Imagine this: it’s an early January morning but it’s pitch-black outside. There isn’t a single white cloud in the sky, only raindrops falling from a greyish background. You squirm around in bed, struggling to leave the warmth of your bed sheets. You strategically think of how many layers you can wear while still being able to function normally. Soon enough, you make it to your office after rushing to beat the nefarious traffic. There, you find yourself making your first cup of coffee and starting with your first task of the day, early on.
From afar, it seems like a romanticized morning in Paris or London or even in Beirut. Up close, it’s nothing but the mere reality of the cruel winter season; the season everyone loves to hate, and hates to love.
You don’t need to imagine the scenario. It happened this morning; in fact, it’s happened every morning since the start of the stormy weather in Lebanon. Despite the cold, gloomy climate, you feel a burst of creativity; a zap of motivation hits you and you sit at your desk to start your work process earlier than usual. Normally, you’d think it’s because you want to finish early so you can leave on time. But according to NYU professor who studies behavioral economics, decision making and marketing, Adam Alter, this sudden surge of creativity is due to the “bad” weather.
It’s pretty common for us to try to keep ourselves busy during dark, winter days. We find things around the house that need to be finalized, we resume hobbies that we haven’t tended to in a while or we simply watch the movie that has been on our “to-watch” list since last year and snuggle up with some hot cocoa. At the office, we brainstorm ideas for pitches and start work on huge projects that we have been delaying for days. For students, it becomes so simple to listen to some music while focusing on calculus or some other subject that they think they’re not good at.
Whichever is the case, we do these things to avoid feeling down in a season that’s known to bring down the toughest of the tough, the season associated with “seasonal mood disorder”.
In Alter’s perspective, “bad” weather opens us up to creativity while “good” weather distracts us. On sunny, summer days, we are too preoccupied by thinking of suntanning on white sand, sipping on our ice-cold beer and taking cold showers to think of the things that really matter. We are too busy daydreaming of where we will be spending our weekends and which ice-cream flavor to get after lunch to care for the deadlines and responsibilities that are now piling on. But in winter, we want to avoid seasonal depression so much that our creative juices get flowing and we produce some of our best work.
“Humans are biologically predisposed to avoid sadness, and they respond to sad moods by seeking opportunities for mood repair and vigilantly protecting themselves against whatever might be making them sad. In contrast, happiness sends a signal that everything is fine, the environment doesn’t pose an imminent threat, and there’s no need to think deeply and carefully.”
Does Alter’s thesis on weather and creativity make sense? I ponder this deeply as I recline in my office chair, listening to this drizzles of rain interrupted by thunder and write this, after having struggled for months to write something decent, or merely just anything.
Beirut, the design capital of the Middle East welcomes for the seventh consecutive edition the Beirut Design Week. Initiated in 2012, it’s the largest and most influential design festival of the Middle East and North Africa. Taking place in various parts of the capital, it attracts over 25 000 visitors each year and make Beirut glow of an inspirational light revolving around design, architecture, technologies and art, because yes, design is an art.
This week, you will see Beirut under a somewhat science-fictional spectrum. Despite a political instability, the city decides to exhibit the most innovative and creative design in order to show a different image of the region: a place of economic growth, creativity, entrepreneurship, international interaction, collaboration and innovation.
In addition to designers, the Beirut Design Week also welcomes writers, activists, students, educators and many others.
This year the Beirut Design Week will operate under the theme: “Design and the City: _______”.
It will explore how architecture, design, fashion, documentaries and tech-industries can affect such fields as social change, environment, fair-use, city’s ecosystems, governance, the reconstruction of a conflicted area, the urban life, and the human behaviour in general.
Two of our MAD artists are participating to the Beirut Design Week: Minimalist and 1% Architecture. Here’s where and when you will find them this week.
Minimalist: Roula will launch her new brand Minimalist with a new collection called “Soar” at Oddish Concept Store, Beirut Port District on Friday 29th.
1% architecture: will have a open house in their workshop in Mar Mikhael from June 25 to 28 as well as a closing reception on June 28 starting 5PM. People are invited to visit the 1% showroom to check out the full collection, meet the team, chat and have a drink. They will also be displaying special items in collaboration with several artists and artisans.”
