What you see before you is not uncommon. Being Lebanese, one would surely have warm memories consisting of one or more of these items, probably laced with the scent of strong perfume, or food. It would take us back to the home of our grandmother, a strange yet almost sacred place, filled with an assortment of old Western and Oriental furniture, local and traditional house ware, Turkish tiles, kitchen attics, and dusty rugs.
Nothing ever matched, yet everything was always perfectly in place, and of course, there was always that one antique object or piece of furniture famous for having been handed down from one generation to the next, and which had miraculously survived time (and war) itself. If thoroughly deconstructed, a Lebanese grandmother’s house will almost entirely consist of Western and/or Oriental furnishings; nothing was ever 100% Lebanese, yet through combinations and merging with other smaller traditional products, the outcome always went along with the Lebanese identity.
What is Lebanese identity after all, other than a fusion of French, Ottoman, Roman, and Hellenistic culture, with a dab of ancient Phoenician pride? What once was, however, is now lost, and a grandmother’s house is now presented as a symbol of a long forgotten way of living. Modern Lebanese urban homes lack the sense of tradition and identity. They are instead strewn with cold generic designs that go hand in hand with long lost culture.
Armed with personal passion and curiosity, David and Nicolas have been bent on reinterpreting what a Lebanese household should look like — firstly through visiting their grandmothers’ houses.
The aftermath, a series of products presented in this exhibition titled Loulou / Hoda, started as a collection of certain items chosen by the designers from their grandmothers’ houses. Having made a certain impact on them during their childhood, these items have thus been reconstructed in order to fit a contemporary lifestyle, yet nevertheless carry foreword the intimate feel of a traditional urban Lebanese household — a local house made from global elements.
david/nicolas is a Beirut based design studio co-founded in 2011 by David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem. Two designers whose experiences, both locally and from abroad, filter into their work enriching the content and ultimately the aesthetics. The philosophy of the studio is born from teamwork, which by definition implies working together, but it is often the different approaches, and diverging opinions that give the spaces and objects they work on their character, story and unique personalities.
Their work revolves around an idea: to try and create timeless pieces, they could be defined as retro-futuristic because of the way they joggle with different periods of design and mix them up, thus creating pieces that do not follow a certain “trend” but rather express a character which usually reflects the feeling they get when working on a specific product. They have been selected as part of the 3 breakout stars of the Milan design week 2014 by the New York Times after Exhibiting with Nilufar Gallery and The Wallpaper* Handmade Exhibition.
Photos by Marco Pinarelli