The CID – Centre d’Innovation et du Design Grand Hornu announced a new co-production with the mudac and the Fondation Plateforme 10, the exhibition “Beirut. Eras of design”. It is a long-term project steered by Marco Costantini, based on some fascinating research that took him on a journey from Lausanne to Beirut via Paris. The exhibition takes places from 24 April until 14 August 2022.
Positioned at the crossroads of East and West, Lebanon’s artistic scene has flourished since the early 2000s. Design has been a key driver of this development, and is one of its most significant indicators. The exhibition Beirut. Eras of Design will try to analyse this specific context, in which economic and architectural reconstruction, social awareness, and international development all come into play. Design encapsulates the country’s very desire to take control of its own destiny and image by proposing objects and forms that reflect a myriad of heritages but are also deeply rooted in a complex reality.
The aim is to showcase the dynamic evolution and growth of design in Lebanon, Beirut. Eras of Design features three sections. The first one focuses on the discipline’s early stirrings in Lebanon, between the 1950s and 1970s; the second on the period from the 90s to the present day; and the third on the Minjara project and the philosophy behind it, incorporating a project led by the Belgian designer, Bram Kerkhofs, on the ground.
The first exhibition of its kind, Beirut. Eras of Design, will be accompanied by a book that also looks at the various aspects of this fast-developing scene. When we try to understand what it means to create and produce design in Lebanon today, we come up with very different answers from those we might see in Europe.
Geographical, confessional, political, economic, historical and social contexts need to be considered as relevant to the idea of building any semblance of a hypothesis. A young state, liberated from the Ottoman yoke in 1918 and having gained its independence in 1943, Lebanon can only be defined within a multitude of consequences, effects and interactions. The civil war that lasted for fifteen long years, from 1975 to 1990, deeply scarred the country and firmly entrenched the dysfunctions which, because of the restrictions imposed on its population, led to the revolution, or Thawra, in autumn. The two explosions in Beirut’s port on 4 August 2020 was the culmination of a complex political situation, and undermined what little confidence the people still had in its leaders.
It is against this very particular backdrop that cultural players, including designers, are attempting to reconcile commitment and creativity. Producing something in Lebanon today is an act of solidarity and fighting spirit. It is about helping a whole ecosystem of craftsmen work, maintaining an intangible heritage, a heritage of savoir-faire, and demonstrating to the political classes that, despite the obstacles, some Lebanese people want to stay in the country.
Taking into account all that has contributed to making Lebanon what it is today, we now need to look at its output in terms of interior and product design and grasp how specific its intentions, production and distribution systems really are. More than a set of forms and artefacts, in Lebanon, as we will see, design seems to be a real language, a commitment to the future and more importantly to the present.
Works of students of the American Uinversity (AUB) and Académie libanaise des Beaux-Arts (Alba) of Beirut will be commissionned especially for this exhibition. A sound installation by Christophe Fellay will give a hearing dimension to the show.
CID – CENTRE D’INNOVATION ET DE DESIGN au Grand-Hornu
Site du Grand-Hornu
Rue Sainte-Louise 82
Every day from 10 AM until 6 PM, except Mondays.
The Grand-Hornu is closed on 24, 25, 31st December and 1st January.