House of Today Biennale – Top Ten Design Highlights By Elizabeth Parker

House of Today has called upon talented Lebanese designers and creatives to elevate accepted design norms, using their own unique aesthetic to create tables that not only serve a function or purpose, but that trigger emotions through a journey of sensorial experience. The selected designers are presented as part of an exhibition called ‘‘Elevate – The Quest For Heightened Senses,’’ running until December 28th, 2018.


David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem are Beirut-based designers. Their unique way of blending retro, contemporary and futuristic elements gives their work a timeless aesthetic that translates to a wide range of projects, from furniture design, to high-end bespoke interiors. The duo studied together at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts and the Scuola Politecnica Di Design in Milan, going on to found their own studio, david/nicolas, in Beirut in 2011. Since then, david/nicolas has staged several exhibitions and collaborated with established international brands. In 2014, The New York Times selected david/nicolas as one of the three breakout stars of Milan Design Week, where they launched the bespoke “Artichoke” safe with Agresti for Wallpaper* Handmade, as well as their collection “Dualita” for Nina Yashar’s Nilufar Gallery.


Tamara Barrage is a Lebanese designer based in Beirut. After earning a master’s degree in Product Design from ALBA (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts) in 2011, she pursued a second master’s degree from Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands specializing in Contextual Design. Upon her return to her hometown in 2014, Tamara engaged in exploring the tactile and sensorial characteristics of various materials. Using an array of experimental techniques, Tamara aspires to better articulate how forms and textures provoke senses, manipulate emotions and articulate memories. Her interest in materiality takes the form of multiple explorations into shapes that become materials, or materials that turn into shapes. Often threatening while revealing an overwhelming sense of fragility, her creations are creatures of another realm, somehow unfamiliar, somehow – if one looks closely enough – all too familiar.


The Beirut born and based Lebanese designer Stéphanie Moussallem undertook her studies in interior architecture, graduating in July 2011 with a Master’s in product design. She soon came to the attention of the owner of one of the most prestigious design and production companies in the Middle East, and subsequently worked there for 4 years before setting up Stéphanie Moussallem Design Studio. The Studio brings distinct high-end collectible furniture from Beirut to the world, and Stéphanie’s work has been exhibited at various design shows in Paris, Milan and Beirut.


Charles Kalpakian was born in Beirut in 1982. After collaborating with prestigious agencies including Christophe Pillet in 2011, he launched his own design studio and has since been developing projects and collaborations with numerous French and Italian manufacturers. The influences of his work take shape through the reinterpretation of motifs derived from the decorative arts. Ranging from product to interior design, Charles’ ventures always highlight the richness of his origins, combined with elements of Western modernity.


Roula Salamoun is an architect and founder of EXTRAGROUND, a Beirut-based studio developing multidisciplinary projects. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture with distinction from the American University of Beirut in 2007, and continued her graduate research in New York City at Columbia University, where she was awarded the William Kinne fellowship. She has collaborated with Columbia University on a number of regional projects and worked with Bernard Khoury / DW5 for over six years as a Project Manager and Architecture Manager, before establishing her practice in 2017.


Salim Al-Kadi is an architect from Beirut. Since 2014, Salim has also been involved in SIGIL, a collective involving Khaled Malas, Alfred Tarazi and Jana Traboulsi. Together, they have completed multiple projects including: “Excavating The Sky: A Project On Syria,” commissioned by and exhibited at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale; “Current Power In Syria,” exhibited at the 2016 Marrakech Art Biennale; and “Electric Resistance – Monument To A Destroyed Windmill,” exhibited at the 2017 Sharjah Biennale in the Sursock Museum in Beirut. In 2016, Salim founded the Beirut Architecture Office. A practicing architect, Salim believes that the responsibility of the architect is not to build confidence in the built environment, but rather disrupt the apparent stasis by introducing necessary hesitation.


Raised in Beirut, Paris and Rome, designer Sibylle Tarazi graduated in Graphic Design and Fine Arts from the American University of Beirut in 2002 and with a Master’s degree in Accessories Design with a specialism in Jewellery from Milan’s Domus Academy in 2007. Born to a family of archaeologists, designers and craftsmen specialising in Middle Eastern art, Sibylle was inevitably immersed into a stimulating historical and contemporary art milieu, which clearly stands out in her artwork. Conscious that fulfilling a role in tune with her background could play for or against her own artistic aspirations, she has spent much of her life working towards distinguishing herself and developing her own unique style.


Marie-Lyne and Anthony Daher founded their architecture and design firm in 2012. Its focus is creating sustainable and ecological designs, while maintaining key elements of Lebanese heritage. Since its establishment in Amchit, the Studio has carried out various construction, landscape and interior design projects, aimed at promoting the integration of classic Lebanese character and contemporary concepts.


Nadine Hajjar is a Lebanese designer and wood artist based in Montreal, Canada. Trained in Beirut as an interior architect at the Lebanese American University, she decided to specialise in furniture and industrial design by enrolling in, and obtaining, a Master’s degree at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. To further satisfy her thirst for creation, and more crucially for production, she decided she wanted to be closer to the material itself: wood. She subsequently studied cabinet-making in Montreal for 3 years, at the École d’Ébénisterie d’Art de Montréal. Nadine founded Nadine Hajjar Studio in 2014, and since then, she has been developing her own collection of furniture, lighting and objects. It is only through carving wood and witnessing how objects take shape by her own hands that she feels complete as a designer and a sculptor.


Jana Aridi is a Lebanese architect and designer. She received her degree in Architecture from the American University of Beirut in 2013 and in 2017, she completed her Master’s in Product Design from Domus Academy in Milan. Jana has always been fascinated with the handmade, the customised, and the personal. Her designs, much like her architecture, are thoughtful, straightforward and raw, always true to the material used and the story they want to tell. She uses different forms of expression to give life to her projects from simple watercolours, to paintings in powerful acrylic. Most recently, she immersed herself in the art of hand-carving wooden spoons. Her most recent work is a collaboration with architect Karim Nader at the Art of Dining, an event by AD Middle East, where she showcased a limited edition set of unique hand-carved wooden spoons that each represents a different shape and function.

‘‘Elevate – The Quest For Heightened Senses,’’ curated by House of Today, is open from 10 am – 7 pm until 28th December 2018 (closed on 25th December) at 3BEIRUT in Lebanon. For more information about House of Today, go to