In October, We Design Beirut will showcase Lebanese art, architecture, and artisans

Under the Olive Tree

In October, We Design Beirut will showcase Lebanese art, architecture, and artisans

PSLab, a lighting design house, will be open for programing during We Design Beirut. It will also serve as the festival’s headquarters. (Karim Sakr/ Courtesy We Design Beirut)

Beirut, Lebanon is an ancient and resilient city with a long tradition of design excellence. This October, Lebanese artists, designers, and artisans will have a platform in Beirut to display their work on the global stage.

We Design Beirut is an event in the heart of Beirut happening between March 4-7, 2024. In March, We Design Beirut will introduce visitors to Lebanese design and creativity vis-a-vis a multidisciplinary program that showcases Lebanese designers, artist installations, lectures, and workshops on subjects ranging from interior design, preservation, sustainability, community empowerment, architecture, furniture, product design, functional art, ceramics, home accessories, and rugs. The four-day event was set to happen between October 27–30 but was postponed after the attacks in Palestine that started on October 7.

Following the tragic explosion that took place at Beiruts port in 2020, the ancient Lebanese city is under reconstruction. Founded by the renowned Beirut-based public relations specialist Mariana Wehbe, alongside industrial designer Samer Alameen and the Lebanese branding agency Bananamonkey, We Design Beirut invites people from around the world to see the city’s progress. Visitors will have the opportunity to indulge in the fine artisanal craftsmanship Lebanon’s artists and designers have to offer while experiencing its lauded modernist architecture from the past century.

Exterior view of Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)
Interior view of Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut

Walking tours of Oscar Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground in Tripoli will be provided by the Aga Khan award-winning EAST Architecture Studio founders Nicolas Fayad and Charles Kettaneh. EAST Architecture Studio recently completed a partial renovation of Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground. The architects Fayad and Kettaneh will discuss on site how Niemeyer’s design now finds itself on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger List, and highlight the need for its preservation.

Exterior view of Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)
Interior view of Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)

There will also be an invitation inside Villa Mokbel, a historic, Italianate relic of Beirut’s “Golden Age” in the heart of Achrafieh.  At Villa Mokbel, an exhibition will take place entitled “Past Echoes – A Journey Through Middle Eastern Product Design,” curated by Babylon – The Agency, founded by Joy Mardini and William Wehbe. There will also be design pop-ups with The Malt Gallery and Fatboy. A panel discussion with Beirut Heritage Initiative and LiBeirut will also happen at Villa Mokbel discussing preservation. This will be followed by a tour with Beirut Heritage Initiative of two homes that were restored after the 2020 explosion.

Interior view of Villa Mokbel (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)

For film aficionados, Beirut’s Royal Cinema completed in 1962 will host a private event. The theater which saw its heyday in the 1960s has stood abandoned for decades but has since been converted into a thriving cultural center. PSLab—an international lighting design house specialized in the planning, implementing and manufacturing of light and lighting fixtures located in the city’s Mar Mikhael neighborhood—will be open also; serving as We Design Beiruts headquarters.

PSLab Olive Trees Ground Floor Facade (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)

To have a glimpse into the city’s more quotidian aspects, visitors will be able to see some of Beirut’s traditional homes where locals will open their doors and showcase Lebanon’s famed vernacular architecture, interior design, hospitality, and generosity. Studio visits at Villa Mokbel, PSLab, Abroyan Factory, LIFE, Iwan Maktabi, and the House of Today will take place every day between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. The main program on day one takes place at PSLab where Design Miami’s editor in chief Anna Carnick will moderate a discussion about craft with George Mohasseb, Karim Chaya, Karen Chekerdjian, Michèle Maria Chaya, and Nada Debs.

On day two at Abroyan Factory a panel about sustainability will be moderated by FRAME Magazine’s editor Lauren Morris with Adib Dada, Post Industrial Crafts, and Shaha Raphael. The walking tour in Tripoli at Niemeyer’s International Fair Ground will take place on day three, followed by a discussion from EAST Architecture Studio about the modern masterpiece’s preservation. On day four at Villa Mokbel, there will be a talk about preservation and heritage followed by a historic homes tour led by Yasmine Dagher from Beirut Heritage Initiative with Li Beirut. Later that day at Abroyan Factory, there will be a lecture about humanitarian design and sustainability from Ziad Abi Chaker.

Niemeyer in Lebanon (Karim Sakr/Courtesy We Design Beirut)

We Design Beirut is the eponymous name of the event’s for-profit organization whose goal is empowering and inspiring the global design scene; at the same time providing a platform for designers, business leaders, and journalists to convalesce and discuss the future of design. We Design Beiruts patrons are Philippe and Zaza Jabre, Diana Ghandour, Claudia Skaff, and Lillia Sabbagh. Its main sponsors are PIK’D, The Silly Spoon, Unilux, Stones SARL, and Arope Insurance. We Design Beiruts cosponsors include Life, The Malt Gallery, Iwan Maktabi. Supporters include Kintsugi, Beit El Laffe, Beit Tamanna, Albergo Hotel, Sun Holiday Tours, Toutia, Anis Printing, Glassline, Naggiar, Minjara, and Fayssal for Wood.

More information about visiting and programming can be found here.

This article was updated to include the postponement and new date on October 17, 2023.