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Welcome to the ‘Do You Dare?’ Issue of Le Cercle in which we seek out the risk takers prepared to push the boundaries of traditional thinking, the brave innovators who have opened up the horizons of the design world, and the bold ideas that have been translated into beauty on earth. Braving the climatic extremes of 40 degrees below zero, Foster + Partners, one of the leading global architectural firms, dared to dream big with the design for the world’s largest tensile structure in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. Across the globe in the searing 45 degree heat of Qatar, the firm has equally risen to climatic challenges with a revolutionary approach to harnessing the earth’s resources. From the great outdoors to the interiors of homes across the world, design brands such as Roche Bobois, B&B Italia and Moooi have all made their name as pioneers in their field. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Roche Bobois we take a look back at how they blazed a trail over five decades using cutting edge technologies and supreme craftsmanship. For B&B Italia and Moooi we explore the process behind the creation of audacious objects that straddle the line between furniture and art. Taking things up a gear, we bring you a preview of Lebanon’s first extreme sport park set to launch this summer just outside Beirut. As well as offering up the possibility of gentler pursuits, its aim is to provide the perfect place to experience the addictive adrenalin rush of motor sports. The question is: Do you Dare?

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Shopping 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Architecture 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 Living 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 Product design 64 65 66 67 Publisher: 68 City News Privilege 69 70 on behalf of Le Cercle Hitti 71 72 73 Editor in Chief : 74 75 Anastasia Nysten 76 77 78 Managing Editor: 79 80 Helen Assaf 81 82 83 Graphic Design: 84 Genia Kodash 85 86 87 Printer: 88 89 RAIDY | www.raidy.com 90 91 92 Contributors: 93 Fashion 94 Dan Bratman 95 96 Karah Byrns 97 Miriam Dunn 98 99 Louis Parks 100 101 102 Advertising: 103 Art & Culture 104 sales@citynewsme.net 105 106 t:  +961 3 852 899 107 108

Red hot glamouR by Christian Dior one on one with massimiliano Busnelli roChe bobois Celebrate 50 yeaRs of cReation B&B italia BRings style to BaRcelona’s new hotel Design inspiration

Cover: detail of Ploum sofa, Bouroullec for Ligne Roset


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Canapé composable Mah Jong Couture Habillé par Jean Paul Gaultier Design Hans Hopfer.

Conçu pour vous


the spring

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Le Cercle goes window shopping for some of this season’s musthave purchases.

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The Beatles give Ringo Starr the birthday bumps on his 24th birthday.

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Date: July 1964.

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Archive limited edition black and white photography.

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The Beatles looking down on a street from a window.

photography


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Improvise Ann Vrielinck

Triumph

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Size: L 25cm, H 53cm.

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Size: H 166cm.

Fantasize

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Ann Vrielinck

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Size: L 117cm, H 166cm.

Snigger

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Ann Vrielinck

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Size: L 55cm, H 106cm.

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Ann Vrielinck

seating


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Fendi Casa collection

Fendi Casa collection

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seat shell in gloss lacquered multi-ply.

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Jolie Material: frame in gloss epoxy lacquered steel;

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Bibendumchair

Size: W 43 x D 46cm x H 80/104.5cm.

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Material: seat in beech multi-ply in translucent PMMA or covered in synderme hide, frame in matt chromed metal.

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C. Dondoli & M. Pocci for Ligne Roset.

Size: W 40cmx D 43cm x H 65/89cm.

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C. Dondoli & M. Pocci for Ligne Roset.

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Mirlino

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Material: stool in molded multi-ply. Size: D 40cm x H 55.6cm.

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Size: W. 170/200 x D.85cm x H.82cm Inga Sempé

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Ruchésettee gathered or pleated fabric, solid wood structure

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Giancarlo Mino for Cinna.

Ottoman Material: base and belt in polyether foam.

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Size: W 100cm x D 93 cm x H 68cm. Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance for Cinna.

Dickie Material: expanded polystyrene fill, in polypropylene and nylon laminate bag.

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Size: W 105cm x D 110cm x H 120cm. Anthony Kleinepier, 2004, for Moooi.

seating


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Patrick Jouin

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Lou armchair shell in injected polyester resin resting on a unique steel

Size: L.67 x D.75 x H.74cm

Pierre Paulin tubular steel finished in satin black

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Anneau

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base - choice of brilliant-chromed or satin black finish

lacquer, fully removable covers

footstool: W.68 x D.55.5 x H.40cm

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3-seat settee of criss-cross panels and panels of multi-ply Size: W.235 x D.104.5 x H.85cm

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Jean Nouvel

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Simplissimo tubular steel either matt chromed or matt black

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Philippe Nigro

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Confluences

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armchair: W.81.5 x D.71 x H.104.5cm

lacquered, grooved polypropylene

fireside chair: W.60 x D.69 D.74cm

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chaise longue: W.60 x D.133 x H.92cm

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Multi-function stereo system in a single wood cabinet.

