Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept

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Updated 09 April 2015

Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept

Born in Lebanon, raised in Japan, educated and trained in the United States, and with work experience in the United Kingdom — interior designer Nada Debs is quite a global citizen. Her creations are as unique and eclectic as the designer herself. Her mission is to celebrate Eastern craftsmanship in contemporary design.
From early recollections of growing up in an Arab household within a Japanese society in the 60s and struggling to reconcile her understanding of the two cultures, Nada Debs began her formal journey down the design path in the late 1980s when she graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor in Interior Architecture. Armed with her newfound technical know-how of contemporary American design and her Far East upbringing Nada Debs moved to London. There she was exposed to the British tradition of quality antique craftsmanship, a complete contrast to the more puritanical form follows function approach to design in the US at that time.
We met with the multicultural designer and talked about her passion for design, furniture and her brand.

What first got you interested in design and interior architecture?
I went to see a show in New York in the 80s and got fascinated by designing furniture. I started to make furniture for myself on weekends.

Tell us about your company.
I started working in Beirut in 2000 and opened my showroom in 2004. That is when my company was established and I started the brand Nada Debs. We design, manufacture and sell furniture and home accessories made in Lebanon.

How would you describe your approach to design?
I was intrigued by the crafts of the Middle East, namely the mother of pearl inlay, hand carving and perforation. I tried to find ways to apply the different techniques in contemporary furniture. I called the concept East & East — fusing Middle Eastern craft with Far Eastern minimalism.

Tell us about the process of designing a new line.
I start with experimenting with a craft technique and making some samples, even before I know what piece I’m going to create. Usually the craft itself inspires me to design, let’s say either a box or a table or a chair.

What inspires you when working on a new project?
Often the client/audience or the craft itself.

What are you currently fascinated by and how is it influencing your work?
I’m interested presently by geometry because it is a universal language that every single human being can understand — no words are necessary. I apply it as a pattern or as a form.

What are some of the most stimulating projects on your plate right now?
Pushing the boundaries of craft and materials such as applying mother of pearl onto concrete — one organic material and one manmade material, I’ve created tables called Concrete Pearl. Also, by combining industrial material with craft such as plastic laminate and inlaid wood, I’ve made trays out of them called Geometrik. It’s about finding a balance between opposing materials.

What is the collaborative energy like in your team, and how does it work into your overall design philosophy?
We have regular meetings where we discuss and share ideas regarding how to translate people’s needs into actual products. I have an open door policy in the company, we are always open to new ideas. We communicate very well and it’s always fun!

What are some of the great lessons to have come out of those rough few years?
Persistence is the key … never give up! The down days are when we re-assess where we are and what we do and where we are going. It is never negative.

How design-conscious are your clients today compared to how they were at the start of your career?
Very design savvy! They are mostly well-traveled individuals and know a lot about design. Of course in the recent years, design has become a household name, especially in the Middle East.

How do you approach the task of designing for a well-trafficked public space?
One strong feature would do or something that has repetition.

What’s your take on the state of architecture and design today?
I think people are experimenting a lot and there are no more rules. The computer has added a new dimension to construction so things that were impossible to make before have become possible to produce. This has changed design. But people are becoming more conscious about their personal needs and comfort so design is not about proving anything to anyone but about making sure that they resolve a problem and bring comfort whether in product design or in buildings.

Who/what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?
Craftsmen and their passion and attention to detail and dedication. For me it is equated with love.

Overall, what would you say is your strongest skill?
Finding a balance in differences such as in materials or cultural elements. I also feel I have a sense of what people are seeking and design accordingly.

Is it hard to switch between interior and product design projects? And what helps you focus on specific briefs?
To me, the most important element in designing, whether it is an interior design project or a product design project is to bring out an emotional element in the work.

How are you celebrating your 10 year anniversary?
This year I am collaborating with my love for photography and doing a retrospective using that. I am also in the process of writing a book.

What advice would you give to emerging designers and students who are entering the industrial design industry?
Keep an eye on what people are looking for, keep listening. The idea is to create products that resolve a need, be it cultural or functional.

What are you working on right now?
I am working on home accessory products and furniture products using new techniques of craft and new materials such as brass and straw as well as collaborating with different brands such as Selim Mouzannar jewelry, Iwan Maktabi carpets and Milia M fashion.

What are your future plans?
To expand the business globally.

Email: [email protected]


‘The Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star in the film. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2019

‘The Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

CHENNAI: Director Shonali Bose may well be termed the “mistress of misery.” Her characters, invariably women, have been suffering souls.

Whether it be in “Amu,” set in the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, or “Margarita with a Straw” and its story of a teenager with cerebral palsy, Bose’s protagonists have been largely unhappy.

Her latest feature, “The Sky is Pink” — unnecessarily long at 159 minutes — is based on the real-life tale of a girl who dies at an early age from complications arising out of an immune-deficiency illness. Aisha (Zaira Wasim) tells us not only her own sad story, but also that of her parents, Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan Akhtar).

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar attended "The Sky Is Pink" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. (AFP)

When Aditi falls pregnant, she has already lost a child to the disease, but religious compulsion pushes her to go ahead. Predictably, the baby girl, Aisha, develops the same problem. The parents, who live in New Delhi, rush her to London. Since they cannot afford the treatment, which involves a bone-marrow transplant, Niren broadcasts a plea from a radio station that raises a large amount of money.

But years later, the bubbly Aisha falls seriously ill, and the effect of her decline on her brother, Ishan (Rohit Saraf), and her parents makes up rest of the plot.

“The Sky is Pink” essentially explores the way marriages fall apart after a child gets sick. But Bose weaves into this storyline several distracting features, including Ishan’s budding love affair, which is rocked every time there is crisis in Aisha's life.

Bose’s film could be compared to Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s debut, “A Son.” Set in Tunisia in 2011 after the “Jasmine Revolution,” it also deals with a couple’s turmoil after their son is shot and wounded by a sniper. Barsaoui intelligently scripts how the couple crack under the pressure and their relationship begins to totter. There is not a single scene that is at odds with the plot.

In contrast, “The Sky is Pink” digresses into marital jealousy and a string of dramatically charged moments, diluting the core theme.

Akhtar, who is an excellent actor, seems out of sorts in this setting, while Chopra Jonas fails to convey a mother’s emotional pain and seems far too dolled up to adequately portray a character in torment. In fact, the only high point is the fine acting by Wasim.