If you want to know more about our artists their projects and their art, check out the interviews of Minimalist and 1% architecture’s about their participation at the Beirut Design Week on our blog.
#WhatRUwaiting4?Beirut welcomes you this week to discover the best of designers. They’re eager to talk to you and show you their projects. Hop on the first plane, train, car that comes around and go to Beirut, you will definitely not be disappointed 🙂
“1% is an architecture firm, named 1% as a glance to a culture of anti-conformism. The workshop aims to be different and off the mark from the remaining 99%.” Why 1% Architecture? “Why 1%? Because we refuse the culture of standardization, the relentless quest of the #instagrammable, in a digitized and impersonal world. Because we believe that each building, space, and object is unique. Because we value hand craftsmanship and seek to combine expert and artisanal competence, to design buildings, spaces, and objects with a purpose, a soul, and a strong identity. Because we believe this is the way forward to provide solutions for the architecture that will become tomorrow’s heritage.” What is the spirit behind 1% Architecture? “At 1% Architecture, we have a passion for detail and human-scale objects. After several years of designing homes and furniture for our clients, we have come to develop our own DNA. We decided to launch our own homegrown collection of multipurpose furniture. The idea was to create and produce design furniture, using only high quality raw materials, but keeping prices affordable.”
How will you participate to the Beirut Design Week? “This year we are taking part in Beirut Design Week where we will be organizing an “open house” in our workshop in Mar Mikhael from June 25 to 28 as well as a closing reception on June 28 starting 5PM. People are invited to visit the 1% showroom to check out the full collection, meet the team, chat and have a drink. We will also be displaying special items in collaboration with several artists and artisans.”
During Beirut Design Week, Roula will launch her new brand Minimalist with a new collection called “Soar” at Oddish Concept Store: Beirut Port District on Friday 29th.
Who is Minimalist? “Minimalist brings in an innovative jewelry designer brand that combines rough architectural contemporary flair with sensibility inspired from both nature and colorful cultures; it has a distinguished identified style that caters to a global market. Anyone can be Minimalist. Who is behind the brand? “I am an up-and-coming Lebanese contemporary jewelry designer. I started my brand a couple of years ago when I decided to leave the corporate world to embrace my true calling. I participated in local and international fairs trying to reach a larger market. My underlying vision is to make jewelry, accessible to a large crowd of women, whilst preserving the heritage and empowering local craftsmen. At the crossroads of fine jewelry and fashion jewelry, my goal is to reach modern, elegant women while selling at highly competitive prices. For me, anyone can own a prestigious piece of jewellery.” What’s the Story behind Minimalist?
“The interest the brand has arisen has given me the confidence to grow it internationally. but even with my years of experience and with the social media new impact, I realized that I need to change, to fit, to reach and connect. And came the idea of re-branding to “Minimalist”. “Minimalist” is my new branding with a new flair: simple yet elegant; easier to wear; talks to everyone and can be purchased at very competitive prices.” Why launching during Beirut Design Week? “I wanted to pick the right moment to make a come-back and show the people the shifting between the brand Roula Dfouni to Minimalist. During Beirut Design Week, everyone is already into the art and design and they are interested in any related event. So, I considered that launching during this period is the best timing. I want to create a huge momentum around the event and the brand. The brand was away from the local market for a while and even before that, my target was focused on the international. I will be introducing my new branding: Minimalist; my new collection | SOAR |; a new photoshoot”
#HowMADisAbsolut Is the best bartender team in the world from Lebanon? That’s exactly what Absolut Invite Lebanon bartending competition was all about. Because bartending in a popular bar is not just about mixing fantastic cocktails, Absolut teamed up with MAD to hold this competition for the first time in Lebanon, earlier this month.
#ArtMusicCocktails Absolut Invite Lebanon took place at Jackie O, in the presence of Rico Dynan, global brand ambassador for Absolut Vodka, Sarah Witwoet, Regional Brand Manager of Pernod Rocard EMEA and the totally MAD Tarek Moukkadem, photographer and visual artist, jury members of the competition.
