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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Social Media Awards Beirut – Reviewed

By Admin I: it finally happened, the buzzing event that managed successfully to become the talk of all online platforms, in a way that made everyone forget about hidden agendas, the Lebanese mindset of a conspiracy theory. It was successfully okay, we cannot deny that, especially if compared to other events being held in Lebanon, certainly not ‘Tedx’ bad, you know.

Everyone was there, the glam, the meh and the disastrous, and we showed up in a tribute costume to the wickedly famous Panda Cheese ads meeting our fierce competitors, you know with their fake smiles and blonde dates, yes the kind of blondes that thought an ‘angry panda’ was ‘cute’ *shoot her*. So Panda overheard some Leo+alfa hate, and was almost beaten by Little miss sunshine aka. Tedx Beirut’s Sarah Sibai (that never gets angry).

Aaaand we didn’t win. But let me tell you, this time we will be the sore loser, we’ve been behaving for a month! The only reason why we accepted a nomination by the event’s organiser, placed in the wrong category, was a friend’s advice to show sportsmanship, but screw it. We do not belong to the ‘best business blog’ category dudes! We review creative works and write design related posts that you probably failed to read while creating a facebook page after the other. Well you know what? It’s highly calculated, being with ‘Wamda’ in one group. Wamda won, mabrouk (we really mean it), but give me a break, those guys offer a platform designed to empower entrepreneurs in the MENA region, THE MENA FREAKIN REGION, and we’re a local bunch of bloggers. Wamda is funded, and helps funding startups. Tell me about fair competition. That is mere NONSENSE.

Anyways, we didn’t win, you know, even David Habchy, Elie Fares and Amal al Dahouk didn’t, so we can live with it. the regular pals did, Najib, Gino, the social media accounts held by the organisers, the venue and ha–ii–fa-a-a.

Oh oh, another caliber hint: Almaza, Cheyef 7alak and Lebanese Memes won more than one category, Poly performed (while people devoured the buffet) and Neshan’s poetic drama was more hilarious than Nemr bou Nassar,see, something to be proud of. not.

The event is a fail by all fair measures, except the ones evolving around media buzz, great success. Tanks haifa, tanks.

(The afterparty was awesome Ragmag, awesome!)

Here’s the full list, check it out (Wait for the panda pictures later).

1. Best Business Blog: Wamda
2. Best Commercial District on Social Media: ABC
3. Best Start-up on Social Media: Tickle My Brain
4. Best Facebook Application: Novo
5. Best Facebook Campaign/Page: Lebanese Memes
6. Most Creative Instagram Account: Live Love Beirut
7. Most Engaging Diplomat/Politician on Twitter: Ziyad Baroud
8. Best Lifestyle Blog: Mich Café
9. Best Food & Beverage Brand: Almaza
10. Best Pub/bar on Social Media: February 30
11. Best NGO/Organization on Twitter: Donner Sang Compter
12. Best Design for a Social Media Campaign: Almaza
13. Best Fashion Brand on Social Media: Vero Moda
14. Best Food Blog: No Garlic No Onions
15. Best Fashion Blog: Plush Beirut
16. Most Engaging Person on Twitter: Anis Tabet
17. Best Technology Blog: Microsoftoholic
18. Most Engaging Youtube Channel: Cheyef 7alak
19. Most Engaging Media Personality on Twitter: Neshan
20. Best News Blog: Beirut Spring
21. Most Engaging Youtube Video: Beirut Duty Free Flashmob
22. Best NGO/Community on Social Media: Lebanese Memes
23. Best Non-Arabic Vocal Artist: Anthony Touma
24. Best Restaurant, Café or Bakery on Social Media: Roadster Diner
25. Best Band on Social Media: Mashrou3 Leila
26. Best Personal Blog: Gino’s Blog
27. Best Hotel on Social Media: Phoenicia Hotel
28. Most Engaging Celebrity on Twitter: Haifa Wehbe
29. Best Media Personality on Social Media: Zaven
30. Best Business on Social Media: Roadster Diner
31. Best Integrated Campaign: Cheyef 7alak
32. Blog of the Year: Blog Baladi
33. Social Campaigning Magnet Award: Lana El Sahley

Check Elie’s awesome review.

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Questioning “Graphic” Design 05. 04 03 02 01

On Design the profession / Rebutting the previous post.

