Having lived in Japan, studied in New York and now working in Beirut, furniture designer Nada Debs certainly has a lot of influences in her life. Blending Japanese form with Middle Eastern traditions, her products are a cool clash of cultures – a clash that works oh-so well. Her two eponymous stores in Lebanon’s capital city showcase her stylish designs, and each piece blurs the line between furniture and art. Hg2 sat down with Debs in one of her well-crafted Arabesque Moderne armchairs to talk shop.
Buy Hg2 Beirut here
Name: Nada Debs.
Are you a hedonist? In a way, yes…I try to look for pleasure in everything I do!
There are plenty of designers out there. Why do you think you’ve become so well-known, and what marks you out from the design crowd? I suppose I have designed objects that have a distinct identity, and people have recognised that style. The designs seem to appeal to people’s emotions… for the Arabs, they bring out a sense of nostalgia, for the West, a sense of the exotic. Also, the fact that the pieces are not mass-produced and the fact that they are handcrafted give people a sense of exclusivity.
What defines your designs? My designs are a mix of contemporary with an oriental touch. The concept I created is called East & East, which is a fusion of the minimalism of the Far East (where I grew up) and the craftsmanship of the Middle East (my native roots).
What is your favourite design capital? London – it’s always trying to push the boundaries. I would also say Eindhoven in Holland – here, the focus is on craft.
How would you describe Beirut to an outsider? Warm, friendly and welcoming… you feel at home the moment you step into Beirut!
In Beirut, what is your favourite…
Shop (aside from your own)? Over the Counter (design shop).
Bar? Lei (bar/restaurant in Mar Mikhael).
Club? Behind the Green Door (not really a club).
Has Beirut changed in the past five years? Definitely – a growing creative community and a feeling that anything’s possible.
What’s next for you? I am creating the East & East Workshop, where people can visit and see how crafts are made – and to increase the interest in the craftsmanship of this part of the world, as well as giving people opportunities to work in this field.