#FromBeirut2Ahüs Competing bar teams proved themselves in speed, knowledge, consistency and creativity challenges. Bachar and Cesar from Bonavida Mar Mikhael had all that, and more, and will be representing Lebanon at the international finals of Absolut Invite in Åhus in Sweden in June, where every single bottle of Absolut is produced. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Bachar and Ceasar will win and show the world just how amazingly tasty and skilled Lebanon is!
#NothingtoHide Selected Lebanese artists and guests attended this event such as Adonis and the designers Boshies and Nour Najem, with the dress code Nothing to hide, in line with Absolut vodka’s full transparency policy.
#MADcollaborations From Paris where this partnership was decided to Beirut where it took place, this brand partnership is a perfect illustration of the collaborations and experiences created between brands and artists thanks to the MAD marketplace. Artists & brands, sign up now on www.howmadareyou.com to create amazing MAD experiences & collaborations!
PS: drink responsibly!
Bashar and Caesar competiting at the Absolut Invite Lebanon to be the best Lebanese bartender team!
Caesar mixing a MAD cocktail at the Absolut Invite Lebanon
Bashar making his bartending show at the Absolut Invite Lebanon
Bonavida, winners of the Absolut Lebanon bartending competition 2018
#WHAT La Talent Hunt est notre grand concours artistique dédié à l’ensemble des industries créatives que nous organisons à Paris et Beyrouth. Tous les profils sont admis même (et surtout) les plus fous ! 5 finalistes auront la chance d’être sélectionnés, la crème des nouveaux talents artistiques émergents ou confirmés, pour participer à la prochaine MAD session de juin 2018 !
#WHEN La troisième Talent Hunt est ouverte ! Vous avez jusqu’au 26 avril 2018 pour soumettre vos candidatures !
#HOW Pour soumettre votre candidature, inscrivez-vous en cliquant –> ici <– et surtout BE MAD, on compte sur vous!
#WHERE Stay tuned, le lieu de la finale sera bientôt dévoilé. Tu veux savoir à quoi ressemblait la dernière MAD session ? Regarde l’aftermovie du Palais des Congrès !
#ANDTHEN Le(e) gagnant(e) de la MAD session se verra attribuer un prix d’une valeur de 1500 €.
#HOWMADAREYOU Nous aimons les talents hors normes, les extra-terrestres et les précurseurs alors n’hésitez plus si vous avez la fibre artistique et que vous cherchez encore un lieu d’expression. C’est le moment de vous lancer !
Could you describe to our MADers community your professional and personal background and how you became talent hunter at MAD?
My academic background is Economics and Finance and Political Sciences; I was into investment banking (Mergers & Acquisitions) and private equity for long years and now work as an independent consultant. I also started writing out of Paris for l’Orient le Jour and le Commerce du Levant, about Lebanese inspirational initiatives or endeavours there, be them related to culture, entrepreneurship, etc. And when I came back to Lebanon – 13 years ago – writing and journalism have become an increasingly important part of my activities, mostly shedding light Lebanese success stories and on socio economic and cultural issues as well as on civil society debates, that are shaping the environment we live in. It is the same drive of shifting attention onto voices that matter and of contributing to inspirational endeavors and bridging human experiences, that fuels both my advisory and journalistic undertakings. My passion for literature and writing and for living arts i.e. theater, cinema, etc have also a major place in my life – I write literature as well; it is essential for me.
A friend spoke to me about MAD; I immediately felt I should write about them as I loved the concept. I proposed the subject to a magazine I contributed to and they said OK. I sat with Rima at length and we chatted; there, we saw other collaboration opportunities. I mentioned to her a few up-and-coming designers and artists I liked whom I had been following for a while or whom I had discovered more recently; and she proposed I fill concise but very dense forms about myself and about those which I considered potential talents. I guess the ones I thought of or proposed corresponded to MAD’s mindset and universe. So here I am. And I believe I am also personally very much in line with MAD being myself French and Lebanese, bridging two and more cultures, like MAD and the Yacoub sisters.
How do you find the MAD talents? What are your criteria and process?
