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Women in (M)usic, (A)rts, (D)esign

Women's Day Blog MAD It’s the twenty-first century and we’re all still fighting for the things we believe in, in art, in music, in design and in life. We’re still fighting for basic needs, we’re still fighting to have our voices be heard, we’re fighting for equality but more importantly, we’re fighting for human rights. There’s always an underdog and it’s not unnatural that these people constantly fight for their rights. This month, it’s women who are fighting; in the end, human liberty should be always be regarded, regardless of sex.

Speak up, speak up.
During MAD’s Artist Meet Up in Beirut, Lise Yacoub discussed the importance of women’s vast inclusion in the art world. Today more than ever, women all over the world are standing up and speaking up about the rights that they deserve, their inclusion in political, social and other fields as well as their equality among many other issues. Today more than ever, it’s important for every woman to do so.

Back to roots.
Before Women’s History Month was celebrated, the more popular International Women’s Day was designated on March 8 of every year to celebrate all the powerful and influential women who have, and continue to, fight for women’s rights. This dates back to the 1900s, when the day was originally proposed in the US and continued to spread among other countries throughout the years. It was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1975 and is celebrated every year worldwide through demonstrations and events.

So what is Women’s History Month?
Historically, Women’s History Month first started off as Women’s Week in the 1980’s. By 1995, March was officially declared as Women’s History Month in the United States. The month aims to raise awareness and knowledge about women’s contributions throughout history. The end goal is to recognize the different efforts put in by women, all of which have contributed in making social, political, environmental and other kinds of advancements and changes.

How does it link to women in arts?
Although it is said that women tend to be more creative than men, the representation of women in art fields remains to be minimal; even if that weren’t the case, the number of women artists striving to “make it” while their male counterparts have already “made it” is pretty high. Statistically, more male painters have their artworks portrayed in galleries than women. In the music industry, less than 30% of women ever make it to the top charts and in design, studies have proven that women are still the minority. Unfortunately, this reflects global insights.

Now what?
It’s our duty to always encourage all women: sisters, friends, girlfriends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc. to continue the fight to be heard, to be given equal opportunities and to be free. This happens by recognizing women’s history month and that women deserve to be as “out there” as men, in the workforce, in their freedom to express and in their basic needs.

Happy Women’s History month to all our artistic sisters!


Get To Know The MAD Gang: Rima & Lise

MAD CEO COO Sisters WomenYin & Yang, Farha wou Marha, the MAD sisters are inseparable.

Who is who? You never know! A complementary duo who thrives on exciting projects, mixing fun and business and traveling the world with a huge appetite!

If I were a song, I would be
Rima: Arc-en-Ciel – Polo & Pan
Lise: Stand by me – Ben E King

If I were an artist, I would be
Rima: Sia
Lise: Nina Simone

If I were a book, I would be
Rima: Harry Potter, just because we could use a bit of magic in this world!
Lise: La Valse aux Adieux – Milan Kunder

If I were a dish, I would be
Rima: Steak Frites
Lise:  EVERYTHING -“Joey doesn’t share food”

If I were a dessert, I would be
Rima: Île Flottante
Lise: Chocolat Liégeois in France i.e Chocolat Mou in Lebanon

If I were a spice, I would be
Rima: Herbes de Provence
Lise: Paprika

If I were a sport, I would be
Rima: Yoga or Tennis (depending on the mood!)
Lise: Dance (which I hope will turn into boxing soon)

If I were a period in history, I would be
Rima: Very happy to be born in this era so, I’m just gonna say the 90s
Lise: the 80’s, the most liberating and diversified era in Music, Arts & Design

If I were a movie, I would be
Rima: The Greatest Showman
Lise: Underground by Emir Kusturica

If I were a series, I would be
Rima: Friends
Lise: Friends (they don’t call us Farha wou Marha for nothing!)

If I were a verb, I would be
Rima: Love
Lise: Love

If I were an adjective, I would be
Rima: Joyful
Lise: Passionate

If I were one of the five senses, I would be
Rima: Touch
Lise: Touch

If I were a flower or a plant, I would be
Rima: White Rose
Lise: Gardenia

If I were one of the five elements, I would be
Rima: Air
Lise: Fire

How MAD Are You About Customizing Your Belongings?

