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Sustaining design in a trash crisis.

Summary: Beirut Design Week kicked off its fifth edition Friday with a series of exhibitions and a press conference.

BEIRUT: Beirut Design Week kicked off its fifth edition Friday with a series of exhibitions and a press conference. Under the motto "Growing Sustainability," the event is expected bring 180 international and local studios together for a common cause -- cooperative, sustainable design.

BDW has scheduled open studios, exhibitions, talks and conferences throughout the week. The events will focus on culture, sustainability and public activism within art and design.

Held at multiple venues across the Greater Beirut area -- dubbed "clusters" by the organizers -- BDW will host a variety of events daily. KED Karantina, the official venue, will host a number of these showcases alongside independent events at Zaitunay Bay, Sursock Museum and local design galleries.

Situated in a refurbished once-abandoned Karantina warehouse, KED hosted Friday evening's opening ceremony and is expected to host further talks, workshops and exhibitions in the following days.

On May 21 and 22, KED will host talks and workshops centered on how sustainable design can improve a multitude of Lebanon's sociopolitical and economic problems -- from class inequality to active citizenship and such pressing issues as the trash crisis.

BDW events from May 23 to 29 will be scattered across Beirut venues in Ashrafieh, Mar Mikhael, Gemmayzeh, Saifi and Hamra.

"We've always said that Design Week is not only about designers, it's about everybody," BDW cofounder and director Doreen Toutikian told The Daily Star.

"This year's theme is about sustainability, which not only focuses on the process of making products but also involves the consumers and the people part of the system as a whole." For her organization, it is fundamental to involve "the environmental, social, political and economic aspects in the [national] discussion" as the driving force within art and design.

Design and art houses such as Starch and Studio Kawakeb are scheduled to host "open studio" days -- opening their doors to the public in hope of involving those interested in their processes as well as showcasing their final products.

Playing in to the theme of "public art," the open studios attempt to blur the lines between the public and private arenas within creative processes, techniques and approaches.

Several exhibitions opening during the week are scheduled to run into next month. They take up multiple topics, including culture and heritage as well as artistic expression.

Exhibitions such as "Culture Reimagined," staged at Sursock Museum on May 23, and Hadi Maktabi and Ashekman's "Street Art X Fine Art" joint venture involve re-evaluating Arab culture through international approaches.

"The Pond House," an exhibition at Carwan Gallery, showcases Iranian carpet-weaving techniques through Taher Asad-Bakhtiari's contemporary approaches to the traditional craft.

BDW's design workshops, centered on promoting more specialized craft-making practices, are open to both adults and children and most are free to the public. Public Interest Design's "Cluster Development Initiative" (May 25) will host an evening devoted to design, arts and crafts workshop on social activism and design in development.

Intensive workshops like Ghalib Hawila's "Introduction to Calligraphy" (May 23) at Cuentista Art Cafe are available for a set price, vary in duration and are limited in seating.

Other workshops like Ghaith Adib's "Origami 101" (May 25), also at Cuentista Art Cafe, also seek to promote international arts and crafts techniques in Lebanon.

The organizers' talks and conferences aim at promoting and incorporating the public within Beirut's growing art and design community -- as well as their activism in creating a difference in Lebanese society.

Film screenings are also scheduled throughout the week, including "Trashed" (May 22 at KED), which discusses the trash crisis. The Arab Center for Architecture has also scheduled film screenings that take up topics like sustainable architecture and heritage preservation.

Beirut Design Week will also host a number of leisurely events -- like Grand Factory hosted by the Starch Foundation on May 27 and brunch at the Smallville Hotel on May 29.

Beirut Design Week runs trough 26 May. To see the full program and access tickets and reservations, see ihjoz.com and

beirutdesignweek.org.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:May 21, 2016
Words:692
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