Waw! An Encounter with Arabesque Design

Waw! An Encounter with Arabesque Design


WAW portrays an artistic image of Lebanon with its scrupulous designs. Influences from Lebanon and other Arabian countries are weaved into beautiful collections revealing the soul of Lebanon.

Article by: Maryam Ghaddar

On a well-known, yet quiet, street in Beirut known as Clemenceau rests a small boutique, brimming with eye-catching paraphernalia. Several vibrantly stitched kamis and traditional kaftan robes adorned with beads and sequins are displayed in the windows. Ornamental pots and pans, wooden end tables, metal bowls and copper trays line the shelves and are painted with subtle pastel colors. Shapes of Arabic calligraphy abound. The meticulous design and exact art of many of the items are often made up of the letters of the Arabic alphabet. The entire design often comprises the weaving of one letter through the next in lovely, succinct curvaceous lines. The soul of Lebanon is reawakened in WAW Designs, and we are brought back HOME.

The letter “waw” is the 26th character of the Arabic alphabet, and is often used as a unifying force in scripture. Just as the boutique’s name suggests, it brings together the past and present, lightness and darkness, nostalgia and pride. It unites Lebanese people from every sect in Lebanon and abroad with one common goal: to embrace our intriguing heritage and art as our spiritual guide.

WAW Designs specializes in handmade HOME décor, metallic and pottery-based kitchenware, traditional costumes, and intricately patterned furniture. They also have a line of bath salts, herbal soaps and essential oils, as well as coffee, spiced candies and chocolates presented in designer boxes, with their signature logo stamped on every article. Hand-sewn handbags, threaded accessories, and kab kabs (traditional clog-like shoes) can be seen scattered around the shop. It melds the visually mesmerizing appearance of the Arabic language with delicate Ottoman styles and Oriental motifs. Maysaa Sultan and Maysaa Berri are the founders of this concept store – the brains behind the operation.

“The soul of Lebanon is rewakened in WAW Designs, and we are brought back HOME.”

In 2010, the two Maysaas put their heads together and put pen to paper for this project. They aimed to do something that embodied the image of Lebanon and Lebanese art in a specific way using raw materials. They draw inspiration from specific themes, local tastes, and Middle Eastern culture. Influences from Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and of course their HOME country, Lebanon, play a significant role in their creations in terms of the colors used, the identities recognized, and the ancient heritage remembered. Everything in the shop is hand-painted and crafted in workshops, every intimate detail completed with loving care. There is a genuine feel to each individual piece, a story to tell, a theme to follow in the calligraphic arches.

WAW offers collections that are useful at HOME or can be given as unique gifts. Using historical ideas and artifacts of the past, the designers try to modernize them with exquisite silhouettes and figures. Sometimes, they may take ideas from architectural forms from years ago and expand on them. There are no restrictions as to how the many hues of red, blue, yellow, and green balance or the direction that each assortment takes in its execution; creativity knows no bounds.

While WAW Designs has a stable and solid range of items that remains fixed throughout the year, there are also some seasonal varieties that cater to the dynamic aspects of Lebanon. Some holidays and special occasions play a part, particularly Ramadan, when their food trays and dishware seem to become even more extravagantly designed. Some changes are also witnessed in the fabrics they use for their fashionwear; they use cotton and embroidery, for instance, that is more compatible with the heat and humidity inherent in Beirut’s summer months.

The many textures symbolize the message they are trying to impress upon their visitors.

This concept store is a reminder of our roots, our passions. It is a way to keep an extraordinary piece of Lebanon in our HOMEs and to represent our tiny Mediterranean country in the best way possible and show the world who we truly are.

For more info: www.wawdesigns.com

Instagram: wawdesigns

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