By N: Ok, here’s the thing. I’m just as frustrated as everyone with the design scene in this country. Hell, I’m frustrated with every scene in this country. But I don’t really get why we are waging wars against everyone and everything, screw the design field and screw this country’s shitty art direction (and yes I’m cursing ‘cause as a Brofessional, I don’t take myself seriously, and neither should you). No, like seriously, who cares if people are getting famous for nothing, if they’re stuck in the same design patterns or believe in so called “absurd” dogmas. Saying that design is dead kind of beats the purpose of this blog, no? If design does not exist then what are we doing? Why should people care about our reviews if we are reviewing something that does not exist?

Ok, here’s how I see things. Design is not dead. Design wasn’t needed in the first place. It came as a natural occurrence in our capitalist systems, and evolved following the thinking strategies of ruling systems and the circumstances it creates. Thus, design became a way of expressing an idea, a way of thinking; but that’s not the case in our days. In the midst of our ever-growing troublesome society, design became a solution, or more of a problem solver. We have somehow convinced ourselves, in the midst of the hunger and the wars and every other atrocity present on this forsaken planet, we have convinced ourselves that design can save the world. I do not have the complete information to negate this completely, but for the most part, design is solving nothing but making us even lazier, even more comfortable and even more oblivious about what is happening around us ( again, hold your horses, it may be doing some good, some).

Design should never become a way of life; design should remain a profession, maybe a hobby (if you’re as frustrated as we are with the design studios and firms, with clients or with designers-wannabe), But make it a way of life, and it will consume every bit of your existence. You start fighting wars that only exist in your head, you start seeing the world as nothing but a series of ugly visual after another; you take it to the extreme and design will make you question the purpose of your existence, you’ll start asking questions because that’s what design forces you to do. Design will eat up your soul, so leave it as a profession and next time you go eat out, please try not to turn over the placemat because it’s ugly, ‘cause really, who is to say what is good design? And who is to say what is beautiful? And haven’t both their standards contradicted each other over time?

Now, let’s talk shwai about that last post. Honestly, and with all the love I have for Admin I and his lovely chest hair, I have to disagree for the most part. Design is not a tool, it is a concept, an idea while illustration and literature are merely mediums to get this idea across, just like collages and just like photography and photoshop-ed manipulated images. As long as your idea gets across, without the usage of cheap vectors, a designer can choose whatever media he/she desires. One of the fundamental things I have learned and deeply agree on, is that for the most part, you analyze what you want to say and you choose the tool you want to use to get your idea across accordingly.

Design has been butchered, yes, but isn’t design just a big umbrella that covers all the tools that are used to get your idea across. In the end, design is an idea, nothing more nothing less and it should not be taken more seriously than that. If we become a master at a certain tool, then we are labeled as such, our society is founded on labels so it’s a natural consequence. In the end, we are designers with as much tools as we allow ourselves to experiment with. I’m a Brofessional, and you guys take me way too seriously.

BLA BLA BLA

Maybe I should tell you why I decided to drop the ‘admin’, or maybe not.

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Beirut Designers’ Week and a beneficial confusion

By Admin I: in the land of grandiose schizophrenia, everything is split between a hypothetical reality and a dose of underground, you know the usual split between classes, economically and culturally. This time the split is within one design field, and it all started when someone decided to copycat a whole event, but redirect it to fit the mindset of a Zaitunay Bay clientele (sorry but I have to mention how irrelevant is that alternative word for Zaytouneh).

So Beirut Design Week (the official version that we reviewed last year 01 02 03) proved successful; the week was going crazy, full with events, talks, workshops and more. The other sign of success is this year’s copycat, Beirut Designers Week. Let’s bluntly state it: you, whoever you are, cannot rip off a name, confuse people and do an event for this city’s ‘tantes Ashrafieh/Verdun’ audience, because as stated in your press release on Ragmag’s website: “What truly distinguishes Beirut Designers’ Week is its unique setup on the lower promenade of Zaitunay Bay with stands placed between the restaurants and the cafes, ensuring maximum visibility to our exhibitors”. DESIGN CANNOT EXIST BETWEEN CAFES, IN AN OUTDOOR MALL. IT CANNOT *gets a knife and kills himself*

So, dear wannabes, design goes a bit beyond stands at the bay, hand-crafters exhibiting their pinterest-stolen bags and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Last year, ‘The MENA design research center’ struggled financially and logistically to organise a week that managed to show real design (still, we had to bash them). Those efforts should not by any chance open wide doors for an event that lacks the very basic elements of a successful design week, starting from the amateur poorly made visuals, the location, the press release and the mere fact that it’s a hasty plagiarised identity all in all.

The ‘real’ BDW13 will take place from June 24 till June 30.

BR is boycotting the ‘made in Taiwan’ version, because all we need is less hypocrisy.

