After studying interior architecture at ESAG Penninghen in Paris, she pursued a Masters in product design for the luxury industry at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL) where she had the opportunity to work on several projects under the supervision of international designers such as Ronan Bouroullec, BarberOsgerby, Marti Guixé, Pierre Charpin and Umberto and Fernando Campana. She then engaged in diverse professional experiences, working in London for Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and Zaha Hadid until she felt it was time to explore her own lines.
Winner of the Brussel based Boghossian Foundation’s 2013 Design Prize, she is inspired by the unique heritage of Lebanese craftsmanship, and dedicated to foster synergies between her innovative approach to furniture/lighting and the very accomplished skills of Lebanese artisans, she began a very inspiring sequence of experiments which resulted in small editions of her sculptural yet functional furniture.
Carla Baz pieces are rooted in that elaborate relationship where innovative ideas meet noble materials that are worked by hand. Within that journey to their process, unique and elegant pieces are born that hold their place in our landscape.
Can you recall how or why you became a maker/designer?
I always enjoyed drawing things. I was a shy child, and sketching was an essential way for me to express myself and allow my creativity to flow. As I grew up, I found myself engaging in artistic activities and crafting things. Despite having the skills and talent required for a creative career, I embarked on a path that is very different, starting off by studying Economics and Mandarin. Only then did I realize that I was eluding my true aptitude, so I transferred to the Design School to pursue my passion.
The revival of traditional crafts plays a pivotal role in your creative process, which fields of craftsmanship do you gain your inspiration from and with which do you hope to work with in the future?
I am inspired and influenced by all kinds of craftsmanship. In Lebanon we are lucky to have a wide and accomplished artisanal heritage such as metal working, carpentry, pottery, ceramic and glass-blowing amongst others, who provide us with the understanding and know-how.
I like to experiment working with different crafts and materials to keep pushing my knowledge and ideas further. For instance, I find metalworking fascinating, because the material is very malleable and the possibilities of creation are endless.
More importantly, it is crucial for me to be involved in the production process. Working alongside craftsmen, collaborating and exchanging ideas and skills with them is the essence of my philosophy. Design is all about dialogue.
What comes first – the material or the design idea?
My experience has been that good design involves the encounter of an idea with a specific material. There are times where I have an idea but I’m not sure how to proceed with production and in other instances, I come across a great material but I am not sure how to make best use of it. So to me it is more about the connection between both.
You are always looking for new techniques, what specifically do you hope to incorporate in your future work?
I had the chance to work with inspiring craftsmen. This opened my eyes to a diversity of techniques that I plan to push further. I also envisage to have my own workshop at some point, allowing me to focus on testing and developing my manual practice.
Roundness and circular forms are very prevalent in your identity and your physical work, why so?
Well, a circle is harmonious and suggests a certain wholeness. It is continuous, protective, and offers connection. Perhaps on an unconscious level it simply evokes completeness and femininity.
What is the greatest object/ project you would like to work on?
I would like to work on big scale projects related to communities and urban commissioning. I think that we need more public spaces in Lebanon, and the few ones that we have can be further enhanced on both a practical as well as esthetical levels.
Do you ever have creative blocks and how do you unblock them?
I just take a step back and try and find my balance and inspiration elsewhere. When you are so involved in your work it is important to refresh your perspective every so often.
What are the biggest shifts/ evolutions in the field in design that you have noticed or got affected by since the beginning of your career?
I think design is evolving as an interdisciplinary field and is reflected across different academic curriculums.
I teach at the Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA), and I am intrigued to see how Design teaching has changed and evolved since I went to school. This is mainly due to the somewhat radical and fast paced change in technology, socioeconomic factors and innovation. Although on the academic front there are major shifts; on the ground, and particularly when it comes to Middle Eastern Design, there is still some room to forge the shape of this relatively nascent industry and the direction Design impacts different fields. As a designer, it is challenging and stimulating, as a maker, it makes me wonder what and how we will be producing 10 or 20 years from now.