Beirut Design Week 2016: FEATURE

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ISN’T IT SOMEWHAT SURPRISING THAT WE HAVE SUCH A LARGE COMMUNITY OF DESIGNERS IN LEBANON, AND YET VERY FEW ARE THINKING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY IN THEIR DESIGN PROCESS? THE PROTESTS OF SUMMER 2015, CENTERED AROUND THE WASTE MANAGEMENT CRISIS IN LEBANON, WAS A WAKE-UP CALL FOR MANY OF US, ESPECIALLY THE TEAM MEMBERS OF MENA DESIGN RESEARCH CENTER, AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITY MEMBERS OF BEIRUT DESIGN WEEK. We, as designers and architects, are influencers. We have the ability to change behaviors and business ethics with the audiences who buy our products and engage in our communications, as well as the businesses who use our services. If packaging designers convinced food and beverage industries to use biodegradable packaging, and brand managers informed the public of its importance to the environment, we would see massive change in waste production. If more designers and architects introduced organic waste in their processes or created innovative ways to recycle materials, we would import less from abroad and convince the public to sort their waste and facilitate such processes. Although in the context of Lebanon, such ideas might sound idealistic or even radical, when we see thousands of people engaging with the theme of Beirut Design Week 2016, the idea does not seem impossible. We are proud of our design community for taking on the challenge of sustainability as part of Beirut Design Week 2016. We hope that this would be the beginning of an on-going endeavor for most. We also hope that the audience will think a bit more seriously about their role as consumers and contribute towards more sustainable lifestyles in their environments. In this feature, we are celebrating all the projects that MENA Design Research Center developed in order to integrate sustainability in Beirut Design Week. These projects include the visual communication of BDW2016, the development of the first central location KED, the Sustainable Design Program, and the research work on the design industry and economy in Lebanon. We hope that as a non-profit organization, our values and goals are represented in the following pages; which are for us recent achievements that we have been able to finally establish after five years in operation. Sincerely, DOREEN TOUTIKIAN, Co-founder & Director, Beirut Design Week President of the Board, MENA Design Research Center

I. MENA DESIGN RESEARCH CENTER THE MENA DESIGN RESEARCH CENTER IS A LEBANESE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT FOCUSES ON THE ROLE OF DESIGN IN EDUCATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, AND SOCIAL IMPACT. All members of the center are academics and industry professionals from various fields of design (graphic, digital, fashion, product, service, industrial, interior, and architecture). The center initiates and organizes Beirut Design Week, which brings together more than 25,000 visitors to experience local and international design through workshops, conferences, tours, exhibitions, films, and networking events. The main goal of MENA DRC is to pinpoint challenges that the design industry and institutions face, and to develop strategies to improve the current situation. Design, in this sense, is more than an end product but a process of strategizing and problem finding/solving. Throughout the last three years, entrepreneurship and emphasis on the digital start-up culture has been one of the main focuses of the Lebanese government, and therefore an ecosystem of companies and organizations have been set up to develop the scene through a variety of events such as competitions, start-up weekends, conferences, and workshops. As a member of that ecosystem, MENA DRC has been highly involved in supplying mentorship in the design and Design Thinking aspect of these initiatives. Moreover, with ongoing research projects, the center has developed an archive with the most recent and important data that will be used to develop the design industry in Lebanon, and serve as a blueprint for other design industries in the MENA region. Since 2015, MENA DRC has developed an extensive internship program, taking on more than 20 interns per year, and training them in a variety of design related disciplines.

MENA Design Research Center offers ongoing internships designed to expose qualified applicants to communication skills, coordination skills, organizational structure, design research methods, communication design, and strategic planning. Working at the MENA DRC offers an opportunity for students and recent graduates to begin to integrate themselves into a work environment that is both professional and small enough to receive proper attention and guidance. We believe that all those who have joined our program have benefitted highly from working with us. We are always looking for passionate, young, and enthusiastic students and fresh graduates to join our team for our upcoming projects, including our main event: Beirut Design Week.

MENA Design Research Center Modern Offices Bldg, Block A, 9th Floor Armenia Street, Beirut, Lebanon +961 1 24 90 82






MENA DESIGN RESEARCH CENTER TEAM Doreen Toutikian is an interdisciplinary designer and a social entrepreneur. She holds a bachelor’s in Communication Design from Notre Dame University and a master’s degree from Koeln International School of Design in European Design Studies, where she was awarded the Cologne Design Prize in 2010. She then returned to Beirut, where she established MENA Design Research Center to enhance the understanding of design and research in the region. Her professional experience involves a range of projects that deal with strategic planning, service design, branding, and user experience. She has initiated various projects in order to encourage multidisciplinary teamwork for social innovation, including Public Design Intervention: Beirut, Desmeem: Rethinking Design though Cross-Cultural Collaboration, and Beirut Design Week. Her work in design research and education has brought her around the globe, and she is a board member of the International Gender Design Network, a member of the International Advisory Board of “Board of International Research in Design (BIRD),” the Young Cultural Innovators of the British Council, and a fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar. Doreen is an avid traveler, speaks five languages fluently, and loves throwing dinner parties at her home in Beirut.

Vrouyr Joubanian is a multidisciplinary designer whose sustainable design strategies and work in design education aim to create social and systems change. Vrouyr was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he received a master’s degree in industrial design in 2014. He graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in product design from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA) in 2011. Vrouyr’s passion for human-centered design informs his diverse work portfolio that includes social systems consulting, product design, and design education. He has served as a consultant for for EU-funded projects and has conducted workshops in Lebanon, United States, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. He currently serves on the faculty in the Design Department at ALBA and on the advisory board of WARAQ Association, a platform for artists, designers, and illustrators in Lebanon. Fluent in four languages, when not doing innovative human-centered design, Vrouyr practices photography and goes on runs with his dog. PROJECT COORDINATOR Abbas studied architecture at the Lebanese University in Beirut. He is currently the project coordinator for Beirut Design Week at MENA Design Research Center. Over the past two years, he has taken over the responsibility for managing interns, organizing all operations within the event, and developing parts of the program. Abbas believes that “Architects build communities not only buildings.” He has brought this approach to the Lebanese Architecture Club; a youth organization that he founded in 2014; to explore his three interests: education, design and architecture, and youth development, Together, these three interests form his passion for community building. Recently, Abbas was selected by the European Commission as one of the 16 Young Leaders, to represent the voice of youth at the European Development Days in Brussels, in June 2016. He also participated in different international programs such as Loyac Homes in Jordan and ‘Perceive the City’ in Istanbul.





