Page 1

From Milan with Love Le Cercle reports from the

Salone 2011

Exclusive interview The wonderful world of

Marcel Wanders Design talk IngaSempe, PatriciaUrquiola PhilippeNigro, JeffreyBernett &GabrieleBuratti Taking it outside Fresh style for summer


From milan with love Le CerCLe reports from the

saLone 2011

exclusive interview the wonderfuL worLd of

marCeL wanders Design talk Ingasempe, patrICIaurquiola phILIppenigro, JeffreyBernett &gabrIeLeBuratti taking it outsiDe fresh styLe for summer

07

01 Welcome to the summer 02 03 issue of Le Cercle, where we 04 05 pay tribute to the Summer/ 06 07 Salone 2011 collections 08 09 that embrace this season of 10 11 the senses, ripe with warm Shopping 12 13 sunshine, gentle breezes, 14 15 and fresh ideas. Enjoying the 16 17 freedom of the great outdoors 18 19 makes relishing in the luxuries of Architecture & Living 20 21 freedom of thought, emotion, 22 23 and expression somehow more 24 25 sublime, almost spiritual. As 26 27 we trade heavy layers for skinExterior Special 28 29 30 skimming fabrics, we drop our 31 32 guard, lighten our load, and 33 34 open up to new possibilities with 35 36 the promise of long lazy days 37 38 and cool summer nights ahead. 39 40 In this issue, we celebrate 41 42 freedom of expression as we 43 44 uncover the latest outdoor 45 46 furniture designs and expose 47 48 2011 collections and emerging 49 50 design talents showcased at 51 52 the Salone del Mobile. We put 53 54 five inspirational and visionary 55 56 designers featured at Milan 57 58 Design Week 2011 in the hot 59 60 seat, discovering the men and 61 Product Design 62 women behind some of this 63 64 summer’s must-have pieces. 65 66 In Beirut, we get up close and 67 68 personal with design legend 69 70 Marcel Wanders during his visit 71 72 Publisher: to the Lebanese capital, and we 73 City News Privilege 74 take a privileged tour of some 75 on behalf of Le Cercle Hitti 76 of his whimsical yet cutting 77 78 Editor in Chief : 79 edge interiors. In an ode to the 80 Anastasia Nysten 81 divinely sensual and expressive 82 83 dance of the ballet, we ponder 84 Managing Editor: 85 the marriage of tradition and Helen Assaf 86 87 innovation with the Ballet de 88 89 Graphic Design: Monaco, which is reinterpreting Fashion 90 91 Genia Kodash and reinventing the classic 92 93 dance with an urban, modern 94 Printer: 95 appeal. Art & Culture 96 RAIDY | www.raidy.com 97 Between these pages, 98 99 Contributors: we provide a summer escape to 100 101 Dan Bratman run away to, whether from the 102 103 Karah Byrns relaxation of a beach hammock 104 105 Miriam Dunn or the cool comfort of a first106 Louis Parks 107 class plane seat. This issue is 108 109 a place to let go, sit back, and 110 Advertising: 111 watch the fascinating world of 112 sales@citynewsme.net 113 design go by. Bon voyage. t:  +961 3 852 899 114 115 116

Cover: Marcel Wanders


the summer

wishlist

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

BirthdayBumps

Triumph

The Beatles give Ringo Starr the

Size: H 166cm.

birthday bumps on his 24th birthday.

Ann Vrielinck

Date: July 1964.

gardeco

trowbridge

FabFour

Improvise

The Beatles looking down on

Size: L 25cm, H 53cm.

a street from a window.

Ann Vrielinck

trowbridge

gardeco

Make-upMirror

Fantasize

Archive limited edition black

Size: L 117cm, H 166cm.

and white photography.

Ann Vrielinck

trowbridge

gardeco

ACCESSORIES


RêveD’Edo

Soft Twist

P. Maly & C. Gollnick

Arik Levy

w.15 x d.15 x h.15cm

Ligne Roset

w.32 x d.32 x h.11cm Ligne Roset

Slats

Eplaff

Carmen Stallbaumer

Tous les Trois

Glass vase, walnut decorative cache

laser-cut steel sheet, nickel-plated

w.24 x d.10 x h.40cm

ø58 x h.6cm

w.44 x d.16 x h.22cm

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset

DelftBlueNo.4

Passe-Passe,coatrack

Marcel Wander

w.23.2 x h.172.5cm

Porcelain

Philippe Nigro

w.41 x d.41 x h.31cm

Ligne Roset

Moooi

SphereCoutureOrchid Couture floral arrangement Herve Gambs

ACCESSORIES


Fringe

Randomlight

Edward Van Vliet

Bertjan Pot

PVC/Viscose laminate on metal

Fibreglass soaked in epoxy resin,

frame, chromed steel pendant

chromed steel pendant

ø70 x 40cm

Moooi

Moooi

Dear Ingo Ron Gilad Powder-coated steel min.80/max.240 x 50cm Moooi

Chio

Radiuslamps

transparent plexiglass, aluminum

ø60 cm x H 180 cm

stems with mat varnish

Fendi

w.23 x d.15 x h.60 cm w.23 x d.15 x h.90 cm Cinna

Aroun Jean-Philippe Nuel

Giottochandelier silver leaf

Table lamp with opaque chintz shade,

Fendi

opaque white PVC diffusers w.50 x l.62 x h.53cm Ligne Roset

LIGHTING


Stripes

Emperor

P. Nigro

Neri & Hu

2 stems and 2 stainless

Bamboo rattan cage, aluminum

steel brushed shades

frame and glass diffuser

w.50 x d.30 x h.172cm

60 x 100cm

Ligne Roset

Moooi

Lolita

Ariane

Nika Zupanc

Edouard Larmaraud

Injection moulded ABS shade,

Lacquered steel structure,

polyrethane base

PMMA lampshade

ø37 x h40cm

w.18 x d.29 x h.56cm

Moooi

Cinna

Kusamono

PascalMourgue

Florent Coirier

Chromed steel structure,

Steel wire structure finished

cotton lampshade

in black lacquer

ø45 x h.198cm

w.78 x d.25 x h.61cm

Pascal Mourgue

Ligne Roset

Miyake

Arnaud

Arihiro Miyake

Arnaud Lapierre

Concrete base and cast metal

Articulated structure in

head, aluminum tube

black lacquered steel

w.80 x h.110cm

in open position: w.50 x l.77 x h.25cm

Moooi

Ligne Roset

LIGHTING


PlaywithDedon

Gothicchair

Philippe Starck

Studio Job

w.48 x d.52 x back h.82 cm

Polyethylene (rotational moulded)

Dedon

w.44.5 x d.46 x h.90 cm Moooi

Doyl

50’clockchair

Gabriele and Oscar Buratti

Nika Zupanc

w.48 x d.53 x back h.79.5 cm

Solid beech frame, plywood

B&B Italia

shells, upholstery w.46 x d.46 x back h.80 cm Moooi

SaintJames

Rocher

Jean Nouvel

Hertel & Klarhoefer

Light lines of steel, cushion

Shell in techno-polymer

w.52 x d.66 x back h.80cm

w.52 x d.57 x back h.84.5cm

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset

Simplissimo

Extension Chair

Jean Nouvel

Sjoerd Vroonland

Bent, soldiered tubular steel,

Solid Beech

MDF, plywood, fabric

coat stand: w.43 x h.102 cm

chaise longue:

