DESIGN RESEARCH, EVENT, RESEARCH METHOD, SOCIAL INNOVATION

A workshop on Design Education in Lebanon

On friday January 3rd, a group of people were called to a brainstorming session to discuss design education in Lebanon.  With the support of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, MENA Design Research Center, and Beirut Art Center, Master student Vrouyr Joubanian (ex-project coordinator of DESMEEM and MENA DRC) is now embarking on a new venture in researching the topic within the Master of Design for Social Impact of the University of Arts. The participants were selected according to three group categories: educators, students and professionals. The list includes: Diala Lteif, Doreen Toutikian, Marc Baroud, Rana Haddad, Pierre Hage-Boutros, Simon Mhanna, Hala Hassan, Danny Arakji, Micheline Nahra, Cyril Kallab, Elias Salamoun, Salim Batlouni, Ronald Abdala, Joumana Matar, Pascal Hachem, Mohamed Yassine, Karim Chaaya, and Rani Rajji.

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The workshop was conducted through a series of activities that encouraged the discussion of various issues regarding the current state of education, the major challenges that are faced, insights to opportunities, and potential solutions that can be developed. As design research methods, these co-creative activities serve as tools to ease the communication among participants and share ideas within an open-minded and encouraging atmosphere. Much of the themes revolved around universities, institutions, politics, culture and history. As stakeholders and design enthusiasts that yearn for change, insights were collected from various perspectives, and honest confrontations were made possible between the educators, the students and the professionals. Although more specific details will be provided by Vrouyr Joubanian in the course of further research and analysis. It was clear that much of the problem stems from the politics of institutions that act as handicaps to Lebanon in most social and professional realms. Words such as stagnation, lock-in systems, backwardness, corruption and lack of collaboration were common highlights that encompass the frustration of educators.

IMG_1903By the end of the workshop, 5 teams developed possible solutions to the challenges faced. Then a vote was cast to determine which were more feasible and promising. In the coming weeks, a more concrete strategy will be formulated and a collective of people is set to develop outside the institutions to provide a more solid and hopeful future for design education in Lebanon.

IMG_1604To read Vrouyr’s post on the subject with more detail, please follow this link: http://vrouyr.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/about-design-education-in-lebanon/

Photo credits: Rizkallah Chaaraoui

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BEIRUT DESIGN WEEK 2013, EVENT

The Social Economic Awards

stage social economic awards beirut design weekTAGbrands, a regional branding and design agency, won the SEA (Social Economic Award) for incubating the NGO – MENA Design Research Center which organizes the Beirut Design Week each year. TAGbrands earned the award for the category of “Small and Medium Enterprises – SME’s by targeting the development of design innovation and creative entrepreneurship. Beirut Design Week is co-founded and co-organized by Maya Karanouh and Doreen Toutikian who received the award.

On Saturday the 22nd of November 2013, George Kurdahi the Lebanese television presenter, announced the award at the Casino du Liban on the occasion of the 3rd Social Economic Award organized by First Protocol, presenting the SME Award to the two MENA Design Research Center co-founders and Beirut Design Week organizers. The honorary jury members this year included Mrs. Layla el Soloh Hamade, Mr. Raymond Audi, Mr. Fadi Abboud, Mr. Mohamed Choucair, Mr. Vreij Sabounjian, Mr. Yaseen Jaber, Mr. Walid Daouk, Mrs Raya al Hassan, Mr. Salim Sayegh, VIce Governor Dr. Saad Andary, Mr. Salim Jreissati and Mr. Nazem al Khoury.

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It was an honor for us to be part of this ceremony and to be acknowledged for the efforts put into Beirut Design Week as a platform that enables young designer entrepreneurs to develop their network and skills and also brings together the established Lebanese creative design eco-system under one platform. As a social venture with an entrepreneurial spirit, Beirut Design Week (which is organized by MENA DRC, which is incubated by TAGbrands) is a CSR program that focuses the expertise, time, and resources of this enterprise towards one goal. Unlike most SME’s  or large companies who may sometimes support an external social cause, TAGbrands becomes fully involved in the Beirut Design Week CSR program by offering its team of designers as well as legal, administrative, and peripheral services to help the MENA Design Research Center in organizing the event.

We would like to thank First Protocol for their dedication in commemorating initiatives that are important to the development of Lebanon from a social and economic perspective, as well as encouraging the private sector to give back to the community. We would also like to thank every single person that helped make the Beirut Design Week dream come true, including the TAGBrands team, the Lebanese Designers, our partners and sponsors, without whom none of this would have been possible. And finally, we promise to keep on going and deliver better results every year to ensure that this small grassroots initiative becomes a symbol of global success for Lebanon.

The 3rd Social Economic Award will be broadcasted on MTV, Saturday the 30th of November 2013 at 20h45.

award Social economic awards maya karanouh doreen toutikian

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Design Criticism

Changing perspectives on Design

Design critics have been debating about the meaning and role of Design since its inception to education and popular culture. It seems that with every generation of theorists, writers, critics and educators, a new wave of concerns and doubts arise with an extra dosage of sensitivity to social, economical, political, and environmental challenges. The 1970’s marked the first series of design manifestos, acting as a guide for designers to work with a clear conscience and not submit to corporate or political dangers. Over the years, the consequences of such propaganda led to the birth of new disciplines such as critical design, design for social impact, design activism, social design, and humanitarian design amongst a variety of equally ambiguous terminology where the difference between them and the actual impact it brought to the world became increasingly more obscure.

Soon enough, the seemingly heroic actions of many designers failed and new critics were eager to point fingers and blame the American and European Designers for thinking they can save the poor third world countries (one laptop per child, project H’s Hippo Roller …etc.). Although their intentions were good, there was still a lot to learn. Nowadays, the era of Design-Saving-the-World has come full circle and is being embraced with new principles, that are not as blinded by Designers’ need to desperately prove their capabilities beyond the realm of aesthetics. One particular set of guidelines is from Prof. Anthony Dunne, who is currently head of the Design Interactions program at the Royal College of Art in London. He makes a very poignant comparison between Old and New Design as follows:
Anthony Dunne

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