Questioning “Graphic” Design 04. 03 02 01

On Design atheism 

By Admin I: as this blog grows, things change. Some of our so called beliefs dramatically shift to take different aspects, and in the end, we’re not world saviors, even though some graphic designers think they are. We previously wrote about the fact that “Graphic” Design, in the traditional sense of the word, died a long time ago, yet even then, it was nothing but a basic form of ‘commercial art’, a tool.

So we used to believe that ‘Design’ is the wholesome concept, the roots that we should all refer to, but let me cut it short: even ‘Design’ is dead, whatever, you know what? Call us ‘Design atheists’.

Wait, this is not another dark post that will make you yawn, or it might be one, but what is left for us to stand for in today’s communication field is nothing but 2 main tools that we can indulge in: literature and talent, and by talent, I mean illustration.

Who cares if you can photoshop a head onto a donkey’s body, properly use or abuse typography, or unethically intimidate whoever tries to shake your design throne, no really, who cares? All visual aspects feel out of context, out of value, but the genuine connection between head and hand, writing and drawing. It is mainly what scares designers in this country, that they try to shut it, to outshine the hell of it; why do you know a kitsch couch designer and you fail to know David Habchy or Fouad Mezher or Jorj abou Mhaya? Why do you drool over an internship at a reputable agency, while you lack the brain to buy a 5000 LBP Samandal issue?

You know why? Because language and hand intimidate those flamenco birds, they cannot fight it back but with a cheap weapon called channeling, dissecting and layering. They made ‘illustration’ a detail in design, a course in education, just like the split that happened to activism, it got channeled into specific directions (gay activism, feminism, etc..) to lessen the impact of the whole mass, and this was when activism died.

Design has been butchered, flattened and split into layers of specificity, making you write less, say less and do less.

I don’t believe in design, if you’re a student, drop your major, go and write, collaborate, illustrate and don’t use their weapons.

F/I/M²/P: awesomeness on matt paper

By N. & Admin HY: Lately, we’ve been called names and we’ve been questioned, they have threatened us and will continue to do so. People have called us haters who know nothing, but In the land of the DesignMafia™ and DesignWannabes™, we do know an eye-candy when we see one. Yesterday, An up and coming design magazine celebrated its annual anniversary and we were pleased to be there.

F/I/M²/P stands for Fashion/ Illustration/ Music/ Movies/ Photography but all in all, we like to define it with awesomeness. A Lebanese magazine founded by our new friends (we are so excited, like omaygad), Mohamad Abdouni and Rudy Shaheen (and co.) managed to standout with a high affinity to design and aesthetics. But enough with the emotions, let’s set aside the fact that we are as cheap as a glass of vodka (Admin I killing himself before publishing), and let’s get down to business.

The first time we got F/I/M²/P between our hands, we had a hard time believing that the Lebanese market could produce such a thing. A mat cover (a pet peeve of ours), beautiful typography and very neat layout, the magazine is basically a mix of sans-serif and serif classical typefaces, with a display slab-serif type custom-made by the team (Kudos to that). The main focus is exposing the local designers, whether photographers, illustrators, musicians or fashion designers; the team wanted a little escape where they could be free to do whatever and let the little genies inside of them run free. And so, F/I/M²/P was born. A platform for exchanging thoughts, opinions, and collaborations. This baby is a teaser, meeting its reader every two months with lots of visual treasures. The thing we liked most about F/I/M²/P is that each issue has a theme; starting off with the first one, an issue dedicated to the nineties that our ‘N.’ oh so gladly baptised as her bible (that 90s freak!). And it continues to tackle different subjects such a death and legacies, superheroes etc…

But in the end, we are Brofessionals and we have a reputation of spraying venom all over. See, the thing about F/I/M²/P is that it’s too westernised for a magazine that showcases Lebanese design. We would have loved to see a splash of Local identity added to it. But, that’s just our own opinion, we won’t really expect an audience of Posh rich kids to identify with it.

To wrap up this party, we will not sing but we will cheer for F/I/M²/P and their 50+ contributors for the great job they’re doing!

For Online viewing: http://www.issuu.com/fimp-mag

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Crepaway’s ‘All Good’: absurdity abused

By Admin I: so back to advertising, the field that surprisingly suffers from less mafia domination if compared to what we’ve seen from this country’s design sphere the past couple of days.

It seems like advertising is reaching a rough phase in this country. Give it a look, we have 2 main trends: storytelling (the new black) brought to you by classicists like Leo Burnett and their Ksara campaign that’s currently running a competition among students for additional stories (don’t ask me how irrelevant that is), and the trend of the total non-sense absurd that we totally encourage (in moderate doses), brought to you mainly by Interesting Times and their LB beer campaigns.