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Designed by the Geneva Lab in-house design team Cabinet finish: Piano lacquered wood, available in white, black and red color

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Size: W.110 x L. 110 x H. 34.1cm Fred Rieffel

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lacquer finish. Thick glass top, clear or smoked finish. Size: Ă˜ 110cm x H.35cm Cedirc Ragot for Roche Bobois

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NoĂŠ Duchaufour-Lawrance

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Interstice superimposed strata in solid walnut or white

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Evolcoffeetable Steel circles, satin stainless steel finish or epoxy

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Meli-Melo walnut edging and coloured lacquer

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Size: 36.6 cm x 18.7 cm x 24.0 cm

lacquered MDF with central space

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Size: W.150 x D.84cm x H.28cm

occasional furniture


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Handcrafted silk-screened decoration with 980/1000 silver.

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Cylindricalvases Made out of double thickness, clear mouth-blown glass.

Lace collection Design Paola Navone H.40cm - Ø20cm H.35cm - Ø12cm

Material: porcelain.

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H.40cm - Ø10cm

Size: D 30cm, H 26cm.

Kappavase Steel vase

Wintervase Material: blown glass and porcelain.

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Vanessa Mitrani for Roche Bobois.

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Size: H 32cm.

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Size: h. 55cm, 54cm, 82cm

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faïencerie de charolles

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Marcel Wanders, 2009,

accessories


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Graffiti Material: nickeled steel wire. Size: 48 x 50 x 4cm.

Material: Pot stand in molded brilliant-polished aluminum.

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Tous les Trois for Ligne Roset.

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Size: 32 x 21 x 1.5cm.

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Tous les Trois for Ligne Roset.

Boheme Fred Lambert

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colour: amber or transparent 14.5cm x 30 Ă˜ .

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Carafe in amber mouth-blown glass with a clear glass stopper

softclock Kiki Van Eijk ceramic, black,gold or silver

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size: W.23cm, D.15, H.25cm Moooi

accessories


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DearIngo Direct the spots in the most functional crooked

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way or find your optimum balance. Material: powder coated steel. Size: min 80cm, max.240cm, H 50cm.

Material: injection molded ABS shade, polyurethane base.

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Ron Gilad, 2003, for Moooi.

Size: 78cm x ø37cm.

Material: mouth-blown and hand-made Murano glass.

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Diamond lamp

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Nika Zupanc, 2008, for Moooi.

Size: H 79 x ø 45 cm.

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Material: twin floor-lamp with epoxy lacquered

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base, pivoting reflector and chromed upright. Size: W 15/20cm, D 15cm, H 12.5cm.

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Elia Gilli for Ligne Roset.

lighting


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Lightshadechandelier Semi-reflective polyester shade, steel or bronzed-

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steel frame with decorative glass beads Size: Ă˜47cm x h.82cm or Ă˜70cm x 76cm

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BraveNewWorldLamp Fresh West, 2008 material: Oak frame and cast iron balancing weights

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Size: 70cm x h.180/110cm The Brave new world lamp started as a concept piece in random thought-initiated construction. Inspired by the traditional Far Eastern bamboo scaffolding. The Brave new world Lamp

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shade in white opal PMMA; red textile cable. Size: W 18cm x D 29cm x H 56cm.

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Arianetablelamp Material: base in titanium-lacquered steel;

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was developed without a design or plan in place.

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Wall light with stainless steel support, nickeled socket, transparent cable.

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LaPlic

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Edouard Larmaraud for Cinna.

Size: W 10cm x D 18cm x H 16cm.

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Nathalie Dewez for Ligne Roset.

lighting


Bend-Sofa is music to kate and Davide. Bend-Sofa is deigned by Patricia Urqulola.


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Words:

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t is the nature of man to strive for adaptation. Through technology, our efforts can be used to navigate the world with a minimum of friction, to carve out our measure of sanctuary. But sometimes, something inside us rises and we are inspired. Often by those for who each bend in the road is a challenge, every record a chance to break it. We are inspired by those who dare. Formula One racing has always embodied the very essence of daring. Highly technical, requiring infinite precision and obsession with detail, it also requires extraordinary courage. One must test the limits of nature, beyond what others have deemed impossible. In this, racecar builders the McLaren Group and architects Foster + Partners are kindred spirits and they have met head on. The collision of which has produced the

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McLaren Technology Center, the Royal Fine Art Commission’s “Building of the Year”, a structure that represents these kindred spirits’ conspiracy against convention. Like the cars inside, the new factory designed by Lord Foster is an engineering marvel. Created with an ultra-low profile, the one storey building maintains the aesthetics of the surrounding country, unnoticeable by neighboring properties. Its curved glass exterior opens to the English countryside while indoors, each curve, every beam and railing has been crafted with specific purpose. Perhaps one of Foster’s most impressive design solutions is the factory’s water based cooling system. The massive wind tunnel used to measure the car’s aerodynamics generates an enormous amount of heat. To cool the huge chamber, pumps in the basement send


6,000 liters of cool water every minute, creating a constant flow just beneath the chamber’s walls. Then, the heated water is carried outside where it flows down multiple steps that lead to the reflecting pond surrounding the back half of the center. Once cooled, the water is pumped back inside, circulating as an airconditioning source throughout the entire building. Behind the imposing beauty and exacting design lies a more human purpose. “We wanted to make a place where the workers didn’t want to go home,” says Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group. He feels that in such an environment, the surroundings will inspire the best efforts of its employees to make the greatest cars in the world. Technology has brought us to a place of unparalleled luxury and comfort. Things that once took all day are now performed in minutes. Technology can enhance our lives but how it is used is the responsibility of those who wield it. Those bold enough to create the seemingly impossible raise us up into an age of greater possibility. And they stand as a challenge to inspire.


