1/ Tell us about the first ever object you commissioned?
As a curator duo (Pascale and Nicolas) we co-commissioned the whole collection of objects we presented during Design Days Dubai in March 2012. Probably one of the most exciting objects was the Gradient Mashrabiya form Mischer’Traxler (covered by Wallpaper magazine here). The challenge was to give inspiration to this duo of Austrian designers to reinvent a traditional object like the mashrabiya from a culture they didn’t know much about. The experience of teaming them up with a Lebanese craftsman was a great experiment and brought many interesting reflections on function and aesthetics.
Studio mischer’traxler teamed up with an expert woodworker in Lebanon to redefine the constructive system of the traditional mashrabiyas: delicate wooden window screens often found in Middle Eastern architecture. Inspired by the process of lathing the small wooden parts for mashrabiyas, mischer’traxler focused on exposing the many steps of production, to make the craftsmen’s work visible and understandable to the observer. The result ” a sideboard ” is composed of a network of more than 650 distinct pieces of manually carved wood. From rectangular slats to refined decorative elements, all stages are visible within the one object, which becomes increasingly more defined, detailed, and fragile, but at the same time progressively more three-dimensional.
2/ Name Three up and coming designers from the Middle East who in your opinion show the most promise & briefly explain why you like their work and think they will be successful?
India Mahdavi (Paris): because Carwan Gallery will launch an incredible new collection entirely produced between Turkey and Lebanon with the Iznik foundation. It will be the first major launch for collectable design of the architect Mahdavi. She is an extremely creative architect and designer who uses her mixed cultural background between Europe and the Middle-East to sharpen a unique vision in design. Her experience in the fashion industry, before launching her studio, also gave her great skills in the manipulation of textures and colors.
Taher Asad-Bakhtiari (Tehran): a new up and coming designer from Iran preparing his first collection of unique kilims. His work was unveiled by Carwan Gallery for the very first time in the world during Design Days Dubai in March 2013.
Taher Asad – Bakhtiari Baz Kilim, Image courtesy of Carwan Gallery
Karen Chekerdjian (Beirut): Karen has an incredible sensibility that we appreciate very much. Her design is timeless and brings a geometric poetry that very few oriental designers have. Her new series of “ikebana” shaped mirrors will be for sure a great success.
3/ In your opinion who is the most influential established designer from the Middle East region?
Nada Debs is probably the most influential and known designer in the region. She is a very inspiring businesswoman and what she managed to accomplish is remarkable.
4/ Why did you set up Carwan? Tell us briefly about Carwan’s mission and why it is important.
Carwan Gallery was founded with the desire to flourish the huge potential of an entire region, in terms of creativity, production capacities, sensibility and awareness towards design. Choosing the limited edition field to express its ambitions in a region where low-tech and craft productions are still the standards, the gallery multiplies various types of international collaboration to encourage cross-cultural dialogue, and push those standards into new directions. To create new venues taking the region as a constant source of inspiration, Carwan defines projects and collaborates with designers and architects whose unique approach can enrich the project vision.
We also focus on a mission on promoting “collectible design”, still unknown for a great majority of people in the Middle-East, it is a real challenge to push this new reality, help it grow, and encounter the public through exhibitions, exchanging and transmitting our passion, encouraging the wide potential of this region to emerge, and inspire more visitors to become collectors. Becoming a collector is accessible to everyone who has an interest in unique objects. Collecting is also investing in unique objects of which the value will grow with time while creating an unique environment of “functional art works” to live with.