We are happy to share our conversation with Carla Baz designer based in Beirut, and one of the winners of Maison&Objet Rising Talent Award 2018.
What are you exhibiting at Maison&Objet?
In this edition of Maison&Objet, I am here as a part of the Rising Talents; six designers from Lebanon. My design studio is based in Beirut. I am exhibiting a series of light fixtures and marble tables which I have recently showed at Joy Mardini Gallery as part of my first solo exhibition.
Your tables have a unique way of making and a material mix. Can you please tell us about this?
It is all hand made. I work with craftsmen in all my projects. I am a big supporter of the idea to promote local craftsmanship. Not only promote actually also to evolve and somehow modernize the craft… We have a very rich heritage in this sense in Lebanon. I have the feeling that it deserves more attention. We can built on it and open it up to new possibilities. Craftsmanship in Lebanon extends to a wide range; woodcarving, weaving, tapestry, blowing glass, metal work and many others. It is critical to use this knowhow and give a new direction to this heritage.
As a young Lebanese designer who studied in abroad, coming back to your country adds a strong value to your country’s design scene. Designers like you are the ones who translate this craft culture, making techniques and references which are very unique for this geography, into a contemporary design language. What is the Lebanese touch in your design?
Lebanon has such a fragmented identity, as it is the crossroad of many civilizations. Therefore it is nearly impossible to define the Lebanese identity.
For me it is a lot about geometry. In the oriental and Arabic architecture we have a lot of geometrical forms. The respect for geometry and proportions is coming from this. I do this in a very subtle way. This is my own interpretation of my heritage. This leads to bridging cultures as well. My mother is French. I studied in France. I am very much influenced by the decorative arts. At the same time, craftsmanship is given a lot of importance in France. I realized during my studies in Europe that the potential in Lebanon hasn't been used enough. I believe that there is room to explore, develop and create. This is my own individual way of bridging cultures. I wanted to create this pure form of geometry that holds symbolism and juxtapose it with material. The core of all my design is coming from humanism. Especially in Beirut you observe intensive human connections. The co-existence is the key in creating here. At the same time, having ‘still not an established design scene’ gives us freedom and flexibility. I see it as an opportunity.
How did you experience the collaborations with craftsmen?
You work hand in hand with craftsmen. There is a strong exchange and dialogue. It is sometimes a challenge for the craftsmen as we meet them with different ideas that they haven’t practiced before. They get out of their comfort zone. This is absolutely mesmerizing. This process is not always easy. You try to create something great but on the way you face with some obstacles, which I prefer to call happy accidents. Transfer of knowledge and reinterpretation of certain making techniques add great value to design works.
Maison & Objet is pointing at the importance of being virtuous in design. You were mentioning that design should have a humanistic approach. What is your opinion on this?
Sustainability is about using environmentally friendly materials and also consuming in a wise way. I am against the notion of consumerism. We should respect the environment and also the product. We are not what we own. We have to be more responsible. Products get old, scratched and might have look used. There is nothing wrong with it. They carry stories with themselves. We should also respect this. Some of my favorite objects are not the contemporary ones. When you work with craftsmen you also learn how to respect products and even the materials. We should move away from compulsive consumerism and be more responsible.