Foster + Partners defy the weather to create world firsts

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he balance of nature is delicate. The struggle for life to persist is one against the odds. We draw essential and finite resources from the environment as it conspires against us to keep its own balance. Only the strong, bold and adaptable can survive. Intellect and its inventions are man’s strongest tool in the struggle for life and with them, we have learned to thrive. Now it seems that we toy with the elements, pushing the limits of technology not only to survive the harshest conditions but to transcend them. And, in doing so, test the limits of human potential. Recently, in some of the harshest environments in the world, the firm of Foster + Partners has shown just how far technology can take us today. And, how far it dares to take us into the future.


The World’s

Biggest Tent Gives Us The Future Today


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n the middle of an enormous grassy plain sits the city of Astana, capital of Kazakhstan. With one of the most extreme climates in the world, the city’s temperatures range from -40 C in the winter to +40 C in the summertime. With the challenge set, the city engaged Foster + Partners to design a structure whose vast interior spaces would allow the people of Astana to have a climate controlled cultural and civic center. Their response was the world’s largest tent using the sun, physics and innovative materials to temper its harsh surroundings. The shell of the structure is made of ETFE, a transparent polymer material. Fritting (an ancient ceramic technique developed in the Middle East) on its outer foil layer is used for solar shading in the summer. Its tent-like shape allows for natural

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ootball is the most popular sport in the world. Every year, millions of people watch the World Cup. The bid for hosting this prestigious event produces some of the most innovative architectural designs ever seen and the race to hold the 2022 World Cup is no exception. But along with a need to create a spectacular venue for more than 86,000 people, the proposed stadium in Doha, Qatar also faces unique environmental factors. With summer heat rising to 45 C and 95% humidity, keeping such a massive structure cool seems like a daunting task. Doing it with a zero carbon footprint—impossible. But once again, the firm of Foster + Partners has risen to the challenge. In cooperation with companies from around the world, they have pushed at the limits of


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technology to propose the Lusail Iconic Stadium. Emerging from the smoothness of desert, blooming like a flower of glass and steel in the sand, the Lusail Iconic Stadium’s superstructure is a glimpse into the future of climate control. With the goal of a zero carbon footprint, Foster + Partners has drawn from Doha’s most abundant resource—the sun. Hundreds of square meters of photovoltaic cells cover the stadium’s parking providing both solar shading for cars and power for the structure. While the stadium is not in use, the power can be diverted to the grid, creating an alternative power source for the city. The Lusail Iconic Stadium harnesses nature’s resources to make an environment within an environment. Proving, once again, how the mind of man can triumph in the face of the harshest conditions.


TOGO sofa. Design: Michel Ducaroy. Catalogue: www.ligne-roset.com


W o r d s : K ara h B yr n s

The Julia Dumna Cafe

A new dawn in Damascus


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aily life is an art form, an interactive play of objects, architecture, and light. Dori Hitti not only understands this, he lives it and breathes it into each one of his avant-garde designs. The new Julia Dumna Cafe in Damascus is no exception, with the project embodying “simplicity with a modern twist”, in Hitti’s own words. Injecting a fresh, openair venue into the quiet Mazze neighborhood where it is located, Julia Dumna Cafe has become a landmark for the area in less than a year since its official opening. Descending discretely from the street, the Julia Dumna Cafe opens its doors onto a modern interior space that flows seamlessly into an intimate outdoor terrace that lies just below the level of the grass. The stark materials of wood and metal, Hitti trademarks, mingle effortlessly with abundant greenery. Bright vines wrap around a sleek steel wall while decorative plants and a high solid block wood structure provide warmth and


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life outdoors, while bold and bright geometric sofas add zest to a predominantly white interior with wood accents. Although this contemporary venue with an international fusion feel would not be groundbreaking in Beirut, it has made such a buzz in Mazze because it is the first of its kind to grace the area. In Beirut such a place would be popular and impressive, but expected. In Syria, it breaks boundaries. “It has become a trendsetter for the surrounding area,” says Hitti. “It is introducing an opulent, minimalist style to Syria that people haven’t seen here before.” The space functions as a restaurant and lounge both at day and night, and bustles with a constant influx of patrons who appreciate the contemporary enclave of decadent repose. Both intimate and public, it captures the elegant essence of the neighborhood and its spirit of enlightened privacy through a modern design concept. “We broke a barrier and people have embraced it,” says Hitti, satisfied. “The place is always busy, which shows how much our architecture and interior design concepts are being appreciated.”


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here is always a first time for everything, and this past November, it was Qatar’s prestigious International Furniture and Design Exhibition (INFDEX), in its 9th successful year. November 2010 marked the first time that Dori Hitti of Le Cercle Hitti Group participated in a regional trade show in response to an invitation to head the jury of the show’s Young Designer Award. Organized under the patronage of the Prime Minister and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the show

featured designers and companies from over 30 countries all around the world, from France and Italy to Turkey and Bahrain. Bringing international talent to the heart of the Gulf, the event showcased some of the world’s most ambitious designers. To support Hitti’s presence as a judge of the Young Designer Award, Le Cercle Hitti Group made waves with a unique stand at the center of the exhibition hall that completely broke with expectations in a positive, meaningful way.

