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*Exclusive interviews Inga Sempe & Philippe Nigro talk design Le Cercle takes you

*window shopping

Bespoke boutiques around the world

The cutting edge of


*Venice Biennale Illuminated

Fendi &Kenzo arrive in town


Discover the brands

Le Cercle BCD An Nahar Bldg . Martyrs’ Square . Downtown . Le Cercle SAIFI . +961 1 97 14 44 / 555 .

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 Shopping 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Architecture 20 21 22 23 Living 24 25 26 27 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 Product Design 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 publisher : 71 72 City News Privilege 73 74 on behalf of Le Cercle Hitti 75 76 77 editor in chief : 78 79 Anastasia Nysten 80 81 Fashion 82 managing editor : 83 84 Helen Assaf 85 86 87 88 graphic design : 89 90 Genia Kodash 91 92 93 printer : 94 95 RAIDY | 96 97 98 contributors : 99 100 Owen Adams 101 102 Dan Bratman 103 Art  &   C ulture 104 Miriam Dunn 105 106 Haneen Joudiyeh 107 108 Louis Parks 109 110 Fernande Van Tets 111 112 113 advertising : 114 115 In Beirut 116 117 t:  +961 3 852 899 118 119 120

we are living in exciting

times – in a world where style reigns supreme, and increasingly the art of the fashion designer is being fused with the dream of architects, and vice versa. Within the pages of Le Cercle a global revolution of emergent ideas is reflected in style as we go windowshopping, from Shanghai and Tokyo to Warsaw to Amsterdam, and closer to home in Beirut. We’re facing a situation where the principles of architecture and fabric design are meshing closer together, where many different worlds reveal themselves if you know where to look, where aesthetic senses and notions of what we previously believed irrational and impossible are turned on their head. Formidable fashion houses, such as Costume National are undergoing a process of reinvention and new ways of presenting themselves - retaining their supreme artisan power while seeking out sheer innovative talent to keep up with the newcomers that matter – such as Starch in Beirut and Hotel The Exchange in Amsterdam. The very best of haute couture, from Fendi and Kenzo, can now be found in Downtown Beirut, and we celebrate the exquisite and enduring super-designers’ ventures into home furnishings. The Venice Biennale continues its role as a style barometer, and here in Le Cercle, from Berlin we feature the best of the best Red Dot design award-winners. L’affaire fashion is this issue’s theme – where seeing can often mean disbelieving, where the desire to come closer and be immersed in the newness is irresistible. The new generation is sashaying through the door, and we’re out celebrating this burgeoning new age of design.

Inga Sempe’s independence, irreverence and her practical rigor combine with her poetic exactingness to give each and every onet of her creations a “never before seen” quality. She challenges artificial designs and defends useful and inventive ones to bring elegant solutions to everyday expectations. words:

michel roset


the winter


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


XXL aromaticcandle

Ligne Roset

Bois de cashmere fragrance

Mini -box in oak veneer, with clasp in

XL 400g or XXL 1500gr

moulded hand polished aluminum, or in

Herve Gambs

MDF, with interior finished in ‘cafe au lait’ lacquer and moulded mirror-polished aluminum clasp. 22/11 (h) x 21/32 (w) x 21/32 (d) cm Ligne Roset



Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance

Marcel Wanders

Ceramic vase with brilliant white slip.

Ceramic, White, Delft blue and gold.

45/60 (h) x 22/29 (ø) cm

40 (h) x 21.5 (w) x 21.5 (d) cm

Ligne Roset


Delftbluecollection Marcel Wanders “Marcel wanders designed a collection of ceramic vases for Moooi, all vases are produced and decorated at ‘Royal Delft’, A Dutch company dating back to 1653 and the original producer of the beautiful delft blue ceramics.” Moooi


Glassholderand tumbler - Lacecollection

Tumblers - Lacecollection

Paola Navone

Paola Navone

Clear glass and handcrafted silk-screened

Clear glass and handcrafted silk-screened

decoration with 980/1000 silver.

decoration with 980/1000 silver.

34 (h) x 28.5 (ø) cm and 9 (h) x 8 (ø) cm

15 (h) x 7 (ø) cm and 9.5 (h) x 8 (ø) cm





Tous les Trois

Vanessa Mitrani

Jar in fibreglass finished in gloss lacquer.

Mouth-blown glass and porcelain.

178 (h) x 25/28 (ø) cm

32 (h) cm

Ligne Roset

Roche Bobois

CoussinDonJuanand Dentellapoudré

Jean Paul Gaultier for

Jean Paul Gaultier

Roche Bobois collection

Satin square cushion

100% wool rug


40 x 40 cm and 60 x 60 cm

200 x 300 cm

Roche Bobois

Roche Bobois

Shanghailantern Black iron 36/100 (h) x 21/45 (ø) cm Herve Gambs




Patricia Urquiola

Hertel & Klarhoefer

A hard shell in hirek® and a series of soft

Steel base. Shell in satin-finish reinforced

cushions: these are the basic elements of

techno polymer, with the signature of the

the husk armchair.


84/110 (h) x 77/84 (w) x 77 (d) cm

84.5 (h) x 52 (w) x 57 (d) cm

B&B Italia

Ligne Roset



Emmanuel Dietrich

Inga Sempé

Fabric and tubular steel with soldered

With the exception of its all-enveloping

metal mesh.

back, Moël draws heavily on Ligne Roset’s

82 (h) x 61 (w) x 59 (d) cm

long-standing expertise in the field of

Ligne Roset

all-foam models. 81/97 (h) x 105 (w) x 89 (d) cm Ligne Roset

Facett R & E Bouroullec Three layers of criss-cross panels and thermoformed polystyrene, overlaid with polyether foam. Invisible feet in black polythene. 84 (h) x 145/190 (w) x 81 (d) cm Ligne Roset

Carbonchair Bertjan Pot and Marcel Wanders Carbon fiber drained in epoxy resin. 79 (h) x 49 (w) x 47 (d) cm Moooi


MahJongcouture modularsofa Hans Hopfer Dressed by Jean Paul Gaultier in Couture collection fabrics. Modular composition from hand-made padded cushions straight and comer backrests. Roche Bobois



Armchair from the fabric collection of

Maarten Baas

distinct pieces that give ultimate presence

Burnt wood, finished with epoxy resin, fire

to any interior.

retardant, foam leather, upholstery.

Kenzo maison

104 (h) x 75 (w) x 80 (d) cm Moooi



Patricia Urquiola

Pierre Paulin

Urquiola has entitled the bend-sofa due to

Curved solid beech slats, cut from the

its curvaceous albeit monolithic form.

same piece of wood and assembled using

It gives the appearance of being manually

threaded steel posts and rivets.

molded from a supple material

67 (h) x 56 (w) x 35.5 (d) cm

as if by a sculptor.

