra melts down oily

the evolution of sculpture. “You’re just a stone in the

pigment into a brick that he rubs firmly onto the pa-

wall, from the beginning of time through the Renais-

per using both hands. The result is a set of the most

sance and the 19th and 20th centuries, and you’re

opaque drawings imaginable, in black and white, that

trying to extend the syntax of what sculpture can be.”

speak about nothingness.

The magnitude of his works and industrial quality of

Two exhibitions, both entitled Richard Serra, at QMA Gallery, Katara

his materials makes the architectural comparison an

and Alriwaq Doha run until 6th July 2014. East-West/West-East, at

obvious one. Serra has come under fire from critics

Brouq Nature Reserve, and 7, at the Museum of Islamic Art, are per-

who accuse him of size for size’s sake, but in Doha he

manently on view.



Passage of Time, 2014, steel.

A SUNKEN VISION by Sheyma Bu Ali

The outstanding British architect Thomas Heatherwick has plans to set Abu Dhabi’s Al Fayah Park beneath the desert surface to create an eco-oasis

British designer Thomas Heatherwick’s name has

scape. This architect with work in various corners of

become, quite rightly, commonly associated with

the globe revealed last month that his next venture

striking, innovative design. Most people would re-

is the redevelopment of a park in the heart of Abu

member him as the man who designed the elabo-

Dhabi. Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation,

rate London 2012 Olympics Cauldron. The opening

the funding body behind the project, announced the

ceremony ended when

plans for the 125,000

the 204 petals, one for

square metre Al Fayah

each participating coun-

Park, due to open to the

try, were set ablaze,

public by early 2017.

coming together in one brilliant flame. Currently

Approaching the space

his slick new rendition

with a more environ-

of the iconic red double-


decker bus, the Route-

vision than has been

master, have been filling

usual in the Gulf, the

into London’s streets.

Park will feature play ar-


eas and exercise paths. Heatherwick Studio was established by the designer

There will be an organic fruit and vegetable garden,

in 1994 and has had commissions in cities including

which will supply the cafes and restaurants on the

Singapore, New York City and Kagoshima (Japan).

premises, along with a botanical garden of GCC-na-

His works are intensely site-specific and often poet-

tive flowers and plants. It will also have a dedicated

ic in their sensitive relation to the surrounding land-

public library, picnic area, mosque, outdoor cinema,


Al Fayah Park envisioned by Thomas Heatherwick


and indoor and outdoor arenas to host live performances, local festivals and community activities. Inspired




landscape, the park will

Such new ways of imagining space and utilising the environment have added much to an experimental urban development

The Helix Hotel, set to open in Zayed Bay in 2012, was to utilise 100 per cent recyclable polythene panels to gather energy from the sun and wind. But unfortunately, there has been no update

incorporate and recreate the natural environment.

on the project since 2010. Saadiyat Island, the enter-

Column structures with canopies made up of parts

tainment destination that will also be the address of

resembling cracked pieces of an arid ground will

the upcoming Louvre, Zayed National Museum and

create a shade under which people can spend time

Guggenheim, was planned to be ready by 2013; up-

protected from the intense sun. The shade will also

dated reports indicate that they will be open in 2015,

help in the irrigation of the planned gardens, reduc-

2016 and 2017 respectively. The Zayed National Mu-

ing the amount of water lost to evaporation, improv-

seum, designed by Foster + Partners, is to have natu-

ing the park’s energy efficiency.

ral cooling pipes aided by the building’s wing shaped towers.

This project is one of a few other starchitect-built, ultra-modern environmentally conscious projects in

While stalling has occurred in these highly ambitious

the works in Abu Dhabi. The strong Persian Gulf

plans, there is still hope that they will all come to frui-

sun, surrounded by water and wind, have neces-

tion. In the meantime, these new ways of imagining

sarily defined the plans for upcoming structures.

space and utilising the environment have added much

But many of these have not seen the light of day.

to a new, experimental urban development, pushing

Hopefully Al Fayah Park won’t have the same fate

the boundaries in terms of what has already been cre-

as some others.

ated in innovative architecture.



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Rose Red

by John Ovans

Karl Lagerfeld’s decoration of the Rose Ball 2014 brought an explosion of geometric shapes and primary colours inspired by the Russian Constructivists to the glitz of Monte-Carlo

‘I try to avoid charity,’ declared Karl Lagerfeld back in 2008. Yet five years later, the man, the legend, the incredible sound-bite machine was at the creative helm of the annual charity Rose Ball in Monte-Carlo, successfully spinning a Belle et Pop theme for a star-studded crowd in 2013. He was back for 2014, once again putting bake sales and bucket rattling on the back burner in favour of a creative direction that instigated the collision of two unlikely ideological perspectives, that of the wealthy elite at a paediatric health initiative, and the bleeding edge of communist revolution.


Rose Ball 2014 invitation illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld


Karl Lagerfeld’s Constructivist inspiration sheet for the Rose Ball 2014


The dining hall at the Rose Ball 2014

Taking his cue from the Russian artistic and architectural philosophy Constructivism, Lagerfeld this time created a Russian-themed ball

Taking his cue from the Russian artistic and architec-

with Lagerfeld-penned illustrations. For dinner, un-

tural philosophy Constructivism, Lagerfeld this time

bleached cotton tablecloths and napkins were print-

created a Russian-themed ball. Arriving at the time

ed with geometric patterns, with bouquets of roses

when the Bolsheviks came to power after the Octo-

and flowers perched in gradient-coloured vases in

ber Revolution of 1917, Constructivism was a wholly

tribute to star Soviet painter and theoretician Kazimir

new approach to making art that borrowed values


from the Communist ideology that it ultimately served. Rejecting traditional easel painting as a symptom of

Such an aesthetic is not unfamiliar to Mr Lagerfeld –

its opposition the bourgeoisie, it prioritised minimal

take, for instance, the esoteric interiors of his 1980s

abstraction and geometric space. Circles, squares

Monte Carlo apartment, all black rubber floors and

and lines dominated the mood board of Lagerfeld’s

gray walls, decked out entirely in Memphis furnish-

ball, with an on-stage décor cast in geometric figures

ings. It’s clear that while Lagerfeld’s revolutionist prin-

and flat colour areas. The luminous ceiling was swim-

ciples themselves are a little on the murky side, his

ming in shapes, while screens in the lobby pulsed

design manifestos have always remained top-notch.



The fashion world’s Lebanese darling is riding high after being made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. He opens up to Kasia Maciejowska about his personal approach to design, his intuitive draping technique, and his love for his homeland, as Houda Kabbaj photographs him at his Paris atelier.

A young man stands up to measure a shirt seam while an older woman sits stitching a collar. A rail of yellow and blue dresses stands behind the tables as rooftops glint with rain beyond the wall of windowpanes that have transformed one aspect of Rabih Kayrouz’s studio into a Parisian skyline. Taking a moment to step back, talking softly with his team, Kayrouz plays with a fabric as he feels for what shape his new collection might take. “From the first drape it’s a whole process. Nothing is studied in my designs, it’s all intuitive.” Such a natural way of working explains the easy mood and understated cool of the designer’s highly acclaimed collections. Although far from simple in their construction, his clothes convey a brand of modern femininity that is understated and clean. Challenging enough to interest a sophisticated fashion eye, the Maison Rabih Kayrouz style simultaneously manages to have the relaxed air and flattering cuts that give it everywoman



appeal. “The Rabih woman isn’t just a figure, she’s a person”, muses the designer. “She’s a woman who is strong enough to be strong

“I seduce these ladies with clothes, with dresses, with colours, with fabric”

and strong enough to be weak. I like this kind of woman who can play with who

fabrics and feel the knits they tell a story by themselves. It’s in my mind and I try to convey my ideas to my team.” This tactile, dexterous



into the sensuality of his style.

she is because she doesn’t care too much.” The Spring/Summer collection uses his love for drapThe intellectual-looking details in his collections –

ing and folding to craft soft, voluminous structures. “I

the experimental cuts and geometric pattern play

love the way that when you fold these fabrics you get

– suggest a more conceptual approach than the

this movement. This is my way of cutting. I was working

designer himself describes. Taking the traditional

to create shadows with the way things are construct-

draping technique most used in Haute Couture,

ed.” He’s referring to the Ray collection, which has a

everything begins with the fabrics for Kayrouz. His

weightlessness that suits its central theme, of light.

primary step is to commission them from Italy, and

In a palette of whites, palest pinks, silver, yellow and

once they arrive he drapes them on the mannequin

cobalt blue, Kayrouz combines fluid folds and asym-

to see how a form might evolve. “Once we see the

metric drapes with geometric cut-outs and structures.


