Beirut. The Eras of Design
07.04 – 06.08.2023
A pioneer of its kind, Beirut. The Eras of Design seeks to capture the dynamics that have enabled design to develop in Lebanon.
At the crossroads of the East and the West, Lebanon has been in artistic turmoil since the beginning of the 2000s. Design too has enjoyed this dynamic and is even one of its most significant indicators. The exhibition Beirut. The Eras of Design seeks to analyse this specific situation which simultaneously combines economic and architectural reconstruction with social awareness and international development. Design alone crystallises this desire to take hold of one’s destiny and image by offering objects and forms that are not only steeped in a multifaceted cultural heritage but also deeply rooted in a complex reality.
Until the elaboration of this exhibition project, no study had been conducted on the history of design in Lebanon, from the country’s independence in 1943 to the present day. This colossal project aims to fill this gap by presenting an overview based on rich documentation, while accepting some shortcomings due in particular to the disappearance of whole sections of archives during and after the civil war.
In connection with the exhibition, a flyer is available at the entrance to the mudac. On your own or with your family, it offers you the opportunity to do fun activities and to better understand the challenges of design.
The History of Lebanese Design
Under French rule (1918-1943), Beirut – proclaimed capital of Greater Lebanon in 1920 – restructured itself according to the Western model and thus distinguished itself from most of the cities of the Levant. Despite the significant development of its outskirts – due to major demographic growth – only the city centre benefited from these major works.
The exhibition starts by putting contemporary design in a historical perspective, from the 1940s to the 1990s. How was design born in Lebanon ? Who were the main actors and what were the most emblematic works ?
From the ‘90s to the Present Day
When the civil war (1975-1990) came to an end, the reconstruction of Beirut and a new start for Lebanon appeared to be an absolute priority in order to strengthen its appeal and attract investors. Many Lebanese citizens returned to the country. In this particular context, design began reclaiming geographical, economic and creative spaces. Beirut became a creative hub where workshops, galleries, schools, architecture firms, bars and restaurants set up shop.
Minjara, which means “carpentry” in Arabic, was born out of the desire to preserve Lebanon’s woodworking heritage and to foster dialogue between traditional craftspeople and contemporary designers in a spirit of innovation.
This project, implemented with the help of the European Union, aims to support the wood industry, which was in danger of disappearing in Tripoli due to the sectarian clashes that, until 2014, affected this region, which was once known as the basin of traditional Lebanese furniture and crafts.
Interview with the curator
Interview with the set designers and the graphic designer
The first reference book on design in Lebanon, it consists of different parts dedicated to the history of design in Beirut, the emergence of contemporary design and the Minjara solidarity and creative project. The layout of the catalogue has been entrusted to Chris Gautschi.
Authors: Marco Costantini, Gregory Buchakjian, Charif Majdalani, Marc Baroud, Hala Abdel Malak, Chérine Magrabi, Hala Moubarak
Available at the shop mudac Photo Eylsée.
GHAITH&JAD, Ghaith Abi Ghanem and Jad Melki