Vanessa, a Graphic Design student at the Lebanese American University, has a strong passion for animation, photography, and film. During her time as a trainer at the Model UN for two years, Vanessa was invited to the United Nations New York Conference where she discovered a longing to travel. With that excitement to travel the world, Vanessa found herself being shortlisted for the Dubai Lynx Students Integrated Award of 2016, and accepted for an internship at Leo Burnett. Even though she adores cats, Vanessa also loves to meet new people which has brought her to BDW where she got the chance to meet aspiring designers and work alongside them.

Sami holds a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Communication Arts from the Lebanese International University. An avid reader, Sami turned his passion for words into a passion for writing. With that passion, he joined the BDW team as a communications officer where he uses his organization and writing skills for BDWs communication needs. Trying to expand his skills in the art of creative writing, Sami became a Copywriter at ADrising, a Marketing & Advertising agency. Between BDW and work, Sami still finds time to write his novel and work on his poems and short stories. Some of which can be found here:

Ramona is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Architecture at the Lebanese University in Beirut. Her passion for landscape developed at an early age in her family’s garden in the South of Lebanon. A member of the Lebanese Architecture club, Ramona is working on a project with UN-Habitat Lebanon. Her sensitivity for the earth and its elements ignited her enthusiasm for Beirut Design Week’s 2016 theme of sustainability. With five languages under her belt and a sixth on the way, Ramona is a communications officer for BDW.







Dana is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the American University of Beirut. Experienced in horticulture practice and research methods, Dana brings a passion for reclaiming public spaces to Beirut. She has volunteered at Nahnoo, a non-governmental organization focused on reclaiming public spaces in the congested city of Beirut, and is interested in design research and various design disciplines. Dana is involved in MENA DRC’s design research on the value of design in the Lebanese economy.

Judith holds a Bachelor degree in Industrial Design from the University of Technology in Delft. She grew up in Rotterdam, a city in the Netherlands that is known for the diversity of cultures and its art and design scene. Judith saw how design is able to bring people together. It made her curious about the role of design in other countries and she decided to come to Beirut. Since four months she has been working on the MENA DRC research project about the development of the design industry in Lebanon.

Noura holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Technology from the New York Institute of Technology. Originally from Egypt, Noura always wanted to go back to the Middle East where she would initiate her own projects. Her interest in social impact in the Middle East brought her to Beirut Design Week, where she focuses primarily on coordinating all logistical details of KED.



GRAPHIC DESIGNER Patil Tokatlian. Quiet type. Very quiet, in fact. Yes, I am stuck in a box. What of it? Seeking new opportunities. Graphic design graduate, not that passionate about graphic design. It’s okay I guess. More into exploring hand lettering and creating quirky, surrealistic type of illustrations. Also cats.


Established in 2012 by MENA Design Research Center, Beirut Design Week is the largest growing design festival in the Middle East & North Africa. The event brings together more than 25,000 visitors to over 150 events in 100 locations around Beirut. BDW showcases the best of Lebanese and international design in order to strengthen creative economies and foster entrepreneurship, all within the context of the region’s rich cultural heritage. The main goal of the project is to encourage creative economies, intercultural exchange, design education, social impact, and design entrepreneurship. In its fifth year, BDW decided to add yet another goal to the development of the event: a focus on sustainability .




Beirut is the design capital of the Middle East and North Africa, and Beirut Design Week is its beating heart. With growing participation every year, BDW is a platform for cultural and economic development for entrepreneurs and designers from Lebanon, the Middle East and North Africa region, Europe, and the US. Now in its fifth year, BDW is bringing together creators and consumers with more than 150 events linking all corners of Beirut and beyond. Amid the political instability throughout the region, Beirut is again making its mark as a leading force in creative and intellectual prosperity. Since its inception in 2012, BDW has tripled in size and cemented its role as the central platform for the creative economies in Lebanon. Featuring architecture, product, lighting, fashion, furniture, tech, and graphic design, the Lebanese creative community is an untapped force for economic and cultural revitalization. By fostering ties within this community, BDW seeks to counter the brain drain by building a unique and sustainable platform that supports its dedicated creatives. By tapping into the world of international design, BDW also raises the nation’s profile, increases tourism, and promotes cultural exports.

Beirut Design Week traverses different neighborhoods and disciplines with more than 150 events, including workshops, exhibitions, open studios, film screenings, talks, tours, public interventions, conferences, and social and networking opportunities. Each day during BDW lights up a different part of Beirut, and each day focuses on one area of the city including the streets and alleys of Downtown Beirut, the Beirut Souks, Saifi Village, Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh, Sursock, Achrafieh, Hamra, Bourj Hammoud, the Industrial City, Karantina, Jisr el-Wati, and the seaside.

Beirut Design Week enjoys creative, educational, promotional, cultural, organizational, and financial partnerships with numerous local and international institutions. Without the network of strong partners, BDW would not be what it is today. So far, more than 50 companies, embassies, public and private institutions, and universities have been pillars for the festival›s growing success. Through financial or in-kind sponsorship, each partner has played a key role in the development of the design ecosystem in Lebanon. In return, Beirut Design Week has proudly promoted its partners for their support. Partners and sponsors receive a variety of privileges for their contributions and give their support knowing that they are investing in the country’s creative economy and cultural progression. As a non-profit initiative, Beirut Design Week maintains its promise to partners to keep achieving all its goals with passion and devotion. Some of the recurring partners whom Beirut Design Week would like to thank include the Embassy of Denmark, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of the Netherlands, the British Council, the Goethe Institute, Institut Français, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, American University of Beirut, Lebanese American University, and Solidere.