Ligne Roset

Various sizes B&B Italia



Zaha Hadid

Jean Paul Gaultier by Roche Bobois.

A continuous shape, a blend

Armchair, laminated aluminum structure,

of aesthetics and ergonomics.

fabric upholstered seat

85 (h) x 288 (w) x 92/200 (d) cm

(green, red or blue velvet)

B&B Italia

Roche Bobois.




Cédric Ragot

Pascal Mourgue

Solid wood (rain tree).

Low table in the shape of a painter’s

25 (h) x 100 (w) x 84 (d) cm

palette. Molded enameled ceramic.

Roche Bobois

35 (h) x 65 (w) x 34.5 (d) cm Ligne Roset



Pierre Paulin

Tomoko Azumi

Low table with structure in black-stained

White lacquered metal, laminated glass

solid beech or natural solid beech.

top. Contain a number of Swarovski

26.5 (h) x 80 (w) x 80 (d) cm

crystals and LED lights which project

Ligne Roset

a subtle play of light on the translucent glass top. La Palma



Angie Anakis

Vincent Van Duysen

Brilliant-polished folded sheet steel

Vast range of finishes: glossy painted,

with top in MDF finished in American

brushed light oak, brushed oak or gray oak

walnut veneer.

for tops and partitions.

38 (h) x 35 (w) x 37 (d) cm

37 (h) x 120/150 (w) x 35/60/70 (d) cm

Ligne Roset

B&B Italia

Circles Maria Jenglinska Epoxy satin black lacquered steel or with top in brilliant-polished stainless steel. 43/53 (h) x 36.5/42 (ø) cm Ligne Roset




Bertjan Pot

Pascal Mourgue

Fiberglass soaked in epoxy resin,

Base in brilliant-chromed steel;

chromed steel pendant.

cotton shade.

50/80/100 (ø) cm

48/80 (h) x 12/23 (ø) cm


Ligne Roset



Illuminated box in transparent plexiglass

Stephen Burks

and matt varnished aluminum.

Table lamp with base and shade in clear

60/90 (h) x 23 (w) x 15 (d) cm

mouth-blown glass. Red textile cable and

Ligne Roset

black manual switch. 35 (h) x 35 (ø) cm Ligne Roset

Rabbitlamp Front PVC/cotton laminate on metal structure. Moooi




Room spray Bois de Cashmere

Low comport

& Love couture

32 (ø) cm

The repeated gesture which consists in


perfuming a Couture flower diffuser Herve Gambs




Champagne flute, wine glass

16 (h) cm

and cocktail glass





Punch bowl and ladle


25 (ø) cm LSA

Homefrangrance collection Herve Gambs


Concept and Styling Collage Studio. Photo Fabrizio Bergamo.


Zaha Hadid joins jury to judge architecture’s most prestigious award Words:

Pmedal back & front

M iriam

D u nn

Zaha Hadid by Simone Cecchetti.


hicago not only enjoys a reputation as the birthplace of the skyscraper, but is also rather aptly home to architecture’s most prestigious award, the Pritzker Prize. Often referred to as ‘architecture’s Nobel’, the Pritzker Prize was set up by the Hyatt Foundation in 1979, an initiative founded by the late Jay A. Pritzker, whose family business interests in hotel operations are headquartered in Chicago. His eldest son, Thomas J. Pritzker is now chairman of the foundation, which has long supported educational, social welfare, scientific, medical and cultural activities. The Pritzker family has a natural affinity with architectural innovation, having acquired an unfinished building in 1967 which was not only transformed into the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, but also boasted a soaring atrium that became the signature piece of the brand’s hotels worldwide. In a similar spirit, the Pritzker

Prize, which consists of $100,000 and a bronze medallion, is awarded each year to a living architect whose built work has made a significant contribution to humanity and the built environment. The 26th edition of the award is set to be held in Beijing, another city famed for its excitingly innovative architecture. And innovation is also a word regularly associated with the Baghdad-born architect Zaha Hadid who is one of two new members of the jury appointed to select this year’s laureate. The pioneering, British-based architect, together with the Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, joins six other judges who will make up an eight-member panel serving for a multiple number of years. Famed for her radical approach, Hadid is a former Pritzker Prize winner herself, becoming the first woman to receive the award in 2004. Her style, which favors multiple perspective points

Official Breyer

and fragmented geometry, is best displayed in works such as the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and the recently-completed Aquatics Center in London, UK, which will host the swimming events for the 2012 Olympic Games. Being selected as a juror for the Pritzker Prize could be viewed as an honor on a par with winning the award itself. As Thomas J. Pritzker himself says, “The members of the Pritzker jury are now, and always have been thoughtful, outstanding individuals from diverse backgrounds providing sometimes surprising insight to architectural achievement in our time.” Hadid’s well documented forcefulness and focus should stand her in good stead for her new role. She will undoubtedly bring something special to what is already an exceptional event.

There’s often a temptation to glance at an exhibition rather than take in the detail. At Tokyo’s CNAC LAB, viewers have little choice but to get in close. In September a show celebrating 25 years of Italian edgy chic from CoSTUME NATIONAL marked the opening of the boutique’s flagship Aoyama Complex within the groundbreaking arts center. The artefacts, as worn by Madonna and other top celebrities, were shielded from faraway view by a porous curtain of polyester ribbons. Only when viewers stand next to them do the 18mm-wide threads turn from opaque to translucent to the point of appearing non-existent, offering an exclusive close-up. The architect behind the ingenious installation, titled Bang, Ryuji Nakamura, hung 4,100m of polyester ribbons over 130 sq meters, to create a synthetic fog, a curtain that clears to reveal one mannequin at a time.

Small is beautiful at Warsaw boutique FiuFiu. A Scandinavian archetype to reflect the Nordic shop goods for sale within it has been transplanted in the heart of Poland’s capital by architects Mateusz Adamczyk and Marcin Kwietowicz from a concept by Magdalena Wołosz. Six spaces within the 31 sq m floor area ensure not a centimeter is wasted. The result is a gable house stretched lengthways, cut in three with red steel blades, slightly shifted to provide enough space to fit in a cash desk, fitting room and storage. Optical illusions are created by the steel coulisses; what might have been a daunting long space appears short by deceptive design. The idea is to entice passers-by into the fairytale cottage-like shop, lit from a side room, and to be immersed in the atmosphere of a mini-Scandinavia. The raw carpentry of the wooden structure is emphasized with snow-white interiors, and a universal simplicity of features such as rails, ledges and lamps.