The Ray Collection for Spring/Summer 2014 by Maison Rabih Kayrouz

The Barbès-Batroun Collection for Autumn/Winter 2014 by Maison Rabih Kayrouz


Dresses are lean and easy going, while skirts, tops and knitwear play with volume and sculptural shapes. “I’m always asked what’s Oriental in my work and I feel that

“From the first drape it’s a whole process. Nothing is studied in my designs, it’s all intuitive, I never plan anything”

it’s my draping and folding, the way the fabrics embrace the body in an intimate

bès-Batroun, it references an area of Paris densely populated by North Africans (Barbès), in counterpoint with the mellow seaside town north of Beirut where Kayrouz used to live

during the summer months (Batroun).

way.” Having won the respect of fashion critics from New York For Autumn/Winter this embrace comes inspired by

to Paris, the designer welcomes his renown for archi-

a quintessentially Oriental scenario – the traditional

tectural pieces. “It is correct as what I do is really an act

hammam. “I wanted to express this Oriental feeling

construction – I build shapes around the body.” Those

about the attitude of getting dressed, how you hold

shapes range from angular to flowing and feature layer-

yourself, how you hold your dress when coming from

ing that adds motion and detail. “I have my own way of

the beach or from a Turkish bath.” Togas, wraps and

cutting which gives my work its identity. But every sea-

robes swathe the body in a cool contemporary way

son is an evolution as my cuts gradually mature. They

that looks sporty as well as Arabesque. Named Bar-

take the collection to a new place each time.”



“I have my own way of cutting which gives my work its identity. But every season is an evolution as my cuts gradually mature”

Born in Lebanon in 1973, Kayrouz studied at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne between 1991 and 1994, before returning to Beirut to found his own couture label in 1998 and moving into ready-to-wear in 2012. Today, all the creative work takes place in Paris, at 38 Boulevard Raspail, formerly the Petit Theatre de Babylone, where the design team numbers 15. He visits Lebanon at the start of every season, choosing the right pieces for each client alongside them. “My clients are very loyal and many have become friends,” he tells me at the Beirut store, shepherding me towards a table covered in pots and spoons bearing Lebanon’s different honeys. As I’m given a tasting by the kind beekeeper who Kayrouz discovered one Saturday morning at Souk el Tayeb, Beirut’s gourmet market, the designer adjusts a dress on a client while she looks in the mirror, and recommends it without a belt and maybe in the other colour – the white and pink looks from this season’s catwalk can be found in lemon yellow and cobalt blue in the store. Every time you visit the Maison Rabih Kayrouz boutique you are greeted by a different spread on the round central table – be it breakfast, fruits, coffee, or honey. “I cannot host people here without offering food”, he says, revealing his Lebanese sense of hospitality, but also his association of food and fashion with feminine allure. “I seduce these ladies with clothes, with dresses, with colours, with fabric – just as I was always seduced as a child, in a way, by my aunts, my mother, my grandmother, by their clothes and their food. What I do is a continuation of that. It’s a seduction.”


THE LUXURY EDIT Selections goes shopping...

Jewel thong sandal in prune metallic calfskin with wood heel, Summer 2014, by Celine

Travertine crystal table, from Element series, by RaĂŤd Abillama

Serpentine perfume with bottle illustrations by Tracey Emin, by Comme des Garçons

Oyster Perpetual Milgauss watch in electric blue with green sapphire crystal, by Rolex

Ceramic blue petals bracelet, from Em Brace Let series, by Amal I. Muraywed


Zip Coccinelle transformable necklace and bracelet in white gold, diamonds, red spinels and onyx, from Palais de la Chance collection, by Van Cleef & Arpels

Limelight Exceptional Piece watch in white gold and diamonds, by Piaget

Rabbit in metal and PVC, from Animal House series, a charitable collaboration with women in Columbia, by Marni (all funds go to Associazone Sogni)

Saffiano print shoulder bag, Spring/Summer 2014, by Prada


ANATOMY OF A CLUTCH Accessories designer Nathalie Trad shares the technical drawing for her celebrated Polygonia clutch bag with Selections

The Polygonia by Nathalie Trad, Spring Summer 2014


NOTES FROM ITALY by Justin McGuirk

Sensible furniture defined this year’s Salone del Mobile as designers felt the pinch of Europe’s ongoing economic woes - but a handful of stand-out shows and innovations from emerging talents offered promising highlights

In recent years, the Salone del Mobile has felt more

In Vitra’s case, such tactics are linked to a panic that

than ever like a barometer of Italy – a test of Italian

the bottom is falling out of the office market. With de-

manufacturing in particular and the national econo-

mand for office systems waning, companies like Vitra

my in general. This year, the endless halls of Milan’s

are now shifting their attentions to the domestic mar-

furniture fairground in Rho were as busy as I’ve ever

ket, which accounts for its recent purchase of Artek,

seen them. It felt like business as usual. Even the

the Finnish purveyor of bent blonde wood. This is

new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, took a tour of the

Vitra’s ticket to the living rooms of Europe.

Kartell stand in a show of support. But the fundamental problems remain.

Having fully milked the legacy of Alvar Aalto over the last half-century or so, Artek does at least appear to

If anything, it was a more honest Salone. There

be moving forwards. Under the art direction of Hella

were less of the theatrical gimmicks and bombastic

Jongerius, it unveiled a new chair this year by Kon-

displays with which brands at first tried to bluff their

stantin Grcic, seemingly the safest pair of hands in

way through the economic crisis. At least no one’s

furniture design. Grcic’s Rival swivel chair displays

bothering to pretend anymore that times aren’t

his preference for angularity over elegance, with its

hard. But my instinct is that innovation is drying up.

splayed legs milled from a block of birch, but it was

One obvious sign that furniture houses are play-

solid and modern. Indeed, generally there seems to

ing it safe is the revival of aging classics. Vitra was

be a return to quiet, sensible furniture, epitomised by

a prime example, re-releasing Hans Coray’s Landi

the two wooden chairs released by Mattiazzi, one by

chair, a perforated aluminium number that dates

the Bouroullec brothers and the other by young Amer-

back to 1938.

ican designer Leon Ransmeier.


Artek Rival chairs by Konstantin Grcic

Uncino chairs by the Bourrellec brothers at Mattiazzi


Low leather-backed lounge chair by Maarten Van Severen for Lensvelt

Nathali du Pasquier for American Apparel


Amid such tendencies, the old maestri of Radical Design continue to cut extraordinary figures and continue to be paraded as paragons of Italian imagination. In the fair it was the return of Gufram, the 1960s brand of Technicolor pop objects. Over at the Triennale museum it was yet more picking over of the work of Enzo Mari and Andrea Branzi and their generation of 1970s radicals. You wonder how many years Milan can keep trotting out these maestri. And yet, though I’ve been critical of such tendencies in the past, the more Italian design sinks to its knees, the more nostalgic for it I become. And these Triennale shows are often my favourite Milan event.

Raw Edges kitchen at Ceaserstone

a little show curated by Martino Gamper in an apartment in Sant’ Ambrogio, invited a group of young designers to work with artisans in the Veneto region

In any event, even when you think the old heroes have been fully consigned to history, they pop back into fashion. This was the case with one of the few women of the Memphis group, Nathalie Du Pasquier, who was back this year with a set of designs for clothing label American Apparel. Memphis has been creeping back into fashion in recent years and now appears to have entered the mainstream. It was inevitable that people would tire of all this austerity chic. In the fuori Saloni, the countless fringe events that pepper the city during the furniture fair, the one that sticks in my mind was From-To, a little show curated by Martino Gamper in an apartment in Sant’ Ambrogio. Here, Gamper had invited a group of young designers – many of them London-based – to work with artisans in the Veneto region. The resulting products were disRaw Edges bath at Ceaserstone


Phone Bloks by Dave Hakkens

Dave Hakkens’ Phoneblok mobile phone concept – a smart phone in which every component is modular and replaceable – is the kind of innovation one wants to see much more of


De Natura Fosilium vase by Forma Fantasma

Low chair in aluminium by Maarten Van Severen for Lensvelt

played throughout the apartment, designed by the ar-

terial research is always impressive, though their styl-

chitect Luigi Caccia Dominioni, who is still going at 101

ing at times errs towards the fey for my liking.

years old. And it was the experience of this sprawling home, with its galleried mezzanine and different ter-

The Lambrate district was more populous than ever,

razzo floors in every room that was so unforgettable

now fully established as a semi-official Dutch colony in

– testament to the charmed bourgeois existence of

Milan. It seems there is no number of vast warehouses

some lucky mid-century Milanese. The show itself was

that the Netherlands cannot fill with aspiring young de-

invitation only and no photography was allowed. The

signers. At the established end, Lensvelt was reissu-

reasoning behind this was to aim the products at po-

ing a complete line of the late Maarten Van Severen’s

tential manufacturers, who lose interest if a potential

furniture, and it was as strong a showing of pure mimi-

product has already been published. If by the time this

malism as I can remember. At the graduate end, De-

article appears there are no images of the show, that

sign Academy Eindhoven’s show, Self Unself, was less

is why.

aesthetic than usual and more focused on social practice. The stand-out project was Dave Hakkens’ Phone-

Elsewhere, the Palazzo Clerici proved a popular hub of

blok mobile phone concept – a smart phone in which

activity, with a series of events and exhibitions organ-

every component is modular and replaceable. It is the

ised by Joseph Grima, Z33 and others. Grima was try-

antidote to a disposable product culture and may yet

ing out an algorithmic publishing machine that collated

become a game-changing product in its own right.

transcriptions of public conversations with any related Twitter activity and spat out a little newspaper. Upstairs

This modular phone is the kind of innovation one

there was strong work as ever from Raw Edges, who

wants to see so much more of in Milan. Granted, the

designed a giant kitchen island out of Caesarstone

Salone is built around furniture, but if it could just get

quartz, and FormaFantasma, who displayed objects

beyond this obsession with chairs and with the health

made of basalt from Mount Etna. Some of this solid

or otherwise of the “Made in Italy” brand, it might en-

lava was turned into vases, hand-blown like glass, or it

sure its relevance to the broader design culture for

became tables and objets d’art. Formafantasma’s ma-

the foreseeable future.