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Conceptual instead of commercial, the stand featuring an abundance of flat screens on a pure black backdrop to showcase rotating, vibrant images of Hitti’s projects, including yachts, chalets, retail and residential spaces. “The reaction we received was overwhelmingly positive, with many people there asking how a designer could so effortlessly blend East and West through such a modern simplicity of form,” Hitti says. “Our presence was subtle; it spoke for itself.”


Oriental

B&B Italia brings style to Barcelona’s new hotel Words: Miriam Dunn


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ew European cities can boast the rich architectural heritage, thriving cultural scene and exciting shopping opportunities that Barcelona offers. As the flagship of Modernist architecture, thanks to a rich legacy of buildings created by the renowned architect Antoni Gauda, Barcelona’s charming maze of streets and squares is a bewitching mix of old and new. The high-end boutiques of Chanel, Armani and Hermès sit comfortably alongside architectural splendors like the famous Gaudi House and the Sagrada Familia church, while tapas bars and cafes offer a seemingly round-the-clock vibrancy in the famous Las Ramblas avenue which connects the city center to the sea. The majestic Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is located at the city’s most exclusive address in Passeig de Gràcia, perfectly reflects Barcelona’s diverse legacy and contemporary elegance. Marking the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s first opening in Southern Europe, this avant-garde luxury residence offers guests sumptuous comfort combined with the

inimitable hospitality for which the award-winning company is renowned. An elegant mid-20th-century building, the Mandarin Oriental’s Hotel’s contemporary, yet timeless decor and interiors are the carefully-crafted work of the Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola, incorporating many design pieces from B&B Italia. Her hallmark genius and creative flair are evident throughout the resort, from the avant-garde furniture of the 98 rooms to many inspirational details, such as the fully restored early 20th century French ironing table in the Blanc restaurant and lounge. Urquiola’s clever use of cream and white give the hotel rooms a fresh, contemporary feel, while trademark oriental accessories add an intimate touch. Guests will delight in the views from the rooms, which take in the boulevard or the hotel’s landscaped interior garden. Dining is of the caliber that clients would expect from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. Renowned Chef Carme Ruscalleda, winner of five Michelin stars, oversees the innovative culinary experiences of the innovative Moments restaurant,


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while the sister restaurant Blanc and the Banker’s Bar offer alternative fine dining options. For visitors who wish to forget the hustle and bustle that a busy city trip can involve, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel offers the perfect retreat in the form of a 1,000 sq meter Spa. Here, guests can indulge themselves from a wishlist of holistic rejuvenation and relaxation treatments and therapies in a tranquil, relaxing setting. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel is undoubtedly a fascinating mix of contrasts, from its historical architecture and oriental artefacts to its cutting edge business facilities and pioneering cuisine. An intriguing combination of old and new which surely reflects the city in which it proudly stands. The Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40 Barcelona 08007 Phone: + 34 93 151 88 88 Fax: + 34 93 151 88 89 www.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona


D E S I G N V É G É TA L - D E S I G N O B J E T - PA R F U M


W o r d s : K ara h B yr n s

Ducati & High On Wheels dare to bring Beirut motor sport to the next level


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iding is a dangerous sport... and anyone who states otherwise doesn’t know what he is talking about,” says Gilbert Khoury, Owner and General Manager of High On Wheels, Ducati Beirut. Compared to any other bike, riding a Ducati is about the extreme - extreme sport, extreme style, and pure riding bliss. The thirst for adrenaline that motorcycle riders live for is one that a luxury sports car just can’t quench, and this pleasure carries a price. To experience it, one has to cross the limits of fear and step onto the track with confidence, prepared to fall down, get up, and keep on striving for perfect balance at staggering speeds.

“The profile of the typical Ducati rider is an achiever who knows what he wants; he is an ambitious, adventurous, adrenaline seeker who usually likes to associate with brands that translate to excellence,” observes Khoury, who has operated Beirut’s Ducati franchise for the last four years. In that time, Ducati has grown from a small storefront off the Beirut coastal highway to a multi-level shop and showroom that features everything from spare parts and protective gear to baby Ducati apparel. It is a haven for extreme sports enthusiasts, for Beirut’s bold without borders. It is an ideal sport for the man - or woman - who may already have everything, but


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desires to experience life to its fullest and is ready to push personal limits past the finish line. Though traditionally perceived as a man’s sport, motorbikes are gaining ground with women in Lebanon. “Today there are about six or seven female riders who ride regularly for fun,” notes Khoury. “One is even a professional rider,” he adds, with a nod to Ducati’s own Corporate Executive Sarah Fakhoury, the female rider in question. Fakhoury, with her long blond hair cascading in waves over her left shoulder, simply smiles, suggesting there is no reason any woman can’t ride just as well as any man. Her advice to women? “Just get out there and try it, you won’t regret it.” As rumor suggests, the easiest way to sell a Ducati is to get someone to test-ride it. “This is true - more often than not, he will never want to get off of it,” Khoury confirms. And to give these passionate riders a field for their sport, Khoury will be taking motor sport in Lebanon one monumental leap forward by launching an extreme sport park just 15 minutes outside Beirut, in Dbayeh, with a tentative opening date set for summer

2011. The park will target families and sports enthusiasts of all ages for a wide variety of activities, from motor cross, carting, and racing to tamer activities like walking and cycling. “The park will be like a sport city... open to the public for from ages 3 to 99,” he quips, referring to his own son and daughter who both began riding motorbikes from the tender ages of 3 and 4, respectively. “I even had a man who was 73 tell me his dream was to ride a motorbike,” he adds. “I told him, ‘come on out and I’ll show you how’, and I taught him everything... he now rides with us today at the age of 74, and he is doing well.” Despite the allure of the thrill, what holds most people back from daring to test drive a motorbike is fear. However, as long as people are aware of the risks involved and take the necessary safety and protective measures when riding, Khoury claims that the sport can be rewarding and fulfilling, without anxiety. “You get over your fears very easily on the bike,” he says. “The feeling of pleasure you get on the bike is so much greater; that joy, the rush, the utter sense of freedom... it all overpowers any possible fear.”