Beirut Design Week has established itself as the main local and international design platform of Lebanon:

Our partnerships with national, regional, and international media are among the most wide-ranging in Lebanon. We reach these markets through a three-pronged media strategy:

Attracting more than 25,000 annual visitors while assembling a collective of Lebanon’s top designers and architects Recruiting each year more than 50 international professionals across all design fields for lectures and workshops on the latest innovations and technologies, ranging from famous designers to dedicated professors Promoting more than 100 start-up design entrepreneurs in Lebanon and linking them to consumers Providing specialized training workshops that provide young start-up entrepreneurs and designers one-on-one sessions with international business and design experts in order to expand economic opportunities for the nation’s creative youth Linking more than 150 locations across greater Beirut under one event Garnering exposure through more than 500 articles in national, regional, and international press across all media (print, online television, and radio)

PR through print, online, and broadcast media in some of the world’s most-read and best-respected design journals and magazines Direct-to-consumer marketing through all printed and digital communications such as the catalogue (7000 copies) and map (20,000 copies) which are distributed extensively in the city as well as the website and app that provide detailed information anywhere and on-the-go A proven social media strategy that has exponentially grown our audience across all relevant vital platforms Partnership with Beirut Design Week puts organizations at the forefront of the Lebanese, Middle Eastern and North African, and international contemporary design scene as an official contributor to Beirut’s official Design Week. Our database of 5,000+ recipients, as well as our followers on social media, receive constant updates before, during, and after BDW. Not only are partners affiliated with one of the region’s most progressive events, they also enjoy access to a network of the nation’s most prominent designers. Moreover, partners have the chance to engage and network with international designers at more than 150 events during the festival, or even host their own event, which attracts thousands of visitors within a week.

III. BDW 2016 THEME GROWING SUSTAINABLY SUSTAINABILITY MEANS “DEVELOPMENT THAT MEETS THE NEEDS OF THE PRESENT, WITHOUT COMPROMISING THE ABILITY OF FUTURE GENERATIONS TO MEET THEIR OWN NEEDS.” ALTHOUGH PRIMARILY FOCUSED ON ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, IT ALSO INVOLVES SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF LIFE. The MENA Design Research Center (founder and organizer of Beirut Design Week) is a non-profit organization that focuses on the role of Design in social impact, always taking into account the relevant local and regional context(s). The summer of 2015 marked the beginning of a major waste management crisis that led to massive protests on a national scale in Lebanon. Design can offer many solutions to the issues that arise from waste management and develop ways for citizens, businesses, and public entities to be involved in the process. Therefore, MENA DRC has decided to focus on sustainability as the major theme englobing all its activities for 2016. By partnering with local and international organizations and professionals, we can help build awareness and provide resources for designers to play a key role in changing the behaviors and mindsets of citizens in Lebanon and the MENA region. Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological Sustainability. MENA DRC has adopted ten essential guidelines for the development of the program that may also act as criteria for participation in Beirut Design Week 2016.

QUESTIONS & CONSIDERATIONS Sustainable design is primarily concerned with developing materials and practices that protect and encourage our resources for future generations. A product or process can be sustainable in several ways, ten of which we have outlined in the Manifesto. MENA Design Research Center and Beirut Design Week encourage designers to incorporate as many of these principles in their work as possible. When we think about sustainability, we typically think about the effect we are having on the environment. What happens to the materials that you use when you make a lighting structure or chair once the consumer throws it away? Where do the initial parts come from? How much energy does it take to produce? Does the production process release harmful toxins? How much waste do you produce in the process of making the product? How do you minimize the waste produced, like for example with excess fabric for clothes or excess paper cut off while printing a book? What’s more, does your product create waste when you use it? How has it been built to reduce the use of waste?

Sustainability, however, is not just about the physical environment; it’s also about the people involved in making things. Are the people involved in the creation of your productions able to keep on going? Are employees here in the same locality as you, or are they far away in another country with exploitative conditions and wages? How does your design affect the society around you? Does it have a positive impact on the lives of people? Does it support traditional craftsmanship? Does it respect the cultural identity of the people who are interacting with it? We presented many of these questions to the participants of Beirut Design Week 2016, and we are proud of our Design Community who took on the challenge and developed more than 100 events that are aimed to create awareness about sustainability with the audience.




Products are not meant to last forever and pollute our environment, everything must return back to the earth.

If products are not biodegradable at the end of their cycle, they must be redesigned to fulfill another function in another life.




Does your designed product consume a lot of energy? What kind of electricity is needed to make it, and are the sources renewable or created by the burning of oils that pollute the environment? Rethinking energy consumption is key to sustainable design.

Whether it is the extra paper that is lost in printing a book or the fabric that has been cut off to design a dress, this waste of materials may be avoided when designing more efficiently.

Is the product containing harmful chemicals in its making or disintegration? Substituting these chemicals with organic alternatives such as natural dyes for color or biomaterials instead of plastics may be a challenge that leads to great innovation.




The people behind the production are essential to the entire process, and ensuring their viability will ensure the viability of the community of makers around the designer.

Being sustainable is not only about the environment but also about giving back to society in a number of ways such as employing disadvantaged workers or donating to charitable causes.

Protecting traditional craftsmanship is a privilege to contemporary societies that can still express their unique cultural heritage to a world of globalized sameness. Designers play a key role in keeping this sustainable artform alive and maintaining its development.

Learning about where raw materials of our products come from and how much damage is caused until they reach us is crucial; although much might not be locally available, it is important to research the most optimal choices possible.

CULTURAL IDENTITY Designing for the needs of people in your community means taking into consideration values, behaviors, language and visual cues that help your users identify with your products and services and preserve the cultural identity of the region.