Selections at Salone

Light e-motion by Marcel Wanders This installation of anthropomorphic chandeliers for Barovier & Toso at the Cloisters of the Basilica of San Simpliciano

We present our furnishing favourites from Salone del Mobile. Because a chair is never just a chair.

won our hearts instantly and once we’d heard the designer explaining, “It is our responsibility to be magicians, to be jesters, to be alchemists, to create hope where there is only illusion, to create reality where there are only dreams”, we were totally gone. The dancing light sculptures, manipulated by an invisitable maestro puppeteer, set themselves a grand task: to ‘describe how emotion is’.

Light Air at Kartell Eugeni Quitlett was aiming for an illusory effect when designing his charming retro Light Air lamps. Suspended on a frame and in a winning set of off-pastel hues, the design is minimal and modern but generates a soft, diffused glow – in our view, a perfect combination.


Stellar seats at Edra Brazilian design star brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana amused with their new Bastardo sofa - which they say is “a piece with a soul” - on show alongside their cushty spaghetti-esque Vermelha chair at Edra. Sitting in formation nearby on the stand were the Rose chair, Masanori Umeda’s pretty piece from 1990, and Francesco Binfarè’s Sofà here translated into a chaise longue, along with Jacopo Foggini’s popular ‘50s-look Gina chair, and his grungy ombré Alice armchair. It was a gallery of hits.

Takao Inoue’s Tampopo lights Using one of nature’s magical little details to gorgeous effect, Takao Inoue cast dandelion seed heads in blocks of acrylic to form his Oled Tampopo lights (tampopo is Japanese for dandelion), which became one of the Salone’s hits on social media. Inoue is a cinematographer but recently turned his hand to design, inspired by the light play of Shiro Kuramata’s work, with beautiful results.

Raf Simons for Kvadrat When creative director at Dior Raf Simons created a line of furnishing fabrics for Danish textile company Kvadrat earlier this year there was inevitably quite a fuss. Having seen his functional fluorescents and salt’n’pepper weaves up close we can understand why. The asymmetric campaign photographs by artist Anne Collier give the collaboration an extra edge and are perfectly in keeping with the sporty 1990s style that Simons has been pushing at Dior.


Nostalgia and street culture with Rana Salam by Kasia Maciejowska

As the best-known graphic designer in Beirut, the red lipstick-wearing, Vespa-riding, product-designing Rana Salam created a special cover for this issue. She sat down with Kasia Maciejowska to explain her new direction and talk graphics in the Middle East now


Rana Salam is like the mama of Lebanese graphic

traditional Islamic art, aiming to show budding design-

design. After studying at the Royal College of Art

ers how to go about building a visual language for to-

in London from 1992 to 1994, she built her name

day that is rooted in vernacular style. “It will be very

around the style she had developed there, which

practical, so showing people how to apply what they

re-worked the Lebanese iconography that scat-

create to products like book covers, graphic pieces,

tered the country in the mid-twentieth century. Her

homewares.” She has also built a special shop win-

pared back take on kitschy graphics and colourful

dow with an atelier theme, with school chairs and a

Arabic lettering have been applied to fabrics and

mood board, showing how they work upstairs above

homewares ever since, and defined the mood of

the shop. “It’s important that the people who have

restaurants, the best known being Comptoir Libanais. Creating graphics and logos for brands and venues for bread and butter, Salam moved back to Beirut

been successful share their knowledge with the new generation of designers and to show leadership, especially in somewhere like Beirut.”

four years ago and in 2014 is figuring out how to take

The question of how to Arabise

her signature style for-

graphic design, to de-


velop a native iconography


Since she popula-


rised local imagery

and relevant, is

and icons, making

a recurrent one

them cool again

across the Mid-


with her punchy

dle East. Such

pop taste, the

a task can seem

fashion for us-

elusive, but for Salam

ing retro styling

the key is practical research

in graphics and branding from the region means appropriations of her look are now everywhere. How should she redefine her brand then? “It’s been more than 20 years since I

and simply looking around. “It’s important to stay constantly in touch with current affairs and with trends, both in terms of what people are reading and talking about and in terms of fashion and style.”

developed my look, and clients still ask me for it all the time – to mimic certain things that they’ve seen

Working on a restaurant in Dubai at present, she has

from various stages. But I want to develop it now

abandoned her staple source material of nostalgia

and contemporise it more – to keep my own style

and is sourcing everything from today. “Nostalgia is

but move forward, this is the challenge for me now.”

powerful because it plays on your emotions, and it works every time, but I’ve done it for too long so now I

During Beirut Design Week she’s giving a workshop

love looking at street life because street culture is the

on creating contemporary designs through observing

richest source.” For this current project she is merging



“It’s important to stay constantly in touch with current affairs and with trends, both what people are reading and talking about, and in terms of fashion and style”

the mood of Basta, the vintage furniture market area

hotpants is just brilliant. I’ve always been obsessed

in Beirut, with references from London. For another,

with tribes. Plus nothing is rational here. It’s all against

with make-up artist Bassam Fattouh, she’s designing

the grid! My design is Beiruti in that way. It’s emotional.

packaging for an eyes and lips compact called Nos-

I don’t work to the grid philosophy.”

talgie d’Orient. “It’s like a cigarette box for an eyeliner, lipstick and concealer. It’s the Middle East in a little box

So how does she perform her magical transposition

– it’s very cool.”

of rough details from the streets into an expensive product? “Slick it up, refine it, take the best parts and

Salam says she loves Beirut for its sensuality and cul-

reduce them to their essence. This is stylisation and

ture clash. “The mix of women in hijab and others in

how you turn source material into desirable designs.”



With his eponymous label, Fameed Khalique champions the most exciting and extraordinary materials for the interior design world When it comes to succeeding in the workplace, go-

technic, where he pitched the idea of producing the

ing with your gut is the kind of impressive-sounding,

‘world’s biggest fashion show’ – a goal that, astonish-

sock-it-to-‘em idiom that many would like to live by,

ingly, he went on to achieve, by getting on the phone

yet seldom do. But for Fameed Khalique, it’s the only

to Bob Geldof and planting the seed for Fashion Aid,

way he knows how to do business, and as a result,

which was held in the Albert Hall to an audience of

it’s made his eponymous label one of London’s lead-

5000, and featured 18 of the world’s top design-

ing suppliers in finishes at the top end of the mate-

ers. The intervening years saw an expansive career

rials market. “I believe that if something elicits an

in fashion and design, eventually heading up sales

emotional response, then it has something special,”

and marketing at Alma Leather alongside his brother,

he says, “and it will also

before launching his own

move someone else.” As

company in 2008.

an emotional philosophy, it strikes you in its simplicity. “When I first started my company I had amassed experience with some ma-

“All I had to go on was my emotional response towards the things I was seeing”

terials,” he says, “but had

The excitement and ambition






continues to impress on the scope of his work to-

limited knowledge about others – say eglomise, mar-

day, and he talks about the process of his new embroi-

ble and stone. All I had to go on was the emotional

dery collection as, “A bit like a kid being thrown into

response I had towards the things I was seeing.”

a candy shop – I went a little mad from all the sugar!”

Khalique’s journey to the top leaves in its trail something of a chequered résumé, which began with a sixth-form college fashion show in Leicester, in the UK. He enrolled in a fashion course at a local poly-


Clockwise from top left: Chella textiles, Gatsby Riviera print; malechite and tiger’s eye from Precious Stones collection; Waterproof Art Panel; amethyst from precious stones collection.

Glossy gold aluminium tiles sourced by Khalique

He began by visiting the workshop in India that embroiders for the world’s top luxury fashion brands. “I wanted to create a collection that was inspired by couture embroidery techniques but making them relevant and useful for in-

Whether weaving techniques from Laos or hammered brass from Morocco, Khalique scoops up craft practices to bring home to his studio in London’s Clerkenwell

teriors,” he says. “This first

which displayed characteristic bravado in an aesthetic shift from the sculptural to the pictorial. Patterns are at the forefront, with geometric shapes, checked designs



graphics rolling out across luminous grids and gradients.

collection definitely has a fashion slant, as I wanted to show as many different

Khalique’s travel experiences are something that

techniques as possible - be it embroidery on leather,

have borne fruit for his label. Whether taking weav-

or using feathers, or on copper-woven textiles.”

ing techniques from Laos or hammered brass from Morocco, Khalique scoops up craft practices and ma-

Unusual, unique and exotic materials have become

terials along the way to bring home to his studio in

the identifiable signature in his portfolio, with collec-

Clerkenwell, London. And once his passport is back

tions that make use of own-label leathers – the core

in his drawer, he gets to work - armed with ever-grow-

material of his business – as well as high performance

ing skills and knowledge, Khalique is never afraid of

fabrics, semi-precious stones, and fabrications incor-

a challenge. “I’m not an interior designer,” he states,

porating copper wires and technical fibres. Earlier in

“but I very much see our role as being there to in-

the year, he premiered his collaboration in industrial

spire designers to create spaces that are exceptional

stone design with Lithos Design at Salone in Milan,

through the use of extraordinary materials.


