23m - Nestled in the fancy heart of Beirut’s Furn el Hayek, below Liza and...
Images d'Orient - Mediterranean Design at its Best
Made out of PVC or silicone, some in two-tone some in multi-tone patterns, most in eye-catching colors and with intricate details, Images d’Orient’s collection of coasters, are a sublime postmodern equivalent of a blatt (tile).
Over a decade ago, when the first collection came out, designer Peggy Raphaël Dabar had to plead with local boutique owners to take her coasters. “No, it’s rubber”, they would object. Half an hour later she was asked to bring more stock…
Since holding the first prototype in her hands – the result of months of labor, tests and trials – Raphaël Dabar’s product with a distinctly Mediterranean flair has not only won the Prix de la Découverte at the 2007 Salon Maison & Objet, a bi-annual trade fair drawing over 85,000 visitors held in Paris, but gone global.
Still a student (first in advertising at ALBA, then pursuing an MA in Fine Arts at Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, both in Boston), Raphaël Dabar was already driven to design a quintessentially Lebanese product, a small object that would bear distinct Mediterranean features.
In 2000, she established Eusamex Sarl with her brother, the general manager Charbel Raphaël and two years later, the two launched Images d’Orient.
“We had $20 000 start up capital that we pooled together, our two laptops and creative minds,” Raphaël recalls how the two started their business. Their first products were Mosaic Blue and Sejjadeh Red coasters, inspired by traditional Oriental design.
The Images d’Orient catalogue contains hundreds of SKUs [stock keeping units] including coasters, trivets, bottle holders, placemats, knife rests, presentation plates, soap rests, change trays, wooden trays, wooden boxes, key rings, luggage tags, magazine files, porcelain mugs, cups, plates, a table and tin boxes in splendid colors. The latest addition is Safra, a porcelain range with delicate, motifs.
In Beirut, Ets. Chahine-El Khoury, which has an excellent range of accessories for professional and amateur chefs sells Images d’Orient. Globally, it is sold at 10 different stores, the National Museum and souvenir shops at the airport, and 13 countries around the world with over 200 selling points in the US alone.
A key reason for Images d’Orient’s success has been Raphaël Dabar’s ability to come up with seemingly never-ending variations, a sheer kaleidoscope of colors and themes on the Mediterranean patterns she has studied for years, including Christian and Muslim motifs that harmoniously co-habitate on coasters, cups and more.