Moooi

w.60 x d.133 x back h.92cm Ligne Roset

seating


Grillage

Anneau

Francois Azembourg

Pierre Paulin

Wire mesh, base in tubular

Tubular steel, base in cast

steel, fabric throw

aluminum, upholstery

l.100 x d.74 x back h.69cm

w.81.5 x d.71 x h.104.5cm

Ligne Roset

Ligne Roset

Husk

Smoke Chair

Patricia Urquiola

Marten Baas

w.64 x d.60.5 x h.110cm

Wood finished with fire, leather upholstery

B&B Italia

w.72 xd.72 x h.105cm Moooi

Tufty-Too

Jean

Patricia Urquiola

Antonio Citterio

Comes in various dimensions

w.78 x d.78 x h.70cm

B&B Italia

B&B Italia

Bend sofa

Ploum

Patricia Urquiola

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

Comes in various dimensions

Steel tubing, wire and mesh. Covered base

B&B Italia

l.245 x d.126.5 x Back h.76cm Ligne Roset

Turn to pages 35 to 50 for more outdoors collection

seating


T apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

he name of Marcel Wanders has become synonymous with landmark international design, and the young Dutch designer’s star is continuing to rise thanks to his bold ideas, impressive patterns, and outlandish spurts of creative genius that cross over the line between reality and a dream. Walking into a Wanders interior is like walking into another world, the unfamiliar yet alluring home of a beautiful stranger. Thanks to this talent for weaving together enthralling spaces, the Mondrian

South Beach Hotel in Florida and Thor (The Hotel on Rivington) in New York City are just two of several luxury hotels that Wanders has recently added to his rapidly expanding portfolio. And simply having a look at the interiors explains just why his talents are so hotly in demand by places with a flair for the original. Mondrian South Beach is awash with color, featuring guest spaces that somehow manage to echo the stark sophistication and impersonal edge of modern design while remaining busy, vibrant, and overflowing with untamed imagination. At Thor, Wanders reveals


01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 Shopping 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Architecture & Living 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Exterior Special 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 Product Design 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 Fashion 91 92 93 94 95 96 Art & Culture 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116


apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

an ultra-urban restaurant space with swirling patterns and a color palette of whites, grays, and blacks, injected with a strong red pulse at the entrance. A lofty glass atrium and large landscape windows blur the line between indoor

apture a glimpse inside the mind of one of the world’s latest design gurus than inside

and outdoor, public and private. Because interior spaces are psychological spaces, there is perhaps no better place to residence. Located in Amsertdam, Wanders’ home features solid white contrasts and detailed

molded ceilings, complete with his signature trademark of unique floor and wall patterns. The simple yet sumptuous space is a feast for the eyes and a pleasure for all of the senses. Home sweet home indeed.


The Creation of a Lebanese Village There’s a fresh breeze of nostalgia here in Beit Misk. The children are out playing, climbing on trees, picking flowers. Older folks are enjoying time in the sun, discussing youth and yesteryears from benches that line the streets. A young couple steals a kiss as it prepares to welcome guests for a wedding banquet. The place is noisy with laughter, birds, and happiness. This is what the village of tomorrow will look like, feels like. It is authentic yet modern, rich with heritage and convenience.


Beit Misk was imagined like the typical Lebanese village, spread out on over 655,000SQM at an altitude starting at 600 meters, all the way to 900 meters, and divided into three zones: the independent villas, the townhouses, and the buildings, which will be 3 floors at the most. In every structure in the village, the same proportions that were used in the olden days are applied to arches, windows, and doors. To add to the charm of the village, all rooftops are red tiled, giving every house and every building in Beit Misk a unique character, typical of Lebanese architecture.

And home it will be, for artists, sports lovers, doctors, teachers, environmental enthusiasts, dreamers. This is where passion groups will flourish, exchanging ideas, moments, and hopes. This is where people will be inspired by everything that surrounds them, from the trees to the art, from the people to the heritage.

While Beit Misk is fully integrated within trees, it is its proximity to the city that charms the modern day families. Taking its dedication to preserve the environment to heart, Beit Misk has taken upon itself to plant over 200,000 trees in a nearby greenhouse. These trees will be planted over the years throughout the area, in order to offset any tree that was cut in order to develop the project. This allows for the majestic beauty of the Lebanese countryside to remain, overlooking the bustling city below.

are one with their environment. This is a village where a river of flowers flows from terrace to terrace, where nature and culture unite in the most Lebanese of ways. This is Beit Misk, a place that will capture the dreams of young and old, traditionalists and modernists. Beit Misk will be Lebanon’s newest village.

Beit Misk will redefine what village life will be like, making it attractive for a variety of people looking for a healthy, environmentally friendly, comfortable escape from the city. Beit Misk will inspire a sense of belonging in all of its residents. This is precisely the strength of the project. Every detail of Beit Misk creates a sense of belonging and, more importantly, of pride in its residents. In Beit Misk, families will grow, stories will be told, the youth will flourish, proclaiming with confidence “I am from Beit Misk. This is my home.�

With Beit Misk, a new outlook on life is born, where the simple life of yesteryears collides with the comfort of the city, where nature returns to its rightful place, and where people


E

ntering the ATCL newly renovated club house, the space feels at once a suave yet simple apartment yet also a sophisticated and stylish public venue. In reality, it represents both: a home away from home. The club house, designed by interior architect Dori Hitti, is an extension of the entire Yacht Club and gives off a highly relaxed lounge-like aura. Serving as a comfortable meeting place for regulars of 20 years just as much as newcomers, the club house is a place to dine, drink, socialize, play cards, access the internet, and even indulge in a game of chess. The mood set by white furniture and various shades of wood conjures an extremely relaxed homey feel. The feeling of space is enhanced with each section opening onto the other with only a stylish bibliotheque acting as a partition. The genuine concept of a beach house is also maintained. Apart from the breathtaking view, black and white pictures ordain the walls and light curtains decorated with boat prints provide warmth. The combination of various woods, metal, and white furnishing along with intriguingly shaped chandeliers hanging over the bar give off an appealing vibe and display a fusion of both the modern and classical stylistic approach. Accessories, such as the stylish lamps or the magazines placed casually on every table, de-formalize the design, making the atmosphere feel more comfortable and at ease. In a blend of happy home meets upscale beach club, the club house is indeed one of a kind both in design and appeal, and provides the perfect setting in which to mingle and have fun in style.