Le Cercle explores the thinking and inspiration that brought four modern-day iconic designs to life

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“Maarten approaches design without knowledge of, or care for, predisposed boundaries.” So reads the biography of this Dutch designer and graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven. His Smoke concept not only caught the eye of museums, critics, and collectors but also international design company Moooi. The Smoke chair is, according to Moooi, furniture finished with fire. “The beauty and character of burned wood is now captured in a long lasting material, creating the strange sensation of sitting on burnt furniture”. Although every Smoke chair may look alike, each piece is absolutely unique.

Maarten Baas for Moooi

Smoke


“I wanted this chair to look obviously comfortable with the kind of shape that ‘relaxation’ might take if it were portrayed in a picture. It needed to be encompassing or enveloping - in a way that would make people want to just lie back and relax. I attained this shape by drawing a straight line on top of a shape that looked like a piece of paper rolled up into a huge megaphone. Perhaps what I really wanted to create was a form that looked more like a sculpture than a chair or one that reminded me of a big soft toy.” Naoto Fukasawa

Naoto Fukasawa for B&B Italia

Grande Papilio


Patricia Urquiola’s Bend sofa comes from a study of 3D models and digital research: the volume seems moulded by hand, softly fashioned in a ductile material; an almost primary, monolithic form. The back of the sofa is lightly chequered with a pattern alternating plenums and voids, whilst the contrasting stitching emphasizes the edges like a wire-frame model, creating a visual effect of lines and volumes. Undulating forms, assembled in a continuous and alternating series of seats, ottomans and corner elements, create an elongated and sinuously twisting sofa. From simple compositions of few elements, sofas of limited size are created, suited to the home environment.

Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia

Bend


Crinoline is the result of Patricia Urquiola’s research into threedimensional texture: a success with soft, curving shapes. Chairs and all sizes of armchairs are designed in several different shapes and heights. The black-white and black-bronze polyethylene weaves are joined by cord weaves in natural fiber or painted bronze. There are different base frames: in stainless steel or with finishes that are either the same or contrasting with the chair. The tub chair becomes more scenographic with a poncho in natural-colored, magenta or bronze cord draped over the chair seat and over the backrest. Versions with stainless steel frames have a supporting frame in a cord weave in natural color or bronze, or in black-white or black-bronze polyethylene fiber. The table reflects the style of the Crinoline series, with a curved shape like the chairs and the woven pattern of polyethylene fiber. It’s available in two different finishes: black-white or bronze-black. The base is made up of two connected elements that create a chalice shape that supports the tops, which are made of extra-light, etched glass back-painted white or of white layered HPL laminate with milled grooves in a radial pattern. This last version is designed to hold an umbrella in the center.

Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia

Crinoline


W o r d s : H e l e n A s s af

How B&B Italia is moving with the times


01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Shopping 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Architecture 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 Living 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 Product design 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 assimiliano Busnelli is a man that knows 72 how to keep secrets. As the head of 73 74 Research & Development at B&B Italia, it is 75 certainly part of his job description. to keep 76 77 a tight lid on upcoming designs. In Beirut for the opening 78 79 night of a special Le Cercle Hitti B&B Italia exhibition, 80 however, Busnelli is only too keen to look back and share 81 82 more on the subject of the company’s evolution in the 83 past year. 84 85 Sitting on a B&B Italia sofa in Le 86 87 Cercle Hitti’s showroom in Downtown Beirut on a 88 late November afternoon, Busnelli recounts how the 89 90 exhibition pieces that are on show around him relate the 91 92 story of the company’s strategic vision of recent times. 93 “A year and a half ago the market was very bad so we 94 Fashion 95 said we have to react and do something,” he says. “One 96 idea was something that had been happening in the 97 98 car industry for many years: to use the same chassis 99 100 for many different models.” In the case of B&B Italia 101 though, instead of a chassis being reused, it was the 102 103 mold. A modular sofa, for example, can entail up to ten 104 Art & Culture or 12 molds being created for the different elements. 105 106 Reusing the molds, but changing distinctive elements, 107 108 such as the fabric or the stitching and even the

M

Facing page: Massimiliano Busnelli at Le Cercle Hitti, Beirut.