A peak into the diary of Nicholas Chrisostomou In the first of his diary series for Selections, party man extraordinaire and gent about the Middle East regales us with tales from a distinguished dinner party in Beirut


For a city brimming with individuality I can’t help wonder-

James tie and Church’s shoes? The latter felt more civi-

ing why so many of Beirut’s most prominent ladies sport

lized but the former was more me - so I opted for the for-

a Rolex. Not that Rolex watches are not exquisite speci-

mer and wheeled out the canary yellow brogues, much to

mens of horlogerie, on the contrary, they are quite beau-

the approval of the gathered throng.

tiful. But there are so many other divine timepieces to choose from. This phenomenon appears to span all age

What I love most about dinner parties is the conversation

groups, from young fashionistas on the first rung of the

and this night was no exception. I chatted with a mens-

career ladder right up to high-powered executives and

wear tailor about his stint on MTV Lebanon’s Dancing

company bosses. Some surely must have asked Daddy

With The Stars, which met with heckling from the pink

to fund their extravagant acquisitions since we’re not

haired stylist seated next to me. The country’s political

talking about common or garden watches here, more

situation was a subject of hot discussion, with many pres-

like the rose gold or diamond encrusted top of the line

ent feeling that some sort of under-the-table deal must

eye wateringly pricey variety. This came to my attention

have already been agreed because the unstable situa-

at a rather select dinner party recently held at Indigo at

tion could surely not continue past Ramadan. There was

Le Gray, undoubtedly the city’s swishest hotel, hosted by

the aforementioned Rolex moment when I asked all

Beirut’s most energetic and much admired Ambassador,

the ladies to show their wrists so I could observe if any

I wheeled out the canary yellow brogues, much to the approval of the gathered throng and attended by a veritable who’s who of Beirut’s fashion

was wearing a watch by a different maker, just for fun. I

fraternity. This was a gathering of designers, magazine

had a fascinating discussion with a friendly restaurateur

owners and included a stylist with pink hair, all invited to

about his establishment where every day different ladies

break bread with his Excellency and meet the latest ec-

comes from different Lebanese villages to cook tradition-

centric Englishman in town, me.

al dishes – the much-loved Tawlet, in Mar Mikhael. Then after someone unexpectedly tapped a spoon on his

I wasn’t appraised by my PA of that night’s guest list until

glass I was thrust into giving a short unprepared speech!

just a few hours before kick-off, and when I discovered the identities of some of the Lebanese glitterati I would

That’s the thing about Beirut in my view - many of the

be introduced to in a matter of hours, I experienced a mild

city’s movers and shakers look unapproachable but

bout of fashion fright. This was exacerbated by the discov-

when you get up close and personal, most are out-

ery that the invitation circulated by the Embassy said the

standingly warm and friendly. This is testament to the

dinner was “In honour of Nicholas Chrisostomou, owner

city’s drive and continuous determination to survive.

of Coco Latté”, the first time my name had ever been

It knows that to move forwards it must include new

mentioned on a formal Ambassador’s invitation. I felt like

people. Beirut is unique in this respect, not just in the

James Bond on a covert fashion mission for her Majesty.

Middle East but in the world, and this welcoming and

Should I run with the Paul Smith brogues, Vivienne West-

transience gives the city its infectious spirit, which had

wood shirt and Warren Kade dinner jacket? - Or sport an

me addicted within hours of my first visit. There is no

altogether more formal ensemble of a Dolce & Gabbana

city like Beirut on the planet, and my canary yellow

three piece pinstripe suit, Gieves & Hawkes shirt, Richard

brogues have seen a few.



PLUS TOWERS The new highrise set to mark the historic landscape of Downtown Beirut

Plus Properties is already responsible for several

fectly located for shopping, drinking and dining, while

iconic buildings on the Beirut skyline, and now its new

two retail floors and a top-of-the-range gym also span

project, located in the heart of the capital, is seeking

the buildings themselves. Security within the complex

to further refine the city. The unmistakeable duo of

is also paramount, with 27/7 CCTV monitoring and un-

the Plus Towers can be found in the hub of Martyr’s

derground parking, as well as visitors’ parking.

Square, and were designed by prominent international architecture studio Arquitectonica. Playing with

The Plus Towers are lifestyle-orientated in more ways

light and shadows to create a ‘second skin’ that fea-

than simply luxury – best of all is the way that green

tures distinctive terracotta elements, the towers show

thinking has been an integral factor in the design

a genuine commitment to luxury contemporary design

process, as Plus Properties seeks to create what is

– and as a result they are currently competing in the

very much a green real estate project. Incorporating

Best Architectural Design category in the upcoming

innovative sustainable design elements including the

R.E.A.L Lebanon awards.

efficient use of energy, water and other resources, as well as reduction of waste, pollution and environ-

Boasting sea and mountain views that can be enjoyed

mental degradation, the towers are proudly amongst

from private terraces, the light-filled, spacious pent-

the first few buildings in Beirut to be environmentally

house apartments scale 13 residential floors that were

friendly across many facets. Residents can also sleep

designed to optimise the contemporary living experi-

better at night knowing that their health and wellbe-

ence. The apartments – all fitted with state-of-the-art

ing have been prioritised through the use of non-toxic

furnishings – vary from 2, 3, and 4 bedroom spaces,

building materials.

ranging from 155 square metres to 555 square metres, meaning there is something for everyone, from

Martyr’s Square is regarded by many as the ‘Gate to

extended families to young singles looking for an in-

Beirut’. Plus Towers is ultimately intended not simply to

dependent living space.

be just buildings, but more as a neighbour to the likes of the Blue Mosque and the crumbling egg-shaped

Adjacent to Solidere’s ‘arts quarter’ Saifi Village and

cinema, to be an iconic new monument within this his-

the souks of Downtown, as well as the vibrant bars

toric area, seamlessly becoming part of the city whilst

and restaurants of Gemmayzeh, the towers are per-

resolutely making a statement in design.


With its emerging middle class, commodities boom, and slowly growing economy, the coming rise of Africa has been well documented in recent years. Less covered is its nascent design scene. While progress across the continent is slow, and many old problems are still endemic, it is progress nonetheless, particularly in manufacturing and service economies. Optimism is at the heart of this year’s edition of the Africa Design Furniture by DNA, winners of the First Prize

Award, a competition launched by Moroccan based designer Hicham Lahlou. The first of its kind, the award was nonetheless competitive for all the aspiring talents


who participated. Heading up the jury was Danilo di Michele, the founder of the international advertising agency DDM advertising. Other members of the committee included Gilda Bojardi, the

by Alberto Mucci

editor of Interni, an Italian magazine of interior design and probably the most important publication in the trade, as well as Asma Chaabi, a progressive Moroccan politician and the first woman in

The first edition of the Africa Design Award explores a continent’s emerging scene

the country to ever be elected as mayor of a city. The Africa Design awards were open to all, whether individuals or associations, that have a direct or indirect link to the African continent. The only condition was that the work presented relates to the theme ‘Africa in movement and its desire to move forward’. First Prize was awarded to DNA (Design Network Africa), from South Africa, with runners up being Jeff Maina, from Kenya, Mohamed Sekou Ouattara, from Burkina Faso, and Maria Haralambidou, from Malawi.The Young Talent Prize went to to Sofia Bennani and Alexandra Singer-Biederman, followed by Houda Rahmani, and Karima Elkhider, all from Morocco. The Coup de Coeur Prize was awarded to Maria Haralambidou, from Malawi, followed by Babacar Niang M’Bodj, from Senegal, and Cedric Nzolo, from the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Pendulum No.9 by Ranya Sarakbi at SMOgallery


MENA’s Creative Capital by Kasia Maciejowska

As international headlines continue to foretell the demise of Beirut, the city itself is celebrating its own creativity and collaborating to strengthen it with Beirut Design Week. Just some of this year’s international guests include the artist Mona Hatoum, fashion journalist Hilary Alexander, curator at the V&A Museum Rowan Bain, and designer at Philips Rik Runge. Selections wades through the events, talks to the founders, and guides you through the week with our map overleaf.

