In ART

Star designer Nada Debs moves in a bold new direction as she unveils her latest collection of furniture and accessories

Nada Debs is heading into uncharted territory. The Lebanon-based designer, so famous for her signature mother-of-pearl, arabesque and rectilinear pieces, has released a new collection in which all three of her trademark touches are absent.

When Debs started designing, back in 2000, she was the first to take another look at traditional Middle Eastern craft techniques and reinterpret them for the 21st century. Gleaning inspiration from her childhood spent in Japan and her Levantine heritage, she created unique, handcrafted furniture pieces made by skilled Middle Eastern artisans, but infused with the geometric and purist ethos of the Far East. The success of her venture led to open her first store in Beirut, in 2004. “Twelve years ago, I made an impact,” says Debs, “but I also got stigmatized as the Middle Eastern designer who makes mother-of-pearl, arabesque and rectilinear designs. My duty now is to evolve and move forward.”

With this idea in mind, Debs launched a new organic collection to coincide with Beirut Design Week 2016. “I removed arabesque, rectilinear and mother-of-pearls elements,” says Debs of her new collection, “but retained the local craft, so you can still feel the value of a handmade piece.”

The new Nada Debs collection includes trays made from olive wood, with the wood cut at an angle so that the grain stretches, preserving the organic sensuality of the natural material. There are also tables from acacia wood enhanced with tin inlay – a gracious nod, perhaps, to Debs’ signature mother-of-pearl, but envisioned in a dazzling new manner. Other standout pieces range from a glass table transformed into a sculptural work of art with the addition of a floating tree trunk element, to a metal and wood table (from the Ants & Plants collection) featuring an intricate procession of ants individually burned into the wood.

Smaller accessories include hand-carved bowls made from African limba wood, painted from the inside and inlayed with leaf-shaped leather. “We’ve applied the craft of marquetry to leather inlays,” explains Debs, adding that the organic spirit is what links every piece of the new collection.

Like the now classic furniture and home accessories that she created in the past, the new designs are beautiful, but also conceived with a purpose in mind. “I don’t do decorative,” says Debs. “Everything I create is functional, and patterns always fulfill an emotional need.”

The new Nada Debs collection is available at her flagship boutique in Saifi Village, Beirut.

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