Desmeem + Beirut Design Week + Misc

13 June, 2012 § 4

Wow. Four postless months already! In my mind, I was always updating this blog with very interesting stuff. But I gotta take a stroll outside of the walls of my brain from time to time.

A lot of things have been happening lately  and it would be a shame not to share them with whoever is reading this!

For the past 2 months I've been taking part in Desmeem. Desmeem is a collaborative project between Lebanese and European designers to promote the awareness of design as a problem solving tool for social and environmental issues. It's been a great ride and it's only getting more intense as it nears its end! I'm part of the Sustainable Consumerism team and we've been working on creating a community-based system for reusing / recycling plastic bags. We organized a great event where we worked with students/teachers on teaching them how they can make pretty things with plastic bags threads and the enthusiasm was very heartwarming.  We're also working with artisans on creating products with plastic bags and these 2 pretty chairs below are an example of what can be done!

You can also check out this infographic a team mate made about the state of garbage in Lebanon, very alarming numbers! (Bigger resolution available here.)

The biggest highlight of the project is that it ends with an exhibition during the Beirut Design Week. This is the first design week in Lebanon ever so the mixture of stress and excitement is overwhelming at times! (Now you get why I haven't been blogging properly einh?)

So if you're a designer and you'd like to see yourself as someone with the power to make change you should not miss this event. All the Desmeem teams will be presenting on different days and all the projects are very interesting to know about. My team is on Saturday the 29th :)


On another note, I spent 2 awesome weeks in April between Paris and Bordeaux. I never get enough of these cities, I was planning on making a post with all the pictures of pretty signs and posters that I took but now the idea kind of feels démodé.

I've also found some time to work on a new lettering experiment and to my greatest joy and disbelief it was showcased on TypographyServed! *heart attack*
You can check it out here!


So see you at the beirut design week peeps! :)

The lebanese graphic design syndicate.

12 February, 2012 § 15

Update: As Samah has mentioned in the comments below, it seems there's another more credible syndicate for graphic designers in Lebanon. I've also received an email from them, it's in french but I'll post a part of it for your information:

Le SPGIL , fondé en 1996, réunit les professionnels des métiers suivants : Graphic Design- Illustration- Bandes Dessinées- Caricature- Animation. 
Le SPGIL a sorti ces métiers de l'ombre, les a officialisés et les a protégés de la concurrence déloyale. Les membres du SPGIL bénéficient des avantages suivants : 
- Une assistance juridique gratuite 
- Un Suivi sur les lois du copyright© 
- Un Dépôt Légal et l'Enregistrement des logos, des personnages et des mascottes 
- Des Barèmes de tarifs pour les travaux des 5 professions 
- Des Contrats types pour les 5 professions.

Grace aux efforts déployés durant 3 ans , le SPGIL est l'un des 8 syndicats fondateurs de la CAISSE MUTUELLE UNIFIEE DES ARTISTES LIBANAIS, instaurée sous le décret 7535 du 12 Février 2012.

Ainsi, tous les membres du SPGIL bénéficient des avantages supplémentaires de cette caisse mutuelle, à savoir essentiellement, l'Hospitalisation et la Retraite.

Pour votre adhésion ou pour toute autre information n'hésitez pas à nous contacter : 
tel/fax: 01/616771 
mobile : 03/827511

I've been wanting to blog about this for a while now but thought I'd do some research prior to the post. Surprisingly enough, there was little found. I even sent an email inquiring about more information but haven't received any reply yet. So without further ado, please meet The Lebanese Graphic Design Syndicate!

Good news is we now have one. Bad news is I wouldn't be so proud to join!
According to Icograda (yes, we're listed in Icograda):
The Lebanese Graphic Design Syndicate is founded in 1976, reformed and restructured in 2010 to become the only official syndicate and professional forum for graphic designers in Lebanon, certified from the Lebanese ministry of interior and remunerated from the Lebanese government.
The syndicate is assessing the quality of graphic designers while at the same time establishing a better environment for them, by tapping into the professional interests of communication designers, Creating a developed market, Enhancing the design skills and backgrounds, Design policies concerning governmental and public matters, Developing the creative climate.

