Sunday, June 9, 2013

Opening windows of beauty: Introducing Young Talents


While in Lebanon, I walked a lot. Mostly in Hamra. And Hamra is a street packed with art, beauty and vision. 

Fine, Beirut is not really the most beautifully designed city, I will grant you that. But the Lebanese have got a gift for marking their territory in very special ways. Be it street art, graffitis, festivals, and even trolling!

And while heading to BusyBox one afternoon, there it was:
Photo: R. Abouzeid (source)

The most beautiful window display I had seen in a very long while: book pages flowing in the wind, flying away from the gorgeous blue bike carrying them. 

Naturally, I shared it on Facebook and someone who knew the designers was kind enough to tag them. I immediately got in touch and now have the utmost pleasure of introducing them to you.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (in alphabetical order):

Hello ladies, how about a short introduction first? So who are the brilliant designers behind that outstanding window display?

Christina: My name's Christina Atik, call me Tina for short. I think what I live for most is getting out of the city and unwinding by the river... Oh and movies. I watch a lot of movies. I only have my Tumblr where I sometimes post some little things I make.

Lana: My Name is Lana Idriss. I love baking, cookies to be precise so please, do send me recipes if you have any interesting yummy ones! And I am an art enthusiast…

Mowana: My name is Mowana. I am a third year graphic design student in the American University of Beirut, minoring in studio arts. After three years of design and art, I realized that being a visual artist has became a big, rather huge, part of who I am. However, I still find time to cook and bake. I am good at it I must add. You can find me on facebook: Mowana Sabeh or twitter: @mowanasabeh.

Joanna: Hello! I'm Joanna! It's the small beautiful things in life that make me happy in life. I love to express myself through different ways such as the arts and dancing.

What led you to design?

Christina: Honestly, it was my dad who got me into photography. He taught me everything. There's also my uncle Camille Issa who's a fashion designer, I used to spend hours getting lost in his studio! It was quite wonderful! 

Lana: Actually my Teta is an artist. But I guess what really led me to design is my love for the arts… I could never see myself doing anything else! My sister did her BA in graphic design at AUB as well, and seeing her projects covering the walls (and floor… and ceiling) of her room, were what encouraged me to follow on her footsteps. 

Mowana: Design in general was rather a natural direction for me to take. My mom always wanted to be a fashion designer growing up, but I came along and messed the plan. And my dad works in the fashion industry. Graphic design seemed like the perfect major for an artistic direction in a disciplinary education.

Joanna: Honestly it was a mistake, I never intended to be a designer but I got accepted into graphic design in AUB so i decided to try it out.. Turns out I love it!

How did you come up with the concept for Antoine's display and what was the inspiration, the story behind it? In this era of digital, your focus on paper books is quite interesting and intriguing. I find it quite romantic but also a little sad, all these pages flying away, like paper books are in a way

Christina: We wanted to use paper art somehow, and relate the theme to spring.. It was actually one of Joanna Zeenny's sketches, and we just sort of made it happen.

Joanna: For some unapparent reason we all agreed in the group that we wanted to infuse life back into paper. Whether it's because as designers we really enjoy paper or whether we are paper enthusiasts, I'm not sure. But having looked at some paper art, we realized what a grand effect it can have on people and decided to use it.

Lana: We wanted to portray the feel, the joy in reading a book… I don't know if this would make any sense, but we somehow wanted to show how the words in a book, the story, the joy of reading can take you away… How it can free you and your mind… 

Mowana: I am not against e-books or the digital formats of books, however, I find that holding a book and flipping through its pages has its own charm. Touching the paper, smelling it, feeling the ink on the page… All are a major part of the reading experience. What we wanted to show in the display is that experience and how the book can take you to all whole new world. And after a lot of sketches we thought that the flying paper in an outdoors scene conveyed this message.

Sketch and Photo: J. Zeenny

How did you approach Antoine and why? What was their response to your proposal and how did they welcome and support you?

Lana: It's all because of a design project: we had to pick a shop in Hamra, and we had to design their window display. 

Christina: We were looking for stores for our project when we bump into my friend who used to work in Antoine, and he casually said why don't you do your display there. They didn't give us any restrictions, we were free do design whatever we want as long as it was relevant.

Is it your first project with a professional business? Did you work on other Antoine branches too? 

Joanna: Yup it was. And it was pretty scary for us to say the least but it was a great opportunity as well. But we didn't have the chance to work on other branches.

Christina: Yes, for me it is my first project with a business. So far everything I have done was for university projects. 

Lana: We did not get the chance to work on another Antoine branch. My work experience basically consists of some small design jobs here and there; nothing major.

What is your most inspired and favorite project and why?

Joanna: I'm a very hands-on person so my favorite project by far was the Antoine display. We were a good team that were passionate about books. It doesn't get any better!