Doreen Toutikian

Maya Karounouh

Beirut Design Week (BDW) is not a

seeing organisation. Her other half in

design fair but more like a festival, as

the venture is Maya Karounouh, who

much for participants as it is for the

previously set up two branding design

general public or a niche audience

agencies Cleartag and TAGbrands

of collectors. This is largely down to

having studied architecture and art

the vision and efforts of its co-founder

history; BDW is something of a CSR

Doreen Toutikian whose priorities lie

project for TAGbrands. This dynamic

with the design community itself, hav-

pair of focused women believes in

ing formerly worked as a designer af-

Lebanon as a cultural hub and bub-

ter training in Glasgow and Cologne,

bling creative centre of the Middle

before founding the MENA Design

East. As a result, the programme of

Research Centre, the festival’s over-

exhibitions, talks, workshops and


Fractal Light by White sur White

Architectural CGI by The Other Dada

Handwork at Sarah’s Bag

One plus One see-saw by White sur White

Spring Summer 2014 jewellery collection by Rosa Maria

Magma Light Fixtures by Ghassan Salameh

Tree of Life wall hanging by Bokja

Of course we want to encourage cultural exchange between Lebanon and the rest of the world and hope BDW might inspire other countries in the region to build their own design culture

open studios is geared towards boosting commuPosters by Wonder8

nication between different segments within design in Beirut and the wider region, as well as bringing in international contributions to inspire and stimulate the local conversation. Beirut the crossroads, Beirut the political melting pot… these clichéd summaries still ring true and can be felt in the creative output produced by the city.

Toio light by Achille and Pier Castiglioni for Flos at Lightbox

Til leotard and Ralin skirt from by Nour Hage SS14

But in recent years there has been a concerted push among artists and designers to develop creative practices that are meaningful to Lebanon. Quite how that can be done when the country itself is inherently so polyphonic is a big question, but Toutikian elaborates: “Many of the influences of nearby cultures, as well as colonialism, have had their imprint on our current design culture. Most of our design schools in universities have imported curricula from the West, but for the past decade, there has been a conscious shift to create design that the Lebanese can truly identify with. This ongoing process and the current quest among the Lebanese to redefine their own design culture is what makes the contemporary context so exciting.” The well-founded belief of Toutikian and Karounouh that Beirut is a regional, rather than just a national creative hub means their intention is to have a positive influence beyond the Lebanese borders. “Of course we want to encourage cultural exchange between Lebanon and the rest of the MENA region,

87 Saint Louis crystal chandelier by Lux Lab

Arik Levy lighting for Vibia at Lumiere Group

and with the rest of the world. We also hope BDW

tour of artisanal workshops such as leather-workers

might inspire other countries in the region to build

and jewellery-makers in Bourj Hammoud can catch

their own design culture.”

it again this year, and Le Gray hotel is hosting the week’s best opportunities for real discussion with

That Hilary Alexander, leading fashion journalist of

its Designer Dinners, where you can engage a mix

international standing, is coming especially to speak

of local and overseas talent in some serious chat.

at BDW reveals how much the event has grown since being launched in 2012. The former Fashion

As last year, the week is organised with a focus on a

Director of British newspaper the Telegraph will talk

different part of town each day; moving from Down-

about how different modes of dress from around the

town and Saifi Village on Monday 9th June, through

world, from Bhutan to Mongolia, and Russia to Peru,

Achrafieh, Gemmayzeh, Hamra, Mar Mikhael, and

become glamorised through the fashion industry.

Bourj Hammoud over the following days. Selections

She was invited as part of an expanded focus on

is hosting an event at Carwan gallery, to celebrate

fashion at BDW to celebrate the establishment of

the week and the launch of this Design Issue. Car-

the fashion design program at LAU. That she said

wan is exhibiting designs by Lebanese product de-

yes, especially during this time of off-putting interna-

signer Carlo Massoud and Italian architect Vincenzo

tional press coverage on Lebanon, indicates grow-

de Cotiis, two of the outstanding names on the ros-

ing belief in the event and trust in its founders. Talks

ter of Beirut’s most exciting luxury design gallery.

That Hilary Alexander said yes, especially during this time of off-putting international press coverage on Lebanon, indicates growing belief in the event and trust in its founders

by Rowan Bain, print curator at the V&A Museum in London, and Rik Runge, designer at Philips Healthcare do the same. Toutikian sees these international guests (of whom there are 15 in all) as playing an essential role in expanding the festival’s audience beyond the design community to the wider public. For those who prefer to look than to listen, the three headline exhibitions are of Danish Architecture, Dutch Design, and Newcomers, showcasing local up and coming designers. For something more participatory, those who missed last year’s


Hilary Alexander

Mona Hatoum

1st floor -Ataya Bldg. - Sadat Str. - Hamra - Beirut - Lebanon Tel./Fax: +961 1 862 662 - Mobile: +961 3 834 134 Email: - Website: Facebook: - Twitter: @Youssef_Kamoun

facebook page: Roula Kehdi Creations

instagram: roulakehdi

FACE TIME by John Ovans

#NotABugSplat is a creative awareness campaign by French art collective JR to counter US foreign policy in Pakistan

A bug splat: the phrase is quick, efficient, visceral. The

pointedly anti-anonymous. The artists’ statement

term is a piece of military slang that deftly encapsu-

states, “Humans appear as disposable bugs when

lates the dehumanisation of war, referring to Preda-

viewed through a drone camera. We changed this.

tor drone operations that view casualties through

Now, a drone will see an actual face of a child, creat-

grainy video streams, so far away that they resemble

ing dialogue, and possibly, empathy.” The collective

crushed insects. In April, a collective of artists congre-

took their cue from French artist JR’s global partici-

gated in the rural Pakistani province of Khyber Pak-

patory art project, the Inside Out movements, which

htunkhwa, where attacks regularly bring tragedy, to

promotes individuals and causes to raise awareness

give a literal face to the victims with a project entitled

about the devastating effect of Obama’s light-footprint

#NotABugSplat. An installation featuring a gigantic

foreign policy, which is believed to have resulted in

portrait of a child – whose family were allegedly killed

the deaths of more than 2,400 people in five years,

by drone operators in the region – is sprawled across

according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a

the fields, easily viewable by operator cameras and

UK-based non-profit organisation.


Spider light by Niko Koronis


DESIGN THINKING by Kasia Maciejowska

Truly contemporary design - which engages with the now - is about problem-solving, whether designing products, buildings, websites, or interaction pathways. Designers today enjoy more technological support than ever, but are simultaneously faced with their own demise as computers continue to encroach on their profession. Niko Koronis, professor of Design & Architecture at Domus, came to Lebanon this Spring to chair a round table discussion with Marc Baroud, head of Design at ALBA, Cyrille Najjar, founder of White sur White design studio, and designer Marc Dibeh, on the subject of Challenging Design.

Niko Koronis

Marc Baroud

Cyrille Najjar

Marc Dibeh

“Designers are faced with huge changes in terms of

It was Hélène

Abtour, Educational Counsellor for

production, technology, everything. We are entering

Laureate Universities in Lebanon and Syria, who in-

a new era and this brings with it its own aesthetics

vited Koronis to make the trip from Milan. Prior to the

and its own codes”. This proclamation made by Niko

round table he gave a lecture at Alba as part of Ab-

Koronis was the one thing that all the designers sitting

tour’s scheme to give design students in Lebanon the

around the table could agree on at the Challenging

opportunity to participate in competitions and confer-

Design debate. With their differing experiences and

ences, running now for four years. Koronis is not only

areas of expertise, Koronis, Marc Baroud, Cyrille Naj-

an academic but practices as a designer under his

jar, and Marc Dibeh each had their own views on the

own name, recently exhibiting at Venice Biennale and

challenges facing contemporary design. Discussing

Milan Triennale. Before his time at Domus he was a fel-

the subject at Eklekta Gallery, the four touched on is-

low at Central Saint Martins, London, and a researcher

sues of 3D printing, collaboration, new production sys-

at the Alvar Aalto Foundation, Helsinki, having previ-

tems, and design’s uncertain future.

ously received his PhD from the Architectural Associa-


Brass light fixture from 2+2 series by Marc Baroud

tion, London. Talking about his recent designs, he de-

After the debate, Dibeh, who has a solo show at Art

scribes a suspension lamp that is structured like a 3D

Factum gallery this month, explains that for him design

matrix of 68 planes of Plexiglas, and a pair of wooden

is about storytelling, and in his own work he tries to

chairs designed with the latest CAD (Computer Aided

integrate a sense of humour. His recent mirrors series

Design) programmes but handmade in Italy – “Using

called Please Don’t Tell Mum took a playful approach

the newest technology to create something that looks

to the theme of Spectrum for a group show earlier in

and feels very natural.”

the year, having been inspired by when he acciden-


One plus One furniture by White sur White

tally smashed a mirror. On the subject of critical design

the world forwards. To do this they rely on the same in-

he is keen to distinguish between the collectable ob-

terdisciplinary approach that Dibeh referred to, mixing

jects he creates for galleries and the solution-driven

engineering, architecture, programming, and so on,

design thinking that addresses the challenges of tech-

in different combinations to best suit each brief. Proj-

nology and services today. In the latter case, he says,

ects to date include working with Yamaha to develop

“The designer becomes a transcriber for all the pro-

their musical instruments and designing a software

fessionals around him – the sociologist, the client, the

that enables quadriplegics to control computers with

manufacturer – and like a conductor he takes all this

their eyes. Despite such a progressive focus on tech-

different information and transcribes it from 2D into 3D

based solutions, White sur White is not above rede-

or whatever dimension the solution demands.”

