Carwan Gallery opens a permanent exhibition space in Beirut
As the saying goes, home is where you hang your hat. After three years hauling temporary exhibitions to design fairs and museums around the world, the pioneering Carwan Gallery has opened a permanent space in its hometown of Beirut. Located in a lofty, industrial space on the ground floor of the city’s landmark Gefinor Centre, the bricks-and-mortar location allows its limited edition collection, which often pairs international design talent with Middle Eastern artisans, to be viewed together in one place.
Established by architects Pascale Wakim and Nicolas Lecompte in 2010, Carwan strives to reinvent Middle Eastern craft in a succession of unique contemporary objects. Armed with designs by Michael Anastassiades, Philippe Malouin, Karen Chekerdjian, Studio mischer’traxler and Lindsay Adelman, the gallery inaugurated its permanent space with its latest collaboration with French designer India Mahdavi. The ’Landscape’ series, first presented during the gallery’s debut appearance at Design Miami/ Basel in June, comprises tables and vases produced by Mahdavi and the Iznik Foundation, who’s ateliers are based in Bursa, Turkey. The collection unites Mahdavi’s trademark colour and geometrics with the opulent 16th-century Ottoman tradition, a key inspiration.
Having a permanent space doesn’t seem to have quelled the gallery’s industrious spirit, however. Carwan is also presenting a new collection of works with the imaginative design collective Fabrica, at the National Museum of Beirut. Inspired by a trip the group took to Beirut earlier this year, Fabrica’s ’The Secret Collection’ reinterprets aspects of Lebanese daily life in unexpected ways. Each object in the eight-piece collection reimagines a traditional craft or technique. Four of the Fabrica products - a desk lamp, pocket mirror, vase and serving tray - will be available to purchase in the museum’s shop.
Fabrica’s design department director Sam Baron says: ’Our idea [for this project] came about because of the presence of David Raffoul, a young Lebanese designer on the team. He always expressed the great things about his country and so I challenged him to organise a project there for us to discover his land.’
The collective dug deep into Lebanese life to create the pieces. ’We were challenged to absorb the many specifics of the country in order to understand how we could pay modern homage to such a mix of cultures through objects,’ Baron explains. ’We didn’t want to make too many clichéd references that would make the project like a postcard. ’
Continues Baron: ’In the end, the collection reflects the generosity, hospitality and richness of a culture that is such a mélange of religions and habits. There’s even a piece that pays homage to electrical blackouts.’