With strong echoes of Pinocchio creator Guiseppe’s workshop and the magic of The Nutcracker, Spanish designer CuldeSac set out to bring Hermès accessories to life for its winter collection, marrying artisan soul with objets d’art, employing high craftsmanship to showcase the Paris maison’s finery in a stately home, with exquisite fantasies in nine rooms. The world’s media gathered for an exclusive premiere of this season’s collection, each with a different CuldeSac installation, some showcasing finished objects, others translating the

disciplined, patient and precise approach of the fashion house’s mode of production. In one room, wooden horses wore ties, hats, scarves and shoes. Colorful silk and cashmere carrés appeared suspended in mid-air, mounted on floating balloons, shimmering to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. There were towers made of Hermès distinctive orange shoeboxes, six marionettes gathered around a tableware display, and in the final room a cornucopia of nostalgia and hidden treasures placed in what appeared to be music boxes.

You’d be hard pushed to find a more arresting shop-window display than the hats on stage at an Issey Miyake store in Tokyo. As funky and idiosyncratic as milliner Akio Hirata’s collection is, it’s the electric-blue traditional-style dining chairs on which the hats perch that immediately grab the attention. However, more than the briefest glance will show the 2D/3D Chairs by Yoichi Yamamoto Architects are not all that they might initially seem. The wooden backs are real enough, but the legs and bases are twodimensional drawings, painted on the ground in such a way that from a fixed angle they appear to be all correct. A sidelong glance or a closer inspection betrays the illusion. Spectral seats collapse before the eye of the beholder. The seamless transition from 3D to 2D, which Yamamoto created with his associate Yayoi Ito, plays the most entertaining games with the mind.

Designer Ronald Abdallah’s Achrafieh boutique epitomizes his edgy, glamour meets rock-chic style. On the relaxed Abdel Wahab El Inglizi street, the store’s blend of simple architectural detailing and touches inspired by couture fashion create an intriguing experience. “It all has to be balanced,” says Abdallah, “We’ve got neutral tones so that the clothes are the center of attention, but then there’s gold detailing on the rails, red hangers for the pieces.” In order to maximize space a gold table runs the length of the store with clothing hanging above it, displayed in an innovative manner, no space is lost, yet the clothes are clearly the centerpieces. As in fashion, evolution is key and Abdallah plans to reinvent the location on a regular basis. A blank wall serves as a display area, a canvas upon which Abdallah can exhibit his latest creations. Similarly, the window displays are intentionally simple, allowing changes to be made whenever a fresh look is sought. An exciting addition to Beirut’s shopping culture, Abdallah’s boutique is something to see.

Which way is up? High-end fashion browsers at the startling new Alter store in Shanghai, China must wonder. Faced with staircases descending from the ceiling, adorned with gravity-defying naked mannequins, dresses, shoes, jewelry, glasses, design toys and books in a multi-dimensional arrangement, those in the know will feel as if they’ve stepped into an Escher drawing – those seemingly impossible architectural models. Alter owner Sonja Long wanted to subvert the ingrained conservatism of Shanghai, and Roman architect Francesco Gatti, and his Shanghai associates at 3GATTI, were the people for the outlandish job. Gatti was “fast and spontaneous” and “designed like a child, without inhibitions” to realize this vision, which made the most out of the 100 sq meter space. Incredibly, this alternative reality with no up or down or left and right, does function. Two fitting rooms and a store room are enclosed beneath an ascending staircase, while smaller staircases at the front cantilever out across the floor.

dévorez l’opportunité J.B. Schmetterling. Une création Ingo Maurer.

Corniche an-Nahr 01/584 222

Hamra 01/343 335

Jnah 01/820 338

Fashionably hospitable W o r d s : O w e n Ad a m s






rom the outside, Hotel The Exchange blends in with the terrace of lofty gabled buildings along Amsterdam’s Damrak, also known as the city’s Red Carpet. But its 61 rooms have each been given contrasting individual makeovers – dressed by eight graduates from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, fitting the interiors as they might models, with themes ranging from a minimalist Emperor Wears No Clothes to an elaborate Marie Antoinette boudoir. Located opposite the city’s stock exchange on the main street that leads from the Centraal Station to Dam Square, the concept of marrying fashion design with architecture came from Otto Nan and Suzanne Oxenaar. The galleries-stuffed Jordaan district, a 15-minute walk from the Damrak, is the center of the city’s considerable eccentricity and innovation, but the city is now taking innovative design to its heart. Roos Soetekouw’s eight rooms all have one thing in common, she says: “They are theatrical,

01  _____ Atelier room Photo by Arjan Benning

02  _____ Manray’s eyes Photo by Arjan Benning

03_____ Misunderstood Creatures Photo by Mirjam Bleeker

04  _____ Unaware Reality Photo by Mirjam Bleeker

explicit and over the top.” These include a “sad, sinister and beautiful room” called Misunderstood Creatures. “The ceiling is crying black tears of diamonds which drop on the floor and in which illustrated creatures come alive.” A complex triple-layer knit custom fabric with a shimmering nylon surface completes the picture, which should ensure guests some pretty strange dreams! Anne Wolters aims to bring the cityscape of Amsterdam into the rooms she designed, using the views as a literal base for the pattern of her fabrics to make the room into “one huge camera obscura”, even incorporating the designs in dressing-gowns. “As soon as you put on the dressing-gown,” she says. “You will be camouflaged by the city.” What better way for a tourist to be wrapped up in Amsterdam by wearing it in a room reflecting it?


Fendi W o r d s : O w e n Ad a m s


he future posterity of the double-F signature of Fendi was assured when it kickstarted a new handbag revolution in 1997 with the must-have Baguette – a petite bag, in 600 varieties, to be carried under the arm just as one would transport a stick of bread. With the Renaissance man of fashion Karl Lagerfeld at the helm, the Italian high-fashion house would surely be incapable of stumbling, no matter how

many ethical consumers eschewed the furs and leathers on which the casa was founded in Rome, way back in 1925. Lagerfeld launched the luxury prĂŞt-a-porter fur collection in 1969, four years after he was headhunted by the Fendi dynasty. He transformed pelts from a stiff, heavy, outer attire into a light, soft, fabriclike material. Several years ago, he sent furs gilded in 24-carat gold gliding down the runway. Fendi Casa applies the same

couturier’s flair for cut, color and pattern in home design – the chic meets the opulent in a fusion of the classic and the contemporary, in the heart of the living room or adding a sophisticated touch to lounging in the sunshine. Fendi’s global reach, over 160 boutiques in 25 countries – including a shop in Downtown Beirut - was elaborately showcased when it staged an 88-meter catwalk show on the Great Wall of China. Its audacity knows no bounds.