signing the humble chair – although not for high-end collectors. The studio’s new One plus One range is

This hybridisation is precisely why the role of the de-

an affordable modular furniture system that responds

signer is changing from solo star to a problem-solving

to the changing needs of real homes now and in the

role. As Cyrille Najjar describes his company’s proj-

future. The line can be produced in store based on

ects, his back catalogue is full of inventions that push

demand, so there is no stock, making the production


line ultra lean. For design to stay relevant, it must re-

this spirit Najjar set up Fab Lab in Beirut, to provide a

spond to the realities of the contemporary market in

DIY space in which both the public and designers can

this way, whether that means how we live now or new

make products by hand or using 3D printers, or sim-

tech production methods.

ply come to develop their skills. For Koronis, this open culture is Beirut’s ticket to building a voice on the in-

“Product design as we knew it ten years ago is over.

ternational design stage: “Without the open nature of

In the near future the designer will be the program-

digital culture Beirut would never be able to compete

mer”, exclaims Dibeh, whose sentiment of uncer-

because it doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure.

tainty is echoed by Koronis when he adds, “I wish I

But now designers can be supported by a distributed

knew what’s coming but the aesthetics of each new

community all over the world.”

era only comes after a certain period of experimentation.” Although 3D printing will bring production

Marc Baroud, interior architect and product designer,

into the home and enable everyone to play design-

pushed ALBA (Académie Libanaise Des Beaux-Arts)

er, the poor finish and style that 3D printed objects

to change its design school, of which he is now in

currently have means professional designers still

charge. “I came up with a new programme that is

“Product design as we knew it ten years ago is over. In the near future the designer will be the programmer”

have a few years – probably a few decades – be-

based around design thinking and is tailored to our

fore becoming archaic. “This is now one challenge

region.” While he acknowledges that tech is the future

for designers”, says Koronis, “to take the method of

of design, he nevertheless promotes the importance

3D printing and make its aesthetic palatable to the

of handcraft and the role that slow design still has to

consumer. At the moment it can’t compete with the

play. “In Lebanon we have fantastic craftsmanship and

results of mass production.” As Najjar clarifies, “3D

I don’t want it to disappear. We also have good creativ-

printing isn’t a viable solution for now but it is symp-

ity and problem solving is already strong in our culture.

tomatic of design now and its loss of scale and con-

These assets don’t need to disappear with today’s

trol over the production industry.”

digital tech, they can equally be supported.” The hand made takes on a special significance as it becomes

Becoming archaic isn’t inevitable of course; the alter-

increasingly special in a digitally dominated environ-

native is to keep up. Integrating programming into the

ment, and the best contemporary craft often combines

designer’s toolbox of the designer is the most obvi-

the two opposite approaches to create objects that

ous move, best done independently by each indi-

use strengths from both the online and offline worlds.

vidual because the pace of technological progress

“I would love to develop a system for collaboration

is faster than design education institutions can match.

between technology, designers and craftsmen, as this

The rise of DIY culture doesn’t mean designers are

would be genuinely socially and economically sus-

left completely alone however, as the online culture of

tainable.” Similarly Koronis feels that a tempered ap-

open sharing and crowdsourcing is coming offline. In

proach that combines old skills with new is the best


Slelf Lamp by Marc Baroud and Marc Dibeh. Courtesy of Art Factum gallery

way to proceed: “You can’t apply new technologies

to buy the full product they would like. The rich cus-

to all projects. Sometimes you’re exploring new aes-

tomise because they want something unique. What

thetics or pushing into new materials, textures, finishes

is exciting now is that the middle class is becoming

– but in other contexts you might use the same tech-

enabled to customise, so the masses have the abil-

nique as was used 100 years ago.”

ity to impact their environment in a way they never have before,” says Najjar, who far from bemoaning

This mid point, where the designer uses hybrid

the precarious position of the designer in this brave

techniques and enables the consumer to do the

new production system, can’t wait for it to manifest

same means that individualised products, rather

more fully in the next few decades. His attitude of

than mass-produced uniformity, will become the

positive embrace is the only solution to design’s big

norm as the 21st century progresses. “The poor

challenge of self-preservation. As he puts it, “We’ve

customise because they don’t have enough money

hacked the world and I’m so proud of it!”


Lilicoptere, 2014

True Faith, 2012


Leading Portuguese contemporary artist Joana Vasconcelos talks to Selections about crafting the future, re-appropriating domestic materials, and how art can be a catalyst for change

Joana Vasconcelos is

is a kitsch universe with

as eloquent as she ap-

a sobering message,


in which traditional fe-


demonstrative her

male objects and craft

new exhibition Time Ma-

techniques are put to

chine, at Manchester Art

playful use as signifiers

Gallery, in the UK. Her

for a different vision of


the world. And as she






explains here, when fa-

risma take hold of your

miliar objects re-appear

imagination in the mea-

in new contexts, their

sured time it takes her to

meanings can change,

guide you through the

and by changing mean-

survey show in which

ings we can adapt our

the seasoned artist in-

conceptions and in turn

ter-mingles her world

our future directions.

of fluorescent colours

Joana Vasconcelos by Christopher Morris

For an audience less

and patterned materials, with the existing historic artworks from the gallery’s

familiar with your work, can you explain your prac-

permanent collection. She has exhibited extensively,

tice and approach?

including at the Palace of Versailles in 2012, and at

I am inspired by everyday life and my perspective is

the Venice Biennale in 2013, where she represented

led by a critical observation of the world around me.

Portugal.  Born in Paris in 1971, Vasconcelos attended

My creative process is based upon the appropriation,

the Centro de Arte e Comunicacão Visual in Lisbon

decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent

in the early 1990s. Following numerous exhibitions

objects and everyday realities. I’m oriented by my

across Europe, her first retrospective show was held

condition as a woman and as Portuguese but always

in 2010 at the Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon. Hers

thinking in global terms. I re-frame the global through


were very important when exhibiting in Versailles and Venice as both projects were artistic interventions over pre-existent areas. In Versailles, both inside and outside the palace, I placed my contemporary works in dialogue and confrontation with the different spaces, decorations, themes and histories. Trafaria Praia, my floating pavilion and total work of art for the 2013 Venice Biennale, involved turning a typical Lisbon ferryboat – a cacilheiro – into the Pavilion of Portugal. The exterior was covered with a panel of azulejos (tinglazed, blue and white, hand-painted ceramic tiles) that reproduced a contemporary view of Lisbon’s skyline, while on the ship’s deck I made an environment of textiles and light. This has been my ongoing style, to install organic and often colourful forms hanging from the ceiling so they interact with the surrounding architectural elements. My latest piece is a medley of blue-and-white fabrics all over the ceiling and walls, from which crocheted pieces, intertwined with LEDs, emerge. The installation suggests a surreal and womb-like atmosphere, Bestie, 2014

like you are under the sea.

the local, in the sense that I work with various traditions

My work can also be taken as interventional from a

and techniques that can be identified as Portuguese,

political point of view as I represent and subvert the

such as crochet, but they are in fact found all around

symbols, objects, and behaviors of contemporary

the world. Re-working these items and resorting to ev-

society to generate different discourses that the

eryday objects, such as cooking pans, is part of my

viewer can layer over reality. Interventional instal-

conceptual language because I believe these carry with them an impressive potential for signification. We think we know them well but these can always acquire a new signification and existing meanings can be challenged to serve concepts or to question the world.  Do you define yourself using words such as artist, sculptor, ceramicist, or interventionist, and are such definitions important to you? I am all of those except for a ceramicist, although I do sometimes work with ceramics. These definitions War Games, 2011


Full Steam Ahead, 2012, 2013, 2014

lations, like those I made in Versailles and Venice,

Dior, 2013). Everyday items and objects have a great

can be read as acts of subversion as they occupy

capacity for signification. We can make various read-

historic spaces of wealth and power, implying con-

ings of them using association and collective memory.

ceptual transformations through the physical trans-

Of course the objects used are chosen for the sym-

formations they manifest.

bolism they carry, but each culture and person also carries a particular way of looking at these objects and

Can you talk about how you de-contextualise or

makes their own associations, which brings each work

subvert everyday objects?

a variety of possible readings. My works don’t close

I do that through appropriation and by using those

themselves in upon a single discourse or interpreta-

items in unexpected ways – like steam irons to create

tion. They are ambiguous, paradoxical and dichoto-

fountains (Full Steam Ahead series) or perfume flasks

mous, and I believe the richness and value is in this

turned into lamps to make a huge bow (J’Adore Miss

multiplicity of possible interpretations and readings.


Hwarang, 2012

How important is humour in your work?

what we should preserve for a future that isn’t look-

Humour comes naturally to me but I am perfectly con-

ing very bright. It’s in these moments that we activate

scious that humour is in fact a serious thing and an

the ‘time machine’ in our minds. I believe artists can

excellent means of communication. The questions my

have a catalytic effect as they offer an imaginative fil-

work poses seek to broaden people’s perceptions of

ter that allows people to search for identity – not only

the world and humour is a great instrument for this.

for who we are but also who we want to be. With this in mind the central themes of recycling and renewal

What did you want to achieve with this show? Why

came naturally.

did you install works throughout the galleries as interventions?