Well, to tell you the truth, I've been waiting for so long to be assessed by a force as creative as the LGDS! Now I can seriously hope for a better environment for us designers.
I mean, look at that logo! I'm in love with it! I've never seen such a smart, harmonious, typographic composition portraying what our world is truly about: the labyrinth of communication! And that website! Such dreamy horizons, smooth gradients and perfect slideshows! If there's one thing I've learned as a designer it's that no website should claimed as such if it doesn't have a weather report and a calendar. Plus, you can tell how well a website is doing by how much advertising space it has. So there you go!

Nuff said. I guess I will be waiting for that email to consider joining the syndicate. If ever. And if any of you readers is already a member I would love for you to share that experience with us!

Guess the movie from the font!

22 January, 2012 § 9

What better way to fill a gloomy Sunday morning than with some nice type experiments? I was thinking about this exercise for quite a while now, trying to find a way to involve people with typography. I think people aren't aware of the impact typography has on their minds. So, I picked a few famous movies, and imitated the font the movie title was written in to draw different words that are also clues to what the movie is.

So come on, try to guess the following movies and tell me your results in the comments section!

12 days of Stressmas!

20 December, 2011 § 8

This can seem a bit too long, but if you hum along, you’ll find it a cheerful song!

On the 1st day of Stressmas
My boss said to me
You don’t really think you’re leaving work early!

On the 2nd day of Stressmas
A client said to me
I need 4 new placemats
Full of cheerful red hats
You don’t really think you’re leaving work early! 

On the 3rd day of Stressmass
My sister said to me
We need to go shopping
For mom, dad and siblings
I have 4 new placemats
Full of cheerful red hats
I don’t really think I’m leaving work early!

On the 4th day of Stressmas
Same client said to me
Scratch that line on holiday cheer
Please do mention the new year
I need to go shopping
For my parents and siblings
I need my 4 placemats
We’re late on promoting that
You don’t really think you’re leaving this early!

On the 5th day of Stressmas
My conscience said to me
Scratch that line on holiday cheer
Also mention the new year
You need to go shopping
For your parents and siblings
Finish up those placemats
With the silly red hats
You really should be leaving work early!

On the 6th day of Stressmas
Secret santa gave to me
A stress ball shaped in a reindeer
To squeeze out of all life dear
Stuck with rhymes on holiday cheer
That don’t mention the new year
I still haven’t gone shopping
For my parents and siblings
Copy paste those placemats
With different colored silly hats
I am never leaving work early!

Read more »

What I've learned during 4 years in the design world.

04 December, 2011 § 4

Last week marked my 4 years of working at WonderEight. I've thought long and hard about this post because there's been lots of highs but also lots of lows. The process of figuring out who you are as a designer and where you want your career to go is never an easy one, especially in Lebanon. The lows may have helped better in that discovery but I will not linger on them. Instead, I'm going to share with you the lessons, some are life lessons, others are downright clickable but just as important.

1. A good designer has no pride at all.
We designers have this "better than thou" attitude that seems to just come with the job. And when we're working on something, we get so immersed in our perfectly justifiable color palettes and obsessively kerned type, it becomes hard to look at what we're doing like total strangers. And that is essential for effective design. I made it a point to always work on a visual, leave it be for a night, then look at it the next day to find all the wrongs of the world in it. And when you don't have time to do that, another designer's point of view is all you need. And this is where your pride should leave the way to objectivity. Listen closely, discuss, you might not be convinced but still you should try. This wasn't always so easy but if you try it a couple of times and it works, then it's silly not to try it over and over again.

2. A graphic design degree is the last pre-requisite for becoming a design God.
In my working environment, we don't all come from a graphic design background. And this is the one things that has made these 4 years all the more enriching. I found this offending at first, having my work criticized by people who hadn't spent years being formed into designers. But then I found that a different point of view is always a good one. It's not what they teach you at college that makes you better. It's the osmosis of different minds and backgrounds that does. You'll find yourself back to stage one a lot of times and your pride will have to zip it here too. Because this process of re-working things is what makes you better whether you like it or not.