Kenzo Words:


A dams


enzo is a common male name in Japan - but throughout the world it stands for the supremo Kenzo Takada, whose perfumes, skincare products “made from nature”, clothes and a range of elegant homeware have a strong global appeal – the ultimate in delectable cultural fusion. Kenzo was one of the first men to gain admission to Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, before moving to Paris.

Initially, he was forced to mix numerous bold fabrics to make one garment as he could only afford fabrics from flea markets. This resourceful, colorful array of materials from many cultures, with a natural essence, is Kenzo’s signature, with a yinyang equilibrium and qi energy at the fore. By the late-1970s, Kenzo had the kudos to launch flamboyant shows in a circus tent, atop an elephant. He retired in 1999, leaving his assistants in charge, but has since occasionally returned to the

fray. Poetic perfumes to make a splash in the last decade include FlowerbyKenzo, recalling the scent of poppies, while skincare line Kenzoki focused on the rice stem, ginger flower, bamboo leaf and white lotus. While no person should be without Kenzo scent or attire, no home should be either.

Collage Studio

For Viola every story always begins with Tufty-Time. Tufty-Time is designed by Patricia Urquiola.

Photo: Michel Gibert. Special thanks to: Assouline

In Love modular sofa Design Philippe Bouix Upholstered with a set of cushion SONIA RYKIEL MAISON for Roche Bobois

BEIRUT DOWNTOWN 33 rue Weygand Tel: +961 1 986 888/999

Photo Credit: Michel Gibert. Special thanks: TASCHEN

Equation modular sofas Design Roberto Tapinassi and Maurizio Manzoni Noxis bookshelf Design Luigi Gorgoni Cute Cut coffee tables Design Cedric Ragot

BEIRUT DOWNTOWN 33 rue Weygand Tel: +961 1 986 888/999

Dori Hitti’s design for Valli & Valli’s boutique Words:

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P arks


o often an afterthought, yet an essential part of any design, the common handle is something the majority of us take for granted. Thankfully, Valli & Valli has created Lebanon’s first luxury boutique dedicated to this most essential, yet oft neglected finishing touch. A veritable marketplace of designer handles of every sort, size and

shape, Valli & Valli presents handles as works of art, decorative elements in their own right. A cornucopia of styles, materials and pricings allied to the highest industrial standards and benchmarks, brings a wealth of options to designers and homeowners alike, unmatched by anything in the region. Designers such as Antonio Citterio, Foster & Partners and David Chipperfield Architects, to name but

a few, come together under one roof offering an unprecedented collection of the very best interior design products renowned firm Valli & Valli has to offer. Whatever it is you’re looking for, you’ll find it at this most extraordinary boutique. As befits Valli & Valli’s mission, the handles are very much at the heart of the boutique. Designed by Dori Hitti, the boutique features his famed minimalist designs taking nothing away from the products on offer, serving as something of a blank canvas where the handles themselves form the art. Clean lines, open spaces, unembellished

typography and an uncluttered architectural environment create a thoroughly modern, unobtrusive setting in which to showcase this astounding collection. Hitti designed the boutique with a museum in mind, showcasing the products as pieces of art, displayed prominently for the visitor to enjoy and understand. This classic approach is juxtaposed by the bold use of the color red, with half the wall space adorned in a most vibrant hue. This modern take on a most classic approach is the most fitting tribute to the designs on offer.

If you listen to your senses,

you’ll experience all that’s beautiful and exhilarating in this world. Rolf Benz MIO, where i feel good.

Design: Norbert Beck

dynamic young head, Alexa McGrath, recently sat with us in Beirut to discuss their pieces and plans. You have to see it to understand Words:

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ia Sydney, Abu Dhabi and L.A. to drop but a few names, Black Pearl Interiors has arrived in Lebanon. Crafting bespoke furniture using some of the most exotic materials on the planet, Black Pearl sits at the pinnacle of interior design and the company’s

it, but mother of pearl is a quite remarkable material. It’s a form of shell, a natural material made by a variety of species of mollusks, which forms a hard, brittle surface, creamy, iridescent and smooth to the touch. Looking at a chair or table made by Black Pearl Interiors you realize that each one is covered with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of tiny pieces of this most luxurious material. As if that’s not enough, Black Pearl Interiors

takes its name from the rarest form of mother of pearl. A fraction of a fraction of a shell’s surface, black mother of pearl is perhaps the most sought after material to come out of the depths of the ocean. The hallmark of truly niche products, black mother of pearl has the cachet only those in the know truly understand as Russell Crowe and the designers Candy and Candy will attest, both having made use of Black Pearl Interior’s services in the creation of one of the most expensive residences in Sydney and London’s upmarket One Hyde Park respectively.

Stingray dressing table

Shell coffee tables

Mother of pearl inlayed dining room wall unit with stainless steel lining and dining room chairs with silk velvet fabric and ebony makassar legs

“It’s all done by hand,” says McGrath. “The carcass is made from marine plywood or a honeycomb and then the mother of pearl is placed around the carcass.” Mother of pearl, being as delicate as it is, sounds like a craftsman’s nightmare. On the subject McGrath laughs, saying, “The shell is cracked before being placed into position by hand and polished down. Any gaps are then hand filled. As you’re sanding it down you come across imperfections and they’re taken out and a replacement piece is put in, creating irregular shapes. There are any number

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Green stingray cabinet with brass lining

Stingray bed

of things that can go wrong.” A single chair can take two craftsmen about a week to complete, making these pieces clearly something a little special. McGrath’s style exhibits all that’s good about minimalism, simple lines, a lack of complex embellishments and a color palette that’s clear and easy on the eye. All’s well and good, but then anything more complex would surely detract from the subtle sheen given off by the mother of pearl. These pieces have to be seen to be believed. There’s something altogether opulent about each chair, table or sideboard, almost otherworldly as they

shimmer softly in the light, immediately transfixing the gaze. Alongside mother of pearl, McGrath works with ray skin, ostrich leather and other exotic coverings. Above all, Black Pearl Interiors, simply put, makes use of only the highest standards of craftsmanship, the finest materials money can buy and a simple, clear design vision. Welcome to Beirut.


