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House of Today presents ‘The Candle Project’ by ten Lebanese designers
The Candle Project
Image: Elie Abi Hanna

House of Today presents ‘The Candle Project’ by ten Lebanese designers

The candle collection comprises designs created by the likes of Nada Debs, 200 Grs, david/nicolas, Richard Yasmine, Sayar & Garibeh, Tamara Barrage, Flavie Audi, and more. 

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Nov 24, 2023

House of Today, a non-profit organisation that is committed to cultivating a sustainable design culture in Lebanon as well strengthening the presence of Lebanese designers in the global sphere, recently unveiled The Candle Project. The organisation delineates the collection as one that exists ‘at the intersection of Lebanese craftsmanship, design and philanthropy.’ The Candle Project comprises a limited edition series of illuminative objects by ten Lebanese designers. Each piece was developed by the designers with local artisans at the Centre Hospitalier Beit Chabeb Workshop, through the processes of sketching, testing and transforming wax into sculptural candles.

“For over a decade, House of Today has cultivated Lebanon’s design ecosystem, collaborating closely with Lebanese designers, curating collections, mentoring them and providing opportunities for global exposure, along with working with artisans to promote and safeguard local production techniques,” shares Cherine Magrabi Tayeb, Founder of House of Today.

The ten candle designs, distinct in their forms, colours and the patterns imprinted upon them, draw inspiration from a range of different sources, such as architecture, nature, interior design, traditional craftsmanship, personal experiences, the liminality of life and more. The production of the pieces was done following a seven-step process. The behaviour of wax, the size of candles and the details imprinted upon them were all factors that determined the production process.

“The project commenced and was completed, as Lebanon continues to undergo one of the worst economic crises globally, which has impacted institutions such as Beit Chabeb. The proceeds from The Candle Project will go towards supporting Beit Chabeb and its initiatives, as well as the ten Lebanese designers, and towards House of Today’s mentorship program to cultivate Lebanon’s design scene. Moreover, the partnership will help safeguard local production techniques and support small organisations (to) sustain their passion for the crafts, celebrating the unwavering spirit and dedication of artisans in Lebanon,” House of Today shares.

This project included the collaboration of the designers with the local artisans and wax experts, in order to create the candles. Each designer was paired with wax experts at Beit Chabeb, which is a hospital for the disabled and includes full-fledged artisanal workshops. In this space, the creatives indulged in experiments undertaken to explore the potential of one material—paraffin wax. The candle production was led by Roukoz Moussallem, who, moving around in a wheelchair, utilised artisanal methods to guide the sculpting of the artisanal candles. “When we started the project, it took us around a year to create the moulds and bring the designs to life, given the level of detail and finishing required, for each novel piece,” he explains. “Our role was to explore numerous dimensions, from the colours to the textures, to achieve such a meticulous outcome following numerous trials,” he adds.

STIR scans through the ten candle designs created by the Lebanese designers.

Blrrrrr by 200 Grs

Blrrrrr by Rana Haddad and Pascal Hachem of 200 Grs is made up of two halves that are carefully chiselled to reveal an animated form. They present the opportunity of decorating indoor environments in myriad ways. Each piece can either be placed and used separately or in tandem with the other piece. Their abstract form ensures that the candles can feature as ornamental objects even when they are unlit. Its makers enunciate upon the flame’s symbolism of transformation and intend for Blrrrrr to serve the purpose of blurring away mundane everyday concerns in order to help open up one’s mind to new ideas and possibilities. Upon being asked about their experience working on the project, the Lebanese artists share, “It encourages us to find inspiration in the beauty of everyday experiences, to let our minds wander in reverie, and to explore the boundless realm of creativity where clarity and blur can coexist in harmony.”

Chrysalis by Carla Baz

Carla Baz, a Lebanese designer based in UAE, designed Chrysalis to command the trompe-l’oeil effect. The geometric design performs two roles. First, it serves the purpose of a candle, and second, the hollowed-out piece performs the function of a vase intended for placing dried flowers. In doing so, the designer intends to extend the life cycle of the object, emphasising the values of repurposing. “The project provided an opportunity to reconnect with Roukoz at Beit Chabeb, evoking fond memories and allowing me to reflect on the journey since the inception of my studio. Such collaborations serve as a wellspring of inspiration and offer avenues for personal and professional growth,” shares Baz.

Aspiration by Aline Asmar d’Amman

Aline Asmar d’Amman is an interior designer and furniture designer based in Beirut and Paris. Her sculptural candle design, Aspiration, bears a spatial character and is inspired by the Lady of Lebanon, Harissa. Just like the statue watches over the nearby coast and mountain, and disrupts the surrounding landscape with an alluring presence, d’Amman intends for Aspiration to serve as a poetic call for all to elevate themselves. “Aspiration is a nod to the eternal hopes for a brighter Lebanon, birth land of myths and legends, fragmented yet molten together in solid grounds,” d’Amman shares.

Strat by david/nicolas

David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem of david/nicolas crafted Strat, a candle design inspired by the numerous layers of Lebanese architecture as well as the natural landscape of the country. Their simple design aims to capture the essence of the typical Lebanese landscape—the dichotomy between its natural and man-made features. “A candle is not only an object of décor but a sensible object that softens the atmosphere of a space. Once lit, it enhances the visual, as well as our overall emotional experience of the house,” the designers share.

Nothing is forever by Flavie Audi

Visual artist Flavie Audi’s Nothing is forever references the ephemerality of life. While it is easier to imagine the transience of human or animal life, one often fails to register the transformation of rocks that stand sturdy and solid on the ground. Audi’s candle, shaped to resemble the form and texture of two rocks swirling and spiralling together, intends to drive home their ephemeral nature. “The affection present in geological formations brings humans closer to nature, as part of an ephemeral nature, in which humanity is burning together,” Audi explains. “Candles evoke to me the feeling of numinous, of the passage of time and twinkle effects. I use candles during sacred rituals or when I want to the atmosphere of a room to be scintillating,” she adds.

I am here by Shirine Sbaiti (LimbObject)

Limb Object is a functional art project conceived by Shirine Sbaiti. It explored the usage of limbs and human features in ‘an objectifying way, as a twist of fate that the downfall of the Anthropocene might bring.’ I am here, a candle designed by Sbaiti, is part of this larger project. The many limbs chiselled on the candle mimic Sbaiti’s friend’s touch in times of distress, a touch that assures the one being comforted of their presence. Enunciating upon the experience that led to the creation of the candle, the designer shares, “When I was still living in Lebanon, around the time the electricity cuts were getting longer and nights were getting darker, I got the idea to use my sculptures to make candles. Having the candle exhibited in Lebanon after leaving the country, is especially meaningful to me.” In combining the idea of a friend comforting another friend, and the light of the candle illuminating dark nights, Sbaiti inspires hope in those who interact and use the object.

Spiritual sphere by Nada Debs

Lebanese designer Nada Debs, whose creations are often characterised by the integration of traditional craftsmanship techniques, imbued her candle design with the rhombus texture, now rarely utilised. “This Spiritual Sphere was originally carved in wood to be used for meditation. Staring at the degrading rhombus texture is mesmerising and takes one to another realm. We translated this into a candle, which adds another layer of spirituality, where the light reflects on the texture and creates an even more mesmerising effect,” Debs elaborates.

Sinking sun for another one by Richard Yasmine

Richard Yasmine’s candle project, shaped like the sun, references the sinking sun and celebrates the process of renewal and growth, as well as the belief that every ending (sunset) is the promise for a new beginning (sunrise). “The Project challenges the notion that endings are inherently melancholic, it represents a profound exploration of regeneration, evolution, and the understanding that transitions can be illuminated with hope and positivity” Yasmine shares. The designer intends for the candle design to serve as a reminder of hope in one’s transient life.

Flaws by Sayar & Garibeh

Sayar & Garibeh, an interior and product design Lebanese studio headed by Stephanie Sayar and Charbel Garibeh, created Flaws for The Candle Project. It draws inspiration from the human body, which, despite its flaws, is beautiful and deserves to be celebrated. The candle stands as a strong, sturdy monolith that seeks to impart joy and prompt self-love and acceptance. “Collaborating with House of Today was an exciting prospect for us, knowing that they would share our vision and help create a stunning and unique candle. Although the project demanded significant time and effort, the final outcome made every moment worthwhile,” the product designers share.

Silhouettes by Tamara Barrage

Lebanese artist and designer Tamara Barrage’s Silhouettes stands sturdy despite its precarious form. “A new discovery of a material but also a different approach to my work. I wanted to capture the feel of my hand-drawn sketches, preserving the instinctive feel in the pieces. I have a very different relation with this piece knowing that it is designed to be ephemeral and that it will disappear one day,” Barrage shares, revealing the journey of the product’s design.

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