Customize MAD Artist Painting

“Every painting I make teaches me something. Every face I paint proves to me how unique each one of us is. I have adapted techniques all by myself, and I still am.”

Samir Mitri, an aspiring doctor and current painter, tells us more about himself in the below one-on-one we had with him. If you’re MAD about customizing your personal belongings, read on to get to know him!

How did you start drawing on personal items and what was the first thing you drew on?
I’ve always loved drawing and painting, but the idea of painting on items other than canvas or paper never crossed my mind. I remember one time my mother was tidying up her closet and wanted to throw away a white jacket she had. I insisted that she didn’t and asked her to keep it for i wanted to try something new. This was my first time painting on a personal item. She loved the outcome as did I and everyone everyone around me;  and that’s how it started.

Who are your art inspirations?
I’m very inspired by Bill Ward, an american cartoonist. I think his work is amazing and I love what he does! I can get easily inspired by any other form of art like music, a movie, a music video, etc.

Tell us more about painting: is it a hobby or would you like to pursue a career in it?
To me, painting has always been a hobby and more like a relief… I’ve turned to art in all of its forms to make my visions come to life. I never considered painting as my career or job. However, having the eye of an artist will come in handy in what I’m willing to pursue: plastic surgery.

What are your future plans and where do you see yourself and your brand in the near future?
Everything I know, I taught myself. I aspire to grow and keep on painting, drawing and sharing my vision with the world. I really hope to see expansion and that with MAD I’ll be able to expose my art to a larger audience. I’ll never stop painting, since it has become a habit.


How MAD are you about notebooks?

Yara Notebook Design Yayo

Universally used, notebooks are defined as a small book with blank or ruled pages for writing notes in.” With the emergence of laptops and the dominance of technology, many now prefer to take their notes and scribbles on their laptops or tablets. Nonetheless, the authenticity of notebooks is everlasting. There’s something unique about feeling the pages brush against your hand as you write, draw or doodle your thoughts; about smelling the raw pages as you flip them. Just as with the debate on reading from a book or from a screen, the debate on whether notebooks are still in use or have been replaced by electronics is one that has no answer.

Yara Saad, graphic designer, has her own answer to this debate. Yara’s passion for creating and design lead her to graduate from ALBA university (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) with a BA in Graphic design and Advertising. Among the things she enjoys are cooking, travelling and everything that has do with arts and crafts. Below, we sat down with Yara to see what drove her to start her Yayo notebook collections and why.

What motivated you to study graphic design?

Ever since I can remember, I expressed myself through arts and crafts. So when the time came to choose a career path, it only made sense to turn this hobby and my passion into my profession.

What do you think are the key skills a graphic designer should have?

I think that the most important thing a designer should have is taste and an eye that understands what’s appealing and what’s not; that’s something that can’t be learned.

Other than that, It’s really important to practice, practice, practice and work hard.

How did you start making notebooks and why?

After attending a workshop that taught the basics of bookbinding, I locked myself in my bedroom for one week while trying out different kinds of bindings with different kinds of textures and papers. At the end, I had more than 30 notebooks and I didn’t know what to do with all of them, but I knew that I had discovered a passion and I had to do something about it. That’s when I decided to build my brand and started participating in small exhibitions and garage sales to sell my creations.

When did you first realize you’re interested in this?

My obsession with notebooks started a long time ago. Wherever I was out and saw unique notebooks, I used to buy them and store them on a shelf in my room without ever writing anything on them partly because I was scared to ruin them with my dull handwriting! The day I discovered the workshop teaching bookbinding basics, I knew i had to register immediately; and i did. After struggling during the workshop, I stayed up all night determined to perfect the bindings that I did earlier in the day and that’s when I realized that I had found something I’m truly passionate about. I had finally found something I love, something I was looking for all along: arts and crafts meets scrapbooking meets design.

Which one of your designs is your favorite and why?

If I really had to choose one, I would say that my favourite product is the daily planner simply because I can be very flexible and customize each and every planner depending on the interest of very client.

How do you choose the material you use and where do you get it from?

Every time I travel, I always carry with me an extra bag just for new cover material. I think this is one of the things that make Yayo stand out. I have textures and patterns from india, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm and many more places. This makes every notebook a “limited edition” and therefore unique.

Tell us more about your future plans and what you aspire to achieve.