Design: Joachim Nees

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Saloua Raouda Choucair

Infinite possibilities Words:




ast October saw the retrospective exhibition of Lebanese artist Saloua Raouda Choucair’s life’s work at the Beirut Exhibition Center. Choucair, now in her 90’s was an exceptional artist until her retirement in 1990’s. Entirely selftaught, Choucair worked in a wide range of materials, fabrics, wood, stone, clay, metals, ceramics and more, creating a wealth of pieces that has to seen to be believed. Jewelry, carpets, sculptures, paintings and more, Choucair’s work is a veritable mine of artistic content. Containing some of her most

01  _____ Module 1980-1983, wood

02 _____Trajectory of the arc

03  _____ Garden Project, Public Bench

04  _____Exhibition

05  _____ Composition of two forms


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iconic pieces, including a series of sculptures called “Poems”, and another called “Infinite Building”, the exhibition shone light on the extraordinary talent of this underexposed artist. Largely self-taught, Choucair had worked in a university library, voraciously consuming literature and writings on any number of subjects, soon discovering a passion for physics and engineering that would come to play a role in her creative process later in her life. Alongside her academic study in the library, Choucair received a formal education in art, albeit it on a casual basis, by working alongside other Lebanese artists




and visiting Paris between ’48 and ’51 to study at the Ecole Nationale des BeauxArts, La Grande Chaumière atelier before working at a number of other ateliers in the city. She had gradually become interested in the manner in which a line can continue from one point, into infinity, according to her daughter, Hala Choucair, “Her work is abstract, the lines are in her mind, she’s not representing anything in particular, it’s about presenting an idea that is beyond any measurable scale, the idea that things go on forever.” Her experiences in France, her fascination with the way in a line can continue through infinity, and her in-depth understanding of Islamic art allowed her to create “Poems” and “Infinite Buildings”, blending Islamic and Arabic tradition with modern touches. “Poems” is a collection of small sculptures, made up of jig-saw puzzle-like pieces that interlock to create a shape; “Just as with Arabic poetry, every “verse” has a meaning, it doesn’t need to be read as part of a poem to make sense,” said

01  _____ Poem, 1961-1965, wood

02  _____ Study in nudes, Graphite and Charcoal on paper

03  _____ Rhythmical composition in yellow, oil on board

Choucair, “So, each shape is unique, and each piece of the puzzle is a stand-alone sculpture, but no two pieces in the collection are the same, meaning that each complete “Poem” is a one-off.” “Infinite Buildings” was created as a series of interlocking pieces combine to form columns not unlike Native Indian totem poles. Separate pieces, or blocks, of sculpture interlock, forming a column rich in detail, creating lines that, potentially, go on forever. As with “Poems”, the individual blocks are sculptural pieces in their own right, all small enough to be used as a stool, or a bench, but combined the possibilities are, as the name suggests, limitless. Like many artists, Choucair was never fully appreciated while she still produced pieces, and it is only recently that Lebanon could enjoy her work. A wonderfully talented artist and the producer of a diverse body of work, Choucair is someone Lebanon should treasure.

red dot design The Red Dot Best of the Best Award is the ultimate accolade for product designers. At the debut gala event in Berlin hosted by the prestigious German institute, the 19th year of the contest received 6,468 submissions, and a massive amount of international interest. An intricate selection process lasting several days, presided over by an international and independent jury of renowned design experts, awarded 608 Red Dots for high quality in design, 80 in the Best of the Best category, and 10 of those received the Red Dot Grand Prix, the highest individual distinction. We have chosen seven of the tastiest Best of the Best award-winners in different sections. You can almost feel quality oozing from the products.

Element Collar (watches and jewelry section): We tend to think of industrial materials as heavy – belonging in the world of work rather than body adornments. The Element Collar, ‘collet’, a close-fitting choker necklace, has defied convention by embedding small diamonds in carbon fiber, incorporating design methods more often used to build marine vessels. The jury was impressed by carbon being turned into a piece of jewelry “as lightweight as it is elegant”. The experts added: “The interplay between dark and light elements over the curved surface attracts attention and underlines the aesthetic value of the carbon. Due to the ergonomic shape of the concave planes, the Element Collar is comfortable to wear.”

Ploum sofa by Erwan and Rowan Bouroullec for Ligne Roset (Living rooms and bedrooms section): The jury was influenced by the balance of comfort and aesthetics. The low sitting height allows the sitter to be “engulfed and embraced” by the soft foam interior and flexible stretch-fabric material, designed to adapt perfectly to the recliner’s body contours and produce a highly sensuous experience. The designers carried out extensive surveys to come up with a design for contemporary lifestyles – allowing for diverse lifestyles and levels of reclining, all of them in supreme comfort. “We conceived this sofa as a ripe and delicious fruit,” said the Bouroullec brothers.

13” MacBook Air (Computers section): From gorgeous lighting to lovely lightness – the jury was swung by Apple’s sparing use of aluminum – the computer’s housing has been reduced to just one piece in an admirable act of resource-saving, with a glass multi-touch track pod. As well as being pleasing to the touch, the new 13” version “is remarkably slim, and yet is very sturdy and robust – ideal for working on the go,” the designers said. The jury noted: “Smaller, lighter and more silent, the MacBook Air... is ready for use anywhere and at any time – a thoroughly mobile and contemporary product.”

Versatile axis ceramic wall tile (interior design section): Inspired by the Alhambra fortress, the Moorish symphony in stone in Granada, Spain, the Versatile threedimensional tiles with an S-motif give rooms an impressive depth, and are also incredibly soft and tactile. The tiles offer a whole new set of geometric possibilities for planners and architects to play with. “The tile is no longer just a flat surface which covers or protects a wall, but is a spatial form in itself which gives rooms a new perspective,” enthused the jury. “The motif is at once simple and carefully thought through and helps to give an imposing impression of a room.”

Pontos Décentrique Phases de Lune wrist watch (watches and jewelry section): Precision and presentation of time and the cosmos with the minimum of clutter sold this exquisite timepiece to the Red Dot judges. Before watches or scientific instruments existed, our ancestors measured time by the phases of the moon and shifting constellations, and Pontos has reconnected the practice of antiquity with contemporary sublime design, luminous components on a sleek, velvety black dial, giving the impression of looking into the cosmos. The jury remarked: “Only wristwatches of extraordinary precision, with materials of high quality and a creative arrangement of functions successfully address the emotions of their wearers.”

The Coral Reef LED Floor Light (Lighting and Lamps section): The jury was fascinated by the way the lamp adapts interactively to the mood of users and its organic language of form. Inspired by the diverse ecosystems of coral reefs lit by sunlight, the designers took heed of the organic shape using three overlapping luminous elements. Each can be easily adapted and rotated over a radius of 120 degrees, allowing the user to illuminate three different areas simultaneously. The jury reasoned: “The way this light is turned into an integrated part of a living space is outstanding.”

BMW 5 Series Touring Passenger Car (automobiles, transport and caravans section): Surely the ultimate test for car design is when the beholder feels the joy of driving it before even turning the ignition. Hence the jury awarded BMW the highest design prize possible for the new 5 Series Touring’s flowing line movement, not just evident from the outside, but also echoed in its interior. This new model continues the BMW’s brand identity with its long engine hood and long wheelbase, and is marked by a low and sleek profile. The jury’s verdict: “You can almost feel the sporting elegance and dynamics... The ergonomic concept of the user controls is tailored optimally to the driver.”

