‘Up, Close and Personal’ by Nada Debs at Milan Design Week 2018

One of Lebanon’s most highly regarded designers; Nada Debs makes her debut during Milan Design Week 2018 at Rossana Orlandi Gallery.

For her first solo show in Milan, Nada presents four new collections under the title of ‘Up, Close & Personal’ – a thoughtfully-chosen title which summarizes Studio Nada Debs’ objective: to create both collections and an environment that allow people to see, touch, talk, share and experience the World of Nada Debs.


“Up, Close and Personal’ is a response to my own observations about materialism today and how we connect to objects. I realize increasingly that when we are involved in the creative process – of anything we feel far more connected to it,” says Nada


“I am interested in duality and how you balance and combine different ideas,” explains Nada. “Here it was about reinvigorating a traditional technique with a modern, almost rebellious approach.”

This furniture collection explores a playful, contemporary interpretation of the traditional handcraft technique of marquetry. Strips of different colored wood are inlaid to produce what’s known as a “mother”. In some pieces these are then sliced and shifted to create a break in the geometric pattern. In others, they are applied to what Nada calls pleated wood: a triangulated cut into the solid wood. Our perception of these pieces changes as we move around them.  All are handmade in Beirut using either American Walnut or bleached American Walnut as a base.



“There’s more to life than what we see in front of us!”

The idea to create a family of pivoting mirrors was twofold: to bring more daylight into a dark stairwell and simultaneously to bring the view from outside indoors. The four shapes (circle, square, rectangle and pentagon) come in six different but complementary colors, and are intended to be clustered.



“These are both serious craft traditions in two cultures that are part of my heart,” says Nada, “When you bring them together they become something else – something intriguing and beautiful but with a playful note.”

Tatami is a collection of trays and boxes that combines woven Tatami flooring from Japan with marquetry craftwork from Beirut. Nada grew up in Japan and has long been fascinated by the curious similarities and juxtapositions in the design sensibilities and techniques of both cultures.

These pieces explicitly bring together the subtle charm of two traditions, brought to life with degrading neon colors, inspired by the kimonos of more modern Geishas.


You & I

“I like to think of them as love stories between two textures, shapes and colors,” says Nada. “It’s a story that translates across any culture – the women we worked were all so engaged with the concept. It’s a timeless, ancient story told through a new technique they’d never done before.”

Nada was invited to design a collection of rugs by the Fatima bint Mohammed bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI), a social enterprise that supports and empowers female weavers in Afghanistan. Inspired by a line in the poetry of Rumi – “Apparently two, but one in soul” – each of the four rugs Nada designed brings together two forms to create a single, interlocking rug. In each of the four, one rug is a traditional form, the second rug is a contemporary style with a different geometric shape for each; the rug they make together has its own unique character. The rugs are all hand-knotted using naturally dyed Afghan wool. They are made to order and the different colors and shapes can be mixed and matched.

Read more on UAE Participation in Milan Design Week.

Interview with Nada Debs, Makings if the Hand by Ruba Asi.


Nada Debs is a Lebanese 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. What ties her work together is her ability to distil culture and craftsmanship to create pieces of emotional resonance. 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.

There is something of each of her experiences in all of her work. In essence, she captures the power of the human hand to tell stories that touch the heart.

She calls her approach: handmade and heartmade.


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