“Past Echoes: A Journey through Middle Eastern Product Design” curated by Babylon – The Agency founded by Joy Mardini and William Wehbe – stands as a tribute to the rich heritage of Middle Eastern design interwoven within the historic Villa Mokbel. Within this 19th-century mansion, nestled in the heart of Beirut’s Sursock area, more than 20 talented product designers from the region converge to create an exploration of the cultural tapestry that resides within these walls.
Babylon’s curatorial vision transcends a mere display of product design; it serves as a deliberate homage to the diverse lifestyles and significant historical moments that unfolded within these very walls. Through meticulously crafted spaces, they extend an invitation to visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating stories of travel, leisure, conversation, devotion, reunion, dialogue, and knowledge—central themes that have shaped the experiences of those who once called this house their home.
Every room within Villa Mokbel becomes a vessel for storytelling, curated to resurrect the essence of its previous inhabitants. These spaces are meticulously designed with an emphasis on their livability, effectively transporting visitors back to the eras that defined the mansion’s existence. Through tactile and sensory experiences, their aim is to bridge the temporal gap between the past and the present, forging a profound connection with the legacy of this architectural gem.
As visitors weave their way through the exhibition, they will encounter an array of design marvels, encompassing furniture pieces, decor, and utilitarian objects. These creations, by Middle Eastern designers, encapsulate the region’s rich cultural heritage, echoing the traditions of craftsmanship and aesthetics passed down through generations.
“Past Echoes” offers a rare opportunity to witness the evocative power of design in preserving memories and anchoring historical significance. By uniting contemporary design with historical narratives, they aspire to initiate a dialogue that transcends the boundaries of time, fostering a deeper understanding of the intricate connections between culture, identity, and the human experience.
About Babylon – The Agency Founders
Joy Mardini, drawing from over a decade of expertise in the realms of art and design, has established herself through significant roles at prestigious auction houses such as Christie’s, Tajan, and Artcurial. Her renowned Joy Mardini Design Gallery served as a platform for both established and emerging Lebanese designers, earning recognition on the global design stage. She has been instrumental in fundraising efforts for Lebanese designers, engaged in collaborations with prestigious organisations, and presently provides her advisory insights to collections. Additionally, she co-founded Babylon – The Agency, further extending her impact.
William Wehbe, originally an architect, has successfully transitioned into an entrepreneur. In 2017, he played a pivotal role in co-founding White Walls, an innovative gallery store in Beirut, introducing a curated selection of European brands with a strong emphasis on Scandinavian Design to the Lebanese market. In 2019, he embarked on another entrepreneurial endeavor, teaming up with three Italian partners to establish Spazio Casa, providing him with a deeper understanding of Italian manufacturing processes and the journey that all designers undergo. William now serves as a co-founder of Babylon, leveraging his diverse experiences.
Location: Villa Mokbel, Beirut
Dates: October 27 – 30, 2023