In partnership with Studio Kawakeb, the Beirut Design Week team sought out strong visual statements in the graphic design and print production of all the communication process. The brief was to create a concept, which visually portrays the theme of the year focusing on sustainability and translating it clearly to the participants, partners, and audience of BDW. Studio Kawakeb’s Christina Skaf, Hussein Nakhal, and David Habchy delved into the world of recycled papers and sustainable printing techniques, while creating a new language that involves the audience in the process. The main challenges were to use less ink and waste less paper, while having an authentic, simple, and captivating approach.



Since using handmade recycled paper is not possible for offset print production, Studio Kawakeb decided to research the least environmentally harmful ways to print the catalogues of BDW. One of the key aspects of sustainable printing is decreasing paper waste. After studying the sizes of papers that printers use, they found out that standard sizes are best to use, as the leftover paper is absolutely minimal. Therefore, all three publications are A6, A5, and A4. Moreover the amount of printed publications was reduced, urging more people to use the website and the app for information. As for the paper company, they are certified enviromentally-friendly paper suppliers – where one tree is planted for every tree that is cut.

Two out of three BDW publications use saddle-stitch binding. It is the preferred method to use since unbinding the paper for recycling is much easier than other methods. Perfect binding, which uses hot glue in the process, is not environmentally friendly and very difficult to unbind. However, once the publication exceeds a certain amount of pages, it becomes the only feasible choice. Perfect binding was used for the Directory, but as mentioned previously, it is meant to last in our audience’s homes.

PAPER RECYCLING Instead of using new paper, Studio Kawakeb decided to recycle all the previous catalogues of Beirut Design Week in order to make the posters and invitations. With the help of “Papyrus,” a small workshhop in the south of Lebanon run by Badria El Osta and other women from nearby villages, each piece of paper was hand-made with the perfect consistency of texture. The process which included the paper being torn into pieces and eventually becoming a texture, was documented on BDW’s social media pages and the website. Moreover, Studio Kawakeb also used older maps of BDW, which were of a thicker density to create the covers of the notebooks that go in the goodie bag.

INK In terms of ink, ideally, the less ink used, the better. Ink is toxic and harmful to the environment. And although organic ink has been invented, it is not available in Lebanon. Therefore, Studio Kawakeb decided to use only one Pantone color in the program and the feature to decrease the use of CMYK, which was only used in the Design Directory. However, the Directory –unlike the program- is a publication that is meant to stay in the bookshelf, as a timeless memoire of BDW2016.





DIGITAL ADVERTISING Instead of having billboards, posters or flyers, Beirut Design Week opted for digital billboards, which use LED lights. Not only are they more attractive and allow more room for content, they are also far more environmentally-friendly than the weather resistant Flex banners or glued paper billboard with a very short life span.



Apart from recycled invitation cards and official invoices, all communication with participants of Beirut Design Week is done online through email. Moreover, BDW encourages people to check on the website, all social media channels and the mobile app for detailed information about all events and participants of the event.

Waste is a Lebanese company that is devoted to using waste and up-cycling it for a variety of products. For the second year in a row, the Waste team, Waleed Jad and Marc Metni, came up with a great way to re-use discarded vinyl book covers and to turn them into the Beirut Design Week 2016 goodie bags. Moreover, the little pencil pocket was made from the BDW2015’s backdrop banner, which was kept specifically for this purpose.

V. SUSTAINABILITY IN KED LEBANESE ARCHITECTURE CLUB THE LEBANESE ARCHITECTURE CLUB IS A YOUTH-LED ORGANIZATION FOUNDED IN 2014, WITH A VISION TO DEVELOP A LEADING COMMUNITY OF YOUNG ACTIVE ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS IN LEBANON. Under these 3 main pillars, education, social impact, and youth development, the club works to provide students and recent graduates with a platform to expand their learning experience beyond the classroom setting. Since 2015, the club has been supported by MENA Design Research Center. By providing a space for meetings and events and regular consultancy, MENA DRC allowed the club to develop and build its own network. The club engages in various projects and collaborations with leading organizations locally and internationally to respond to social and environmental challenges in Lebanon such as the influx of refugees, lack of public spaces, and the waste management crisis. Such projects include Bourj Hammoud Neighborhood Upgrading, a project initiated by UN-Habitat Lebanon. The team implemented sustainable solutions to improve the conditions of selected neighborhoods in Beirut on an architectural and urban scale while involving the local community. In addition, the club hosts various activities and events, such as the annual Entrepreneur Architect conference during Global Entrepreneurship Week, Sketch your City, and several workshops and lectures with leading architects from Beirut. With the support of the club, members have been given the chance to participate in international programs such as the annual architecture congress at Maltepe University in Istanbul and Loyac Homes in Jordan.

LEBANESE ARCHITECTURE CLUB & KED In October 2015, after MENA DRC’s decision to take on KED as BDW2016’s home, the Lebanese Architecture Club took part in the initial study of the project. Both organizations agreed that this would be a good opportunity for the young members to learn how to develop a real project, which is also aligned with two of the club’s pillars: education outside the classroom and social impact. It also provided the members with critical input by professional architects and a chance to collaborate with other designers. The initial phase of the project included various site visits and survey drawings of the building. After careful analysis, the team studied different aspects of the project, taking into consideration the various challenges and constrictions as well as the needs of the organizers, the exhibitors, and the visitors. The team had to familiarize themselves through personal research about sustainability in design, which involved a hands-on experience and experimentation with locally sourced materials. The final proposal was then delivered alongside technical drawings and the bill of quantities to the MENA DRC partners to build on for the second phase of development. As part of the project, there were different sessions with the Beirut Design Week team for feedback, open presentations with the main BDW partners, a session with theOtherDada team - the sustainability consultant partners of BDW2016 - a sustainability and design session with Robert Wittkuhn, and a presentation skills session with Asil Sidahmed. The team members come from different backgrounds in architecture, interior architecture, landscape design, and lighting design. The following members were the KED team: Abbas Sbeity, Cynthia Mattar, Malak Rahal, Katia Zahwi, Mohamad Kahil, Sally Itani, Rabih Koussa, Dana Harakeh, Ali Abbas Ahmadi, Lara Wehbi, Judy Abi Rustom, Moustafa Kridly, Ramona Abdallah, Nada Rahal, and Romy Bechara.


