Marc Dibeh is a Beirut-based designer who opened his studio in 2009. He studied Architecture at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Paris Val De Seine before returning to Beirut in 2006 where he received a Masters in Product Design from the Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts.
After completing his Master’s degree, he worked for designer Marc Baroud before opening his own space following Baroud’s advice. They later collaborated together on several projects. The philosophy of his studio is mainly based on collaborations, which by definition implies working with other fellow designers or non-designers.
His work revolves around the storytelling: to try and create a story behind each and every product or interior while keeping it timeless and simple. He has been selected along with Marc Baroud as part of the 5 breakout stars of the design Miami, Miami edition in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal after exhibiting the Wires series with Art Factum Gallery, and part of the 5 up and coming designers of the design Miami, Basel edition in 2015 by Artsy.
He exhibited in Milan, Miami, Basel, Dubai, Lausanne, London, Paris and Beirut where he also teaches at Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts.
Can you recall how or why you became a designer?
The official version is that I am passionate about designing objects that surround you in your everyday life. The true story is that on the day of my registration at ALBA university I bumped into a tall and skinny guy who told me to come join the design department, and I replied, “you know what, let’s do it!” and that was the first time I met Marc Baroud.
Your design narrative focuses a lot on the notion of storytelling, can you talk about why this is important for your process?
Imagine a big dinner where everyone gets a label, the cute one, the hungry one and for some reason you always end up being the funny one, the one who always tells stories. This came naturally to me, so I wanted to project parts of myself through a narrative in my designs. Be it a comic instance or a character trait, such as my clumsiness that is so clearly evident in the “Please Don’t Tell Mom” mirrors. I believe that sometimes making fun of myself can give my designs an edge, because let’s be honest I won’t be saving the world anytime soon.
What is the best advice you were ever given and what is the best advice you ever gave?
The best advice I have every received was by the same person that also gave me the worst advice. He told me to do things seriously but never to take yourself seriously but he also told me that if you are a no one by the time you are thirty you will never be a someone. And so, the advice I would give to others, is to take your time.
What are the main challenges that you face as a designer?
As a professional I would say it’s the inconsistency of demand in the product design market. Somedays you are drowning in ten projects in the same week and other times there’s a complete dry spell. As a designer, the main challenge is to innovate. There is such an abundance of designers and everybody is so interconnected these days, so everyone is striving to do something that has never been thought of or to use materials that are not associated with other designers, that is why I tend to focus my practice on storytelling and not materials or my cultural belonging.
We know that your background ranges from architecture to interior design, what relationship do these fields have with your work in as a product designer?
Everything is connected, I like to call myself a transdisciplinary designer where my individual backgrounds overlap and help me navigate across these disciplines. The main protagonist in my approach is the human, and I design around various planes, levels and scales to achieve the desired human centered outcome.
Which of the great storytellers resonates with you most?
Thomas Fersen, an incredible singer and songwriter who I believe is one of the most poetic and lyrical storytellers. He is someone who can bring any mundane object to life.
What is the future of Lebanese product design?
Let’s wait and see. On a more serious note, it is difficult to tell as Lebanese product design originates from a craft based background and today it seems to gravitate towards new materials and new tech practices. The market is in a limbo or a turning point, there’s the traditional and the future and we are in between, so let’s wait and see.
How do you find the right balance between timeless design and contemporary trends?
With an eraser. This is an advice that Marc Baroud gave me and that in return I give to my students, the main tool of a designer is the eraser and not the pen and the more you draw the more you erase. What remains should transcend a simple trend in time.