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 Shopping 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Architecture 20 21 22 23 Living 24 25 26 27 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 Product Design 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 Fashion 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 Art & Culture 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 In Beirut 116 117 118 119 120

Blended supremacy Words:

L o u is

P arks


esigner Philippe Nigro first caught Ligne Roset’s eye following an exhibition at 2008’s Salon de Paris. Of particular interest was Nigro’s Intersection sofa, a design in which the seating is made up of interlocking colors, featuring a subtle fade from one tone to another. 2011 has been a busy year for designer Philippe Nigro and Ligne Roset; the

French designer’s ongoing fascination with the mixing of materials, color and shape continues to influence his work. At present Nigro is working on a Ligne Roset collection of outdoor furniture, lighting and sofas all revolving around the repetition of shape. “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

Nigro Philippe Photo by Francois Coquerel


we have a composition, once we accumulate them. It’s very interesting exploring it,” he says. Nigro thrives on spontaneity, and claims that Ligne Roset is the ultimate partner in this respect: “I develop the furniture by myself and present it to Roset. I get inspired by their catalogues in order to be able to complete their collection and so it’s useful at the same time.” This happy blend of commercial and

creative talent has allowed work by Nigro and Ligne Roset to remain vibrant and challenging in an ever-changing field. In turn, Ligne Roset’s production expertise allows Nigro creative freedom. “In my research, 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 says. This blend of spirited free thinking, technical know-how and a natural eye for style continues to surprise and Nigro’s latest collection is sure to prove a boon to Ligne Roset’s ever expanding offerings.

Isolating style W o r d s : Louis Parks


rench designer Inga Sempé’s latest collection for Ligne Roset, the Ruche line, suggests at once comfort and style, resembling, as the pieces do, a rather chic duvet, or pillow thrown over an almost Scandinavian frame. Featuring side tables, sofas, coffee tables and now a bed, the collection continues to grow. Interestingly, Sempé was put off the idea of designing the latest piece. “I don’t really like drawing beds because people are happy to have just a mattress. I find it absurd these beds that are on platforms, on which you hit your tibia before going to bed,”

Inga Sempe portrait copyright Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello

Ruché bed

she said. Challenged to overcome her natural distaste, Sempé took inspiration from the soft, sensual appeal of the Ruche collection, creating what must be one of the most naturally inviting beds around today. Speaking to Sempé, you get the impression that this highly successful designer lives in something of a bubble, albeit an exceedingly creative bubble. Speaking of design trends, Sempé says, “I never expect anything. I’m a very bad analyst about fairs, trends.” On working in a team and seeking creative input, she shares, “I don’t really like to talk. I like to talk only to people who I’m dealing with in a company. I

Ruche Meridienne and tablette natural beech

Ruche sketch

have assistants, we talk, but not about design. I ask them to find solutions for projects but that’s about it.” Given her creative isolation, it’s therefore not all that surprising that Sempé designs for the everyman, eschewing a target for which she places herself “in a person’s shoes, a person that has no age, no sex, mostly European since it’s the country we are in. But most importantly that has no age and needs a product.” Relying upon her natural talent for design and drive to succeed, Inga Sempé’s a creative force to be reckoned with.

W o r d s :


A dams


01_____ Pig Close

02_____ Pig

03_____ Hide

04_____ iPhone

05_____ Lootercutout

06_____ Sweep Watch

atches are generally made to be worn, but artist-inventor Dominic Wilcox has instead used vintage timepieces to tell minute-long stories, in a perpetual loop. Wilcox, a selfconfessed smartphone addict, previously created a tongue-incheek invention – a nosemounted device to enable people like himself to use their phones while in the bath. In one piece from his Moments In Time, a series of seven miniature sculptures on watch faces, a man is so engrossed in his phone he fails to spot a monkey balanced on the head of a weightlifting boy, standing on the arm of an elderly rollerskater, which wheels towards him and away

from him during the course of 60 seconds. The phone starer is a tiny figure sat on a watch’s minute hand, while the triplefigure assemblage balances precariously on the second hand. Another idea was staring him in the face as he crossed Mare Street in Hackney, London one day in August to get to his studio. He found himself in the middle of the worst rioting England experienced in 30 years. He recalled: “There was a young boy carrying a color television down a back street, and that stuck in my mind. So I came up with this idea of putting a little looter carrying a rectangular TV on the second hand with this riot policeman watching indecisively on the minute hand.” Using toy figures, Wilcox manipulated their heads and limbs into telling his stories, painstakingly creating accessories such as an LCD TV with wire and plug. Wilcox came up with the idea of using watchfaces as a kinetic canvas during a Speed Creating exercise last year. East London design showcase Dezeen Space commissioned him to create seven miniature moving sculptures as part of the London Design Festival. They hold a mirror to the everyday constant

struggles which get us nowhere, reflecting the nihilism of unending repetition. For his first piece – selling for £600 (about $1000) each – Wilcox placed a seat on the minute-hand and the figure of a man who got to sit on his seat for just a second before having to get up. The second of his creations sees a figure with his arms defensively folded, while another spins around him offering an outstretched hand, perpetually rejected. Wilcox says of the unrequited friendship: “It’s quite a sad story.” The Watch Sweeper is a deconstructive sculpture, the sweeper mounted on the second-hand sweeping away the numbers, minute and hour hands of a watch, plunging time into a concept where nothing but seconds count.







A 50 year retrospective W o r d s : O w e n Ad a m s


atrick Demarchelier’s life changed when his father gave him a Kodak camera for his 17th birthday. Within five years, he went from taking seaside snaps at Le Havre to emigrating to New York in 1975, becoming one of the world’s most revered fashion photographers. His portraits are works of art in themselves, gracing the covers of Vogue, Elle, Rolling Stone, Glamour et al.

It only seems fitting that Demarchelier should be the choice of Christian Dior to portray more than 50 years of elite designer gowns in 100 delicious photographs for a luscious coffee-table retrospective, published by Rizzoli, and accompanied by an essay from Ingrid Sischy. The fashion-house invented the lavish and decadent New Look, and, although Dior died back in 1957, he has remained the epitome of haute couture. In 1947 the Parisian designer shocked an establishment desperate to promote austerity, and delighted post-war high society when he rose up against the prevailing fabric-rationing, boxy uniformity with his busty bodices, constraining corsets, and dresses flaring out from the waist. His models were a sharp contrast to the everyday grey with their voluptuous, curvaceous and determinedly feminine forms. Today, Beyonce Knowles, Linda Evangelista and Nicole Kidman are among those who adore Dior, while Demarchelier’s appeal is nearuniversal among fashionistas.