The central BDW building, KED-which means “river” in Armenian-has a long and complicated history that dates back to the early 1900s. Although the architect of the building is unknown, the origins of this Karantina building are not completely forgotten. The current owners, the Markarian family, bought the building two generations ago. Originally the building comprised only one floor. In 1932, Garbis Markarian renovated the building in order to start the family business, a metallurgical factory called Markarian Establishment. Today, KED is owned and operated by his grandson, Gaby Markarian. At the time that the factory was built, Karantina was a central camp for the Armenian refugees who had escaped the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire. Garbis Markarian, proved to be very skilled in the metal industry and decided to buy the building to expand his business. He chose the building because of its proximity to both the river for water usage and the port for importing and exporting goods.As the business found success, in 1951 the family added the first floor, and

later during the Lebanese Civil War, militias built a second floor. In the 1980s, however, the family was forced to abandon the factory, both because the war made it difficult for labor to reach the factory and also because business was going well, and they found a bigger factory location in Mkalles, where they still operate today. During the civil war, Karantina was the site of a number of tragedies, the most famous of which was the Karantina Massacre (1976). The building became a strategic location for militiamen, who invited it in and squatted in it until 1989. The building remained in a decrepit state until February 2016, when renovations for Beirut Design Week began. When Gaby Markarian met director of Beirut Design Week, Doreen Toutikian, through a mutual friend, they both set out to revive the building and named it KED. With the help of the Lebanese Architecture Club, the network of partners of the MENA Design Research Center, and Gaby’s labor force, the building was redesigned and renovated in only four months.

When asked, Gaby said: “I would like for KED to be a cultural hub for events and exhibitions. With the association of Beirut Design Week, the building will be an eye opener with regards to the area of Karantina as an expansion for the city of Beirut.” He hopes that in the near future Karantina will prosper and new generations will invest in the area with eco-friendly homes and businesses. When asked about why he decided to revive KED with Beirut Design Week, he confidently replied: “After I met Doreen and Vrouyr and saw their enthusiasm for a Beirut Design Week hub, I was convinced that it would be a great collaboration between us!”


In consultation with our partners and specialists in sustainability, theOtherdada, Cedar Environmental, Recycle Lebanon, Waste, Lebanese Architecture Club, and many others, the team spent numerous months studying how to be as sustainable as possible with the renovation of KED and the overall design and communication elements of Beirut Design Week’s central location. The aim of the project was to restore the building with the intention of reviving Karantina, while shedding light on the misuse of the area as a waste dump, as well as creating awareness about sustainability with concrete actions and examples in the space. The team focused on certain aspects of the building, recognizing that there would be a lot of challenges and that 100% sustainability was not feasible. These aspects are:



Reducing energy consumption, especially in a country like Lebanon, where power outages are a daily issue, is key to creating a sustainable event. Therefore all the lighting in the space consists of LED lamps. Air conditioning is only used in one room of the whole building; the rest of the space depends on ventilators that consume very little energy. However, power outages remain a challenge, and therefore a fuel-based generator is needed for the hours where electricity from the public grid is unavailable.

Encouraging sustainable mobility to and from the venue is also of concern to the team of organizers at MENA Design Research Center. Public transportation, shuttle services, carpooling, and riding bicycles (in collaboration with CyclingCircle) are all encouraged and advertised in the BDW communications. Moreover, all delivery services prior and during BDW are provided by Deghri Messengers, a local Lebanese bicycle courier for all deliveries.

WATER Water is supplied by the six tanks installed on top of the KED building. Much of the graywater is used to irrigate the Beirut River Less installation by theOtherdada next to KED. To create awareness about the importance of conserving water, messages about water usage are communicated through environmental graphics in the washrooms.

MATERIALS The sustainability of materials was a key factor in all decisions related to building interior spaces, installations, and exhibitions. All the walls in the building were made out of OSB (Oriented Strand Board) wood, which is made out of discarded wood particles. All the furniture in the space, especially on the second floor terrace is made from recycled materials. These include the eco-boards made or plastic bags by Cedar Environmental and Waste seating furniture made from up-cycled ad banners.

RECYCLING Recycling bins for sorting papers, plastics and organics are installed in the premises. The service of delivering the waste to the appropriate facilities is provided also by Cedar Environmental.

COMPOSTING All the organic waste created at the even will be sent to local farmers for composting.

INCLUSIVE All events and especially the KED central location are open for all free of charge, with the exception of some workshops.

COMMUNICATION Digital communication saves tons of paper. Beirut Design week communicates with participants partners and the audience mostly through email, website, and telephone. This includes the registration process and follow-up. Online copies of all publications are also provided to be downloaded from the website

LOCAL RESOURCES The development of all aspects of renovation is provided through local craftsmen, designers, architects, and construction workers. All the food vendors are also 100% local businesses.

COLLABORATIVE Beirut Design Week is above all a truly collaborative process involving students and local partners in every step of development.

SOCIAL All the leftover food that is not consumed during the event is sent to food charities across Lebanon.

REVIVING THE AREA We hope that with the initiation of KED as a cultural hub, the local authorities will start appreciating the value of Karantina as an important part of Beirut with flourishing communities. We also hope that more people will visit the area and actively support a ban on polluting Beirut River with the country’s waste, which causes irreparable environmental damage to the entire area.

