After graduating from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts and ECAL Lausanne, Carlo Massoud moved to New York, joining Nasser Nakib Architect to oversee bespoke furniture design for the firm’s high-end residential projects. His solo career began in 2014, when he showed his Dolls project, a thinly veiled allusion to the frictions over the chador, at Carwan Gallery. Massoud’s projects fluctuate between functional design and art installation, usually incorporating a social and political comment.
How does your experience in architecture influence your work as a designer?
It was not until later on that I realized the significance of my education. It shows in two completely opposite ways. The first is very rational. It has taught me to respond to strict lines, sometimes straight, sometimes curved, and channel my research by putting a premium on materials. I find inspiration in details designed by great architects, as well as images, everyday objects and considerations about ergonomics. The second is unrestrained and is contradictory with the first. It allows me to wander off the beaten path, to let my imagination run wild. The research becomes a topic, a surprise, a discovery and completely frees form from any constraints. I need to juggle both or find the middle ground between both to give my designs life.
What do you like about installations as a medium?
In a country like ours, where there is virtually no industry, design lives by virtue of local craftsmen making small-batch productions, sold in galleries or by word of mouth. As a result, design creates exclusive, unique and expensive pieces. This approach is entirely separate and independent from industrial design, it is an opportunity to make our imagination and our own vision of the object a reality. The product takes on a new life, it becomes a sculpture. It becomes an object of desire.
How can design serve a social or political cause?
By evoking emotions associated with a specific political or social context, design becomes political. My work deals with issues such as religion, women’s rights or the destruction of our local heritage, and I translate these ideas into objects or installations that allow me to engage with the public.
Carlo Baroud is one of six designers awarded Maison et Objet’s prestigious Rising Talent Award and will exhibit their work in Paris this September at Maison&Objet 2018.