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Rebuild BEIRUT: promoting Lebanese creativity at London Craft Week + Create Day


How does disaster impact creativity? As the Lebanese capital struggles to recover from the recent explosions, its designers explore how they can continue to create in the midst of chaos.


In this series of short films, curated by Rue Kothari and Mira Hawa for London Craft Week’s Create Day, the beauty and craft of six distinctive designers are exposed to showcase the wealth of Lebanese creativity that must be preserved. 


The objective is to ensure that the international community continue to help and support the recovery of the design industry in Beirut. 


" We had originally approached over 30 designers to participate in this project. So many told us that their ateliers had been destroyed, along with their archives, and several were suffering personal injur y and loss. The challenges were simply too great. We truly thank them for their consideration and are grateful to these final six for having produced or collated footage for Create Day - in order to keep the spotlight on Beirut as it continues the fundrais ing effort to rebuild the city ." - Rue Kothari + Mira Hawa 


The Designers: 

Sayar & Garibeh are industrial designers who’s work has been exhibited around the world. “ In 2019, Lebanon faced an unstable economic situation tha t had pushed us to think of a new way of working. We could no longer use certain techniques and materials from other countries, so we decided to take up the challenge of using local resources and traditional craftsmanship to create objects that identify a local cultural reference. We felt the responsibility to sustain a flow, so we can keep the artisanal community alive .”


Cynthia Raffoul is a jewelry designer whose work is inspired by her city. She says, “ T he continuation of the craftsman is key to the cultural heritage of the creative community. Their wealth is in the talent handed down from one generation to the other. It cannot disapp ear in the dust of the blast. It’s imperative that they remain creative as their livelihoods depend on it. ”


Karen Chekerdjian is a highly regarded industrial designer who also lives in the city. “ When I started off years ago, nobody knew what industrial d esign was. No craftsmen knew how to contemporise a piece. It is this journey with the craftsmen that is the most fulfilling for me .”


Huda and Maria, the design duo behind Bokja, who are passionate about old textiles, tapestries and handicrafts of the Levant. They repurpose vintage pieces discovered in Beirut’s flea markets and antique shops. “ A city only thrives with its creative community. They inform a level of richness and sophistication that enables a community to communicate better its needs, woes and joys. It is this community that got hit the most, and it’s only through continuous International support that we can stand on our feet again .”


Anastasia Nysten is a multidisciplinary designer whose work responds to different ideas on cultural appropriation: “ It’s important to listen to the Lebanese design industry today as if you would listen to a friend when they have something important to say. Not just because of what happened on August 4 in Beirut but because tolerance and patience has never been as i mportant as they should be today globally. A word is really all you need to start a conversation and make a change.”


Anastasia Elrouss is an architect and Founder of Warchée ngo; “My dream is to create an ecosystem where Lebanese women can thrive through learning new skills, earning an income and healing through community projects. Through the Warchée ngo, we train groups of women in carpentry, metal and provide a platform for them to earn a household income and become more financially independent.”


About London Craft Week + Create Day

Within Create Day’s Middle East program a segment dedicated to “Rebuild Beirut” features Lebanese designers running available online until 24 October, 2020.

Rebuild Beirut Introduction Video + Middle East Create Day

The Curators 

Rue Kothari (London - Dubai)

London-born Rue Kothari has built considerable influence in the design industry over 15 years living between the UAE and the UK. As a founding adviser for Dubai Design Week, Rue helmed furniture fair Downtown Design, establishing it as the leading trade platform in the Middle East, and going on to launch Editions, a showcase for craft, handmade and collectible design.


Mira Hawa (Beirut)

Mira has worked with emerging and established creatives and has represented them in London Design Biennale, Institut du Monde Arabe, La Biennale di Venezia – International Art Exhibition, Dubai Design Week, Art Dubai, Beirut Design Week and Beirut Design Fair, amongst others. Most recently she co-curated ‘Artists With Beirut’ Relief to benefit the Beirut Emergency Fund 2020.



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