VI. RESEARCH THE DESIGN INDUSTRY IN THE LEBANESE CREATIVE ECONOMY “The design industry, with its diverse segments, ranging from industrial and corporate design to service and social design, is one of the key drivers of innovation in the economy. Directly or indirectly, nearly all industrial sectors utilize design-related ideas, concepts and approaches. Design covers a far wider field than just a product with an appropriate or appealing external form. There is increasing interest in resource-efficient production processes, sustainably produced products, and building strong brands or corporate identities. Integrating design expertise into innovation processes is one key factor in developing organizational, process-related and user-centered innovations, and so securing a company’s competitive edge. Numerous studies have shown that strongly design-aware enterprises are more economically successful and have a greater capacity for innovation. For companies both in the creative industry sector and outside it, the method known as design thinking has become accepted as a new approach to generating innovative solutions. Design belongs to those market segments in the creative industries, which comprise a number of diverse business sections and are characterized by a higher-than-average proportion of solo entrepreneurs (“non-employer businesses”) and freelancers. In particular, the main challenges facing solo entrepreneurs include self-marketing and the acquisition of work.” Creative Industries Report, Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research, Berlin “Great design can change lives, communities and organizations for the better. It can create better places to live, bring communities together, and can transform business and public services. Design is a way of thinking that helps small, medium and large organizations, social enterprises and charities change the way they work.” The Design Economy (2015), The Design Council, London

BACKGROUND Within the past decade, Lebanon - especially Beirut - has become a source of inspiration for creatives around the Middle East and North Africa. The design industry is flourishing, especially in the fields of fashion, furniture and graphic design. With a variety of annual events and a growing number of designers making international headlines, Beirut has created an identity as the design capital of the MENA region. However, the value of design is still underestimated and the lack of statistical infrastructure is a major setback. There is no real data to be able to observe the evolution of this industry, evaluate its progress, define trends, understand challenges and develop strategies for growth and international success.

SCOPE & OBJECTIVES Currently, there are a handful of reports that address the topic of creative industries in the MENA region, many of which have been commissioned and funded by the Delegation of the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). These reports usually give an overview of all the relevant industries within the creative economy including music, film, media, design and publishing. Although these reports provide a good overview of the creative economy, they are too general for a better understanding of one particular industry. Moreover, they seem to cater to an international audience and are not of use for the local communities of creatives, who could benefit from the findings. Furthermore, these reports do not address the governments of the respective countries in such a way that they may contribute to policy making that concerns the allocation of state funds and support for the development of the creative industry. MENA Design Research Center (MENA DRC) is developing and publishing the first report that specifically assesses the design industry in Lebanon as a whole, which includes graphic design, fashion design, product/furniture/interior design, digital design, social design and architecture. The report will analyse these different design fields in relation to factors that are constantly influencing the design industry, such as Lebanon’s socio-economic situation, education, policies, local and international markets, manufacturers and suppliers. The insight that is gained from this analysis will be supportive in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that the design industry is facing. The objectives of the report are not only to fill the gaps in the aforementioned pre-existing studies of the regional creative economies but also to develop the design sector to its greatest potential. By using numbers and figures, MENA DRC is intending to give the design community a clear understanding of the situation and the structure of their own industry. Additionally, the report is aiming to raise awareness about the underestimated value of design in the economy and to motivate policy makers and investors to supply current and future generations of designers with supportive ecosystems.

OUTLINE The report includes a variety of topics that are influencing the design industry: gender, socio-cultural factors, demographics, policies, education, wages, investments, local markets, global markets, collaborations, social development, environmental development, manufacturers, craftsmen, suppliers, innovation and technology. These topics are brought together in the following chapters: Defining design, Design and culture, Design and education, Design and policies, Design and economy, Design and market and Design and resources. The report does not only explain the influence of the separate factors but highlights the relationships between them. Policies concerning trade are directly related to access to foreign markets. Banks are increasingly investing in start-ups that focus on innovation. Universities are developing courses about technologies like 3D printing. This diversity makes the design industry strong. The report should help any reader, whether they are involved in the design industry or not, appreciate the value of design.

METHODOLOGY In order to adequately describe the design industry and its influencing factors, MENA DRC is conducting both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Quantitatively, the research aims to assess the industry in terms of demographics and its economic contribution to the Lebanese economy. Qualitatively, the study aims to describe the nature of the Lebanese design industry in the context of culture and value.

PHASE 1 LITERATURE REVIEW A series of documents and academic publications regarding creative economies in both European and Middle Eastern contexts were reviewed. The literature review uncovered insights about the research methodologies used and the challenges the studies encountered.

PHASE 4 PANEL DISCUSSIONS During the Beirut Design Week, a panel discussion will be organised to discuss the findings and challenges of the research. The discussions should lead to the first draft of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the design industry in Lebanon. This draft will be based on the SWOT methodology.

PHASE 2 SURVEY & DATA COLLECTION An online questionnaire was sent out to over 100 designers including freelancers, company owners and company employees. The questionnaire aims to provide MENA DRC with substantial information of mostly quantitative information regarding designer’s backgrounds, education, income, expenses and resources. Simultaneously, available data was collected from different educational, social, economical and political institutions.

PHASE 5 PRESENTATION & WORKSHOP Based on the first draft of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and the results of the panel discussion, MENA DRC will organise a full day workshop for designers and people who are involved in the design industry. During this day, the insights from the previous phases will be presented per topic. The presentation will be followed

PHASE 3 INTERVIEWS A series of interviews with specialists with different backgrounds (designers, lawyers, investors, teacher, manufacturers) are conducted in order to obtain qualitative information. The interviews are based on the responses from the questionnaire and seek to gain deeper insight into the influence of the different factors that are described in the outline and the changes that the Lebanese design industry has gone through.

PHASE 6 THE REPORT The last phase of the research project is writing and publishing the report, which will be accessible for everyone. The different topics will serve as a guideline. The report will elaborate on the strengths and weaknesses of the design industry, followed by threats and opportunities for the industry to develop. Besides, the outcome of the panel discussion and the workshop will be analyzed and discussed. The report will conclude with recommendations for potential following research projects.