In my daily life, my work both as consultant and journalist, I come across very interesting innovative initiatives and inspirational and daring people, whether entrepreneurs or artists or creatives. I also mentor startups; and participate as a speaker or as a guest to events and conferences which bring together such crowds where I meet young or less young – but young minded – talented and fierce individuals. But most of all I think it is my curiosity for all what is around me and for humans and their journeys, which makes me discover talents. Basically, life brings me in contact with them: on a hike, in a yoga or a dance class, while travelling etc. I go to theater plays, to music concerts, I work in coworking places, I love people and speak to them. I am attracted to beauty, to difference; I am enthusiastic about enthusiasm, creation and expression. When something draws my attention, when I like something, I say it and I ask questions, if it brings up any.
The criteria that I have between me and myself are not a specific set; I rely more on flair and intuition for this. However, I have a few guidelines for me: I check young or less young creatives/artists who have already put something out there i.e. who are not at an idea stage but have already produced something, a jewelry collection, a music album or have played in a concert; if they have a kind of track record as we call this in the business world; also, if they have had some international exposure or recognition somehow which also confirms that they have the potential to cater to non local crowds. But first of all, their design/product, etc and their energy has to appeal to me; to touch me…. Then, I also have to feel their passion and their inner drive to create; the vitality and the breath that is needed to pursue a journey… I need to feel the human connection, the esthetics, and the universal touch – not purely oriental or Lebanese – that which could speak to like-minded or like-sensitive persons anywhere in the globe.
Can you tell us more about your city/country and the creative industry as a whole in Lebanon? Which is your favorite area?
Beirut scene but also generally speaking Lebanon is buoyant with creativity. Not only is Beirut extraordinarily dynamic but very interesting initiatives are also arising from Tripoli, for instance. The second city has a lot of culture; it is maybe more earthy and less vocal then the capital. Initiatives are burgeoning everywhere in Lebanon.
In terms of sectors, designers: fashion designers were the ones who emerged the earliest, then, jewelry designers and then product designers. Now, it has exceeded design and fashion. Theater, music, cinema; animation and graphic design, lighting, etc, you name it. The youth are creating, all the time. I guess this is what happens in the aftermath of wars and also in uncertain and unstable environments like ours; creativity is multiplied as it is the only way out. People need to express; they need to find a leeway, outside of a system that is somehow choking and at times, numbing.
What most of those designers have in common is a “blend of modernity and tradition, of East and West, the magic of a hint of nostalgia with the ardor of the present…” as I wrote in one of my articles, which draws Western interest and not only regional interest. Most, and especially the younger generation, are committed to preserving local craftsmanship which also makes a difference in the end product as well, in an increasingly global industrialized and undifferentiated environment. Their products often blur the line between art, craft, and design; a lot of fusion creations, free from structures of categories; which also appeals to current tastes.
A younger nevertheless very dynamic scene is the music scene. I very much believe we will see Lebanese names booming on the international scene. I mean Lebanese origins, as again those groups are more global; not necessarily with a marked Lebanese identity. They happen to be from here; which is for sure meaningful – all what we carry and what agitates us, being from here. And music is a universal language which makes it also easily exportable; more easily than theater for instance, since most of our theatrical and literary production which is also very rich is in Arabic, hence limiting its reach. Then comes the audiovisual digitalized realm where we also seem to have an edge and a young talented generation and photography, a lot of young talents.
What is it in MAD that you relate to? Or why join the MAD community?
I relate to the love of creativity, in all its forms; the love of music, of art, of beauty; to the youth and community spirit that is looking to contribute and endeavor, incessantly; and to MAD’s multicultural, cross-border mindset; to their underlying mission also of bringing people together, bridging several spaces, worlds, etc. I myself have lived in Europe and in Lebanon, have travelled and have diverse centers of interests; what fuels me is the human connection and encounters and the creativity and projects that are triggered and favored by the latter.