height between the seat and the floor, resulted in new products with less outlay required from the company. A second idea focused on introducing sofas that were less expensive than the rest of the collection by eliminating the feet, removing the cushions and structural elements, all with the intention of reducing costs that could be passed on to the consumer. Innovation has certainly been at the heart of the B&B Italia brand since it first launched in 1966. Sofas at the time, and even still today, were typically made using a wood frame. “Our invention was to have a metal frame, which lasts longer compared to wood, and then to put it into a mold and inject polyurethane into it,” explains Busnelli. The manufacturing revolution brought with it myriad possibilities for new shapes and daring visions to be brought to life. This innovative spirit has been upheld through the years and continues to be the hallmark of a true B&B Italia piece.”People expect something innovative from us,” says Busnelli. “That’s why we try to be very critical of our designs because if we don’t find any innovative spirit we’re not going to do it.” In the Le Cercle Hitti

showroom there are plenty of examples that illustrate this philosophy. Not least among them is Zaha Hadid’s Moon sofa, which blends the avant-garde architect’s creativity with B&B Italia’s pursuit of perfect comfort. “Zaha Hadid was one of most challenging projects we have ever done. The first sketches she sent us, we didn’t even know how to look at them,” says Busnelli, adding that Hadid subsequently pushed B&B Italia team’s production knowledge to the maximum. After undergoing the industrialization process and enduring rigorous structural testing, the final result is an imposing and striking sofa that Busnelli describes as “comfortable” and most likely destined for a collector’s home or as a second sofa in a private space. Although a collaboration with one of the most famous names from the world of contemporary architecture may give the impression that B&B Italia deliberately targets big names, Busnelli denies this is so. “We are not looking for famous designers, we are looking for good designers with whom we can create a relationship based on trust,” he says. “Once we find these kinds of designers we collaborate with them for


many years and they become family friends.” Antonio Citterio is a good case in point, who has been designing for B&B Italia for more than 30 years. His Ray sofa joins Patricia Urquoila’s Bend sofa as being among the two most popular B&B Italia items to debut in Le Cercle Hitti’s showrooms in recent months. As for what innovations can be expected from B&B Italia at Milan’s upcoming International Furniture Fair in April, Busnelli remains tight-lipped. However, even if he won’t let slip on any details, his passion for the products, as ever, is clear. “They are our children,” he says. “We follow the products from the first idea and develop them in a very tight collaboration with the designers. They are our ‘sons’ so for us they are beautiful, I really believe in them as always.”


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Designing

bliss

Karen Chekerdjian Words:

K a r a h

B y r n s

O

Karen Chekerdjian

n a family holiday in Milan, Karen Chekerdjian walked into an industrial design school, and fell in love. Not with a handsome Italian or an unforgettable place, but with the concept of threedimensional design. “I was beginning to feel frustrated by working in just two dimensions,” says Chekerdjian, who at the time was already enjoying a successful career in Lebanon as a graphic designer and founder of her own company Mind the Gap. “At that time no one in Lebanon even knew what industrial design was; for me, it was like finding something that I had always been looking for.” With an academic background in film direction, Chekerdjian was an unusual candidate for a Masters in product design, but when she boldly presented her portfolio to the dean, she was accepted on the basis of her talents. Thus began the evolution of the Karen Chekerdjian Beirut knows today, both woman and brand. Her story and her work are proof of the passion she dedicates to her designs that balance functionality with beauty. “I went through a time when I thought designing for beauty was a shame... but with maturity, the passing of time, and realizing all of the ugliness that’s around, it made me see that we need more balanced objects, objects that are beautiful and create something

intimate,” she says. “Objects are here to make you feel something.” Her work also centers around two principles, timelessness and sincerity. “I don’t like designs that age - contemporary design today is very much marked by its place in time. I like the idea that you look at something and cannot put a date on it,” she explains. “I also like work that is sincere. I don’t like the idea of doing something that is meant to be stylish, to be seen, to get attention. The more you create something close to your deep soul and do what you really like, the more your object will be beautiful; it shows.” Chekerdjian’s work has been exhibited across Europe, the United States, and Lebanon. On December 10th 2010, she opened a store alongside Rabih Kayrouz and IF Boutique on Derviche Haddad Street, in the heart of Port Beirut. Not known to be a trendy address, the area is in the process of being reinvented thanks to this trio that is calling on design seekers to come and explore design from a new perspective. “We liked this area because it’s not too glossy, perfect, and clean - it’s very real, there is a mix of people from all walks of life,” Chekerdjian confides. True to her words, Chekerdjian’s shop lies within a metal warehouse from the 1930’s; a space that has “a strong spirit”. Inside, her objects are on center stage within a stark yet cozy and sophisticated interior that


Asf a r N a d i m Photos by:

recalls Paris or New York, just a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean. In 2011, Chekerdjian aims to design a new collection and organize several events, especially those that can create dialogue and facilitate exchange in the design community. Open to anyone coming to her with prototypes, Chekerdjian is also ready to invest in young talents with high potential and big dreams. But as for her own dreams for the future, well, she prefers not to tell. “When you talk about a dream, it doesn’t become a reality,” she says. “I will only talk about it when it starts to happen.”