Finally, what does the rest of the year hold for you?

The museum’s collection is composed of works from

2014 began quite intensely with this show and two ex-

the past but that make sense today and my contem-

hibitions in São Paulo - Casarão at Casa Triângulo and

porary works talk to them so that a dialogue was cre-

my site-specific work Amazônia for the Pivô space at

ated between past and future. All my work looks, in

Oscar Niemeyer’s Copan building. Up next I have ex-

fact, both back and forward, as a bridge. The crises we

hibitions in Ireland, Berlin, China and then Brazil again.

are living through force us to think about our roots and

I will be busy!


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The British Museum brings its celebrated exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects to Abu Dhabi throughout the summer

Eating, trading, worshipping, teaching, ruling, at-

under this theme has been a serious undertaking,

tracting, celebrating, surviving. Covering two mil-

with Allen leading a team of over 90 other curators.

lion years of civilisation, A History of the World in

Some objects were too large or delicate to travel,

100 Objects tells the tales of artefacts and how they

so the Gulf incarnation of the show is a variation on

have been used. This marks the third collaboration

the original list.

between Manarat Al Saadiyat and the British Museum, and heralds the 2016 opening of the Zayed Na-

The exhibition is presented in chronological chap-

tional Museum on the now-controversial Saadiyat

ters, with titles such as Power and Philosophy, and

Island, future home to the Louvre and Guggenheim

Innovation and Adaptation.

Allen explains, “The

Abu Dhabi. The museum

close study of an object

will house items from the

gives us a way to under-

UAE and the wider Middle

stand cultures that didn’t


leave any written texts behind”. The Inner Coffin of

“It is certainly a privilege to

Shepenmehyt, c.600 BCE,

re-stage this show in Abu

for example, is packed full

Dhabi as with so many

of information: “Look how

exciting new cultural proj-

much we can learn from

ects are on the horizon here, it feels like a good

the study of this one obZayed National Museum, Saadiyat Island

time to be talking about

ject. Hieroglyphics to be decoded, an understand-

global culture,” says exhibition curator Becky Allen.

ing of religion, an idea about what kind of materials

100 Objects is inspired by the massively successful

they used.”

BBC radio series and book, which took items from the British Museum and wove a narrative around

Throughout the exhibition, each object is contextual-

them. Bringing the objects together for the first time

ised through maps, images, texts, videos and its prox-


Hebrew astrolabe 1200-1400AD, South Arabian bronze hand 200-600AD, and other objects from A History of the World in 100 Objects


Olmec stone mask

Statue of the pharaoh Ramesses II

imity to other artefacts. The Royal Game of Ur from 2,600-2,400 BCE is a special and beautiful piece that according to Allen, “Shows the importance of leisure, fun and game playing.” It comes from one of the world’s first cities, the Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia, now southern Iraq. The fact that has been crafted from wood, lapis lazuli, red limestone and shell tells the story of Ur’s trade routes, with the lapis lazuli and shell coming from Afghanistan and the Gulf respecSafavid Tiles

tively. A mask from late 1880s Sierra Leone is accompanied

when they arrived in Peru yet this figurine survives.

by a stunning film of a woman dancing in the black

The curator hopes that visitors will “walk away from

wooden and raffia disguise as a part of Sande initia-

the exhibition thinking about the many similarities in

tion ceremonies. Only her legs are visible as the dark-

challenges, hopes and fears that people have faced

ness conjures other worlds, but also something of a

through time. This show is a celebration of that com-

contemporary aesthetic. This mask is surprisingly fin-

mon thread.” This intention informed the aim of making

ished with a European top hat, a status symbol among

the exhibition feel relevant to today by also including

community elders.

recently designed items, such as Object 101, which is the Prototype Foot-Controlled Car, designed in 2013

In Allen’s view, “Objects are remarkable survivors”. She

by an Emirati student. “This way, the story continues.”

cites the tiny 5.5cm Incan Gold Llama from 1400-1550 CE as her favourite example of this because most of

A History of the World in 100 Objects continues at Manarat Al Saadi-

the empire’s gold was melted down by the Spanish

yat Abu Dhabi until 1st August 2014


Dos Santos in lead


THE SHAPE OF MEMORY by Alberto Mucci

Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg speaks with Selections about his design for Memory Wound to commemorate the victims of the 2011 Utøya massacre in Norway

When in 2013 Jonas Dahlberg first visited Utøya, the island off the Norwegian coast where 69 people were killed by Norwegian nationalist Anders Behring Breivik, he was struck by the narrative that had formed around visiting the place. “From the moment you get on the bus in Oslo and start the journey towards the site, everyone was waiting for that moment when you see Utøya. When the lake came into view and we saw an island, somebody immediately asked, ‘Is that Utøya?’ and we all were stood up, staring out of the window. When it turned


Jonas Dahlberg’s Memory Wound will cut through the peninsula at Utøya


out not to be Utøya, we all sat down again, until the

foundation for a temporary memorial in Oslo’s gov-

island actually appeared. It was this voyeuristic gaze

ernment quarter, as well as a more permanent me-

that I wanted to avoid with the actual memorial – I

morial at a later stage. When asked if at any point he

wanted people to look inside themselves rather than

felt uncomfortable building a national memorial as a

just waiting to see an island.’

foreigner, Dahlberg answers with decision: “Not at all. I actually think the opposite. Breivik (the perpetrator

The objective of the Swedish artist – who started out

of the massacre) justified his actions on nationalistic

studying architecture, but went on to do a masters in

grounds and it would be strange to choose the artist

Fine Art at Malmö Art Academy, and asserts that he al-

on the very same basis. Utøya was a human tragedy,

ways works conceptually with architecture in his work

one that can be felt beyond borders.”

– was to avoid any form of romanticisation around the

“The killer justified his actions on nationalistic grounds and it would be strange to choose the artist on the very same basis. Utøya was a human tragedy, one that can be felt beyond borders”

site of the massacre. Dahlberg explains that he want-

Such an idea about the reach of Utøya invites a more

ed to design a place where people would be able to

general reflection on the meaning of memorials and

gather in intimacy and privacy, to find a place where

their public role. According to Dahlberg there are two

they could reflect on what had happened and try to

main objectives that such structures have to fulfil. The

untangle the complex realities behind such a tragic

first is to create a private place for everyone to be

event for themselves.

able to pay respect to the victims and meditate on the social and political reasons that triggered the event

This was the thinking behind erecting Memory Wound,

that the memorial commemorates. The second role

the name given to the memorial, in Sørbråten, the pen-

is institutional: memorials are there to remember that

insula that faces Utøya. And it is for the same reasons

something this terrible happened and to remind peo-

that Dahlberg’s creation is made up of a three-and-a

ple that something similar could occur again.

half-metre-wide incision in the ground, made “by negation”, as the artist describes it. This means building

“It may sound harsh but when events such as the

by taking away part of the earth and creating a physi-

Utøya massacre occur, the real task of remember-

cal open space in the ground. Once completed visi-

ing is to look at what caused the specific human

tors will be able to walk through an underground path-

behaviour that allowed such a terrible event to take

way to the split and see the victims’ names inscribed

place.” Dahlberg’s words might well be applied be-

on the other side.

yond the Norwegian borders and his work stands not only for the importance of remembering over

The Sørbråten memorial is one part of a larger project

forgetting, but also points us towards the tone that

as the materials excavated will be used to build the

remembrance should take.



Basra Masterplan location by Stallan-Brand

TROUBLE IN PARADISE How and why did postcolonial modernist architecture fail? Merlin Fulcher, from the Architects’ Journal, reviews a discussion of Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry’s flawed tropical utopianism


A stone’s throw from the imposing grandeur of Buck-

motorway underpasses, it was simultaneously be-

ingham Palace, Wellington House and the Foreign

lieved this wonder-cure architecture could also help

and Commonwealth Office in the British capital, a

Britain’s former colonies to flourish as they re-learned

small group of academics, architects and students

to govern themselves. But within only a few years of

gathered in March to discuss colonial modernist ar-

many gleaming new hospitals and universities being

chitecture – not its achievements, but its failure.

completed, many of the former colonial countries had

Basra Masterplan by Stallan-Brand

Sixty years ago, London’s Institute of Contemporary

descended into civil war, with such flagship icons of

Arts (ICA) was the epicentre of Britain’s modernist

modernist architecture becoming epicentres of vio-

movement. The hip and stylish venue on the edge

lence and demonstrations.

of leafy St James’s Park reverberated in the 1950s and ‘60s with extraordinarily gifted and idealistic

One such flagship project was University College

artists who believed they could transform the world

Ibadan (UCI) in Western Nigeria. Designed by Drew

for the better by following scientific and rational

and Fry in 1953, the campus was laid out in Oxbridge-

lines of thought.

style quadrangles with moulded concrete-screened buildings designed to mimic the rhythm of African