Light& theWay Tabanlioglu leads Istanbul into a new era W o r d s :

D a n

B r atma n


A

rchitecture forms spaces of living,” says Murat Tabanlioglu, partner of Tabanlioglu Architects. “From residential to retail or industrial facilities, we hope to build a sense of community at places for people.” Strong words from a strong firm, Tabanlioglu Architects is a pioneering Turkish architecture and design house that has been making its mark on the city of Istanbul since 1957. Now an international company with a broad portfolio of more than 20 large-scale projects in many different countries around the world, it is pursuing excellence in what it does best: creating meaningful spaces that add value to the lives of those who interact with them. A Tabanlioglu project goes beyond its borders, considering where it lies in the city’s urban and social fabric. Forward-looking and revolutionary, the family-owned business has accomplished many firsts in Turkey. Co-founder of Tabanlioglu Architects Hayati Tabanlioglu was the architect of Turkey’s first shopping mall - the Galleria - in the 1980’s, as well as Istanbul’s first opera building. Most recently, the company has designed the city’s first modern art museum, Istanbul Modern, its

first residential high rise, Sapphire, and its first open air shopping center, Kanyon, all of which have earned prestigious architectural awards. “Once temples were the places where people meet each other, nowadays we need to build new temples of our time where people come across one another,” says Melkem Tabanlioglu, Murat’s wife and also partner in the firm. “For making better cities today, we need to allow for different activities to occur in the same space; we need to repair the collectivity of space to combat the serial time of modern labour, and re-build ceremonial and informal public spaces of our era.” Today, Tabanlioglu is giving birth to temples of modernity across Istanbul. Sapphire, which offers 360-degree views of the city from its highest point will also overlook the sparkling Bosphorous river and nearby forests. To ensure that these luxury heights never lead to isolation, common areas like swimming pools, meeting rooms, and mini-golf practice courses are interspersed between every nine floors, to encourage interaction between residents.

At one of the city’s newest public landmarks, Istanbul Modern, glass walls open up the building to interact with the city, seascape, and light, which frequently plays a dramatic role in Tabanlioglu’s projects. In fact, one could say that one Tabanlioglu signature is the clever and aesthetic use of glass and light, both natural and artificial, to illuminate the building throughout day and night, creating a transparent effect that is clean, crisp, and cosmopolitan. By striving to build structures that portray the transparency of modern Turkish society that at the same time perpetuate the traditional social norms of community-based living, Tabanlioglu is not only reinforcing the identity of a city, but a culture. “Architects don’t only design for the needs of the present... we aim for the future,” says Murat. “To do that, we have to establish bonds between the past and present, to connect to the future. We translate the contemporary language of architecture, while respecting the existing values of the place where we are working.”


OUT IN THE

OPEN It’s that time of year again to enjoy the light summer breeze. Le Cercle explores the latest trends in outdoor ambiance that turn being outside into being out in style.

Andreu World.................................36 B&B outdoor....................................39 dedon....................................................42 emu......................................................... 45 fendi...................................................... 48


Andreu World


b&b outdoor


dedon


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emu


fendi


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01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 Shopping 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Architecture & Living 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Exterior Special 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 Product Design 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 Fashion 90 91 92 93 94 95 Art & Culture 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116

MEGÈVE, FRANCE 45° 51’ 28 N 6° 37’ 06 E NEW YORK, UNITED STATES 40° 42’ 51 N 74° 0’ 22 W

TULUM, MEXICO 20° 11’ 60 N 87° 25’ 60 W


UDAIPUR, INDIA 24° 49’ 60 N 73° 30’ 0 E CHIANG MAI, THAILAND 18° 47’ 43 N 98° 59’ 55 E

SHOMPOLE, KENYA 1° 45’ S 36° 01’ E

LA DIGUE, SEYCHELLES 1° 45’ S 36° 01’ E

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA 33° 55’ 0 S 18° 25’ 0 E

W o r d s b y : Helen Assaf P h o t o s b y : Rainer Hosch & Oliver Helbig for DEDON


Tulum, MEXICO

MegÈve, FRANCE

New York, USA

Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA

N

ever one to stand still, the leading outdoor furniture brand Dedon has embarked on a globe-trotting journey of discovery as its team experiences life under the skies around the world Dedon has firmly established itself as the global leading brand for outdoor furniture since its launch two decades ago, so, in many ways, the title of its new film ‘Barefooting around the World’ couldn’t be more appropriate. Written and directed by the legendary American photographer Bruce Weber, the film showcases some of Dedon’s exquisite collections of outdoor furniture against a hazy golden backdrop of New York’s Montauk in late summer. The film has an intimate feel to it, reflecting the special bond that Weber quickly established with Dedon’s founder Bobby Dekeyser following their first collaboration last January. Conjuring up the beauty and adventurous spirit of life lived outdoors, Weber’s film is set on a

floating barge which is perfectly furnished in a selection of Dedon’s Bohemian-style designs. While the film beautifully depicts Dedon’s trademark handwoven, weather-resistant furniture, it is also deeply personal, featuring many of its creators’ longtime friends and favored collaborators laughing and lounging under New York’s blue skies. The supermodels Elaine Irwin and Dree Hemingway, great-granddaughter of author Ernest Hemingway, are just two of the personalities who bring a graceful and glamorous touch to the film’s setting which was located just a stone’s throw from Weber’s home. Bobby Dekeyser was keen to ensure that ‘Barefooting around the World’ portrayed, among other things, a sense of adventure and this quest, alongside his other passions, such as experiencing life in the great outdoors on a global level, were behind Dedon’s highly innovative and ambitious Tour du Monde venture.


Shompole, KENYA

Udaipur, INDIA

La Digue, SEYCHELLES

Chiang Mai, THAILAND The tour, which is now in full swing, was launched by Dedon to give the brand’s team the chance to visit a rich diversity of people around the world, all of whom have, in their own way, created unique and contrasting outdoor-living spaces for themselves and others to enjoy. The tour shows no sign of slowing down, according to the team’s regularly updated blog, which describes in picturesque detail the team’s experiences from the snowcapped French Alps to the maharajas of India. As Dedon’s team say, the company may do business in more than 80 countries, but there is still a long list of new and exciting places to discover. Dedon’s adventurous spirit, together with its sense of fun and creativity, was also in evidence at the company’s recent launch event, Collections 2011: Ready for Take-Off. The brand chose to introduce its new collections in the creative setting of Berlin’s Flughafen Tempelhof, one of the oldest and most historically-significant

airports in the world. Cleverly bringing its huge departure hall back to life, Dedon’s new collections were displayed across the complex by hostesses who entered into the spirit by dressing up as flight stewardesses. Tour du Monde-inspired shop-in-shops brought together the themes of the global brand, while flight captains’ Hervé Lampert and Jan van der Hagen talked guests through Dedon’s exquisite new collections. With an emphasis on more soft furnishings, including outdoor rugs, and clever combinations of materials, such as modern mirror-finish aluminum worked with solid teak, the new collections clearly indicated that Dedon has recognized the importance of never standing still. And this, surely, fits perfectly with the company’s globe-trotting venture, which will undoubtedly bring a further eclectic mix of ideas and inspiration from around the world to Dedon’s beautiful outdoor furniture ideas.


