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Middle-Eastern Craft Meets Far-Eastern Ideals
Nada Debs is one of Lebanon’s most accomplished designers, whose signature clean lines, fusing Arabic and Asian aesthetics, are the result of a Japanese childhood and Arabic roots.
Long ago, her grandfather travelled the Silk Route, ending up in Japan. Her own personal Silk Route has led her right back to the starting point, having stopped along the way, exchanged and learnt a lot about culture and crafts.
She picked up Americans’ insistence on functionality and modern material and the sophisticated appreciation of craft and heritage in England, where she started out doing children’s furniture.
Debs grew up in Japan, studied in the US and started her career in England. Describing herself at times as a Zen Arab, she found a way to bridge the different strands with her furniture and combining the Middle East and the Far East, she named her company East is East.
When resettling in Beirut, the designer, not surprisingly, viewed the Arab World through both Far Eastern and Western eyes. This allowed her to spot incredible beauty in the markets of Damascus. She has since been marrying distinctly Far Eastern patterns (Origami console), Oriental patterns (Arabesque chairs), with Arabic geometry, carving (Tabla Tables) or tin-inlay and mother of pearl insets.
Her products include furniture and a vast boutique collection, with trays, boxes, vases, book stoppers, bowls, a magnificent backgammon game, and more. Her Bling Bling range, which could easily have been used on the set of “Barbarella”, includes a phenomenal mamool adorned Pebble Table. The 1960s Madmen series inspired her to combine 60s furniture with mother of pearl, and name the pieces after old cinemas in Beirut. She also match-made Formica tops and intricately carved walnut legs.
Experiments with Plexiglas followed (floating chairs) and lengthy trials with resin, the latter eventually was used to make colorful and very popular mirrors and also the Teta Tables with “enresined” crochet.
The woodcarvers in her workshops, who also do mother of pearl inlay work are veritable artists and Debs is intent on preserving the old techniques.
Known for her tremendous creative output, Debs’ creations make a perfect, exclusive gift “Made in Lebanon”.