Beirut Design Week… A First of its Kind


The MENA Design Research Center is proud to announce the launching of the first “Beirut Design Week”. Unlike fairs and exhibitions, this event is a whole week dedicated to exploring all aspects of local design and design thinking throughout Beirut. During Beirut Design Week, with a series of over 50 events: exhibitions, conferences, workshops, and screenings across the city, we will be celebrating the role of design in our contemporary culture, society, education and economy.   One of the main aims of Beirut Design Week is to brand Beirut as the Design Capital of the Middle East.

Beirut Design Week 2012 is dedicated to promoting all Lebanese designers, who have been playing a vital role in the formation of the city’s contemporary design identity and culture. These include, product designers, furniture designers, communication designers, interior designers, architects, design educators, design thinkers, social designers, fashion designers, design researchers, publishers, and galleries. Participating designers will showcase their work by opening up their shops and showrooms till later hours in the evening and host small events.

The Design Week headquarters is the Ministry of Tourism in Hamra. It is also where the main exhibition, DESMEEM, will be held. The ministry is open from the 25th till 30th from 9:00 am till 8:00 pm everyday.

Beirut Design Week is an initiative organized by MENA Design Research Center. The MENA Design Research Center is cofounded by Maya Karanouh and Doreen Toutikan and is incubated by TAGbrands, a regional branding and design agency. The Center is focused on promoting a diverse understanding of design through the implementation of design research and collaborative multidisciplinary projects in the region.

‘A Design Week, unlike fairs and exhibitions, is a whole week dedicated to exploring all aspects of local design throughout a major city.’ explained Ms. Karanouh.

‘This means all participating designers will showcase their work by inviting people into their design spaces and showrooms and showing them how they work. Over the course of the week there will be a series of conferences, exhibitions, talks, workshops and film screenings taking place in various  parts of the city simultaneously.’

 Speaking about their motivation, Ms. Toutikan said ‘The Middle East, and Lebanon specifically, has always had a strong culture of design. This cosmopolitan city has been constantly redefining its design culture and exhibiting its unique creations to the world. Beirut Design Week is about promoting Lebanese designers, who have been playing a vital role in the formation of the city’s contemporary identity and culture.’

‘The more we embrace our design scene and show the world what we can do then the more it will grow and bring rewards back to the country. We believe designers have a great potential to influence social change and Beirut Design Week is all about showing people how we can do this.’

The opening ceremony of Beirut Design Week will feature the DESMEEM exhibition at the Ministry of Tourism on the 25thof June at 6:00 pm. The next days will be followed by series of talks given by designers contributing to the DESMEEM project for the MENA Design Research Center. ‘As designers we are trained in using cross-cultural interdisciplinary approaches in order to solve problems,’ said Ms. Toutikan. ‘By applying our methodology to real life issues we can offer a different approach to overcome problems that affect our society.’

Teams of local and international designers set themselves the challenge of using design methodology to solve various societal problems and will be talking about the results of their work at Beirut Design Week. DESMEEM covered a range of different cultural issues including urban space, finance, disability, energy, gender and sustainable consumerism.

As part of Beirut Design Week the MENA Design Research Center has also organised a full-day conference at AUB West Hall on the 27th June entitled “The Future of Design Education”, which will bring together top local and international educators including design experts from Parsons New School in New York, Koeln International School of Design in Germany, Glasgow School of Art in the UK, AUB, LAU, NDU, AUST and ALBA.

The conference will discuss a range of topics including the differences and similarities between Western and Middle Eastern design education, the main concerns of design educators today and how Western and Middle Eastern design education can influence each other. The conference is open to the public.

A series of workshops will be held across the city will give designers and the general public a chance to learn skills directly from experts working in Beirut and abroad. Topics will include Infographics, Video Documentation, Service Design, Design Research, Design entrepreneurship, Fashion Design and Product Design.

‘These workshops will act as a proactive way for designers to share their skills with the public and spread our culture of design to people who we might not otherwise reach’ said Ms. Karanouh.  ‘You could learn how to make your own handbag or clutch in a one-on-one hand-sewing workshop with Lebanese fashion designer Johnny Farah, or attend an infographic workshop with Giorgio Uboldi from Milan.’

Beirut Design Week will also be featuring some of the best contemporary design and architecture films at the St. Nicholas Stairs in Gemmayze. This will include episodes of the renowned BBC series ‘The genius of design’. Each episode of these one hour films explores the history of design from the industrial era through to the present day.

The main partners to Beirut Design Week are the British Council, the Goethe Institute, Indyact, and Ministry of Tourism.

For the full program of events visit: