Designing the Middle East at 19 Greek Street

By | Art & Design
Platform and Cookie Paper by Karen Chekerdjian © Karen Chekerdjian

The fresh and innovative contemporary interior design hub and exhibition space 19 Greek Street presents ‘Designing the Middle East: Beirut’ this summer, an exhibition featuring, for the first time in the UK, the fascinating work of Lebanese furniture designer, Karen Chekerdjian.

Chekerdjian’s first UK exhibition features a selection of work, including furniture and design objects, which traces the obstacles and challenges, chiefly in terms of the availability of materials and manufacturing techniques, that have been overcome by the artist in the pursuit of her creative vision, and highlights the out-standing breadth of talent which the Middle East has to offer the creative industry.

Chekerdjian’s studio, established in 2001, rapidly and organically evolved from a conceptual space of thought and contemplation to a professional production-driven entity, focused upon the production of aesthetically pleasing furniture and everyday objects within a context of material and manufacturing challenges and complications.

Despite such restraints, Chekerdjian’s work benefits greatly from the demands of re-evaluating methods of manufacture and re-thinking of her approach to design. Chekerdjian’s pioneering work functions upon an intriguing juxtaposition between traditional manufacturing techniques and industrial aesthetics, between the distinctly Lebanese and its strong international appeal.

Wood, metal, ceramics and glass are feature most heavily in Chekerdjian’s work, highlighting her impressive ability to develop stunning design pieces from a comparatively limited materials base. Traditional manufacturing techniques such as hand carving, embroidery and glass blowing come into play in Chekerdjian’s modern geometric structures. Middle Eastern influences, most evident in pieces such as the beautifully folded single sheet of metal entitled Cookie Paper, are key to the works on display, employing the region’s unique approach to creativity and at time subtle and delicate chiselled motifs, which echo the designer’s jewellery making talents.

Derbakeh, Yoyo and Pouf © Joe Kesrouani

Derbakeh, Yoyo and Pouf © Joe Kesrouani

Owner and Creative Director of 19 Greek Street, Marc Péridis comments “‘Designing the Middle East: Beirut’ is further celebration of this region’s unique approach to creativity despite the restraints in fully realising a project, which demonstrate how contemporary design responds to its contextual surroundings without losing its universal power”.

‘Designing the Middle East: Beirut’ continues the steady stream of international of designers who have exhibited at 19 Greek Street since its acclaimed opening in September 2012.

The show is accompanied by two floors of vintage and re-editioned pieces by Brazilians design specialists, ESPASSO. Greatly contrasting the more dominant, delicate Scandinavian designs, the stimulating works of the ESPASSO collective are robust in their approach to design aesthetic.

Featuring both vintage pieces and works by contemporary designers, the ESPASSO pieces comprise of stimulatingly strong, bold lines and robust wooden structures, which simultaneously compliment and contrast elements of Chekerdjian’s original and stirring works.

Chekerdjian’s out-standing and intriguing show scratches the creative surface of Middle Eastern talent, proving that the region has a wide ranging array of talent to offer the world; her rousing, beautiful design pieces prove that a region comprised of challenging views, limited resources and distinct difficulties is more than able to generate creative and artistic brilliance and beauty.


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