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London Design Biennale: SEEN visits a Lebanese Utopia

SEEN had the pleasure of being shown around the Lebanese Utopia by Design entitled ‘Mezzing in Lebanon’. Architect Annabel Karim Kassar has created something quite radical with her vision, establishing her Utopian ideals with the connection between people and their craft-making activities.

SEEN had the pleasure of being shown around the Lebanese Utopia by Design entitled ‘Mezzing in Lebanon’. Architect Annabel Karim Kassar has created something quite radical with her vision, establishing her Utopian ideals with the connection between people and their craft-making activities.

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The installation brings a flavour of Beirut to London’s Somerset House with its evocation of street food falafel, coffee, barbershop, a small cinema, carts, barrows and street signs. A quilt maker lay full-length on the floor creating his wares on my visit. The café quickly constructed tables from plastic stools and beautifully painted wooden panels. The ambience was very much people relying on their own ingenuity, and each other to create a close and well-connected community. SEEN longed to sit at one of the tables and share a hookah (from a beautiful collection) with fellow visitors.

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At the further end of the installation, the visitor can literally bestride Beirut with a gigantic map, created to display the different quarters of Beirut, which are startlingly familiar (the Hipsters’ quarter of Mar Mikhael) to older areas full of antiques, that perhaps we’ve always associated with that city (Achrafieh). It’s a city keen to reinvent itself in the age of globalisation, as is every metropolis.

It’s the Lebanon we don’t see through the media; SEEN was delighted and amazed to learn that the Bekaa Valley boasts many fine wineries. All this and more can be found in Zawarib’s excellent guide: ‘Welcome to Beirut: Hidden Trails and Treasures’. A must-have for any traveller with a sense of adventure. That’s the great thing about the London Design Biennale; it’s a place of learning as much as showcasing the very finest in design today.

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www.londondesignbiennale.com

Somerset House
Strand
London
WC2R 1LA

Seen this week

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Sculpture in the City, Art for Everyone

SEEN thoroughly enjoyed a preview of the 18 new artworks around the financial district’s square mile. Set up by The City of London in 2010, this excellent initiative expands its footprint every year, improving the area and proving that when people are happy, they work better.

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Alex Evans at the Foundry Gallery, Chelsea Quarter: LDF17

The astute reader will have noticed that SEEN loves art about London. There are many artists in this city who draw (pun intended) their inspiration from it, none more so than Alex Evans whose fractal renderings hint at the entropic nature of urban life and perhaps also our anxieties and isolation in the 21st century. His latest exhibition ‘Invisible Systems’ can be seen at the Foundry Gallery, tucked away off the King’s Road until 26th October.

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