Among them were the architectural leading lights

music. A propaganda video from the time by BP de-

Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry who were busy scientifi-

scribed UCI as a place where ethnic rivalries would

cally theorising a new architecture that they believed

dissolve. But as Nigeria fell into civil war it became the

could provide perfect living and working conditions

complete opposite, with police entering the campus

in all of earth’s tropical zones. Like many of their con-

in 1969 and the first student being shot a year later.

temporaries they placed an extraordinary faith in the developmental power of modern steel, glass and

So what went wrong? The architects and thinkers who

concrete buildings.

gathered at the ICA believe there was a catastrophic mismatch between the radically egalitarian principles

So while the post-war ruins of Victorian London were

of modernist architects and the colonial authorities’

being revolutionised with new high-rise housing and

desire to reinforce traditional power structures in the


© S Koopman © S Koopman

University of Ibadan by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew

countries they had previously relinquished. They

image of sparkling modernist towers and shopping

point to the underlying racial prejudices that saw

malls has become a symbol of independence and

architecture and town planning used to geographi-

economic power across North Africa, Asia and the

cally separate colonials from native peoples in In-

Middle East. Perhaps this evidently misguided ap-

dia and Africa throughout the nineteenth century.

proach continues because business between West-

Ultimately they suggest that modernist architects

ern consultancies and former colonial countries

were naïve to believe new buildings alone could

remains a cornerstone of international commerce,

revolutionise these intentionally divided societies.

with architectural firms such as Glasgow-based Stal-

The now-evidently limited concept of tropical archi-

lan-Brand devising new masterplans for universities

tecture was clearly not – despite what Drew and Fry

in Iraq, Lagos and Nigeria in the last year alone. The

fervently believed – uniformly appropriate around

very best international architecture today is far less

the globe.

dogmatic than the modernistic mantra that informed Drew and Fry’s experiments. The greatest change

Today we might ask why, despite these failings,

now is the rise of powerful local clients around the

British architects (along with those from many other

world who can decide for themselves which devel-

nationalities) continue to practice a similarly uni-

opmental ideas they are importing, and cherry-pick

form design approach around the world, and the

the most appropriate, for better or for worse.


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The legacy of Andrée Putman lives on under the sensitive leadership of her daughter Olivia, now steering the family’s eponymous Paris studio in her own contemporary direction

Lustre Rosace Orgue by Studio Putman

As a designer, Andrée Putman was as ground-

lowed by work as a landscape designer. Taking on a

breaking as she was prolific. Recognisable by her

parent’s widely respected legacy, several years af-

red lipstick, side-swept bob, and serious photo face,

ter she was first asked, is not without its challenges,

Putman was responsible for the boutique interiors

but rather than browbeating, Putman Junior remains

of some of fashion’s leading names, including Yves

level-headed as she explains, “I am trying to cre-

Saint-Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. She was credited

ate my own style without forgetting her legacy – but

with designing the world’s first boutique hotel, re-

influence from her is certain, as she educated me.”

spected for her cult film sets for Peter Greenaway, and known for her signature black-and-white check-

Such pragmatism weighs into much of Putman’s

erboard motif. This


sassy grande dâme

phy. “We try to be

of design launched

sociologists when



we work for public

label in 1997. She

spaces and more

even reworked the


interior of the Con-

when working on

corde jet. Refus-


ing to let age get

she reveals. With

the better of her,

this in mind, she

Putman carried on

is direct about her

designing into her

feelings for con-

eighties. When she died last year at the

Andrée and Olivia Putman by Xavier Bejot



temporary design, suggesting that it,

age of 87, the design world mourned, but her studio

“Calm down a little. I believe we’ve reached a time

continues under the direction of her accomplished

where people are fed up with design for design’s

daughter, Olivia Putman.

sake.” She cites her work for Lalique, where she was formerly creative director, such as an eleven-

A designer in her own right, Olivia has been at helm

piece collection of chandeliers, sconces, and desk

of her mother’s company, now known as Studio Put-

and floor lamps in satin-finished crystal cylinders

man, since 2007. She ventured into her first profes-

entitled Orgue, as a personal favourite, but also

sional adventure by transforming old factories into

describes how she enjoys the challenge of a pri-

artists’ studios and exhibition spaces, shortly fol-

vate customer brief. “When you work on private


“I am trying to create my own style without forgetting her legacy – but influence from her is certain, as she educated me”

above: Le Temps des Collections, Rouen, by Studio Putman OPPOSITE PAGE: Cover graphic for Selections The Design Issue by Olivia Putman




ABOVE: Golden Orgue lamp by Studio Putman for Lalique OPPOSITE PAGE: Jour de FĂŞte lamp by Studio Putman


Sketch for LAN Airways VIP Lounge by Studio Putman

“What I am trying to achieve is to give a kind of soul to the objects that accompany our everyday life”

residences you have to guess what the client is not

aesthetic approach with this? “I like design when

telling you,” she says. “Most of time, you have to

it seems obvious,” she says. “What I am trying to

guess what their needs are, because they don’t re-

achieve is to give a kind of soul to the objects that

ally know themselves.” As for her upcoming work,

accompany our everyday life.” Working for the likes

she teases that “two big exhibitions” will soon be

of Serralunga, Fermob, and Emeco, her precise, ele-

taking place in Hong Kong, a location not unfamiliar

gant style combines elements of classic French flair

to the Putman brand. When not designing, Putman

and balance with a modern simplicity that feels both

has another full-time job as the mother of four boys.

chic and relevant. The Studio Putman approach, in Olivia’s own words, is, “To be both abstract and

Musing recently about the ‘Putman style’, Olivia

clear at the same time. Ours is a complex blend of

settles on, “A high dose of nostalgia linked with a

values, habits, and ways of being. It’s really more

futuristic vision”. How does she reconcile her own

like a way to live and to think.”


Curated by Olivia Putman


With eyes wide open

I was lucky enough to be raised in a family

during my childhood that I still need their sup-

surrounded by artists and had the chance to

port every day in my adult life. Because of

meet many inspirational creative figures at

this it was a natural and obvious decision for

home. Listening to their conversations I used

me when I tried to help young artists for the

to admire their freedom. How precious these

first ten years of my professional life. This was

young girl’s memories

one of my most inter-

are to me now. I re-

esting and formative

member listening to


what I thought were

I was converting old


factories into artists’



funny point of views



about life, its colours and textures. I remem-

The choices I made

ber going to a Pink

for this special section

Floyd concert with my

Olivia Putman - Nina Ricci Parfums

mother, Andrée Put-

in Selections represent a small panel of

man, when I was only six, and observing Bram

those creators who surprise me with their in-

Van Welde while he was creating, all the time

novative vision and remarkable work. Some-

with her at my side, sharing her thoughts with

times their creations seem to be very simple


but these are often those that possess something like a hidden grace, which can seem

I really have to thank my parents for the way

almost invisible.

that they taught me about how art can be


such a powerful channel to emotion, sense,

Artists give us the possibility of keeping our

beauty and hopefully peace in the world. My

eyes wide open so we can continue to dream

interactions with artists were so important

and to invent new ways of life.

Curated by Olivia Putman

Lucio Fontana Spatial Concept #2 1960 oil on canvas I remember seeing the first Concetto Spaziale and being very moved by the subtle effects of the tears and the change of light. [Š Albright Knox Art Gallery/Art Resource, NY/Scala, Florence]

Curated by Olivia Putman

Patrick Blanc Mur Végétal, Musée du Quai Branly 2005 plantlife Patrick Blanc is the brilliant botanist who invented the vertical garden, which has become quite fashionable but could still be used more. His is a poetic and futuristic vision that may be the only way to introduce more gardens in our crowded cities. [©Musée du Quai Branly. Photo: Nicolas Borel]

Curated by Olivia Putman

Jean Michel Basquiat Self Portrait As A Heel 1982 acrylic and oilstick on canvas I had a lot of fun with Jean Michel when I was younger. He was an incredible good boy / bad boy mix. He had so much energy he should never have died so young. He was an angel passing by.

Curated by Olivia Putman

René Lalique Mossi vase 1933 glass During my two years as artistic director at Lalique I discovered the incredible world of the company’s founder René. I love this vase he designed in the early twentieth century but which could just as easily have been designed today or tomorrow. I like this ambiguity about it – it’s timeless.

Curated by Olivia Putman

Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely Fontaine Stravinsky 1983 fibreglass and polyester; steel and aluminium I remember playing with my brother around those big machines outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris when I was a child. My parents were surrounded by artists and always took us to many exhibitions there.

Curated by Olivia Putman

Gehrard Richter Two Candles 1982 oil on canvas This painting has an incredible effect on the soul and is something close to mystical for me. Universal mysticism! World Peace!

Curated by Olivia Putman

James Turrell Aten Reign, Guggenheim, New York 2013 light installation This contemporary mastermind gives materiality to light and seems to make the invisible visible. James Turrell is a genius who I’ve had the privilege of sharing several discussions with over the years.

Curated by Olivia Putman

Mathias Klotz Villa Angostura, Argentina 2007 concrete, wood, copper Mathias and I worked together on a project in South America and came away with a huge amount of admiration for his particular talent at creating amazing spaces that are simultaneously beautiful and respect their surrounding environment.

Selections #26