After a successful debut in Paris, “Minjara Editions” is hosting its first exhibition in Beirut. It is part of Minjara project, that helps to revive the woodcraft industry in Tripoli with funding by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France. We speak to team leader Expertise France Julien Schmitt, and project curator Hala Moubarak to learn more.
In your opinion, what makes the woodwork crafts of Tripoli so unique?
It is unique for several reasons. The talent and know-how that the craftspeople possess — especially in woodwork and wood carving — is rare. There’s also a high concentration of companies related to the woodwork and furniture value chain in the Tripoli area; with more than 1,000 companies and entities, Tripoli represents a natural furniture cluster. Furthermore, the flexibility of the Tripoli furniture SMEs (small and medium enterprises) allows them to have a broad range of products, services and interventions. Finally, the cachet of Tripoli as a wood furniture hub comforts the historical legitimacy of this sector.
The first edition of “Minjara Editions” brought together several Tripolitan artisans and Lebanese creatives. How were these artisans and designers selected for the project, and how were the individual collaborations chosen?
“Design Ethos Meets Craftsmanship” was born from a commitment, where the human being has a paramount place. The 10 creatives for this first edition have each a particular approach in the design process, which goes from accessories to more imposing furniture. In terms of the carpenters, the choice was made according to their know-how.
After several visits and discussions, and depending on the projects we saw on paper, we made our selection based on the strengths of each craftsman. They are mostly known for wood engraving, but they are very good in marquetry as well. We had to find the right balance to offer the best collaborations.
You recently launched “Minjara Editions” in Paris. Why did you decide to exhibit there first and what feedback did you receive?
The opportunity to be present in Paris during the Maison & Objet Fair, but located in the Embassy of Lebanon in France, was unique and permitted Minjara Editions to show patriotism and meet the global reference of design and architecture.
The exhibition was a great success. The opening gathered of over 300 people. It was wonderful to see renowned personalities from the world of design.
Tell us more about the forthcoming exhibition in Beirut (24–26 September)
The collection features a delightfully diverse range of pieces showcasing the creative talents of several renowned Lebanese designers and artisans from Tripoli.
The collection will be revealed on September 24 at Beyt Amir (Clemenceau) during a private opening ceremony under the patronage and in the presence of His Excellency the Minister of Industry Mr. Wael Abou Faour. The exhibition will then be open to the public on September 25 and 26, from 5 pm to 10 pm, at Beyt Amir.
What are Minjara’s long-term goals?
Minjara represents the main tool to centralizing all the activities that can support the wood processing sector in Tripoli:
- As a collective brand, facilitating the promotion of the wood and furniture sector of Tripoli.
- As a design and development hub thanks to the Minjara platform located in Rashid Karami International Fair of Tripoli.
- As a label that permits to develop collections of furniture that suits the market’s demand.
- As an association that ensures the representativity of the entire sector.
- As an observatory that optimizes the knowledge management for all stakeholders of the furniture value chain in Tripoli.