series of wooden lamps on a table
Game of Light collection. Courtesy of ALBA.

14 Must-See Highlights from We Design Beirut

We Design Beirut held its first edition from May 23-26, 2024, spotlighting Lebanese design and architecture through a creative roster of events across the city, and celebrating the past, present and future of local craft. Founded by creative director Mariana Wehbe, in partnership with industrial designer Samer Alameen and visual communications studio Bananamonkey, the program includes an exhibition dedicated solely to sustainability, experimental concepts and student designers. Staged at Abroyan Factory—a partially-restored textile factory from the 1940s, which stood abandoned for many years—the space was split into two showcases.

“WeSearch” presented the works of about 80 students and recent graduates from five universities, curated by international design experts Federica Sala, Anne France Berthelon and Francois LeBlanc De Cecilia. Meanwhile, the “Materials Exhibition” showcased some of the innovative available materials in the country, alongside their producers, through engaging installations and prototypes, in hopes of promoting the use of these sustainable materials—from recycled tire rubber turned into furniture to blending water-saving clay vessels for plants. 

From repurposed stackable plant pots to self-standing Arabic letters, explore these curated highlights from the “WeSearch” and “Materials Exhibition” at We Design Beirut.

Discover Highlights From The “WeSearch” Exhibition

1. Game of Light Collection

series of wooden lamps on a table
Game of Light collection. Photography courtesy of ALBA.

This collection of lamps was created by eight students from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, who were each tasked with using sustainable materials and having three light-intensity settings, without needing extra power or electrical components. Confined to the dimensions of 20 x 20 x 90cm, the students were encouraged to play around with light and come up with different mechanical manipulations of the lamp, to change the light intensity as an energy saving approach. Some lamps were crafted from leftover wood from factories, waste rope and zips. One lamp, inspired by the game Jenga, has removable blocks of wood, allowing control of the amount of flight filtering through. 

2. Woodground by Eli Khawand

wooden structures on a table
Woodground by Eli Khawand. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

This playful low table made from wood scraps highlights the beauty of nature wood and adaptability of use. Shaped into a map of Lebanon, the different chucks of wood represent the diverse cultures, peoples, religions and histories that make Lebanon the melting pot is it today. The table also had movable candlesticks and ornaments for customization.

3. Cabaret by Alia Zehil

bunch of glass tables on a tile floor
Cabaret by Alia Zehil. Photography by Samer Alameen.

Inspired by Édouard Manet’s famous painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Cabaret is a cocktail toppings container made from recycled glass, designed to facilitate and enhance interactivity, creating conversations and moments around a private bar.

4. Paired by Roua Jureidini

circular wooden table with plates on top
Paired by Roua Jureidini. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

This reclaimed wood table and centerpiece is made to foster community and inclusivity by making dining accessible to both sighted and visually impaired people, using textures and patterns to allow wayfinding. The table is carved with grooves marking out plates and cutlery locations, as well as the edge of each table setting, making it easier to navigate.

5. Potify by Alexandre Abdelnour

marble plantholders in a shape of an x all stacked up
Potify by Alexandre Abdelnour. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

Potify repurposes discarded plastic street waste into geometric, stackable plant pots, transforming a common urban habit—stacking elements for space appropriation—into an opportunity to beautify urban landscapes. These eco-friendly pots promote cleaner, greener streets and turn everyday clutter into vibrant urban art, contributing to environmental sustainability and community enhancement.

6. Abyssal by Christie Karam

stacks of lit up stacked tunnels
Abyssal by Christie Karam. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

This modular lighting fixture is inspired by the depth of the sea and the layers of color it expresses. Made from discarded hosiery around a wire frame, the structure resembles deep sea plants, with decorative bits of algae and coral made from repurposed bits of plastic bottles. The three towers can be stacked into one long lamp or separated into smaller components to make it customizable for interior spaces.