Geneva Sounds superb Groundbreaking, cutting edge hi-fi that you’ll be proud to describe as part of the furniture

F

or many of us, hi-fi systems conjure up images of woodenboxed speakers in the living room jarring with the rest of our decor. But thanks to the renowned Swiss company Geneva Lab, those of us who want our audio system to look as good as it sounds have something to celebrate. This revolutionary, all-in-one soundstage has been designed to offer cutting edge home entertainment of the highest quality while its elegance and minimalist simplicity will ensure that it blends in beautifully with the surrounding decor. Indeed, it’s no surprise that the Geneva Sound systems are only available at the most prestigious, high-end design and fashion houses such as Le Cercle where aesthetics matter as much as performance. While it has Swiss precision engineering at its core, Geneva Sound, which comes in a variety of models, is deceptively straightforward and easy to use, taking the form of a single, multicomponent box with one plug. But while its look may be one of high-end simplicity, the Geneva Sound’s interior boasts the most advanced technology on the market. The cabinet houses a pair of full-range speakers with first-class stereo separation, a CD player, an FM radio and external source inputs, together with a digital amplifier and an iPod/iPhone dock. The entire system is

carefully calibrated and tuned for optimal sound performance with an impressively wide frequency range and the purest digital amplification. Once the three-dimensional sound is experienced, it becomes clear why the patented technology is the preferred choice of recording studios that have notched up Grammys and Oscars. Listeners are able to move around freely while still enjoying first-class acoustics from any spot in the room thanks to the pioneering technology which ensures that the distance between the right and left speakers is exactly the same. Owners of the Geneva Sound system can also rest assured that their system will be able to weather the storms of everyday wear and tear. Each handmade cabinet, which is created from hard-wearing American walnut, is hand-sanded and given eight layers of lacquer which provides it with the same durability as that of a grand piano. Those of us with a green conscience will also be pleased to know that Geneva Sound’s all-in-one concept puts it at the top of the list for sustainability when it comes to manufacturing, packaging and shipping, which surely adds up to a list of great reasons for investing in new, cutting edge hi-fi.


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The wonderful world OF

Marcel Wanders,‘designer of the new age’, has built a career designing not only for Europe’s biggest contemporary manufacturers, but also as art director and coowner of Moooi. Anastasia Nysten sat down for an exclusive interview with the Dutch design hero on his visit to Beirut. What’s the purpose of your visit to Lebanon?

I was in Doha for a project. I’ve been travelling a lot in the Middle East and everyone always says how amazing Lebanon is. I wanted to go on holiday and I was in the region so I decided to come for vacation How is your stay so far?

I love it! Did you always want to become a designer?

When I was a kid I wanted to do something


creative but I didn’t know what. Design was not a subject at that time. There was nothing like design. I was not aware of it. At some point someone told me there is a good school of design so I went to that school. Design is big in the Netherlands. Has it always been this way?

It was nothing at that time. There was only one school for design. I wanted to do something creative - to create a new world, not the same world in a different way. And so I wanted to have a new style in design. I was pretty wild and it was impossible in this school. So they kicked me out. I was lucky to be able to study in another school, a school for jewelry in which I studied for three years. I was the odd one out because everyone was doing jewelry and I was always making products. After a year, I started another school in Belgium. I always tried thinking ‘What should designers know’? I was reading about marketing, about plastics… I was going to exhibitions… It was interesting because I was thinking of my job, of what I had to know instead of just following the structure of the school. I then stopped both these schools and went to a school in Arnhem and finished my education there. In fact I never fit into the typical Dutch path. What’s your reference for ‘good design’?

An interesting thing is that if people think about good design, they pick a piece, start looking at it and evaluate on formal ideas like rules. I measure this object, the value of it, the quality of it but I don’t measure visually only. I measure it in the heart, in the mind. And that’s where you should measure the value of your work. That’s why I always go to places where my work is inaugurated for the first time, to see how people react. I think that’s where you measure. If there’s nothing there, then you did nothing. Do you have a product that you are most satisfied with, that you have a preference for?

If you were a mother, you’d know that if you had a child you wouldn’t have any preference, you can’t really tell.

other emotionally as well and to pay respect to each other. And to show if we stack our cultures, things become more interesting. It’s not impossible. It’s actually possible and so I think it’s the right thing to do. Did you have this idea when you were visiting the Middle East?

No I’ve actually had this idea for three to four years now. It definitely has to do with the Middle East but it mostly has to do with the fact that we have so many troubles in our own culture to understand what happens in another culture. There are beautiful things around. And I think design is made for this. You think of design as a material activity but it really is a psychological activity. If it doesn’t feed our brain, it’s not important. It is not material, it is psychological. It is communicating to the whole world. The works of designers are read all over the world and they speak about who we are, what we think and what we strive for, how we see the new world, how we can live tomorrow and it is extremely important. Many of your designs have been selected for museum design

Is there a specific type of

What about the hero pin? You had an interesting story there.

The whole story was that I made half a million pieces of this pin and sent it out with a Dutch magazine ‘Libelle” with whom I was co-operating. At that time, the pin was made for my then girlfriend and big love. She was very ill at the time and it was not always clear if we could become old together or not. I did include the pin in their magazine and was able to reach 500,000 readers and so another 500,000 heroes. We had a few leftovers so I gave them to one of the best modern art jewelry galleries and asked them to sell it at the same price of five cents each.

collections and exhibitions. How did you first feel about it?

At first I felt strange because I thought that my work had to be with people, in their daily lives, and not at museums. But when I was in the museums and I saw how people were interested in what I was doing, it actually felt great. It shows the credibility of the work. I think it is a reference. I’m very happy with it What are the standards of a museum piece to you?

Different museums have different opinions about what they collect such as museums that collect ceramics, others that collect prototypes, and even others that collect highlighted furniture. More and more of our works are kept by museums such as the work we have done for KLM. They don’t only collect ‘extreme’ work but also work that is more functional such as the new dinner service for KLM.

Tell us a bit about your involvement with Moooi.

I am the co-owner and art director of Moooi. It is my most important activity in my career. It is a great way for me to express what I want to give to the world. It allows me to work with other creative people and to give them a chance to be on the market. It allows me to invent new creators such as Marten Bas, Nika Zupanc, Bertjan Pot and many others. These people started out with Moooi and are now really important people in the world of design. I think it’s great that Moooi is able to do this. Moooi is a company that is a bit more outgoing than other companies. We try to be on the cutting edge of design. I think in all cultures and also in the MiddleEast, there are people who want to be involved in the cutting edge of things. You’ve seen a bit the Middle East and now you’re in Lebanon. How do you

You have very poetic objects such as the ‘hero’ pin (made

product you’d like to design more

chair. We use archetypes. We want to make things that say something else and which give the reason for these things to arrive to the world today so we change something in what we think is a normal product and always try to find a beautiful way. We do it using form, color, texture, technology. We use what you feel and what you know of. We try to reach all the areas such as rational, emotional… Stories about the objects we are creating can be rational, can be emotional and they add to the beauty of what we make.

for someone special at that time), Chrysalis for Flos (the metamorphosis

than another?

of a caterpillar into a butterfly), ‘new

The one thing I would like to design is a mosque. It’s something I think is really important to do. I think more than anything we need in this world is to start to live together in a better way. The world is becoming smaller and smaller and we are becoming closer to each other, physically. So we have to start becoming closer to each

antiques’ for Cappellini, Matriochka... Is all your work based on your personal stories, or on stories of life?