I came back to Lebanon after many years in France – 14 – with the desire to contribute my part to this part of the world and share its beauties as I am continuously amazed by the talent and the drive I see here. As an independent consultant and journalist, I am always in an alertness state to discover talents, to shed light on, and accompany Lebanese creativity and inspirational success stories. Initiatives and creativity, human connections fuel me – “Freedom is initiative” says a French woman philosopher that I like a lot. I guess my proximity with the field combined to a certain sensitivity – I think – give me the flair to detect impactful talents, initiatives and change makers which makes me a potential “talent hunter”. My passion for creativity and storytelling – as a writer myself – as well as an innate curiosity for life, for beauty, for experiences make me an enthusiastic MAD talent hunter. Also, I related right away to the Yacoub sisters as I call them; and I very much believe in this energy flow between people; an intuitive connection. Voilà
What are your favorite artistic discoveries of the moment?
My artistic discoveries of the moment are a few designers such as Roula Dfouni whom I have accompanied in working out her expansion and financing strategy. Roula who has recently changed her brand name to Minimalist is at the crossroads of fine jewelry and fashion jewelry and combines noble material: silverwork and semi-precious gemstones with rough unfinished effect which creates conceptual and expressive pieces. At affordable prices. She has drawn interest in Europe and Asia, from where she got some orders, including Japan and China.
I love Nour Najem also whom I have been following for a while, for her design and her spirit. She has a contemporary luxury ready to wear brand that blends architectural, minimalist yet fluid lines with an oriental heritage touch. To me, the brand is very feminine whilst modern. And I am personally sensitive to the inclusion of hand-made fabrics and hand-made details; it does make the difference. We say that elegance and the devil lies in detail. Furthermore, this artisanal work is undertaken by underprivileged women. The preservation of artisanal craftsmanship and of soulfulness is also essential to Nour Najem.
In music, I have discovered recently an amazing drummer, Walid Tawil, who’s not a new comer though – a big name but I came across him in clubs here lately – and who plays in jazz clubs in Lebanon but also abroad with top notch musicians; I also discovered Chantal Bitar a young tarab singer, which voice and presence makes you love tarab; revisiting traditional heritage with youth’s sensitivity and modernity creates a whole new experience; I loved it.
In terms of visual arts, I was very sensitive to Zena El Khalil’s exhibition and work in the scope of her exhibition Sacred Catastrophe – Healing Lebanon and to her journey both as an artist and as an individual… Can we really separate both? I also like her writing, some short stories. She has some plans cooking as well in terms of art and community; and I like this intertwinement; art that is close to the people, that engages them directly. I was also very moved by Dania Bdeir short feature, In White, which I have visualized privately as I met Dania by pure coincidence in a café and we chatted. I loved the feature, hadn’t realized it was a short one and wanted more of it, was awaiting for the “suite”. Then I realized it was a short feature; she won several awards.
There are also superb architects, photographers, multidisciplinary people, increasingly so actually that I discover – that are not all necessary very young i.e. 20’s but 30’s or 40’s or even over 50’s but whose talent is ever blooming and some who have come to art at mid life – but we don’t have space here to speak of all my passions and discoveries. It might be the opportunity for another article…
About Nicole : She’s a consultant, a journalist and a writer, with strong affinities with art and culture, the creative and the digital economy, social entrepreneurship, media and communication, humanities, architecture, sustainable development and ecology, etc. Passionate about creativity in all its forms; constantly exploring and discovering; driven by connections and encounters. Her articles are published in various media: l’Orient le Jour, l’Agenda Culturel, Libnanews, l’Officiel Levant, l’Orient Littéraire, Le Commerce du Levant, Papers of Dialogue, World Environment… Her blogs within Agenda Culturel and within Mondoblog-RFI by the name of Pensees de Beyrouth.
Could you describe to our MAD community how did you get to create your own brand ROULA DFOUNI and how did you go about designing jewelry?
After a decade spent in the business world, I decided the time had come to embrace the true calling of my heart: the calling of art. I dedicated the next years of my life to learning all I could about the future which awaited me, taking a series of intensive courses at ESMOD Beirut, attending many workshops and imbuing herself in every aspect of the world of art. When I launched my first pieces of Collage Brass 8 years ago, which I crafted myself, I never knew that after a year, I would be working with high-end material and sketching a complete collection under a brand! And since, I can’t stop the ideas and the creativity as I want to make Jewelry accessible to a large crowd of women, irrespective of geographic and wealth, with a competitive pricing and modern identity.
Could you tell us what is your inspiration?