3. Client education rarely ever works.
Clients will always want their logos bigger, will always ask you to copy their always better competitors and you will always have to shrink your visual culture to fit theirs. This will make you hate your job. And your life. But then, out of the blue, you'll get a client that is willing to take your advice and see things your way. Forget about the others, give them what they want while keeping your design conscience as clear as possible. You don't need their stress. And quoting Baz Luhrmann: "If you succeed in doing this, tell me how!"

4. The advertising/design community is a shallow, deceitful one.
I've been to a couple of community gatherings these past years only to discover that they would be better titled masquerades. Fake smiles, even more fake praise and the whole "better than thou" thing tattooed on everybody's forehead. I'm lucky not to be working in a big agency and lucky to be surrounded by people who are exceptions to the rule.

5. You are the sole responsible for keeping your creativity alive.
Through these last years, I always felt like I was falling into some sort of routine. Even if I've seen a lot of people come and go and made it a point to learn something new from each and every one of them, 4 years can still weigh you down. But then I decided I should take matters into my own hands. Now I always venture into unknown territories when I'm working on a new project. Sometimes I even imagine myself being someone else working on it, kind of like 'what would whoever do'.  And although these trials might sometimes turn out to be a waste of time, they remain essential to keeping a fresh perspective on things. So are personal projects, personal research, freelance and everything non-design that you do outside the office. But most of all, so is giving yourself a break every now and then and not taking yourself too seriously.

6. Comic sans can be used right.
Okay no, not really. But, on a more technical note, I've learned that gradients work, that shadows make a huge difference and that the lens flare can be your friend. I've also learned that the designs you dream of doing are rarely the solution that needs to be met, that in order to convince a client you will have to work longer and harder on the preview than on the actual design. There may always be things that I will refuse to succumb to but I'm sure a day will come to prove me wrong.

So, 4 years have passed and I still can't claim that I know better who I want to be as a designer. How long the self-discovery process is supposed to last, I have no idea. Has it gone too long? Should I know by now? I'm not sure. But looking back, what I'm sure of is that I have gone from one phase to another, never lingering in one too long. And I'm just curious to see where the next phase will take me!

TEDxBeirut, From limitation to inspiration

26 September, 2011 § 1

This post will not be about things I've learned at TEDxBeirut. The things I've learned are still raging in my mind and will definitely nor fit in one blog entry.

This is more about feelings/impressions TEDx has installed in me. I felt proud, proud of being Lebanese, proud of having a glimpse at Lebanese dreams coming to life. Lebanon is always perceived as an obstacle or rather an alibi for not achieving one's goals. Saturday's talks taught me otherwise. With enough faith, determination and perseverance, we can do it. Bassam Jalgha needed a 'oud' tuner and so he simply invented one. Ziad Abi Chaker fell in love with garbage and so he simply found a solution for it. Passion will get you there.

Still, what if being in the presence of so many inspiring people made me feel so much less inspiring? I don't know how many people react the same way I do to all of this but somehow it all makes me feel more helpless. Perhaps, this is my one step deeper towards hitting bottom and then digging my way up again. This is getting closer to limitation before finding inspiration.

One of my favorite talks was To Ted or Not To Ted. Mahmoud Yammout traces the pros and cons of Tedding. Is another fast soundbite enough to change one's perspective on things? He argues that the solution for a dilemma is not either/or but a way out of it, inviting a third subjective. I'm a very contradictive person by nature, I wander in the in-between of almost everything. It's the talk i felt I related to most.

But don't get me wrong. TEDxBeirut did not have a negative effect on me. This conflict I'm goind through is priceless. Every awakened feeling and triggered thought is priceless. The energy of the team behind TEDx was priceless. That is perhaps what touched me most. I've had the chance of being a small part of this team and I've learned so much about passion and dedication even from afar. So thank you team, for being you and for putting forth this wonderful experience!

You can still check out the saved live stream on TEDxBeirut's website, it's really worth going through the pain of endless buffering! My favorites were by Mahmoud Natout, Halim Madi and Ziad Abi Chaker. The separate talks should be online in a month time.
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