I think what we try to do is make objects that people recognize. There are things that are not only ‘new’ but recognizable. Not only ‘crazy’ but understandable. We like to make a chair for example that is recognized as a

see it in relation to your products?

I think there is an interesting gap between the international arena and the local arena and I think they can work together in a good way. I think we represent obviously the modern world and there are many people who are very interested in that part of the world. So I think we can make a good connection with Lebanon. Lebanon is definitely the creative hub of the area and it is definitely the right place where we can make a lot of connections.


SALONE INTERNAZIONALE DEL MOBILE 2011

The annual event that defines design celebrated the industry in style, featuring the world’s latest talents and collections. Bringing the best of Milan to Beirut, Le Cercle sums up the Salone’s most enticing must-have pieces and sits down with some of the brightest names on the scene.


PATRICIAURQUIOLA Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola is a shining star on the Italian industrial design scene. She is also one of the few women in the world to take the reigns of a male-dominated industry, making the confident blonde an attractive personality to design enthusiasts. Born in 1961 in northern Spain, Urquiola moved to Italy at a young age, studied design at the prestigious Politecnico di Milano, and received guidance from the likes of industrial designer Achille Castiglioni and art director Patrizia Moroso. After working with world famous companies like Alessi, Antares-Flos, Artelano, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina and Kartell, Urquiola launched her own design studio in 2001. “This phase from going from a student and not having any credibility to a credible designer is a drama,” said Urquiola. “This happened to me more or less 12 years ago, and the moment it happened to me, things changed completely. Now is an amazing period in my life.” For the last 8 years, Urquiola has been collaborating with B&B Italia, a relationship that she described as a “long friendship”. “In Italy, they come to you and ask if you have any ideas and give you a lot of freedom,” she said. Recently, Uriquiola designed B&B Italia’s Hush chair. Supported by wooden legs, the shell of the chair is a plastic mold that serves as a frame for a series of soft cushions. Made in a sustainable way, the pieces of the chair can be divided and replaced with different materials, like cushions made of cotton or leather in varying colors. Ottomans can also be ordered to match. “I’m very happy with the new armchair... It gives you comfort, very humble,” she said. The price of the Hush armchair was engineered to be modestly accessible, in hopes of reaching a significant market for this flexible and comfortable design statement.


JeffreyBernett Jeffrey Bernett is a man who thrives on change. Growing up in the USA’s Mid-West, Bernett was consumed by a passion for all things mechanical and architectural. However, it wasn’t until he hit 30 that he realized that it was in interior design that his passion really lay, so, he took a leap of faith. “It was always architecture and design,” he says, “I always knew how to do things and starting working with a technical wood school in England, before long I moved there. I was struck by the poetry of wood as a material.” From England, Bernett made the move to Milan, taking his love of wood with him. “It’s very different from the States, but there was this language I understood from the start. It was like hearing a language you’ve never heard, but you understand immediately,” says Bernett of his first taste of Milanese design. Bernett soon fell in love with quality Italian craftsmanship, something he says has been lost in America. It was within this setting that he began to truly flourish, focusing mainly on furniture. Since his introduction to Italian finery, Bernett has worked with Michael Kors, Cappellini and Northwest Airlines to name but a few. A specialist in custom seating, Bernett is currently collaborating with B&B Italia on something he calls “The Tulip chair”. With their flowing, natural lines, perhaps influenced by his love of all things arboreal, Bernett’s creations are always strikingly simple, elegant and visually appealing, but one thing they’re not is ordinary.


GabrieleBuratti Gabriele Buratti, architect and professor of interior design at the Design Faculty of the Politecnico di Milano, is one of the most exciting designers to come out of Italy’s famous city of fashion. Having worked all over the world, including projects in Paris, Rome, New York, Milan and our own Beirut, Buratti, along with his brother, Oscar are rising stars. Their agency, Buratti + Battiston Architects is famed not only for architectural work, but also their striking approach to interior design. “We design furniture and architecture, mainly by finding quality and then improving upon it,” Buratti says. “Designing a chair is different from designing a building, it’s all about the scale. You think about the idea, then discuss the scale of that idea. That’s the approach of the project. We want to control the scale. The most important scale is the space. Space, light, furniture, interior… this is the concept of the studio. From product design to architecture.” Their all-encompassing approach allows the brothers to oversee every stage of a project, often working with local architects, such as on the La Perla boutique in Beirut. Throughout it all Buratti stresses the importance of collaboration, “It’s important to work with the craftsmen, with the people. As an architect it was very important to work with the design center of B+B where materials and technology come together to work and develop from the first idea to the final product.” Be it the flagship store of a world-famous brand or their collection of ‘Nix’ tables, the brothers bring a unique touch to design, focusing on attention to detail and local talent, all be it with a dash of Milanese flair.


IngeSempe The renowned French designer Inge Sempe enjoyed huge success when she teamed up with Ligne Roset to produce the famed Ruche settee. So it was no surprise that the French contemporary furniture company chose to collaborate with Sempe once again when they decided to expand the Ruche line to include beds. Sempe admits she had her doubts about the venture, saying she believed it would be a challenge to stir up interest for the product among clients. “I don’t really like drawing beds because people are happy to have just a mattress,” she said. “At first I didn’t want to take this project but then I thought I’d take all the comfort that was suggested in the Ruche chair and translate it into a bed.” The distinctive ruche quilting on the headboard and frame of the bed link it to the settee while also giving out a message of color and comfort. Like the settee, the bed is elevated by a slimlegged, solid beech structure. Sempe, acknowledges that her study years spent at Les Ateliers Ecole Nationale Superieure de Creation Industrielle (ENSCI) in Paris required a change of direction when she moved into the world of business. “It wasn’t really an ordinary furniture design school, we drew things like fans, wheels and pens,” she said. “People like buying lights and sofas, so I started drawing that.” Ever the practical designer, Sempe believes comfort should be a high priority in furniture. “The most important thing is that the product isn’t annoying,” she said. “If it gets on your nerves, then there’s a problem.”


philippenigro French designer Philippe Nigro’s complex asymmetric pieces form the latest collection by Ligne Roset. Nigro’s style instantly lends itself to modern, contemporary pieces, at once striking yet at the same time having an air of comfort and usability. Following a particularly successful show in 2008, Ligne Roset approached the designer with a view to creating something a little different, as Nigro explains: “I wanted to explore to the max this idea of mixing, intersecting… materials and forms. Ligne Roset gave me the possibility to do so. The whole collection is based on this concept. Outdoor chairs, Lighting, sofas… It was a way to push the idea to the maximum in a form of accumulation.” While each piece is unique in its own right, Nigro was quick to stress the fundamental role shape plays in his work. “The common thing is not to have a very simple shape and to play on the repetition of this shape. The shape alone, doesn’t make any sense. It makes sense once we have a composition, once we accumulate them,” he said. It’s the challenge and difficulty found through working with asymmetric shapes that fascinates Nigro. “I tried to introduce asymmetrical shapes because if you think industrial production, you usually think square shapes, aligned shape because it’s easier to produce. It’s a challenge developing a product industrially if it is asymmetrical,” he said. Challenging, yet ultimately worth the effort, Nigro’s pieces are certainly unique, a contemporary addition to any setting, Nigro’s work at once screams “modern”, yet exudes a sense of class that seems set to be enduring.


Candil Alvaro Catalan De Ocon

Salone 2011

Composed of only three elements (copper, wood and brass), Candil lamps are a modern version of candlelight, offering a visual and tactile experience. Conceived by Madrid born designer Alvaro Catalan De Ocon, they reflect his philosophy of using only essential elements avoiding unnecessary waste of materials and of embracing a clean style that lasts through time.

Best of

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Succession Fredrik Färg

Morphing Series Restart Milano

modern Times Swedish designs

Swedish designer Fredrik Färg has been noted for his ability to combine Scandinavian purity with a playfulness that is exuberantly joyful, something that is evident in his Succession collection of stools cum cupboards. Starting with a base made of an innovative composition of materials, the limited edition pieces are then dressed in leather and textile, with ropes tied around them before being baked. The process results in a pattern without seams once the rope is cut away.

Restart Milano, a partnership between Maurizio Navone and Luca Liberali, focuses on small series productions that embody made in Italy craftsmanship at reasonable prices. The design philosophy reflects the aim of reactivating existing ideas in a contemporary environment, to create objects that could become permanent parts of everyone’s life. With the Morphing Series the issue of use of space is tackled via modules that can be adapted to needs. Night & Day’s central sliding element, for example, renders it a couch, chaise longue or bed as required.

Modern Times is a design studio based in Gothenburg which brings furniture design, interior architecture and material concepts together under one roof. The designs use many of Sweden’s natural resources, such as local birch wood, and the country’s landscape provides inspiration for the models. Tables are topped with granite, which is as hard-wearing as the local cliff tops, while trestle stools are modern but also conjure up images of quaint, oldstyle Swedish barns and outhouses.


Maruni Collection 2011

Yii Taiwanese crafts

Thomas Eyck ‘schwarm’ and ‘oak’

The Japanese furniture company Maruni has just released its latest collection of finely made pieces, which features the work of two leading designers. The Roundish chair, which is the creation of the company’s art director Naoto Fukasawa, stands out for its striking curved back and seat, offering the highest level of comfort and relaxation. The Lightwood series, from the designer Jasper Morrison, is, as the name suggests, delicately sculpted furniture weighing just 2.5 to 3kg, making it particularly versatile.

Yii combines the best of traditional, Taiwanese craft techniques with contemporary design. Translating as ‘change and transformation’ in Taiwanese philosophy, Yii falls under the Taiwan Craft Research Institute, which is a government agency promoting local crafts and innovation. Its pieces, created by Taiwanese and international designers, fuse old and new with a twist. They include fine porcelain crockery shaped like disposable fast-food plates and a bamboo chair created to look like ancient Chinese book rolls.

Thomas Eyck is currently showcasing two new collections, featuring the work of renowned designers RaR and Christien Meindertsma. The exclusive contemporary design company has teamed up with RaR to offer the ‘Schwarm’ (swarm) collection of limited edition 40-piece porcelain vases in the shape of glazed porcelain beetles. The ‘oak inside’ is a new collection of cutting edge furniture designed by Meindertsma which takes its inspiration from the 400-year-old Hindeloopen traditional and colorful craft techniques.


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O

nce upon a time Hollywood stars transformed the panama hat into a classic mark of fine taste, romanticizing it as an accessory that symbolizes boldness, mystery, and the glamour’s adventurous edge. Rumored to be able to hold water when woven at the highest standard, the hat became a signature of exploration and travel in the tropics. First mentioned in writing in 1834, it has been a fashion icon for more than two centuries. Napoleon wore a Montecristi hat, along with many other kings, emperors, titans of business, and other legendary figures. While the trend of wearing hats began to fade with time, cheap, paper-based imitation hats from China began to flood the market, stifling incentives for artisans to continue creating the originals. Fortunately for the world, Brent Black could not bear the thought that the art was dying. “I touched my first Montecristi hat in 1988. And it touched me too,” says the former advertising executive and creative director turned panama hatter. That same year, The Panama Hat Company of the Pacific was born alongside the Montecristi Foundation, to ensure the art lives on, by boosting work conditions and pay for artisan weavers in the hat’s original home of Ecuador. Since then Black, based in Hawaii, has bought more Montecristi hats than anyone else in the world. And with a celebrity clientele and hats that sell anywhere from $500 to $25,000... business isn’t bad. “I like styles that don’t go out of fashion. Someone can wear one of my hats today, and can still wear it ten years from now and get compliments. Fashions are whimsical. Classic styling

endures,” says Black, but the secret to the hat’s value is in the craft. At present, there are approximately 200 to 300 hat weavers left in villages of the canton of Montecristi, Ecuador, not to be confused with Montecristi, the canton’s capital city. However, less than 15 master weavers weavers who can weave hats finer than 35 rows of weaver per inch - remain. Hats woven in the villages are brought to the city of Montecristi to be completed, where artisans complete them. In total, there are probably about 15 to 20 artisans in Montecristi who make important contributions to the creation of Montecristi hats, making preserving the art form as a whole a very real concern. When it comes to panama hats, the difference true artistry makes is paramount. The number of weaves per square inch is the simplest denotation of quality, though this barely begins to describe the painstaking process required to produce the most exceptional hats, known as Montecristi superfinos. Superfinos feature a fine weave that is silken to the touch and can require months to produce by hand. To weave one, the weaver must cut as many as 60 unopened leaf shoots, called cogollos, from a particular grove of toquilla palms in the rainforest. After that, the weaver will spend two weeks to turn these 12 pounds of cogollos into the straw that will be used to weave a hat weighing less than one ounce. Weavers prefer working in cooler temperatures, as just one drop of sweat can ruin a hat destined to fetch thousands of dollars. After weaving, a hat must be worked on by five more artisans before it is ready for export to someone who will block the hat to shape for the customer.

“I talk to my clients and get a sense of their physical size, so their hats can be made to proportions (crown height, brim width) that will look good on them,” Black explains. Though some might consider the hats’ price tag a bit steep, it reflects the labor and art form, not a label or trend. And the money goes to a good cause; a $25,000 hat purchased by Charlie Sheen not only brought in more money to a weaver for a hat than any other in history, but also helped to fund building a water project for the village of Pile. To fuel the incentive to pass on the craft to the next generation, Black passes on a fair share of his profit to the weavers. According to Black, the greatest challenge in marketing the hats is not their price, but awareness: “Somehow, I had to persuade consumers to buy hats that cost more than they ever imagined was possible in a world in which people don’t wear hats. In order for people to want to own Montecristi hats, they need to understand why the hats are so special, to understand that they are not expensive – they are one of the biggest bargains in the world.” With a clientele in more than 60 countries worldwide that counts men like Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pierce Brosnan, Sylvester Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler as satisfied customers, Black is doing something - if not everything - right. And it is perhaps his own passion for the Montecristi that adds the finishing touch, and makes the final sell: “When a man puts on a baseball cap, he is getting on with his life. When a man puts on a Panama hat, he is getting on with his dreams.”


Stepping into the world of

MsWestwood


F

ashion, just like music, is a global language that everyone understands; the fashion of Vivienne Westwood, however, needs an open mind before an open eye; the British designer, after all, is famous for introducing punk to the mainstream fashion scene and known for her outspoken, and outrageous, personality. After the remarkable success of the exhibition held for the mega fashion designer’s unique shoe collection in London, it is travelling the world with her items that showcase 40 years of admirable creativity and unmatchable talent. The tour landed in Lebanon during the late days of May 2011, where over 100 shoe designs were presented in the historical Linda Sursock Palace in Beirut. From the Paris of the Middle East, the exhibition will tour Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo throughout 2011 and lands in New York and Los Angeles at the beginning of 2012. The exhibition is considered a timeline for the amazing and successful career Dame Westwood has enjoyed so far seen through the prism of her significant shoe pieces that she has designed throughout the years; The 100 pairs of shoes presented were trademarked with her attention to details and her

superb craftsmanship; aside from her unique definition of style, fashion and the wearability of her pieces. Each pair of shoes seems to be pushing the boundaries of creativity a bit further; and each piece of her fashion art seems to be worked on with both passionate and creativity. Her Super Elevated Gillie, available to see in the exhibition, made headlines in 1993, when supermodel Naomi Campbell tumbled off the catwalk while wearing them. Still, the high platform shoes continue to be in demand until the present day among other iconic fashion trends the designer has introduced to the world, such as the Pirate Boots, still seen in movies, fashion shows and punk parties; despite them being released back in 1986. Westwood’s inspirations are the most striking element in her shoe designs; ranging from 16th Century Dutch Delft pottery; British colonialism to Victorian dandyism, nurses, S&M and fetishism; the designer has tried it all and succeeds in turning each and every shoe she designs into a masterpiece worthy of an exhibition; and an exhibition she certainly has.


MOMENTS

of Honesty O

ften the word ‘simple’ carries negative connotations. The implication being that simple equals plain, boring or uninspired, but photographer Riad Hawa’s striking imagery puts paid to that notion in no uncertain terms. Working full time within London’s digital entertainment industry, Hawa became fascinated with photography after an uncle gave him a gift of an old film camera and told him to “Go away and learn how to use it.” “I’m attracted to people who are able to be themselves in front of the camera, I’m trying to capture that moment of honesty,” he says. Therein lies his simplicity; Hawa’s shots are all about the model, the subject. His work revolves around the beauty of the human form and face, resulting in powerful, enduring art. “The subject is always the focus, and it’s that human element that’s really important to me,” he says. “I like classic, timeless pieces, shots that could have been taken at any time in the last 100 years.”


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Given his obsession with simplicity, it’s unsurprising to find that Hawa is intrigued by that oldest of inspirations: the human form. “I find woman fascinating, they’re much more interesting than men, but, there also are some men I’d die to photograph,” he says, so much so that he’s approached strangers on London’s Underground and asked them to work with him. To Hawa, adaptability is the key, and the subject often comes first; he looks for a face and worries about the setting later on. “It’s easy to find a setting, but sometimes you just meet someone you know you have to photograph,” he says. People will always be the key to Hawa’s work and, in pursuit of the classic shots he craves, he’s careful to avoid pieces of furniture or fittings within this work that clearly belong to a certain time period. The results are thoroughly modern images that are, however, impossible to date. Hawa’s refreshing take on photography impresses in a world where digital manipulation rules and where forms are airbrushed to the point of oblivion. His dedication to that dirtiest of words, simplicity, sets him apart in an industry of otherworldly locales and fantastic poses. Long may it continue.


Dancing into midnight Les Ballet de Monte-Carlo to perform in Beirut


V

isiting Beirut to finalize a deal with the Casino du Liban to host Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in November, Didier Lambelet was pleasantly surprised with the vibrant changes that the city has undergone since the dance company’s last visit to Lebanon in 1996, for the Beitiddine summer festival. “It’s like a new city, beautifully revived. When I was here before so much was in ruins... so it’s really a wonderful change,” says the former ballet dancer, now Tour Manager for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo officially became the dance company of the principality of Monaco in 1985 under the hand of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Hanover in accordance with the wishes of her mother, Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco. This initiative reflected the history of ballet in Monaco that dates back to 1909, when Russian ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev was accepted by the Prince of Monaco to reside in the principality with his pioneering ballet company, which was performing across Europe. Diaghilev excelled in fusing various art forms together to embrace dance as an art form of its own, and not merely a performance for entertainment. Geniuses of the times were integrated into the performances in one way or another, like commissioning Stravinsky for music, or Picasso for set design. This tradition carries on in Les Ballet de Monte-


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Carlo today, as ballets become not only impressive and avant-garde performances, but true enactments of physical art. Current Choreographer-Director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo Jean-Christophe Maillot keeps Diaghilev’s spirit alive by bringing modern-day painters, musicians, and designers into the production, to unify diverse art forms around dance. The Middle East is not a new destination for the ballet company, which tours the world with an international team of 50 dancers, but Lambelet looks forward to the performances in Beirut. “We don’t have any Lebanese dancers yet, but we’re more than happy to meet some while we’re here,” he says with a smile. While 20 to 25 shows are performed in Monaco, the other 60 to 70 are performed abroad. In just early March of this year, the two performances of Sheherazade and Daphnis & Chloe in Damascus met with great success, and the decision to test the waters again in Beirut coincides with the country’s state of cultural revival. The local performance in early November will be a re-telling of Cinderella, based on the original Grimms Brothers less romantic and more grisly tale, with an all-white set representing the pages of a book and simple yet detailed costumes, for a more conceptual and subjective experience of the story. Lambelet is convinced the concept will receive a hearty reception, saying “I think we will face an audience that is just as enthusiastic about our performances in Casino du Liban as we do in Monte-Carlo.”


Ayyam

Gallery A vision of value


I

n 2006 Ayyam Gallery opened its doors in Damascus with a mission to promote the top contemporary emerging artists from the region. In the four years since then it has added Dubai, Beirut and Cairo to its portfolio of gallery spaces, while consolidating its position as the most dynamic contributor to raising the profile of contemporary Middle Eastern art both within the region and beyond it. Selections sat down with Khaled Samawi, the man behind Ayyam’s continuing success. There was a time that art galleries in the Middle East were very much about playing it safe, exhibiting the top established artists in their relevant countries. And then in 2006 Ayyam Gallery burst onto the scene, first in Damascus then other capital cities, acting as a catalyst for real change. Specifically seeking out contemporary emerging artists, since it opened Ayyam has not only brought new talent to the attention of the region and the world, but also raised the value of Middle Eastern contemporary art in the market. “I think it used to be ridiculously underpriced,” Samawi says during an interview in Ayyam’s sister gallery in Beirut. “When you open a show and it sells out in five minutes it tells you two things: that it is great art and also that it’s very underpriced.” Samawi defends his gallery’s role in increasing the value of regional art thus: “Let’s think about an artist who is 50 years old. He started working on his art probably aged 18 when he went into the academy of fine art. Then he comes to me aged 50 and says I believe in you and want you to handle my art. There’s a pressure on me to make sure it gets the value that it gets.” Samawi is joined in Beirut by a collective of young artists represented by Ayyam. All are under the age of 50 and have been brought to Lebanon’s capital for the opening of Ayyam’s Shabab Uprising exhibition in the Platinum Tower and the concurrent solo exhibition of Palestinian painter Oussama Diab in Ayyam’s main space. “A lot of people say it must be tough to handle 20 artists, I think it is a joy,” he says. “I think it must be tough for them to handle me,” he adds

