When is it on? How many years has it been going?
The first edition of BEIRUT DESIGN FAIR will be held from 20 to 24 September 2017 at the BIEL (Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center). It will take place at the same time and in the same location as the 8th edition of BEIRUT ART FAIR (23,000 visitors), the Lebanese contemporary art fair
What was the inspiration to start it?
We’re sensitive to the vibrant, scintillating quality of the Lebanese design scene. Its rightful place is without question at the forefront of the cultural landscape of the Middle East. It seems to us that this is the right time to turn the spotlight on the driving and creative role of Lebanese design in the region.
Lebanese designers form a real community, open to the world while remaining rooted in its birthplace. Creative currents from throughout the region converge upon this energetic and inspiring center, where an international flavor mixes with the rich profusion of local craft workshops.
What exciting things can people look forward to for the 2017 version? Who will be speaking etc?
Lebanon is full of creativity, far beyond its borders: visitors will be surprised by the importance and influence of the Lebanese design scene in Lebanon and abroad. The mingling of contemporary design and vintage design, emerging designers and well-known designers, technology and high craftsmanship, will also be very interesting. Most Lebanese designers rely on local craftsmen not only to create their prototypes and limited series, but also for the inspiration behind their work.
What is your own background and your interests?
Guillaume Taslé d’Héliand : As a journalist, first in the daily press and then in the professional press, I did a lot of writing for the largest dailies in France and for professional magazines. The school where I studied, HEC, opened many doors for me. For 10 years I was also an editor for the Reed Elsevier Group, the world’s leading trade show organizer. This experience instilled in me a concern for a wide variety of issues, as well as the ability to draw parallels.
Design is a mindset. Furniture and design products are exciting because there are real reasons for their success and duration over time, real reasons that encourage the passion of the amateurs and collectors.
Hala Moubarak: During my studies in architecture, I fell in love with design and the way of thinking that comes with it ! After several years working as an interior architect in the GCC, I always found a way of creating a unique product for my clients. In 2012, I started writing about design for a major Lebanese-French magazine, and I went looking for talents all over Lebanon and the world !
Design is not just about nice and beautiful objects. It’s about purpose, it’s about answering a need, it’s about finding solutions! That’s what I tell my students when I step into my classroom ! We are all makers, we are born makers, and today designers should observe the society they live in, to create something useful to serve the community !
What opportunities are on offer for (startups) and companies attending your event?
There are many reasons to participate in BEIRUT DESIGN FAIR, starting Beirut’s role as a regional metropolis: the size of the Lebanese market (nearly 600 million dollars), its geographical location at the crossroads of the East and the West, its lively and very creative design scene, its curiosity and its high level of culture, its brilliant and inspiring craftsmanship…
And then there are the reasons that justify any trade show: to generate sales, to reveal the latest creations, to develop an international network, to meet with trendsetters, purchasing advisers and international collectors, to increase visibility among the key market players, etc.
What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?
Respect and kindness open all the doors, while listening and observation bring many inspirations. I recommend that you let yourself be imbued with Beirut’s singular atmosphere, which is at once global and local, vernacular and international, in which design trends from all over the world meet and influence each other.
How can people book tickets / when does it usually sell out?
As of July, it will be possible to register online to obtain an entrance ticket to BEIRUT DESIGN FAIR. This is the best way to avoid waiting at the entrance, and to be notified about the progam of events, if desired. Entry will be free and the same ticket will provide access to BEIRUT ART FAIR.
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
BEIRUT DESIGN FAIR aims to gather the most important actors – designers, editors, brands, distributors – and to connect them with collectors, sponsors and investors present in Beirut, a fertile city in constant development and home to countless innovative projects: hotels, restaurants, luxury residences and offices.
We hope to welcome more than 10,000 visitors to this first edition, as well as a significant number of the 20,000 visitors coming to see BEIRUT ART FAIR.
Our objective is to put Beirut at the top of people’s lists of design destinations, and to attract contractors, collectors and amateurs from abroad.
What are Beirut’s advantages?
Beirut is the logical place to showcase Middle Eastern design. It has deep roots but also branches that reach across the world. Indeed, Lebanon is the only country in the region to combine a host of precious qualities: culture, history, memory, creativity, a critical spirit, freedom of speech and movement, established design schools, a solution-oriented approach, exceptional craftsmanship, a sense of hospitality, lifestyle, and entrepreneurial energy. And finally, the geographical position of the country makes it a hub of culture and innovation at the crossroads of East and West.
How would you explain the fertility of the Lebanese design scene?
Lebanese creativity is obviously the product of many factors. Lebanon is probably the freest country in the Middle East, and this freedom is conducive to creativity. The country’s distant and more recent history has been a source of much frustration, fragility and emotion that have led the Lebanese to search continuously for meaning and solutions. They adapt quickly and easily, they are firmly grounded in their heritage while looking to the future and living the present moment to the fullest.
The Lebanese occupy space and time better than most other communities: they are all over the world (a diaspora of 14 million, more numerous than the 4 million who live in Lebanon) and offer reminders of their Phoenician roots. These factors also help to explain the high level of Lebanese culture and the Lebanese talent for finding solutions.