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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.

Profile for MENA Design Research Center

Beirut Design Week 2016: FEATURE  

Beirut Design Week 2016: FEATURE