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 Shopping 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Architecture 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 Living 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 erupting into laughter. Watching Samawi 42 interact with the artists is to understand that 43 44 the patron/artist relationship with each goes 45 46 far beyond the professional to more of a 47 family-like feeling. Since being represented 48 49 by Ayyam many of them have become more 50 51 than simply colleagues, including Safwan 52 53 Dahoul who Samawi refers to as his best 54 friend. 55 56 Many of their art works also 57 58 hang in Samawi’s home. “If I can’t hang it 59 Product design 60 in my house it’s very had to hang it in my 61 gallery,” he says. Before relocating to his 62 63 homeland of Syria in 2001, while living as an 64 65 investment banker in Switzerland his personal 66 art collection was mainly European but since 67 68 then it has become dominated by Middle 69 70 Eastern works. “Collecting art is addictive. It’s 71 72 a great addiction because spiritually it’s great, 73 aesthetically it’s great,” he says. 74 75 Talking to a number of the artists 76 Fashion 81 gathered in Beirut for the exhibition it is clear 82 83 that for them Ayyam represents a lifeline 84 that enabled them to move from practising 85 86 their art in their spare time to living it on a 87 88 daily basis with an unswerving focus. Some 89 describe it in terms of enabling them to 90 91 live their dream. Samawi acknowledges 92 93 that it is this fact which he derives the 94 Art & Culture 95 most satisfaction. “I don’t get satisfaction 998 because I sold the painting, I get 99 10107 satisfaction because someone bought 108 109 it, will hang it in their house and enjoy 110 111 it and a patron will take care of it,” 112 he says. “You don’t own a piece of 113 114 In Beirut art, you buy the right to look at it 115 116 and enjoy it and the obligation to 117 maintain it and preserve it and 118 119 then when you sell it in the future 120 121 whoever buys it in the future 122 123 has that right, but in the end I 124

don’t think anybody owns art, it belongs to the world.”


Beyond Original

Smo gallery makes its mark on the Lebanese art & design scene Hidden off the beaten path on a quiet road in Karantina, the smogallery is a gallery concept on the Lebanese art and design scene that exhibits an eclectic collection of works by famous designers while also giving young talents a place to take root and bloom. “I wanted a quiet place, more like a destination. I don’t want people to come because they’re shopping in the vicinity,” says owner Gregory Gatserelia. “If they come, it means there’s already an effort.” Although Gatserelia is well-known as an architect and interior designer, it is his passion for design and being in touch with a wide network of international designers that brought him to open up smo, where he features exquisite pieces of art while striving to create a link between established and emerging designers. “They’re all very interested about Beirut. Everybody wants to be here,” he says, referencing some of the names that he has close ties with, including German artist Peter Zimmerman, who is due to visit this summer and announce an exhibition in Beirut for 2012. Gatserelia also would like to invite famous designers to Beirut to give design seminars, to inspire and guide today’s young designers, to help bring Lebanese design to the next level. “It’s not just about designing beautiful objects, as everything has been done before. Now it’s about how you reach a story and what inspired you,” he says. “I want to hear the story.”


Naturally tempting

Ila harnesses the beauty of the earth with the power of positive energy The essence of a spa experience is rooted in the revitalisation of body and mind and a relaxed escape from the everyday humdrum of life. The new “Ila” treatment at Spa Phoenicia takes this experience to another level where purity, energy, and balance play the key roles. Harvested and stored by women in India- who are said to add to the positive energy and purity of the plantsthe products used are mixed in the coastlands of England and are entirely organic and devoid of chemicals. “Imagine using spa treatments that you can drink in a cup of tea,” explains spa therapist Emad Berbary, who has been contributing to the well-being of his customers for almost three years at the Phoenicia Spa. These Ila products include Damasita Rose oil, so purely condensed that it takes up to 30 roses to produce a single drop. Apart from the use of a variety of hot oils and poultices, the treatment concentrates on focal points in the face and body that contain nerve endings and are proven biologically to contain the most stress. The Ananda Facial uses light techniques that enhance the natural “glow” believed to radiate off positive energy in the body. The Bio-Energy Body Wrap uses Ila products such as Himalayan crystal salt and Argan oil to treat the lymphatic system and circulation while the Kundalini Back Massage treats by pinpointing the seven focal points of the back. There is also the Manipura Massage, which works particularly on invigorating the “chakra” or centre of energy, and the Amazonian or Rain Forest Facial, whose revitalising factor is right there in the title. But perhaps what is most interesting about the Ila treatment is the vital role of the therapist in providing positive energy. Prior to the treatment, the spa therapist undergoes simple exercises to drain off excess negative energy, enhancing his/her role to deepen the peaceful indulgence. During the treatment, the magnificent scent is uplifting, the pressure is soothing, and the experience entirely combines the purity of nature with the power of positive energy – the beauty of the earth in a one and a half hour experience.


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Amethyste The ambient outdoor destination lounge of the Phoenicia Hotel is an oasis at the center of the city, located on the calm, breezy terrace of one of its signature luxury hotels. Capitalizing on the nostalgia that surrounds the 50 year-old hotel, Amethyste is a haven of modern Oriental-style glamour and elegance. Designed by Inge Moore and her Londonbased design team, the lounge is awash in deep purple hues, paying tribute to the royal purple dye discovered several millennia ago by the Phoenicians, which gave the Mediterranean civilization much of its commercial prominence in the ancient Middle East. Stone pillars and a nighttime projection screen that sits above the serenity of a mosaic-tiled swimming pool blend Phoenician grandeur with video clips taken from Beirut’s 20th century golden era of the 1960’s. Heritage aside, the space is as relaxing as it is hip, with sleek wicker furniture, silver arabesque lanterns, and plush yet fresh textiles. Amethyste opens at noon as a lunch spot and pool lounge, and transforms into an evening lounge after sunset. With a superb cocktail menu engineered by international baristas and a selection of other treats to nibble on, the lounge is an ideal spot to take in the salty sea air in style.

Whisky Mist Lying discretely below ground at the Phoenicia Hotel is the city’s latest nightclub to arrive on Beirut’s sizzling party scene. The club is the first international branch of London nightclub Whisky Mist, a favorite UK nightlife destination for Hollywood A-listers and sports stars. Whisky Mist Beirut opened in April and operates by guest list only, with a “golden key” circle of founding members who are privy to exclusive VIP perks. The underground club is hosted in the same space as the famous Le Paon Rouge nightclub of the 1960’s, but all similarities with the past end there. Today, the flashy “see and be seen” space features a color palette of black, silver, purple, and blue, long aisles, a catwalk, a central dance floor, plenty of mirrors, and a light display that constantly changes the mood to go along with the evening entertainment. An exclusive VIP room is hidden off to the right side of the entrance hall, where private parties can be held for celebrities and high profile guests to the club.

Le Cercle # 7  

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

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