Who or what are your influences?
My creations are influenced by all Mediterranean motifs… from a small forgotten carved stone to the opulence of covered mosaic walls. The floors, the walls, the juxtaposition of patterns…
What inspires you? From the Middle East? Around the world?
I focus on the power of Mediterranean design, because I found that if you look closely you will see that that the end, the world is all connected by design, and a Middle Eastern signature can be found in many places. Mediterranean people have been traveling around the globe for thousands of years, and have been inspired by the design they found as well.
Tell us a bit about your production process: where do you produce? What materials do you work with?
We are a family owned company. Charbel Raphael, my partner and brother, handles the production. Our primary objective is to have a refined product with a perfect finish. We mainly produce our silicone, PVC, tins, and porcelain in China. We also produce some of our products in Europe and France, like the wood items the tea boxes and trays and the stationary items.
How long have you been in business? When did you start?
We have been in business since 2000, and we started expanding worldwide in 2007/2008.
Why did you decide to become a designer?
Since I was a young child, I wanted to be a designer and create things. But becoming a designer was so far beyond what I could fathom. I graduated with a Masters in advertising, but it wasn’t at all what I wanted to do! I eventually pursued a Master in Fine Arts, and the combination of these opposing degrees, lead me to become a designer…. the thing I always dreamed of being!
Describe a typical day in the studio.
The best days in the studio are the days when I start early in the morning, when I can work and feel that the day is long ahead of me. I always check my emails, try to answer as soon as I can, and tackle this chore before plunging into my designs and creation. I usually focus on one project at a time, and very rarely do I work on different projects simultaneously. A design idea starts in my head but it frequently, changes direction upon working it out on paper. When a design gets stuck in its process I stop, let it rest for a while, and take on something else before coming back and finishing.
Who is your favorite Middle Eastern designer and why?
My favorite designers are the ones who keep their own spirit and especially their own identity.
Where did you study? Train? Work?
I started with a master’s degree in Advertising from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA), then I travelled to the US where I earned another MFA at the museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Tufts University, with a focus on Sculpture and Museum Studies. These This contrast between these two degrees is what shaped the thinking that led me to what I’m doing now.
How would you describe your work in three adjectives?
Exciting, whimsical and eloquent.
Anything you would like to add?
I am fortunate to be doing what I am doing. I am happy to be glorifying my roots and making the aesthetic universal.
With contribution from Hala A. Malak.