Since it was first launched in 2012, House of Today has become Lebanon’s prime showcase for contemporary design. Founded by Cherine Magrabi Tayeb and focusing on Lebanese designers, House of Today held its fourth biennale from December 12-28 at 3 Beirut, in Downtown Beirut, once again shining the limelight on Lebanon’s established and budding talents.
Titled “Elevate, the Quest for Heightened Senses,” this latest instalment of House of Today asked 10 designers or design teams to create tables. But in this instance, the tables had to be “elevated,” where they wouldn’t just serve a purpose by also elicit emotions in the viewer, causing him or her to experience a novel sensory journey. The designers who created tables for the event included Jana Aridi, Tamara Barrage, david/nicolas, Nadine Hajjar, Charles Kalpakian, Stephanie Moussallem, Roula Salamoun, Marie-Lyne Samaha & Anthony Daher, Sibylle Tarazi and Salim Al Kadi.
In addition, the House of Today biennale initiated an inspired collaboration between New York’s prestigious gallery R & Company, pairing three of the gallery’s designers with three Lebanese designers, and asking each team to conceive a table together. The three collaborations resulted in distinctive tables by Haas Brothers X Carlo & Mary-Lynn Massoud, Flavie Audi X Rogan Gregory and Katie Stout X Sayar & Garibeh.
While the show provided the core of the biennale, there were other events scheduled as well, including an installation by Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury at Beirut’s Sursock Museum. The installation, which opened with a lecture by Khoury himself, told the story of his father, modernist architect Khalil Khoury, detailing his passion for aeronautic engineering, painting, hunting, politics, industrial design, architecture and, most importantly, the female figure.
House of Today also hosted Craftporn, a series of lectures presented by journalist and critic Anne-France Berthelon. The lectures featured a number of international designers – Humberto Campana, Peter Marigold, Pascale Mussard, Evan Snyderman and Formafantasma, among others – who explained their creative process and the essence of their craft.
What sets House of Today apart from other design showcases is that, first off, Tayeb has a keen eye for emerging designers. She has been instrumental in launching the careers of many Lebanese designers, including Khaled El Mays, Rami Dalle and Kamal Aoun. Additionally, through House of Today, Tayeb provides invaluable assistance to promising designers with the non-profit organization’s scholarship programme. Each year, House of Today funds scholarships for up to four students who demonstrate exceptional talent in design and who would benefit from advanced study in design, either in Lebanon or abroad.
The success of House of Today is a testament to both the organization’s founder, Tayeb herself, and to the creative prowess of the Lebanese. “Design in Lebanon has now become very sexy,” says Tayeb, “and we played a big role in that change. It humbles me to say this.”