Working almost 10 years as an event and wedding organizer, in parallel of my business job, changed my perspective for art and design. Therefore, l found myself attracted to geometric shapes, architecture designs, and edgy rough style. I knew that this would be my brand’s identity, my identity.
What could be the common denominator of the collections DRIFT, CONSTRUCT/DECONSTRUCT and NEW EARTH according to you?
I was born in a Mediterranean culture. Lebanon is the country of sun, nature and genuine people. Despite all the wars we had to endure, we always came back to life and this gave the Lebanese people the strength, knowledge and creativity!
Between | New Earth | collection inspired by my childhood nature escapes,
| Construct-Deconstruct | inspired by the life itself in Beirut,
| Drift | inspired by the Mediterranean Architecture patterns that surrounds me,
and my new collection | Soar | under my new brand name | MINIMALIST | inspired by my personal journey throughout the years I’ve lived in Beirut, I believe they all connect to the ground I am proud to be raised on.
Could you tell us more about your next project?
After my experience in Europe, participating in international fairs, meeting with buyers, being exposed to a new world of design, I realized I needed to shift my branding image; I should be able to reach a bigger crowd with minimal designs and competitive pricing. Where came my new branding name | MINIMALIST | I can’t wait to share with you my new collection | Soar |. It represents the women power to blossom and rise.
It was a huge challenge for me sketching this collection and trying to minimal the designs, colors and adornments but I know for sure that it will reach a bigger crowd.
What is it in MAD that you relate to? Or why join the MAD community?
In my opinion, all designers in any category, whether in Music, Art or Design has a little Madness he digs into; at least I know I have or else I wouldn’t be able to extract my visions; dreams and thoughts into my designs and for me it would be very rewarding sharing these thoughts and ideas with the whole world…
On vous parle souvent de nos artistes et des collaborations marques, mais comment ça se passe en coulisses ?
#LeParks360 en est un très bon exemple de collaboration entre artistes MAD et marques: en Octobre dernier, nous avons créé, en collaboration avec Skyboy, une super startup, une expérience immersive créative inédite, au coeur de Parks, dans le 19ème arrondissement de Paris.
Le Parks 360 est une expérience digitale immersive surprenante réalisée en Overlap Reality, une technologie brevetée par Skyboy.
Pour ce projet réalisé pour le promoteur immobilier Altarea Cogedim, MAD a créé le contenu artistique de A à Z de six séquences vidéos réalisées le long du Boulevard Mac Donald.
Dans cette création artistique très MAD, six performances artistiques y mettent en scène :
de la danse Hip Hop à 360°avec notre artiste Shynis et ses danseurs du studio Nilhanti
le champion du monde de basket freestyle Brisco en pleine action,
une chorégraphie originale d’un couple qui se déchire et se retrouve de notre collectif La Tendre Meute
un conte de Noêl pour les petits et les grands
le premier ascenseur extraterrestre mis en service par une fausse startupeuse du Cargo, Maud Ferron, de la Tendre Meute
Enfin, les passants pourront également découvrir un gouffre vertigineux en trompe-l’oeil créé en direct autour de vous par le graffeur Raphe de Haut en couleurs !
Comment ça marche ?
Téléchargez l’application Le Parks 360 avec votre smartphone ou votre tablette
Positionnez-vous sur l’un des 6 points de visionnage situé boulevard Mac Donald le long du Parks
Lancez l’expérience avec votre smartphone ou votre tablette
Avec ce nouveau projet de création d’expérience en réalité augmentée pour le groupe immobilier Altarea Cogedim, MAD marque un grand pas dans l’alliance entre les arts et les dernières innovations digitales.
Une fois de plus, MAD concrétise notre vision de l’industrie artistique: permettre l’émergence de talents artistiques en mettant leurs projets en relation avec d’autres acteurs de notre écosystème. MAD allie le digital et le réel au travers d’expériences artistiques uniques.
Et comme en témoigne si bien la vision des fondateurs de Skyboy “si on superpose au monde que l’on traverse tous les jours une image créative qui le met en mouvement, ceux qui s’y plongeront sauront à nouveau le regarder, l’aimer et le protéger.