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Nada Debs x Studio Lél weave culture and craft into Gandhara Carapace Table
Peshawar Carapace Table
Video: Courtesy Nada Debs

Nada Debs x Studio Lél weave culture and craft into Gandhara Carapace Table

The studios from Beirut and Peshawar collaborate to create the Gandhara Carapace Table, which will be presented at PAD Paris this year. 

by STIRpad
Published on : Jan 29, 2023

The merging of two cultures and a marriage of craft, Nada Debs and Studio Lél, collaborate to recreate the signature Gandhara Carapace Table in an alchemy of colours, symbolic of both worlds. "I was inspired by the colourful city of Peshawar which features bright colours, intricate patterns and a variety of architectural features," says Nada Debs of her first experience visiting Peshawar, the oldest city in Pakistan and one of the oldest cities in South Asia. The table will be presented at PAD Paris 2023 by French art gallery, Galerie BSL, from March 29 to April 2, 2023.

Rooted in the philosophy of her brand to explore different crafts from around the world and find material expressions that speak the language of a place and its people, Nada Debs envisioned a recreation of her Carapace Table using Lél's craft of stone inlay.

Studio Lél, the Pakistan-based art collective marrying modern creativity with extraordinary craftsmanship while working with local artisans and those displaced by conflict from neighbouring Afghanistan, applied its technical know-how to the design for a bespoke interpretation of craft techniques. "Taking our signature pattern and form, the Gandhara Carapace Table is a dialogue of cultures, represented in a geometric abstraction inspired by the vibrant hues of the city," says Nada Debs.

"Through this collaboration, we would like to draw the world's attention to Peshawar's rich and layered history and the fine craftsmanship that has existed here for centuries. Encouraging new perspectives of the city from overseas as well as within its native people," says Meherunnisa Asad, the artistic director at Studio Lél.

Nada Debs x Studio Lél

"Studio Lél invited me to collaborate on a collectable piece that brings our two worlds together," says Nada. On her first visit to Peshawar, Nada was intrigued and enchanted by the bright, vivid colours of the city. "Specifically the truck art, which is a speciality in Pakistan," she recounts. To the designer, those colours drew a parallel to the marble that Lél often use. She says, "Revisiting ancient crafts and reviving them with contemporary design remains the focus for Nada Debs, and this collaboration is a testament to the craft narrative that unites communities and cultures." On the creative process behind the reinterpretation of the Gandhara Carapace Table, Nada shares, "At the workshop, I was able to work with all these beautiful marble stones. The best thing I thought was to create a degradation effect that would blend all the colours together in a very natural way." The process included chipping the marble and conjoining them like a puzzle and curving around them. "It's really an intricate craft that only a master craftsman can do," she adds.

"Just like we work with the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, in this case, the Afghan refugees have come to Peshawar to also work on their craft techniques, so it's a very interesting parallel between the two cultures," shares the Lebanon-based furniture designer. "Very few designers have reinterpreted craft for the contemporary audience, the way Nada has. I can relate to her journey as a female designer," says Meherunnisa Asad who works closely with her mother, Farhana Asad as Lél's artistic director.

About Nada Debs

Nada Debs is a Levantine designer currently based between her new home in Dubai and her studio in Beirut, Lebanon. She grew up in Japan where she spent her early childhood and then studied design at Rhode Island School of Design in the United States. She established her eponymous boutique and brand to safeguard the craft legacy of the region and make it relevant to future generations through her signature design approach. She crafts objects that recount a human story and her work spans art, fashion, and interiors.

Nada has a hands-on, human approach to product design. She brings passion to process, combining ideas, skills and techniques together from her travels, to form a unique cultural exchange. She is fascinated by the role of the human hand to tell stories and evoke a sense of belonging. She describes craft as a feeling that goes beyond geography, language and culture.

About Studio Lél

Founded in Peshawar three decades ago, the Lél artistic collective is dedicated to preserving the art of Pietra Dura- the 16th-century tradition of making mosaics in gems and hard stones. Lél's work may very well represent the grey space between fine art, design and craft. The founder, Farhana Asad became fascinated by the technique of inlaid stonework when she came across an exquisite box in a bazaar in northern Pakistan. She eventually tracked down its maker, an Afghan craftsman who agreed to give her lessons in the technique in her garage at home.

Ever since the Lél artist collective that Asad founded has opened its doors to both local craftsmen and artisans escaping the war across the border. It has worked to preserve the craft's knowledge and skills for future generations, as well as explored the creative possibilities of the technique. Farhana has passed on her passion to her daughter Meherunnisa Asad, who works alongside her mother as Lél's artistic director. The collective has exhibited at major international design shows with patrons spread across the globe.

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