AN NAHAR BLDG, +961 1 971 444/555 ZOUK HIGHWAY, +961 9 217 744/55 SAIFI MAIN ROAD, +961 1 573 555

Keeping it in the family Words:





new fashion sensation has hit Beirut. After eight years of working in Paris, Milan and New York, Karine Tawil Abboud has returned to Lebanon and started her own fashion brand, Karoline Lang. She showed her second collection in November. You are sure to get a one off, as all clothes are made to measure following the pret-acouture concept. The brand is inspired by her heritage, and the great women of her family. Karoline Lang, was her great grandmother, an Austrian woman who married a Lebanese. “There was something about her life that

really touched me,” says Abboud. “She spent her life in the shadows.” Abboud is now giving her a chance to shine posthumously through her fashion collections, the first of which ‘Branches de Vie’ was a direct reference to her family lineage. “The branch is the logo of my brand, I am a branch of Karoline Lang” Abboud explains. Her target audience are ‘women who are very womanly’, and it shows. Her latest collection, ‘Sur Lignée’, draws on the theme of lines, both hereditary and through its strong focus on original cuts. Her favorite piece, a black pony coat, is of a revolutionary design; she

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hasn’t come across anything like it while teaching history of fashion at USJ. “It’s an S-cut, and it’s going to be part of the brand,” she says. Abboud has just opened up a showroom in Jal-elDib in the Metn to serve her rapidly expanding customer base. Next up is showing her third collection in Paris; she is keen to get the approval of the fashion capital of the world. A showroom in Beirut is also in the works. “Through the women in my family I want to reach out to all women of the world.”

The threads of culture W o r d s : O w e n Ad a m s

P h o t o : T a r e k M o u k a dd e m

Fashion is a collective force: while haute couture designers hope to influence the High Street with the garments worn by elite models on catwalks, designer Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury takes his cues from the community to assemble clothes imbued with meaning.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 Shopping 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Architecture 21 22 23 24 Living 25 26 27 28 mar Joseph works 29 30 from his birthplace, 31 32 Jerusalem, and also 33 34 with Palestinian refugee 35 36 projects in Lebanon and Jordan, 37 38 drawing inspiration from traditions 39 40 with fabrics used for centuries and 41 42 costumes, deconstructing them and 43 44 remaking them, with intense 45 46 attention to detail and 47 craftsmanship. 48 49 After finishing school in 50 51 Ramallah, the 23-year-old designer 52 53 completed his studies in London, and 54 55 returned there in early 2011 for a show 56 57 as part of London Fashion Week. One of 58 59 his works was acquired by the British 60 Product Design 61 Museum. The concept of Silk Thread 62 63 Martyrs was inspired by the heritage of 64 65 and current situation in Palestine. Using 66 67 techniques and structures employed by 68 69 traditional embroiderers, he worked 70 71 closely with artisans and craftspeople to 72 73 reflect the continuation of Palestinian 74 75 culture by producing outfits for farmers, 76 77 fighters, martyrs, social workers, 78 79 refugees, and above all, the individual 80 81 spirit – exploring gender, duty and 82 Fashion 83 social constraints. 84 85 His bespoke approach 86 87 means that, while versed in latest 88 technologies, he focuses on the 89 90 intricate, hand-made approach, 91 92 carrying out embroidery, fabric 93 94 preparation, coloring and dyeing by 95 96 hand, using natural materials such as 97 98 indigo and tea. 99 100 Currently, Omar Joseph is 101 102 working on a Palestinian embroidery 103 104 Art  &   C ulture instruction book with Sunbula (a fair105 106 trade handicrafts organization). While 107 108 he delights in creating his own 109 110 elaborate, intelligent niche work that 111 112 speaks volumes visually – to 113 114 disseminate ideas, promote traditions 115 116 In Beirut and do-it-yourself crafts, is his 117 118 vocation. Fashion is for everyone, not 119 120 just the privileged.


A fresh batch of Starch

The allnew Starch boutique has reopened in downtown Beirut, and it’s all about legwork – it all needs to be seen up close.


ashionistas faced an impatient wait to see what this year’s carefully selected visionary designers’ collections were like before the Saifi Village space launched in early December –as interior designer Marc Dibeh supremely tantalized. Everything was screened off except some artful sets of legs. Dibeh’s genius is to give Starch’s four fresh designers’ collections plenty of room to breathe and find themselves in a refreshingly simple but effortlessly cool space.



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Bsaibes A IR M




By debuting up-and-coming designers and giving them a helping hand for a year at a time, Tala Hajjar and Rabih Kayrouz’s three-year-old, nonprofit Starch Foundation is playing a leading role in the gathering resurgence of Lebanese fashion, art and culture. Inside Starch the minimalist aesthetic is at its

most profound from Maher Bsaibes; by contrast, Dina Khalifé wears her heart very much on her sleeves for her Hearts, Bugs and Other Creatures close-to-nature collection. Sheer urban grit from Mira Hayek’s ready-towear collection, inspired by graphic novels, electronic music and Brazilian graffiti, takes us to another

stratosphere, and Malaika Najem offers something else again. Starch, the building-block carbohydrate, exists as a launch-pad for new expression. If the eventual flowering turns out to be as exciting as the roots, Beirut will soon be on fire, style-wise.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 Shopping 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Architecture 20 21 22 23 Living 24 25 26 27 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 Product Design 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 Fashion 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 Art & Culture 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 In Beirut 116 117 118 119 120

Lighting the

way W o r d s : Dan Bratman


ar overhead silent wings beat the wind, darkening the moon that lies above, beyond. Above the wings, beyond the roof, chased by shimmering canals, into illicit corners and past private bridges. It cuts through the shadows into windows, shining in the moonlit eyes of lovers illuminating their deepest hopes. Deep inside there is seen, something. Light is not an absence of dark, but illumination of what has always been there. The ceiling of the grand pavilion of the 2011 Venice La

All photos on this page: China.

