in Development and for Development – Art and its Industrial Interface
Nayla Rached – Cultlural Agenda nº 356 of 21st October
to 03 November, 2009.
industry are not necessarily opposed. On the contrary, each one
contributes to the development of the other for a better evolution.
Wafa Osta, Lady-President of Architree, and Sophie Skaf, founder
of ADAPO, both insist on design as a value which is added.
– this is a word used more and more often in everyday language.
People talk of a designer table, a designer dress, a designer piece
of furniture, designer jewelry, a designer plate, one expression
used for any number of different objects.
Visitors to the Horeca salon held last April were able to have a
look at the Pavilion of Lebanese Design that assembled the creations
of certain designers of ours, original benches of leather and polished
metal points signed Fady Salamé, blown glass by Mona Asfar,
lamps by Ethos Original, and table mats in plexiglass and tables
by Atelier SZ. This gave just an idea of the creative powers of
the six Lebanese designers and two workshops brought together by
Architree, a Lebanese NGO which allows small and medium enterprises
to shine in the world of “Design Unique” and “Limited Lines”. The
aim of its slogan, Design for Development, as explained by its president
Wafa Osta, “is not merely cultural but also economic. If the work
of the designer and the artisan is economically viable, then it
will endure and have a cultural value. It is a matter of allowing
the work of the artisan to have an added value giving them a place
on the market.”
It was precisely with this purpose that some years earlier, in 2003
to be exact, that ADAPO (Association de design et d’architecture
au Proche-Orient) organized the event Mangeons Design. Sophie Skaf,
who founded ADAPO, which is simply the extension since 1993 of the
Tableau rase association aimed at implanting the designer concept
in Lebanon, explains that it was an event including talks, exhibitions,
installations and workshops. Bernard Khoury, Nada Debs, Pascal Tarabay
and three French designers were among nine who took part “so that
the show might be more interactive and to demonstrate that there
was no great difference between the level of our own designers and
of those of France.” On the other hand there was a gulf where publicity
was concerned. This little detail is very important and the stamp
“Made in Lebanon” was the object of Mangeons design. It was precisely
a matter, adds Sophie Skaf, of ensuring that “industrialists should
be aware that design is an added quality and should venture to make
our young designers known in Beirut and in the Middle East. We have
done all we can but have known little success.”
But ADAPO has not given up and has made one effort after another.
First of all there was the launching in 2004 of the workshops setting
in the forefront the skills of blown glass, inlay, weaving on the
loom, and molding plastic, done in cooperation with designers and
universities. Once again the aim was to “obtain orders for these
disappearing crafts ... but none were obtained.” What precisely
is the problem? “I don’t really know,” she answers. “Is it just
that industrialists prefer the easy way out by sticking to old ways?
The other problem is the lack of means. The order may be too complicated
for the artisan’s machine’s to carry it out, so he cannot make use
of his limited potential... So it is a vicious circle.” Sophie Skaf
smiles a smile of weariness tinged however with hope.
“I believe there is great potential in this country. But in industry
the will is lacking. So once again it is a matter of launching the
project Creative Lebanon, commissioned by the British Council in
2004, and of holding a seminar on the creative programming of a
competition for designers of under thirty-five. The laureates Joe
Abu-Khaled and Vincent Repessé, whose project had the theme
Lebanese Homemade, Lebanese Home Blend, went to London to acquire
the resources for making it known.
For the designer Sophie Skaf, “fulfillment comes from having beautifully
designed objects executed and produced in Lebanon.” And she gives
the example of the little dresses of the Lina Mroué house,
marked “Created in Beirut and made in Lebanon.” “It’s magnificent,
extraordinary,” she exclaims, “We have prepared the ground and now
I think that the torch is in other hands.”
Little by little the project is ripening and will bear fruit. At
the Pavilion of Lebanese Design certain designers have reached agreement
with restaurants that placed orders. In fact, according to Wafa
Osta, the aim of the Pavilion of Lebanese Design is “to contact
the sector of entrepreneurial promoters of the hotel and restaurant
sectors, as they are the trend-setters. The present tendency is
to move away from the tendency to globalization and to give a particular
character. “The Lebanese are trend-setters,” to quote Wafa Osta.
This is especially the case now as “with the crisis and slow-down
of the world economy, hotels and restaurants are now less inclined
to place huge orders coming in large containers coming from China,
but rather to look for small quantities in limited ranges. It is
here that the Lebanese can affirm themselves as the ‘source market’.”
Will there be further Pavilions of Lebanese Design? “Perhaps something
the same or perhaps something similar abroad, in order to present
Lebanese designers. That is our purpose.” says Wafa Osta.
While waiting for the industrialists to be more venturesome, let
us hope that the design concept will impose itself as viable for
both the Lebanese and the foreign market and that private initiatives
will continue so as to give new inspiration to design. So it is
that at present ADAPO is “constituting a design collection to be
exhibited in a museum. That is all I can say for the moment,” adds
Sophie Skaf. So here’s to the next rendez-vous!
from French - William MATTAR
Art Articles - Main