conference, EVENT

Eliminating the Capital D at Nuqat 2014

Screen shot 2015-04-12 at 8.27.36 PMWe were invited to speak at the annual Nuqat Conference taking place in Kuwait as a non-profit organization that focuses on the value of collaboration. The speech was entitled ‘Eliminating the Capital D: The Value of Multidisciplinary Collaboration in the Design Process’. The synopsis is as follows:
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‘Design has come a long way since the days of the ‘Designer’ who only defines the profession as a means to produce luxury goods or advocate for capitalist consumerism. Nowadays design aims to use its methods and tools at large scales for strategic planning, organizational transformation, public policy, and economic development. It motivates bottom-up approaches to think creatively about solving social, cultural and environmental challenges. In such projects, where design can really affect the lives of people, the designer is merely a facilitator, learning from others and combining skills and expertise to co-create better solutions and outcomes. This multidisciplinary, collaborative and human-centered process has finally brought the real value of design into perspective, serving the 99% and obliterating its egoistic past.’

nuqat2The speech is about 20 minutes and focuses on the challenges we face in the MENA region when it comes to collaboration.

 

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conference, DESIGN RESEARCH, EVENT, SOCIAL INNOVATION, Uncategorized

From Hong Kong to Eindhoven to Casablanca

Every year, the months after Beirut Design Week give us a chance to travel and meet like-minded people in order to develop international partnerships and collaborations.

Our journey starts in Honk Kong in collaboration with the International Gender Design Network, the Design Faculty of the Honk Kong Polytechnic University and Design Research Company from Cologne, Germany. Between October 10th and 12th, during the Social Innovation 10 Day Festival at the Jokey Club Innovation Tower, we participated in a conference and exhibition entitled: The Great Small, and gave a workshop on Cultural Perspectives on Gender Stereotypes, creating a comparison of gender inequality in mass media between Central Europe, Eastern Asia, and the Middle East.

Exhibition HK  HK1doreen HK Participants of the workshop were asked to observe examples of Gender stereotypes in German, Lebanese and Chinese media, and to discuss their impressions and share stories about the cultural values the imagery represents. This brought forth many critical reflections and also surprising results with regards to what some cultures define as ‘normal’ gender behavior, while others perceive it quite shocking.

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A week later we were invited to the Dutch Design Week, which takes place annually in Eindhoven, home to the famous Design Academy and the Philips factories now converted to design spaces. On October 20th, we took part in a co-design workshop entitled: When Co-Design Works in collaboration with PROUD Europe, which was later followed by a conference on social innovation as a main event of Dutch Design Week. In the workshop, participants were asked to share their experiences in their respective countries, focusing on challenges with co-design projects.

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The high profile conference included keynote speakers from the Design Council in the UK, including governmental representatives as well as speakers from IDEO.org and a handful of other multinational organizations known for their social impact work.

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The trip ended with a visit to the Design Academy final year exhibition where previous Desmeem participant Tamara Barrage had just graduated with a Master degree and was setting sail back to Lebanon.

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From The Netherlands we ventured south to North Africa to take part in a workshop developed by EUNIC in Casablanca, Morocco from the 5th – 12th November. This workshop was focused on training cultural entrepreneurs and operators to learn more about developing strategies for organizational growth as well as meeting other cultural managers from the MENA region in order to establish partnerships.

EUNIC1EUNIC4 EUNIC3 EUNIC2  Guest speakers from different cultural organizations from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Serbia, Belgium, France, Spain and the UK, provided valuable insight in order for all participants to develop a global perspectives on the challenges faced by Cultural managers in different fields.

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BEIRUT DESIGN WEEK 2014, conference, EVENT

Creativity and Regeneration in Mar Mikhael

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On July 17th, GAIA Heritage organized a SWOT conference entitled  “Creativity and Regeneration in Mar Mikhael” at the abandoned Brasserie du Levant, an old beer factory in the area. Mar Mikhael is currently one of the trendiest areas of Beirut where the hippest bars and restaurants are situated, as well as  designer/ architect/ artist communities mixed with metal workers and  greasy garage shops. Like all upcoming neighborhoods in metropolitan cities, this area has also been under the real estate microscope causing construction of high rises at every corner and destruction of heritage architecture, which inevitably result in tripling rents, inviting large crowds to the overflowing bars, and eventually forcing the small designer boutiques and ateliers out. Seeing that this has been quite a recurrence in Beirut with the previously trendy neighborhoods, this conference aimed to bring together major stakeholders in the region along with government officials to discuss the issue at hand and collectively suggest solutions through dialogue.

The day was divided into an introduction and research panel, introducing the MEDNETA and the cooperation of this project with other historical cities, as well as a summary of the socio economic research results that were accumulated by GAIA as well as other sources. Then came two discussion panels; the first which dealt with the subject of ‘The Creative Economy: Issues of Sustainability in the Context of a Rapidly Changing Neighborhood”, and the second entitled: “The Mar Mikhael Neighborhood: Arts, Crafts, and Design’s Engagement with the Public Space”.

The speakers of the first panel were:

  • • Dr. Khater Abou Habib (Chairman of KAFALAT)
  • • Mr. Emile Nasr (CEO l’Agenda Culturel)
  • • Prof. Stephen Hill (Economist, Sohar University)
  • • Ms. Sarah Hermez (Principal Creative Space Beirut)
  • • Mrs. Rosy Abourousse (Principal Rosa Maria Jewellery)
  • • Ms. Doreen Toutikian (Director, MENA Design Research Center)

Moderated by Ibrahim Nehme, editor of The Outpost magazine, the panel was a discussion between designers in the area, cultural entrepreneurs, and investors. We presented Beirut Design Week, its causes and goals, within the framework of Mar Mikhael, as it is one of BDW’s main focus areas. Two of BDW’s participating designers spoke about their work their challenges. And eventually a discussion with the audience was developed about the needs of designers to grow in such a milieu given the current context of Beirut.

The second panel speakers were:

  • • Dr. Mona Harb (Associate Professor Urban Planning, AUB)
  • • M. Serge Yazigi (Urban Planner, head of MAJAL)
  • • M. Nabil Itani (Head, CDR CHUD WB project)
  • • M. Mario Khoury (Central Bank, Investment Department)
  • • Mrs. Maria Halios (Owner, Maria Halios Design)
  • • Mrs. Christine Codsi (Partner, Tawlet/Souk el Tayeb)
  • • M. Karim Bekdache (Owner, Karim Bekdache Architecture Studio)

Moderated by Dr. Elie Haddad, Dean of the Art and Design Faculty at the Lebanese American University, this panel was fervently defending rights of citizens in the city and insisting that the government must enforce the laws to protect the rights of citizens -especially when it comes to protecting small industries like that of crafts and design against the pressures of rising rent costs, real estate ventures, and the increasing number of bars without enforced regulations.

The Conclusion panel members, headed by the discussion leader Dr. Georges Zouain, head of GAIA Heritage, included:

  • • H.E. M. Raymond Arayji (Lebanese Minister of Culture)
  • • M. Alexis Loeber (EU, Head of Cooperation Division)
  • • M. Ibrahim Nehme (Editor The Outpost)
  • • Dr. Elie Haddad (Dean LAU School for Design & Architecture)
  • • Professor Sofia Avgerinou‐Kolonia (Director of Urban and Regional Planning Department, NTUA)

All speakers expressed support for future initiatives related to Mar Mikhael’s Arts, Crafts and Design. Moreover, the final panel concluded in hopes of strengthening the rule of law in the neighborhood and innovation in the realm of the creative economy. This project has been funded by the European Union.

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