Biennale is covered in 2000 stuffed pigeons. Above is the moon. Below is the world’s most diverse and eclectic collection of art. Illumination is the theme. Representatives from 89 countries have come together in Venice to show the state of the arts in the world today. Twenty-eight permanent pavilions and countless temporary locations serve as the venue for curator Bice Curiger’s vision and the effect is awe. Also in the main pavilion hang paintings by Tintoretto,







03_____ South Africa

02_____ Argentina

04_____ South Africa

05_____ Moldova


06_____ Turkey

Above and below: Saudi Arabia

classical master of light. In the vast white spaces the Tintorettos seem somehow modern in their depiction of religious tableaus—grim, pained, beatific faces revealed by divine lighting. “I am particularly interested in the eagerness of many contemporary artists to establish an intense dialogue with the viewer and to challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed. The work of Venetian painter Tintoretto will play a prominent role in Illuminations,” said Curiger. For the first time Saudi Arabia is represented with a stunning work. A huge black disc is suspended in the entrance of its building. But its other side is a mirror, beneath

which are 3,457 reflective spheres with images of mosaic projected from above. “When you come in, you face this black hole. The unknown. This is how you are to me and me to you,” says artist Shadia Alem. “But the other side is a reflection and many reflections below. This is how we are, reflections of each other, exchanging light.” The line between art, sculpture and architecture here is undefined. Multimedia installations leap out at the viewer, sound and vision, light and color. But perhaps the unsung art here is the buildings that house this event. Along with the striking new structures built over the years for the Biennale are the ancient buildings of Venice. Bathed in

Left and below left: Ukraine.

the somber autumnal light Venice is famous for, this floating city with its silent walls and confidential canals frame the Biennnale as a single work. Surrounding the materialized dreams of the greatest artists in the world are infinite vaulted ceilings, historied brickwork and delicate stone filigree. Graceful arches of stone reach over Fabian Marti’s “The Summit Of It�, a terraced, reaching boxlike sculpture evoking a skyscrapered city skyline, bridging the past to the future. This juxtaposition of old and new lends context to both, pulling us out of the numbness to time. The haunting of ancient architecture and the possibility of the future lands us, the human element, the audience, squarely in the

present, reminding us that we are here, now. We build on the past and craft the future. The Biennale is a global community, a worldwide spotlight on what is changing, a dialog of nations through the expressions of individuals. In a time of changing world politics, the Biennale and the art it has gathered represents the politics of change. The gathering of art and artists from around the world show the diversity of the human experience. But it also shows the commonality of the desire to express it. Once a light is shined, fear of the darkness disappears and that which has always been there becomes illuminated.




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Artist Maurizio Cattelan brings his anarchic streak to the Guggenheim


or his first solo exhibition in 1989, Maurizio Cattelan made a massive statement out of nothing. Visitors were greeted with a sign reading ‘torno subito’ (be back soon) and a closed gallery. Since that infamous (non) beginning, the Italian anarchist has turned his utter disrespect of all authority into an assortment of howls, designed to provoke, outrage and invigorate the anarchistic streaks inherent in the masses. Everything he has created – or shamelessly stolen from other artists – is hung like dirty linen in a ramshackle vertical display from the oculus in the Guggenheim’s rotunda in New York. Devout Catholics, particularly, will get a shock from a waxwork of Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite.

Cattelan himself can be found hung from a metal coat rack - a piece called La Rivoluzione siamo noi (We are the revolution, 2000) - dressed in a felt suit associated with Joseph Beuys, the anarchistic German artist cited as the father of conceptualism. Like Beuys, Cattelan has a fascination for taxidermy and death, exemplified in the title piece for this extensive retrospective, All. The 1997 work, nine marble fallen bodies, victims of an unnamed trauma, like those we see portrayed regularly in the media, he describes as a “monument to death”. Alternatively, Bidibidobidiboo (1996), depicts the suicide of a squirrel in a dirty kitchen. Working in a hyperreal vein, Cattelan’s sculptures play the fool while offering scathing critiques of abusive power, mirroring killer contradictions at the heart of a

global hegemony. Raised in the Italian city of Padua, a mix of poverty at home, punishment at school and a string of deadend, unfulfilling jobs compelled Cattelan to create, steal and rebel in art. In 1996, for a show in Amsterdam called Another F***ing Readymade, he stole an entire show by another artist from a nearby gallery and tried to pass it off as his own. All deliberately resists a clear, chronological view of almost everything the artist has created since 1989. Rather, the display is a haphazard jumble, some work at eye-level, others towering overhead. Visitors to the startling show must be hoping gravitational principles of physics have been well and truly suspended. This is gallows humor taken to a whole new level.

‘ K E E P R O C K I N G ’ — w o r d s : H a n e e n J o u di y e h , ‘ o l d , m o d ern wor l d ’ — w o r d s : L o u i s P a r k s

Keep rocking Karim Chaya’s fascination with Rocking Chairs is something we can all relate to. How many times have you walked into a room and the first thing to catch your attention is the rocking chair in the corner? Chaya manifested this fascination in a unique exhibition at Beirut Art Center. “We have always associated the chair with stillness and lack of motion; my pieces are an attempt to change that,” he says. A Rhode Island School of Design graduate, Beirut-born Chaya cofounded Abillama Chaya Industrial Design in 1997. Chaya also started two companies:

ACID, which specializes in design, manufacturing and installation of architectural detailing and SpokDesign, a company devoted to furniture and product design. In addition to that, he teaches fifth year industrial design at ALBA. In this exhibition, SpokDesign presents Chaya’s latest creations conceived under the theme of rocking and movement, inspired by the pendulum and the metronome. The creations feature an array of activities (including meditation, conversation) and materials (such as leather, wood), and take you on an extraordinary

journey. The use of authentic furniture items and the mixing of them with modern elements give each piece a story to tell. This is also accentuated by some of the chairs being given names of people, giving them a personality of their own. Those that visit the exhibition should make sure to try all the chairs, each one offering a different rhythmic experience. Beirut Rock Center by SpokDesign continues at the Beirut Art Center until January 21.

Old, Modern World

Seasonal, fresh, organic: All words that describe Lux, the latest addition to Beirut’s burgeoning list of modern, creative and engaging eateries, located in the city’s Port District. Named after a unit of light, it’s not surprising that Lux is something of a tribute to the power of illumination; the lamps which adorn the eating areas are all from 1930s and ‘40s Berlin, there’s a focus on natural light during the day, and a wooden terrace where diners can take in the air. Owned by Michel Saydah and Johnny Farah, Lux’s take on food and drink is estimable, but then the partners’ history with Casablanca, Pacifico, Dragonfly and

other renowned nightlife spots makes this perhaps a given. What is more surprising is that the pair designed the interior alongside architect Karim Bekdache. With leather benches, a woodtopped aluminum bar, long tables and natural wood finishes, the interior harks back to a time when attention to detail was a must and quality was king. Farah’s touches are clear to see as is Saydah’s past, and it’s the overall feeling of warmth, old fashioned, yet relevant, style and a great menu that bring Lux into the spotlight.

Porsche Centre Lebanon s.a.l. Telephone 01 975 911, 03 901 911

Le cercle # 9  

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

Le cercle # 9  

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