Rebuilt after the Beirut blast, this calm apartment serves as a metaphor for the creative resilience of the Lebanese capital. It was awarded the Best Interior Design trophy at the AD Design Awards 2021. When renowned Beirut designer Marc Dibeh was looking to refresh his studio’s identity, he called upon the talents of Lisbon-based design duo Carolina Cantante and Catarina Carreiras of Studio AH – HA.
ABOUT MARC DIBEH
Beirut-based designer Marc Dibeh narrates his cultural environment through compelling interiors and products. Marc Dibeh’s studio philosophy revolves around storytelling and how to make things timeless and simple. Dibeh’s universe is not far from the planet earth but has the power to make you forget you’re in it. His methods are based on wit or sharpness of ideas. Since the beginning of his career in 2009, Dibeh has been commissioned by Galleries all over the globe.
“For this project,” explains Marc Dibeh, “I was inspired by Lina Bo Bardi’s 1950 House of Glass in Sao Paulo, and by Pedro Reyes’ [contemporary concrete] home in Mexico City.”
Yet the two-story apartment he designed in a palette of travertine marble, teak, French oak, and glass is distinctly Mediterranean. It embodies all the color of the Lebanese experience: from the Paris of the Middle East era to the experience of emigration and yes, even of the endless cycle of building and rebuilding.
When his clients called him after the port explosion and sent a video of the destruction, it almost broke his heart. “I felt like giving up,” he confides. But he was buoyed by the incredible dedication of his clients to rebuild exactly as he had designed it, in the midst of an economic crisis and pandemic.
Luckily, they had covered the mid-century furniture inherited from their parents and purchased at Beirut’s Gabriel et Guillame and stored their significant art collection to protect them from some unfinished ceiling detail work. And the structural work done by Marc Dibeh remained unchanged.
The designer took a suite in a lackluster, developer-built tower, with all the charm of a corporate office building, and infused it with Mediterranean soul. After the explosion, his clients successfully revived it, returning it to the indoor/outdoor refuge it had briefly become. Marc Dibeh had initially improved a poor floor plan by gutting the apartment. His big move was to turn the reception area and adjoining open living and dining space into a kind of indoor courtyard, framed by a huge terrace and a sculptural stairwell.
This relaxed haven effortlessly blends cultures and eras yet epitomizes Beiruti chic.
“When you think about something local and timeless, it means you have to take some inspiration and references from the past,” says Marc Dibeh, “not as part of a trend but as part of a culture.”