Lana: I really enjoy branding and corporate design, creating identities for companies... But designing a window display was awesome and different from all our other projects. A SMALL SKETCH CAME TO LIFE! I would love to do that again some day. 

Christina: My favorite project was probably designing a book cover for Jack Kerouac's "On the Road". Mainly because it's one of my favorite books, and I got to use some photographs that I took with a pinhole camera which was really fun. 

Photo: C. Atik

Photo: C. Atik

Photo: C. Atik

Photo: C. Atik

Photo: C. Atik

Where do you find inspiration? How and why?

Christina: I find my inspiration late every night at the end of my cup of tea. Mostly I flip through magazines and design books until my eyes give up. Gerhard Human is one of my favorite illustrators at the moment and Ryan Mcginley is absolutely the best photographer, but that changes depending on the phases I'm going through.

Lana: Personnaly, for inspiration for projects, I check everything I could get my hands on. You could find me in the library with piles of books, from historical to design books, staked around me, or in a cafe with a bunch of magazines and my laptop and coffee of course. 

Joanna: Inspiration can be found in anything really, books are a beginning but then music can help as well as any kind of visual research.

What areas of design interest you the most and why?

Christina: I really like design that imposes itself on the community, like installations, and I absolutely love print. Anything from books to magazines to comics!

Lana: I have always loved everything print. I would prefer working on a magazine or on a book, anything that would end up being printed and in front of me, that I would be able to touch, flip and move, than working on designing a website.

Mowana: I find print the most interesting. I like the process of choosing paper, test printing and seeing how the ink interacts with the paper. I love typography too, that is the design of letters themselves. I love letters. I love fonts. I love how it is black and white. 

Joanna: Print is a good start but I adore installations and how they end up working in a certain environment.

What are your best qualities as a designer? 

Christina: I'm not really sure how to answer that, I don't think I've perfected my skills as much as I'd like to yet, but I'm pretty handy with a camera.

Joanna: I'm not sure, but i do like everything to be perfected, and that is really helpful when it comes to design.

Your weaknesses?

Christina: Probably procrastination. I work best under pressure.

Lana: I have very hyper personality. And I am very clumsy.

Joanna: Getting to attached to a certain idea probably.

If you hadn't been a designer, what profession would you have chosen?

Christina: I would have probably went into something related to audiovisual or cinema.

Lana: That's a hard one… I can't see myself doing anything else other than design. But I would love to perfect my art skills and become a full time painter!

I think I would have been a psychiatrist. I love to study the mind, how it functions, and how you can cure an illness by changing how a person thinks.

Joanna: Dancing, definitely dancing!

If you were stranded on a desert island with only one item, what would that item be?

Christina: I wish it were a tropical island instead of a desert, I doubt I can stand the heat! But if the heat didn't kill me, the boredom probably would, so I'd take my music collection for sure.

Lana: A magical big music box filled with chocolate fudge ice-cream… I need my music and I need my ice-cream!

Joanna: Music.

What design softwares you cannot possibly survive without?

Christina: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Premiere.

Mowana: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, all are Adobe products.

Are you MAC or PC?

Christina: Mac, because they're more design friendly, and they can handle all the programs that we use!

Lana: Mac, because it's pretty! (laughs)

Mowana: Mac. It is more design friendly. And it can handle simultaneous work on different programs. 

Joanna: Mac for technical reasons.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Christina: Catching a plane.

Mowana: I’d love to have a small studio where I can be working on selected projects that are a bit personal.

Joanna: Hopefully traveling all around the world volunteering and making someone happy.

Wrapping it up, in a few words

Christina, if you were a...

Font: I'd probably be Avenir, because it has so many weights that work so well together, it works with everything really

Color: Green

Shape: Circle

Song/Musical Composition: Feeling Groovy by Simon and Garfunkel

Book/Literary Piece: On the Road, by Jack Kerouac

Famous character: Anna Karina

Logo: Radiohead logo

Lana, if you were a...

Font: Futura! I like how its Os are super circular… (my answer might change next week though)

Color: A turquoise shade! Or maybe a pale pinkish orange (salmon). Or maybe a burgundy red! (I can't pick one!) 

Shape: A weird unusual bouncy shape

Song/Musical Composition: Any Nina Simone

Book/Literary Piece: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Famous character: The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland "we are all mad here"

Logo: The Penguin Books logo

Mowana, if you were a...

Font: Tough question. I think I would be Shawati’. It is an Arabic font designed for Shawati’ Magazine, Abu Dhabi

Color: Black 

Song/Musical Composition: Stay by Hurts

Film: Pocahontas

Book/Literary Piece: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Famous character: Hitler

Logo: The Starbucks logo

Joanna, if you were a...

Font: Probably Serifa

Color: Yellow

Shape: Triangle

Song/Musical Composition: The Great Gig In The Sky by Pink Floyd

Famous character: Legolas

Find this blog on Facebook

No comments: