Press conference starts countdown to BDW15

IMG_1178As the days grow long and the nights get hot, you can be sure summer is fast approaching–and so is Beirut Design Week. Mark your calendar because BDW15 is kicking-off June 1 with a week of more than 150 workshops, conferences, exhibitions and open studios exploring the theme Social Beings.

“Design isn’t just about the objects, it’s about the people behind those objects.” Beirut Design Week Director Doreen Toutikian said while explaining the theme at a press conference Tuesday. Rather, BDW15 is casting light on the interactions made possible by good design, from healthcare to architecture and everything in between.  IMG_1176

More than 140 Lebanese creatives are exchanging knowledge, networking and opening their spaces in BDW15, more than in any preview design week.

They’ll be joined by a roster keynote speakers from corporations and institutions including IBM, Domus Academy, Parsons New York, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and Instituto Europeo di Design for a two-day conference exploring design as the intersection of business, social impact and technology.

In design “you need to have influence from elsewhere, you need to have influence from everywhere,” the Finnish Ambassador said at Tuesday’s press conference at the restaurant Liza as he explained his embassy’s support for Beirut Design Week.

Now in its fourth year, the festival has grown into one of the key events on Lebanon’s summer social calendar. In addition to exploring the theme of Social Beings, BDW15 will spark discussion on how design can move from aesthetics to values, from elitism to inclusiveness, and from dictation to dialogue.  To find out how you can join more than 4,000 participants daily June 1-7 at Beirut Design Week events held all across greater Beirut, check the program here.



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.

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.


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.

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.


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.