INITIAL FINDINGS & INSIGHTS Since February, MENA DRC has been working full time on this research project. It will take time to answer all questions we have in order to define opportunities for the design industry, but the Beirut Design Week is an opportunity to share what has been found so far.

DEFINING DESIGN ‘The design industry’ is a term that has no strict definition. People in Lebanon who are not directly involved in the design sector define it based on known or classical design disciplines such as fashion or interior design. This report is not only aimed at designers but also policy makers, investors and educational institutions. In order to avoid misinterpretation and confusion, it is important that the term ‘design industry’ is clearly defined. To define the Lebanese design industry, existing definitions have been compared in relation to design in Lebanon. In this report, the following disciplines are considered to be a part of the design industry in Lebanon; architecture, digital and multimedia design, fashion design, graphic design, interior design and product design.

DESIGN & CULTURE Insight in growth and decline of existing design fields and emerging disciplines is essential in understanding the development of the Lebanese design industry. This chapter will analyse this development in relation to Lebanon’s political and cultural context. The lack of data about the amount of designers and design practices makes it difficult to show the development of the design

industry in Lebanon. The only available data that can give an understanding is the amount of students that graduated from design programmes offered by different universities. The data that is collected so far clearly shows a fluctuation in relation to the socio-political context. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of design graduates increased by 300%. The academic year of 2005 –

2006 however shows the lowest number of design graduates. After 2006, the amount of graduates has been increasing steadily, especially in the field of architecture. This increase clearly shows that there is a growing interest in design. The collection of data that is needed for analysing the development of design in relation to Lebanon’s culture and politics is still in progress.

posure and integration of young designers after graduation, the lack of courses about local design history and the local market, the lack of courses about the business aspects of design and the lack of discussion about contemporary design issues and developments. Yasmine Taan, chair of the design department of LAU, about design education: “Today, we need to rethink the role of a designer. I don’t think that students who start a design programme really know what design is about. The general understanding of design is that it is just

decoration or the ability to use software. It is up to universities to show that the role of designers is improving people’s lives.” Hani Asfour, founder of Polypod says: “We have a good bunch of graphic designers, fashion designers, product designers, but what about the people in between? Design education should focus more on design thinking and design research. At the moment, businesses don’t understand designers and designers don’t understand how to do business.”

is legally protected from illegal use or reproduction and that fair competition is secured. However, the antitrust law, which was implemented in 1929, is completely outdated and does not cover anything in relation to new technologies and industries. This results in a lack of trust in the reliability of these policies. Sarah Beydoun, the founder of Sarah’s Bag, has experienced people copying her work: “People do not respect designs of others. It is very normal for people to copy and present it as if it is their own design. Design that comes

out of a design house can inspire, but it can’t be copied. It is important to raise awareness about this.” In 2015, Lebanon scored 28 out of 100 on the corruption perception index published by Transparency International. This indicates the extent to which nepotism and corruption are ingrained in the Lebanese governmental structure, which diminishes the rights, legal protection and economic opportunity of Lebanese citizens.

DESIGN & EDUCATION Lebanon has seven universities that offer majors in design. Design and Education outlines the challenges designers face in Lebanese education and looks how universities are adapting their education to the changing design industry.Universities are working hard on the establishment and development of programmes to prepare young designers for their professional career. 100 Lebanese designers were asked what challenges they faced in relation to their education. The following challenges clearly came forward: the lack of ex-

DESIGN & POLICIES According to Najib Harabi (2009) governments can influence the climate in which companies in creative industries compete. They can do this through policies concerning the enforcement of intellectual property, antitrust and many other measures. That influence should be used to encourage investment and other determinants of economic performance. This chapter researches the existence and execution of these policies in Lebanon. Lebanon does have policies for antitrust and intellectual property, which means that design

DESIGN & ECONOMY In 2015, the Dubai Design and Fashion Council published the report The MENA Outlook, in which is stated that Lebanon attributes nearly 5% of its economy and total employment to its creative industries. The design industry is just a part of the creative industry, which also covers film, art and literature. This chapter attempts to evaluate the financial situation in the design industry specifically; designers’ wages compared to wages in other industries, the financial support that the design industry receives, and possibilities for investments. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), design as an integrated solution to the cultural and economic sectors is not acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture, nor by any other governmental agency. Data on the economic impact of the

design industry in other countries are ignored. It is unlikely that the government directs any funds to the development of the design industry. If it does, it is impossible to estimate the budget, as this information is not accessible. Given that the Lebanese state does not invest in the development of cultural or economic industries, the Lebanese private sector is the primary driver of growth in the country. Karim Chaya, designer and owner of ACID: “The only way of moving Lebanon forward is with help from private enterprises and individual involvement. These entities are giving hope to designers. It does not only count for design, but for everything; the Red Cross has nothing to do with the government and we all rely on it when there is a problem. The only public financial support initiative is Circular 331, which was issued in

August 2013 by Banque du Liban. Circular 331 is an investment of maximum 400 million dollars in Lebanese innovative startups. It is the first initiative that is trying to boost the knowledge economy and to provide job opportunities. Cyrille Najjar, founder of White sur White: “The way circular 331 allows to make private investments with public money is great. This can create jobs and develop the Lebanese infrastructure. Companies have the chance to innovate and develop themselves; it allows innovators to thrive, it offers access to professional advisors and there is a direct return of investment.” Due to the lack of data it is not possible yet to make an estimation of wages in the design industry. Available data is still being collected, and research on investments in design is ongoing.

