DUBAI: More than 20 Lebanon-based designers will be championed in a special showcase at Dubai Design Week, which kicks off on Nov. 8. The Beirut Concept Store was conceived by Lebanese public relations expert Mariana Wehbe, who recently moved to the UAE as a result of Lebanon’s dire economic and political situation.
She remains committed to her vocation of supporting Lebanese talent abroad. “Even though we’ve left our country, our fight has to continue someway. And mine will be with the creative community,” she told Arab News. “It’s my first project here. I wanted to feel like I’m giving back to Beirut.”
Wehbe has curated a selection of products that fall under different budgets and the categories of modern furniture, ceramics, decor, homeware, and memorabilia. Visitors can expect colorful ceramic bowls by Hala Matta and Souraya Haddad, elaborate candlestick holders by Nathalie Khayat, and sustainable chairs by Post Industrial Crafts.
“Every single piece is made and produced in Lebanon, even the set-up,” said Wehbe. The space follows a scenography called “The Dream,” thought up by Rumi Dalle and featuring home pillows from the 1950s onwards. “They’re the pillows that we sleep on, dream of a better future on, cry and scream on,” explained Wehbe.
The store, located in the Dubai Design District, will also appeal to younger crowds by providing postcards and quirky tote bags that read “I left my heart in Beirut” and “Hummus Lover,” designed by Beiruti brand Beirut Je T’aime, and copies of “Anatomy of a Hummus Plate,” a book featuring socio-political cartoons about Lebanon by The Art of Boo.
It was crucial for Wehbe to situate both established and emerging artists side by side in one space. “It’s almost like a mentorship,” she said of the arrangement, which allows younger artists to have a seat at the table and learn from veterans.
While the display is in some ways a testament and celebration of Lebanese know-how and creativity, it has not been easy putting it all together due to electricity cuts, customs concerns, and shipment delays that occurred just one day after their goods were exported to Dubai.
“We would have completely missed the show,” said Wehbe. “Everything is a constant battle. It’s a lot of stress for the designers, but at the same time, there’s a lot of gratitude that we’re getting this opportunity.”