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Lebanese designers reveal all in Beirut exhibition | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Michele and Georges Maria’s ‘Showdown’ table. (House of Today)

Michele and Georges Maria's 'Showdown' table. (House of Today)

Michele and Georges Maria’s ‘Showdown’ table. (House of Today)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—People often keep their secrets and real intentions hidden deep inside, yet the Naked: Beyond the Social Mask exhibition has uniquely revealed these inner thoughts through the handiwork of thirty Lebanese and international designers brought together in Beirut.

Curated by House of Today, a non-profit organization that seeks to nurture new talent on Lebanon’s design scene, the exhibition displays the work of 27 Lebanese designers and three others from Italy, Germany and France, each bringing their own interpretation of the exhibition’s title theme.

All the works highlight human ideals or insecurities that are usually suppressed under the surface. Alter Ego by Lebanese design duo David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem is a twist on the traditional coat hanger and represents the stripping down of the suited businessman, while Full Moon, a console table by Italian Valentina Carretta, is a tribute to beauty and vanity. On a jewellery box designed by sisters Sarah and Malak Beydoun the omnipresent blue eye—traditionally worn in the Middle East to ward off the evil eye—is revealed on the back of a mirror. Jeweller Najib Tabbah contributed gem encrusted serpents under the title Smoking Naked to suggest a woman’s many skins.

Not everything is what it seems at first glance. Architects Michele and Georges Maria created the Showdown table, that on first inspection looks like an ordinary table, until you realize that weapons have been attached to the underside with resin—and a pen in the middle—while the legs represent the trajectories of the bullets. Providing some explanation on the piece which he described as the “Negotiating Table,” Georges Maria said: “We wanted to evoke the hidden intentions that we have when participating in dialogue with any group. Everybody is ready to pull out their weapons, but secretly, but in the end it is the pen that rules.”

Cherine Magrabi Tayeb, head of House of Today and founder of the biennial exhibition said: “I wanted to give young talented Lebanese designers the opportunity to be discovered, because talent needs to be given a hand.” Naked is the second exhibition organized by Tayeb, following on from the success of Confessions held in 2012. “All designs on display here are one of a kind; you won’t be able to find a duplicate of these wonderful handmade pieces anywhere else.”

As well as new talent, Lebanon’s leading designers were also present with world-renowned fashion designer Elie Saab presenting three clutches exclusively designed for the fair.

French designer Sam Baron, who accepted Tayeb’s invitation for a second time, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his dressing table—covered in mirrors and luxurious feathers—recalls the Parisian Cabaret scene. “I chose a mirror because when we look at ourselves in the mirror we are completely naked, inside and outside.”

The use of mirrors proved to be a popular choice for its properties of deception. German artist Christian Haas explained the idea behind his table—with a mirrored surface—that reveals an intricate detail of a stained glass window: “I made this table out of glass to demonstrate the fragility of truth. As for the painting, the strong use of the colors red and blue leaves us with a strong impression.”

There are so many messages you can take from Naked: Beyond the Social Mask. The pieces also place numerous question marks in the mind and you leave with a sense of astonishment, not unlike Alice during her adventures in Wonderland, at the strange objects you have encountered.


Naked: Beyond the Social Mask runs until January 17, 2015 at the Le Yacht Club, Beirut