ualistic. They want to do everything alone, usually against each other. I call it the falafel syndrome; if someone opens a falafel shop and the business is going well, someone else will open another falafel shop next door instead of opening a chewing gum shop. There is no organisation of competition. It is clear that there are many challenges for designers in Lebanon. In order to sustain themselves, designers need to do a lot of effort. They need to keep changing and make sure they know exactly what the client needs. They also have to work on a good relationship with the client. In some cases, designers should be open for collaboration to get new clients. Karim Chaya: “We realized that we needed to understand what the client wants. Before we start the design process, we have to get to know the clients, their needs and desires. The reason why we grew is because we worked in a system where the service came first.” John Chehaibar, manager of the Beirut Creative Cluster: “In the tech sector there is a lot of support. It is a new field, so at the start, many people encountered the same problems. It is much easier to solve these problems by talking about it and

working together. This does not exist in the creative sector in Lebanon. With the Beirut Creative Cluster, I want to switch this culture of openness to the creative sector.”

craftsmanship. Unfortunately, the amount of craftsmanship is shrinking. It is good that they can create nice things, but they are not designing for a market. I think that innovating the crafts and using the crafts to create something for the contemporary market is very important for the Lebanese identity. It is about creating new things with the old crafts. We should provide the crafts with technology.” Ziad Abichaker, founder of the Green Glass Recycle Initiative Lebanon (GGRIL), recognises this: “Of course, craftsmanship and technology can compliment each other. We want to bring in knowledgeable artisans from abroad to focus on the technology of ovens in glassblowing,

so that the local glass blowers don’t have to rebuild their ovens over and over again. Craftsmen see that if they don’t change, they will perish. We saw that there is a big gap between artisans and the market. With GGRIL, we had to redesign all products so it would fit to the market. We need to create a market for them. What they need to create for themselves is a more affordable way of production.” This shows that technology and craft cannot only exist together in one market, they are able to compliment each other. But without a clear understanding of the market this complementation seems impossible.

DESIGN & MARKET The chapter Design and market gives insight in the challenges designers face in working with Lebanese clients and in general problems of people who work in the design industry. So far, several challenges have clearly come forward. The instable situation in Lebanon’s surrounding countries and the decreasing oil prices that affect the Gulf States have been detrimental for the Lebanese market. The designers who filled out the questionnaire unanimously agreed that price negotiation and the low appreciation of the work are the biggest challenges in working with Lebanese clients: “Lebanese clients don’t appreciate design. They are not aware of the time it takes to develop good design, therefore the budgets are low.” Cyrille Najjar: “In Lebanon, designers don’t have a good understanding of the market; they don’t know the needs of Lebanese people. They don’t know how to conduct a proper market analysis and don’t ask for feedback from the market. This makes it very difficult to scale their business.” Marc Baroud, head of the design department of the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts: “A big weakness of the design industry is that designers are very individ-

EXPANDING ABROAD Sarah Beydoun: “You need to have a stable company in order to expand abroad. The biggest challenge in going abroad was adapting to a new market. You always need to do very good research and find a balance between the market and the local production.”Milia Maroun, founder of fashion label Milia M: “Starting a business in Lebanon is about a quarter of the costs of starting a business abroad, which is a big advantage. Besides, Lebanon is a great platform for building up a network.” The majority of the questioned designers indicate that they focus on foreign markets, mainly in the Gulf States, because the Lebanese market is too small to survive. If they could set up a branch outside Lebanon, it would be in Dubai or London. Both places have a solid infrastructure, a growing market and a general appreciation of design.

DESIGN & RESOURCES New ways of manufacturing, like laser cutting and 3D printing, are being used more and more in Lebanon. Guillaume Crédoz, founder of Rapid Manufactory, was one of the first people in Lebanon who started working with 3D printers: “The 3D printing industry is able to make processes much more efficient. With 3D printing you can easily make complex shapes for a good price and play with materials. A lot of designers already use 3D printing, but most people don’t really understand the potential of the tools.” Where new technologies are being applied more and more, the amount of artisans is quickly decreasing. Sarah Beydoun: “What makes Lebanon special is the variety of

KEY CHALLENGES In the process of finding answers to the research questions, various challenges have been encountered that were a setback in the collection of information and the understanding of the design industry. MENA DRC would like to address these challenges to inform researchers in case of future projects and to emphasize on the importance of the collection and organisation of data.

THE ABSENCE OF DATA There is an enormous lack of data concerning the design industry. MENA DRC assumes that this lack correlates with the underestimated value of design. In countries where the economic value of design is acknowledged, like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the development of the industry is documented in detail. An overview of the amount designers and design related companies, market shares, annual turnover and average wages is published every year. In Lebanon however, this data is not available. In order to develop a solid development strategy, this data is very much needed.

THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY On an economical scale there is barely any transparency. There are few companies that share the turnover and the wages of employees. Most banks are not completely transparent about loans and investments, especially in the field of design. The government is keeping their expenses completely secret. Transparency is important for building trust and responsibility; two elements that are essential for the development of an economy.

THE LACK OF ORGANISATION There are many people in the Lebanese design industry who are not organised. In general, there is a lack of a structured business plan, a model for price determination and financial reports. Organising a business would help a lot in defining opportunities to grow.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS RESEARCH DIRECTOR: DOREEN TOUTIKIAN LEAD RESEARCHER: JUDITH LEIJDEKKERS GRANT AND SUPPORT: HIVOS This report would never have been possible without the honesty of all 100 designers who filled out the questionnaire. MENA Design Research Center would like to thank everyone who has supported this research project. We would like to thank the following people in particular, who took their time to give insight in the design industry in Lebanon: Claudine Abdelmassih (Arab Center for Architecture) Ziad Abichaker (GGRIL, Cedar Environmental) Hani Asfour (Polypod) Soha Atallah (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) Marc Baroud (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) Sarah Beydoun (Sarah’s Bag) Elias Bitar (Kallas Law Firm) Karim Chaya (ACID) John Chehaibar (Beirut Creative Cluster) Guillaume Crédoz (Rapid Manufactory) Sarah Hermez (Creative Space Beirut) Bernard Khoury (DW5) Simone Kosremelli Milia Maroun (Milia M) Cyrille Najjar (White sur White) Denise Sumpf and Vladimir Isaila (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) Yasmine Taan (Lebanese American University) Rana Yazigi (Platform 39)


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