W o r d s : D a n B ratma n

I

n a fast paced, ready-made world, true craftsmanship stands out like a beacon in darkness. Massive department stores hawk everything from ketchup to couches, from candy to coffee tables. But, despite a convenience conscious culture, the intrinsic attraction to quality remains. In some, an eye for well made and ingeniously designed goods is like an intuition and the ability to forecast trends, like an act of faith. The ability to consistently exhibit this intuition and faith is nothing short of miraculous. And, for this reason, the fiftieth year of Roche Bobois is cause for celebration. The early 1960’s. The Beatles, the race to the moon, Vietnam, worldwide

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political upheaval and the mini skirt—it was in this environment that two brothers from the Couchan family and two brothers from the Roche family met at a Scandinavian furniture expo in Copenhagen. The four immediately struck a friendship based on a common passion—furniture design—and an entrepreneurial spirit. They also shared a belief that the public was ready for something new, a fresh vision, new designs based on a newly emerging culture of leisure, style, and unprecedented technological advancements. The times were changing and the brothers saw the need for interior design to change with them. They cast their lot together and established the first Roche Bobois showroom in the epicenter of style, Paris, on the Boulevard Saint Germain. Starting out showcasing French builders, Roche Bobois became a distributing hub for the best and brightest designers in the country. Blazing trails with some of the first modular sofas, utilizing cutting edge technologies and unparalleled craftsmanship, the store set itself apart from the


first. Soon they branched out. Excited by the new Scandinavian styles, Roche Bobois began importing modern furniture from Denmark. Sleek, simple, new, the Nordic style was a hit in France—and then the world, due largely to its introduction by Roche Bobois. The brothers contacted designers directly and soon, they created collections exclusively for the store. They were no longer merely store-owners, they were aficionados, style makers. Roche Bobois no longer predicted the winds of change as much as generated them. It was from such collaborations with Roche Bobois that designer Hans Hopler brought forth the modular Lounge Sofa in 1971, a design as fresh today as it was when it first emerged on the scene. The 1968 Pastilli chair, by Eerio Aarnio, the 2010 Mayflower armchair from Fabrice Berrux, to today’s Papillon sideboard by Rene Bouchara, each new design is part of a greater aesthetic; bold, new, exceptional quality and something uniquely Roche Bobois. Since then, Roche Bobois has expanded

with 240 stores around the world. Each month, with a new store opening somewhere, the company brings its unique vision to the corners of the globe. Known worldwide for their meticulous detailing, relentless attention to the craft of building and customization, anything from Roche Bobois is heirloom quality. Just as pieces of the past have been handed down, furniture made today stands in houses, coveted by generations up and coming. To anticipate a trend is a talent. To create them is a gift. To have done so for fifty years is what makes Roche Bobois so enduring. But in the end it is the piece and one can see it in the hand stitching. It can be felt in the cushions of a sofa. One can smell it in the quality leather and fragrant woods. In the end, it is the furniture made and loved by people who value such quality that makes Roche Bobois worthy of a fifty-year celebration.


Egg Geisha based on the Egg Vase by Marcel Wanders, photography & concept by Marcel Wanders & Erwin Olaf


pantone 18-2120 Honeysuckle Panton’s new year color


Words:

C

olor is everything when it comes to mood. No one knows this better than Pantone, which has spent the last 50 years as a global authority on the subject, providing design professionals with products and services that inspire them to explore and express themselves through the world of color. For at least the past ten of those 50 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year announcement has been an event of heightened anticipation; the unveiling of the one color that will shape product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries including fashion, home and industrial design in the months to come. For 2011, it is the vibrant, energetic hue of Honeysuckle that will dominate in design, according to Pantone. Following on the heels of 2010’s Turquoise, which symbolized a feeling of escape, 2011’s choice embodies emotions of confidence and courage,

H e l e n

Ass a f

emboldening everyone to face the challenges of everyday life with verve and vigor. For Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.” She adds: “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.” With its ability to stimulate and get the adrenaline going, Honeysuckle is destined to bring a burst of energy to the new year while certainly signaling an end to those wintertime blues.


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Design in

motion Words:

K a r a h

B y r n s


F

irst inspired by craftsmen fashioning furniture in the working class district of Ouzai, Ghida El Zein was fascinated as a child by the meticulousness and beauty of giving life to an object of everyday simplicity through design. Inspired by people, she creates collections that answer to their needs and desires both spoken and unspoken, transforming furniture into functional art. In perfecting her art, wood is El Zein’s preferred material, and the hands of her countrymen her preferred medium. The Lebanese designer only produces with local artisans, craftsmen, and manufacturing professionals, because they “add a human touch”, ensuring no two pieces are the same. “I would like to show people that a furniture piece produced in Lebanon can be as good as - and even better than - a piece from Italy,” she says. “I moved back

to Beirut to be able to work closely with artisans and not to mass produce like they do in Milan... And I have seen that this can be done.” Despite her young age, El Zein already has five collections. Each furniture collection revolves around the concept of motion, “whether they are modular blocks or floating angular planes”. Though strikingly different, each collection explores being solidly grounded while suggesting motion. Her most recent Skew collection employs skewed angles to create an illusion of floating, as the thickness of the wood at the edges is nearly non-existent. “The object is physically heavy in weight but visually light,” she says. In contrast to Skew, El Zein’s Block collection explores a feeling of movement through edges that fit together like puzzle pieces in a multitude of ways. Her Connect collection follows the same


idea of connecting pieces for versatility, to create different shapes and uses for functional objects. Fabric upholstery is the focus of her Enfold collection, which breaks with strict industry practice by using unconventional details like transparent buttons. Her Outcast collection reinterprets the classic dresser by applying lacquer for a contemporary look and upholstering drawers, adding more warmth. A hint of playfulness is always present in her work, as she fulfills pragmatic needs with “a touch of chaos”. Although she finished her education in Milan, El Zein began at the Lebanese American University, and she has high hopes for the local design scene. “I believe we have great production and very talented designers, but very few, because only one university offers furniture design. In Italy, I was taught

concepts - I was taught how to think. And I teach my students that. I believe this is the starting point to any true design process. You can teach yourself to draw, cut, glue... but to think - that is more difficult. It becomes part of who you are.” While continuing to work on her furniture designs, El Zein is also heading a new design company, Blank Space, which aims to create world class designs from Lebanese production talent. “We have to support Lebanese production and encourage people to buy Lebanese-made furniture,” she says, giving something back to her childhood inspiration - the people whose devotion to their livelihoods gave her the spark of courage to pursue her own.


