Table Talk. An overview of the House of Today Biennale in Beirut

Lebanese and US designers have collaborated on new tables that show off their diverse talents. A chat with founder Cherine Magrabi Tayeb.

House of Today Biennale, Beirut, 2018

Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut received big-league designer clout this month as global hotshots Humberto Campana, Peter Marigold, Pascale Mussard and Italian duo Formafantasma visited the city for the House of Today Biennale, where they formed part of its talks programme. But it’s these superstars who experienced the biggest thrill as they witnessed innovative new work by some of the country’s most exciting contemporary designers.

Tables by the likes of david/nicolas, Roula Salamoun, Anthony Daher and Sibylle Tarazi were produced to suit House of Today founder Cherine Magrabi Tayeb’s brief to design pieces that trigger emotions. It is, however, three collaborative showstoppers that have roused the biggest response. Pairing Lebanese talents with internationally acclaimed US designers, represented by New York-based R & Company, has led to three limited-edition tables on show at the exhibition titled Elevate, the Quest for Heightened Senses.

“This project presented a great opportunity to merge the two cultures,” explains Magrabi. “All designers relied on their strong talent and well-formed identity, yet allowed themselves to break from the norms and explore a fresh approach to designing, pushing their boundaries further still.”

Carlo and Mary-Lynn Massoud and The Haas Brothers, Boob Boobie Dou table, 2018
Carlo and Mary-Lynn Massoud and The Haas Brothers, Boob Boobie Dou table, 2018

Beirut-based siblings Carlo and Mary-Lynn Massoud’s Boob Boobie Dou table in collaboration with Los Angeles twins The Haas Brothers is an homage to femininity. Two bronze hands gently hold a pink marble breast, elevating it toward the divine – a sign of protest against discrimination, while honouring the milk that quenches the earth. “It provokes the viewer with its attitude towards sex and sexuality,” says Magrabi of the response the piece has received. She finds it energising to see the result of four creative minds coming together in “a flirtatious yet respectful process.”

Sayar & Gabribeh and Katie Stout, Morph side table, 2018
Sayar & Gabribeh and Katie Stout, Morph side table, 2018

Brooklyn-based Katie Stout worked with Stephanie Sayar and Charbel Garibeh of Lebanese design studio Sayar & Garibeh in a back-and-forth process, where the collaborators kept adding elements to an initial sketch, resulting in the whimsical Morph side table completely made by hand in ceramic clay and cast brass to resemble this layered process.

Fluid Encounter, the table by French/Lebanese artist and designer Flavie Audi and former New York fashion designer turned functional artist Rogan Gregory, is one where digital concepts and sensorial realities converge. A bronze sheet undulating over crystalline rocks made from digitally-fabricated resin highlights this multi-form dynamic.
“Art and design can never be a static process,” says Magrabi of the benefits of such collaborations. “An open and evolving mind is the attribute of a true artist.”

Flavie Audi x Rogan Gregory
Flavie Audi and Rogan Gregory, Fluid Encounter table, 2018

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