Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept

Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept
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Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept
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Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept
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Updated 09 April 2015

Nada Debs explores ‘East & East’ design concept

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]