Red-hot g Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2011


glamour


“T

his season Dior Haute Couture is inspired by the work of iconic illustrator René Gruau. Volume and movement are inspired by the spontaneity of the illustrative line and create a silhouette of effortless elegance. A degrade of tulles wash from light to dark, as painterly techniques in sheer silk organza to bold silk faille evoke the intensity and shade of an illustrator’s gouache palette. Graphite sketches and ink outlines evoke a new spirit through layered tulle shadows, with ostrich feathered ‘brush strokes’ and iridescent embroideries to create a virtuoso chiaroscuro effect of chalk shading and contemporary couture. The unique vision, and creative friendship, shared by René Gruau and Mr. Dior unveils a silhouette that is effortless, modern and ever inspiring” John Galliano January 2011


high drama Words:

H e l e n

Ass a f


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F

rom Reality TV winner to fashion world darling, designer Christian Siriano has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame. For Spring/Summer 2011 he continued his dazzling ascent with a collection that conjured up fantasy and drama infused with a multi-cultural edge. Taking a flight of fancy through Africa, India and the Far East, Siriano’s prints on floaty fabrics in electrifying hues bring modern-day elegance to eveningwear.


Words: Louis Parks


“Dancing Game”

Facing page: “Cool cat”

A

sense of fantasy pervades much of the work of Lebanese artist Ginou Choueiri. A visit to her website (ginou.mosaicglobe.com) reveals a girl with the head of a rabbit and the wings of a bird standing on a yellow background featuring flies holding rifles, bayonets fixed, titled Kill Time Before It Flies. Fairy tales, myths and fantasy provide the material for two of Choueiri’s latest works, In Between a Lullaby and Dream and Animal Archetypes. The first, a series of paintings, began as a series of sketches deeply personal to the artist, “I used to write a diary and I started doing it through images. I never really felt comfortable showing them. But, through evolution, it came about.” The series is a collection of paintings inspired by classical lullabies, with men depicted as wolves or foxes and women as feminine rabbits acting out various scenes. “It’s about that time when you’re in between a lullaby and a dream, you’re not

really sure what’s happening, it’s meant to be vague,” says Choueiri, “People identify with stories, it triggers something, a feeling.” There’s certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to In Between a Lullaby and a Dream; wolves lurk menacingly and the relationship between a wolf and a rabbit only ends one way. It’s precisely because Choueiri chooses to use the romantic style of the children’s story that gives her pieces such power. However, it’s only when you pause to consider the intentions of the wolf that the true meaning of the piece becomes apparent. The series evokes a wide range of comments and interpretations from viewers according to Choueiri, “People look at it, and each one relates to it in their own way. They identify with different things. It’s not there to say something literal and direct, it’s there to let your imagination take over.” The gritty undertones of the series came about as a result of frustration. Struggling to


Above: “Lost Playground”

Right: “Black cat red heart”

Far right: “Le coq”

create a collection for an upcoming show and frustrated having created paintings that were “naïve”, Choueiri took photographs of herself during a particularly vulnerable moment. “I just took a picture and made a montage. To me the rabbit represented femininity and a certain vulnerability, from there I looked at the imagery of fairytales, and it grew from that.” The second of the two series, Animal Archetypes, grew out of Between a Lullaby and a Dream and is on-going. Using animals to represent archetypal concepts allowed Choueiri to present something that could be immediately understood; rather than focussing on a human figure, the use of an animal allows the viewer to clearly understand the trait the artist is trying to portray. Everybody can relate to

the charisma of the Cool Cat, or the pugilistic nature of Le Coq, attempting to portray these ideas in a human would risk the viewer concentrating too closely on the details of the image, rather than the concept of the archetype. The series seems open-ended, “They’re portraits. Every time I meet someone who fits in, or an idea comes together, I get to work,” says Choueiri. While it might be tempting to label Choueiri’s work as somewhat whimsical, there’s a serious note beneath the rabbits, foxes and cats. “As subject matter, you can look at it all seriously, it’s human nature, the concerns that human beings have. Inside I’m someone who has my own anxieties. For me, making art is all about going back to the playground, making things, having fun,” she says. It’s this sense of serious ideas allied to fun that comes across strongly whenever you look at her work. The use of animals to make social and personal statements is indeed an intriguing idea, by no means new, but certainly given new life when wrapped up in the imagery of fairy tales or the straightforward simplicity of the archetype. By employing a layer of whimsy, Choueiri disarms the viewer, cutting straight to the heart, creating powerful pieces with a layer of real world grit below the surface.

Le Cercle # 6  

Le Cercle magazine is for those that ooze unique, world-class style and design.