7. DNA by Thalia Maria Maftoum

stone structures resembling furniture on the ground
DNA by Thalia Maria Maftoum. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

DNA is a series of outdoor seating and tables intended to be modular and versatile, slotting together to form larger or small arrangements as an invitation for people to gather and interact. Made from laminated woodchip boards, the minimalistic and angular design allows them to fit into most settings and be shaped around other features or construction.                                      

Dive Into The Projects From The “Materials Exhibition”

8. Banana Screen by Michele Braidy and Badria el Osta    

delicate banana screen with embroidery
Banana Screen by Michele Braidy and Badria el Osta. Photography by Karim Sakr.

In collaboration with fiber artist Badria el Osta, this room divider offers an overview of the different possible textures producible with banana fibers, a commonly grown plant in the region. Each panel showcases a different scale of weaving. As seen on the panels, hand embroidery is only possible on small scale weaving. The lampshade is made of banana fibers mixed with natural resin and the copper used on the main structure comes from industrial copper waste.

9. What’s Happening Underground? By OyaWay

dual jars that look like volcanos on plates
What’s Happening Underground By OyaWay. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

OyaWay, the first company to produce oyas in Lebanon, has created a unique installation using touch as a primary sense. By doing so, they’re inviting the audience to appreciate how the mineral and organic can come together to serve one of the most basic human activities: growing plants. Based on 4,000 year-old-techniques utilizing the natural porosity of clay pot filled with water, then buried in the earth, the water slower diffuses underground and is directly taken by the plant’s roots, removing any risk of evaporation and waste.

10. Transbollard by Hadi Abou Hamdan

room with older machinery
Transbollard by Hadi Abou Hamdan. Photography by Karim Sakr.

Crafted from metal and recycled rubber extracted from old tires, these benches reduce carbon emissions, last long, and encourage social interaction while addressing the global waste problem—especially in Lebanon where no official state-run recycling initiatives exist. Intended to be installed in public spaces, the rubber can be recycled many times to account for any repairs needed. The benches can include side tables, drink holders and fold-away central tables for use by more than one person.

11. Freestanding Arabic Letters by JuzurProject

wooden letters sitting on top of a table
Freestanding Arabic Letters by JuzurProject. Photography by Karim Sakr.

Juzur, meaning ‘roots,’ has created a series of self-standing Arabic letters, designed to symbolize the rising of a freshly planted root’s stem. Using waste beech wood bought from a conscious supplier and hand-carved by young woodcarvers from Tripoli—known for their centuries-old skills of traditional artisans—these letters are interactive decorative elements, which empower the local craft industry and keep contemporary audiences connected to their roots through language.

12. Digital Mingei by Post Industrial Crafts

shimmering light chandelier
Digital Mingei by Post Industrial Crafts. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

Post Industrial Crafts, a pioneer in crafting locally made, on-demand, and sustainable objects using 100% recycled 3D-printed plastics and sourced from discarded water gallons, presents a series of ornate chairs, a table, a lamp and a stunning chandelier. In a range of colors, founder Guillaume Crédoz seeks to prove that sustainable materials like recycled plastics can still be beautiful and intricate.    

13. Magma Plastique by Plastc Lab in collaboration with Rabih Koussa and Nabil Farhat

bright red structure that resembles a volcano
Magma Plastique by Plastc Lab in collaboration with Rabih Koussa and Nabil Farhat. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

Composed of two conjoined structures that twist and diverge, resembling two glowing volcanoes, Plastc Lab presents an installation guiding visitors through a dynamic exploration of their recycled plastic’s production processes and innovative applications. Made from chips of plastic melted into boards with a variety of colors and patterns, they hope to inspire designers and architects to use these materials.                   

14. Literal Refraction by Annine Fadye, Fady Salemeh and Blat El Atiq   

pale tile with bright green glass shards
Literal Refreaction tiles by Annine Fadye and Blat El Atiq. Photography by Maghie Ghali.

An experiential installation that showcases the lifecycle of repurposed and recycled glass, illustrating its sustainable transformation and highlighting its beauty and potential in modern design. Starting with the most basic upcycling, they presented a customizable lighting feature allowing people to reuse their empty glass bottles to create a vibrant bespoke fixture. A more industrial approach sees pulverized bottle glass from Annine Fadye used by Blat El Atiq—who creates traditional geometric cement tiles—resulting in a new type of decorative tile with sparkling glass elements.                     

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