BEIRUT: When ABC malls first announced they were having the country’s top artists and designers transform their logo – a smooth-edged triangle – into works of art, the idea seemed more gimmicky than inspiring.
Months later and with nine professional creators, from graffiti artist brothers Ashekman to Beirut’s youngest gown-couturier Krikor Jabotian, the company has effectively commissioned sculptures that are more a reflection of Lebanon’s diverse creative scene than an ode to the shopping center.
What’s more, they will go to auction in mid-November to raise money for The Brave Heart Fund. The non-governmental organization works out of the American University of Beirut Medical Center to cover or subsidize the costs of surgery for children with congenital heart disease.
ABC began by creating 10 prototypes, simple white fiberglass triangles standing about a meter-and-a-half tall. In some cases, that starting block was barely recognizable in the end product.
Take the most recent addition done by Bokja. The decorative arts brand takes contemporary furniture shapes and blasts them with color and patterns often inspired by oriental motifs, textural fabric and traditional handicrafts.
Bokja’s addition to ABC’s triangles took their penchant for mashing up textures, colors and patterns and, using the mall’s logo, made a piece that mocks consumerism.
“We followed the fashion ‘out-of-fashion’ trend that makes fun of consumerism by embracing everything that is disproportional and went to the extreme, which was reflected with the masks [and] the horns that we placed,” the company said in a statment.
Bokja was set up by Huda Baroudi and Maria Hibri, a pair of friends who call themselves reactionary designers and reject the idea of trends and their wastefulness.
“The eternal pursuit of the ‘it dress’ and the ‘it bag’ has depleted our resources and damaged the environment, which brought us to the reactionary designers who embraced the bizarre, creating monsters like clothes to defy the laws and givens,” Bokja added.
The title of Bokja’s work is “Sexy Beast” and the result is a patchwork fabric triangle covered in animal heads, cheetah prints and a spider web at the center, which entangles a handful of black butterflies.
Textural elements like fishnet, animal print and red, velvety fabric turn the triangle into a homage to what Bokja called “fetishism.”
“We believe that this is a chaotic moment and we as a human race feel insecure and need to connect and to bond to family, to nature, to our ancestors. To everything that is primitive and animalistic,” Bokja said.
“We added animals to reflect the natural world and its stability, from which we have come so far. And as the need for human connection becomes a sexual endeavor to recreate, we added elements of seduction: netting, leather pieces in red and black.”
Bokja’s triangle joins eight others, each a reflection of the type of work each designer does. For example, contemporary furniture designer Nada Debs scrapped her prototype altogether and built a wooden one with room at the center for someone to sit. Jabotian’s triangle would fit right in at his own studio foyer, which is filled with mannequins wearing wedding dresses covered in similar silk flowers.
Bokja’s triangle was slated to be the last, but there might be a 10th before ABC’s “Designed & Signed” is completed, three of the women directing the project’s public relations said.
Sale of the works will likely take place at a silent auction to be held in mid-November. Starting prices will depend on the piece and have yet to be set, they added.