Moving forward, I’m going to do more focused and customized notebooks. They’re not only going to be plain on the inside as there will be a template, similar to the daily planners or the baby books that I had done a while ago. I also want to do a line of designed stationary and host workshops to share my passion with others who are as passionate about this as I am!

Get To Know The MAD Gang: Nermine

MAD Gang Nermine Project Manager

Someone who gives deep appreciation to little things and loves to be herself rather than being someone else as she considers anyone else is already taken. She’s a fire sign and loves everything to be on fire.

If I were a song, I would be: Je Veux by Zaz

If I were an artist, I would be: Frida Kahlo

If I were a book, I would be: The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

If I were a dish, I would be: Sweet and sour

If I were a dessert, I would be: Apple crumble

If I were a spice, I would be: Cinnamon

If I were a sport, I would be: Swimming

If I were a period in history, I would be: 1990

If I were a movie, I would be: Me Before You

If I were a series, I would be: Money Heist

If I were a verb, I would be: Dance

If I were an adjective, I would be: Bubbly

If I were one of the five senses, I would be: Hearing

If I were a flower or a plant, I would be: Gardenia

If I were one of the five elements, I would be: Fire

How MAD Are You About Graphic Design?

Graphic Design MAD Article Team Lalik

Diving into Graphic Design

Whether you’re working for a multinational agency, an NGO or your own start-up, there’s one thing you’re well aware of: the importance of your brand identity; not only in what you write in a post online or what kind of campaign you create offline, but also in the type of media you share on and offline alike. This is where graphic design comes in.

Graphic design, like art, dates back to cave paintings that embodied a specific time periods’ take on “graphics” and “design” together. After the 1920’s, graphic design became more about branding, logo-creation and user experiences.

Translating Graphic Design Into Words

In short, graphic design is a communication art that projects ideas using images and text. Mainly, graphic designers aim to combine type, form, and images to create posters, ads, packages, and visuals that are used in print and online media. As well, they work on motion graphics which combine animation, videography, and typography. Graphic design also includes branding, which means designing business cards, logos, or ads as well as product design and other aspects that only one person in the MAD team is an expert in!

A Few Questions With Lalik!

Queue Lalik, MAD’s very own graphic designer, who’s going to tell us a little bit about graphic design and her experience working in it! Let’s get MAD with design!

How would you define graphic design and what a graphic designer does?

A graphic designer take briefs, interprets them and works on them, starting from initial sketches to artworking for print/digital. No, a graphic designer doesn’t work only on logos and flyers, there is a lot of time and thinking behind every visual!

What made you want to be a graphic designer?

I used to collect nice designs when I was younger – magazines, flyers, books, packaging, tags, – I used to collect them in a paper bag then cut the designs I like and stick them on my bed, on the wall of my room and on A4 papers that I used to send to my friends. This led me to develop an appreciation for design, which is why i became a designer myself.

What are the most important skills a graphic designer should have?

Good knowledge of design programs, print and online production and creative thinking are essential; but also, you have to be a great listener with an eye for detail. If I were to give graduates some advice, it would be to get as much practical experience as possible. In my short career so far, I have found that I’ve learnt by doing, especially when thrown in the deep end and put under pressure.

What are the steps of your creative process as a graphic designer?

Curiosity, music, photography, paintings, people…  Everything.

Often the things that inspire me are completely unrelated to my current assignments,

but bringing new ideas to those projects makes them all the more interesting. Keeping an open mind lets you see inspiration everywhere.

How do you think your designs communicate MAD’s identity?

First, when I started working for MAD, my designs were very minimalist. As time went by, I discovered what the brand truly stands for, their values, the identity of MAD; it got so much easier for me to get out of my comfort zone, to use colors, bold fonts and to adapt to MAD’s identity.

What’s your favorite part about being MAD’s graphic designer?

Freedom. I can go as MAD as I want. Lise and Rima, co-founders, are always open to new suggestions and they always follow my thought process and welcome my opinions. This is very important for a designer: to have the capacity of expressing what you really feel. It becomes your own baby, you always want to nourish it and help it grow.

Are you as MAD about graphic design as we and Lalik are?

Today’s Weather Forecast: Creative, Don’t You Think?

Weather Creativity Article

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.



MAD Community Manager

In a MAD mood for The Beirut Design Week

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% architectures 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 🙂

MAD team

How MAD is 1% Architecture?

“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.”

How MAD is Minimalist?

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”