Celebrating Eastern artistry through contemporary design

Yang Di
Nada Debs is a Levantine designer living and working in Beirut. Her work spans scale and discipline.
Yang Di
SSI ļʱ
Celebrating Eastern artistry through contemporary design
Courtesy of Nada Debs / Ti Gong

Nada Debs

Who is she?

Nada Debs is a Levantine designer living and working in Beirut. Her work spans scale and discipline: from product and furniture design to one-off commissions across craft, art, fashion and interiors.

Nada grew up in Japan, studied design at Rhode Island School of Design in the United States and has spent significant periods of time living and travelling the world, finding connections between different cultures. What ties her work together is her ability to distil culture and craftsmanship to create pieces of emotional resonance. She calls her approach: handmade and heartmade.

Debs has a hands-on, human approach to design. She brings passion to process, combining ideas, skills and techniques together from her travels, to form a unique cultural exchange. She is fascinated by stories that evoke a sense of belonging. She describes craft as a feeling that goes beyond geography, language and culture. Her work is driven by a belief in the power of design to cross time and border and touch us on a primal level.

The designer opened a showroom in the Saifi district of Beirut in 2003, where she shows her latest work alongside a wide range of elements from past collections. Her design studio, in a former residential building in Gemmayzeh, comprises a team of 20 from a range of disciplines. Together they work on annual collections of furniture and products sold online and stocked in key global retailers; bespoke commissions of furniture and accessories; collaborations with global furniture manufacturers; interior design concepts and services; artworks, installations and jewelry commissions.

Tell us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

I love every collection as it is an evolution in my work. I work with local craftsmanship but always like to add a new twist to it so that we give it a new life. The piece that I am most proud of is the Now & Zen bar. It is inspired by Anime films and is a feminine piece that represents modern Japan today. We have mixed the traditional Middle Eastern craft of carving and inlay and patterns with traditional patterns of Japan and it is made with rainbox colors.

Are you currently involved with any projects?

Yes we work on a lot of residential projects and customize our pieces according to a client’s request.

Describe your design style?

It is a mix of traditional craft and contemporary form. Our mission statement is to celebrate Eastern craftsmanship through contemporary design.

Where are you most creative?

I believe my creativity comes mostly in coming up with new craft techniques with the traditional craftsman. This is what I love to do the most. Also, when I design furniture, I like to find a balance between differing concepts such as old and new craft techniques, different cultural identities, or unexpected materials. 

What does your home mean to you?

It’s really an extension of who we are.

What do you collect?

I love to travel and collect handcrafted objects typical of the country I travel to. Some are precious, some are not but for me, the handcraft aspect and the identity aspect of the piece is what I connect to.

What will be the next big design trend?

I believe the next trends would be more personalized items, more specialized and customized. Also items that are not so perfect as I say ‘perfectly imperfect’ and more human and soft to the touch.

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