News / Design


Beirut Art Center showcases more Lebanese design works


The following article was originally published by the Daily Star on March 16, 2011.

BEIRUT: Thursday will see the opening of the third installment of BAC Design, the Beirut Art Center’s series of exhibitions that aims to promote products made by Lebanese designers.“Who’s Living on the 13th Floor?” as this show is called, will display the ceramics of Mary-Lynn Massoud and Racha Nawam.

Press materials for the show promise that it will present “a city chaotic yet phantomatic [sic] born out of the imagination of the two ceramicists.”

The series is somewhat of a departure for the BAC. According to assistant director Stephan Tarnowski, the gallery had previously used its second floor to display objects of international design.

“They wanted to work more with Lebanese designers,” Tarnowski told The Daily Star.

“They then decided that they had to support these local designers.”

To take part in BAC Design, artists must be Lebanese nationals or a Lebanese design collective. Tarnowski said their shows also must follow a theme like an art exhibition, but the work itself can take any form – furniture, jewelry, or ceramics, for example. Shows in the series last for between two and five weeks.

The series’ inaugural show, by the London and Beirut-based graphic designer Rana Salam, ran from Nov. 25 to Dec. 11. Entitled “Capturing Culture,” Salam’s exhibition included pillows, notebooks, jewelry and wall hangings – all displaying a brightly colored, nostalgic and pop-art-influenced look at Lebanese life.

Hoda and Elias Baroud’s “The Order of Angels” ran from Dec. 22 to Jan. 29 and displayed the amateur potters’ ceramic angels, which the artists said were influenced by the German artist Anselm Kiefer and the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. The works were created using techniques derived from traditional Japanese raku pottery.

In displaying design objects in a space known for its contemporary art, the BAC is breaking down the traditional barriers between objects that are respected for their artistic value and those respected for their function.

Tarnowski said that by “giving designers … the opportunity to exhibit their work in a contemporary art space … [this] is a way to highlight the artistic value of their designs.”                         

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 16, 2011, on page 16.

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