This is chaos, irrelevant advertising solutions are mainly split between those approaches with no intention to make a step further. The equation is simple: mature audience = storytelling, young and fun = absurd. Eh, no. It doesn’t work that way people!

Lorem Ipsum (yes it’s an agency that even google had barely heard of) launched its new online for Crepaway, an approach mainly depending on positive absurdity and odd moments (how Diesel ‘be stupid’ is that, aka Last summer on earth, you know the confusion between those 2).

So the production looks poor, a shaky art direction and post-production (coloring added unnecessary cheese), but a working overall campaign, you know the type that goes viral because it can be ‘funny’ to facebook’s desperate housewives. One of the campaign’s main drawbacks is rhythm; some of the stereotypical characters are indeed funny in that video, but excessive repetition gave it less impact, became borderline boring in some places (you know what happens when you chew a gum for a whole day).

Good attempt you people, just don’t get too excited with your work next time, too fun can become too boring.

AUB’s Talk20 Reviewed

By Admin I: so you probably know about TALK20, okay you don’t, well it’s a mixture of Pecha Kucha and Tedx, expanding on the first and condensing the monotony of the second.

The organisers define it as being not a lecture but a gathering, an informal exchange of ideas within and outside of the design community. It begins with a series of short presentations | 20 slides per 20 seconds each | selected and narrated by a hybrid panel of students, educators and professionals.

Anyways the event was fun and interesting with a line up of good speakers, a light atmosphere that doesn’t feel as annoying as other design events happening at AUB, despite the huge audience.

The speakers were mostly an elite selection of ‘names’ (you know, those who go to Paris for an internship because they got bored), most of them agencies current or ex-staff, but in the end, AUB is indeed their place, it’s their audience breathing the same hypocrite air. *I don’t want to get angry because of some rick kids, okay, moving on*.

Here’s a fast roundup on the talks:

Timi Hayek (Fashion Designer / Illustrator): part-time Barbie doll, though the work shows some serious brain, a good eye to patterns and a multidisciplinary talent. Timi showed her work in Fashion and some illustrations for F/I/M/P magazine. An eye candy, no more, no less.

Cornelia Krafft (Artist / FAAH Faculty): could be one of the very few interesting talks about art, performance art, without the urge to idealise it, or take you in a metamorphosis. Wicked stuff that you need to check!

Micheline Tobia (Bloggers collective / Mashallah News): Whatever, you know, a news blog that started at AUB, talking at AUB, grew because it mediates local and regional stories, to a very westernised audience. A win win card that lacks authenticity, the type that considers your teta’s everyday hard life, exotic.

Karen Chekerdjian (Product / Furniture Designer): the huge NO moment of the event. For a second, I felt like spilling some gas over my body, a la Tunisian revolution. The girl bragged about her ‘minimalist’ designs (flat, simplistic, effortless, european wannabe pieces) and bluntly stated *insert french accent*: “I find it hard to design in Lebanon and produce in Italy!”. Girl, you know what’s hard? Handcrafters and carpenters losing their jobs because of people like you!

Public Beirut (Vertical Studio Spring 12 / ArD students): very interesting installations happening around Beirut city, a must know about!

Tania Saleh (Singer / Songwriter/ Illustrator): what’s important about Tania’s talk was the fact that it announced a will to go back to her background as an fine artist, which is highly due! Tania didn’t mention her Nadine Labaki titles, or the prestigious Leo Burnett position, but focused on her personal 2d art that stopped at 1997 and will most probably resume soon.

Ghita Abi Hanna (Accessories / Graphic Designer / ArD Faculty): design process, that was mainly what made this girl’s talk, a good example on how mistakes can lead to innovation. A well designed jewellery line following a well structured concept. Is that too much to ask for in this country?!

Najla El Zein (Artist / Product Designer): the woman behind the Piaff installations and a very very rich portfolio of mere visual madness. She is clearly well established, but Najla owns a studio and works hand in hand with crafters and young talents, indeed a good example.

Adrian Muller (Ogle Inc Application / ArD student): meh, an application about who knows what, who cares, that got redesigned.

Lina Abyad (Play director / LAU faculty): the famous woman behind many theatre pieces, funny, witty and full of stories.

Bahij Jaroudi (Illustrator / Animator): a natural sense of humour clearly present in his work. Bahij worked at Future TV’s animation department and is infatuated with noses, drawing them in all shapes and forms!

Nabil Gholam (Principal Architect / NG Architects): he does buildings. Big deal.

So that’s it, the review, hope it intrigued you to google those speakers and know more about their work. No we’re not linking you, simply because you’re becoming too lazy to function, go do your research ya’ll!