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Stories from the Middle East Region

INTERVIEW with Ghia Zatari

Designer Ghia Zatari Only Popcorn

Who or what are your influences?

I'm fascinated by native jewelry and charms such as Aztec ornaments. I also look to natural shapes, patterns, lighting in nature. When it comes to crafts I am inspired by the intricacies of Art Deco Vintage Jewelry, Brass embossing & inlay of mother of pearl craftsman of the Levant & the delicate embroidery of India.

The Pop Art scene of the 60s – Andy Warhol & Peter Blake and their collages of everyday objects are a strong reference for me. That along with individual artists, musicians and curators I have come across working with Only Popcorn in the New York art scene always inspire me. 

I am also inspired by a number of visual contemporary artists from the Middle East, especially those that apply colors boldly and with a defying humor. Amongst them are: Oussama Diab, Chant Avedissian, Huguette Caland & Dia al Azzawi. I am inspired by the nostalgia of the golden years of Cinematic Cairo and Beirut.

Tell us a bit about your production process.

I produced the Only Popcorn earrings in Lebanon with talented craftsmen who work by hand.

How long have you been in business? When did you start?

Only Popcorn, a lifestyle brand and record label, came about over two years after a very fortuitous encounter with my current partners in this business. I begin designing under our brand shortly after we began working together. Our design items had their first soft launch last summer along with select music releases. 

Describe a typical day in the studio.

It varies a lot. My time is divided between New York, Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East. The inspiration is rampant so I am always documenting, reinterpreting and storing ideas. My studio is mobile so I divide my time drawing, meeting with craftsmen in their studios, reviewing designs, time on the computer, long walks and meeting with partners to make sure operations are smooth and that our efforts and projects are in sync.

Where did you study? Train? Work?

I completed by degree in Visual and Social anthropology from Harvard University and Masters in Urban Design from the Architectural Association in London.  I have worked with a number of Art Galleries, Architecture firms and the City Planning Department of New York. Throughout my studies and work experience I have taken on various drawing courses and sculpting classes in various independent studios. I continue to pursue different mentorship programs and workshops in design.

How would you describe your work in three adjectives?

Spontaneous, bold and simple