After decades of war and political turmoil, Beirut’s artists and makers continue to produce boundary-pushing works as the city rebuilds.
by Gisela Williams – Published on May 8, 2021
I could have spent hours at Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri’s Bokja, a whimsical design atelier in a crumbling old mansion in Basta, the city’s antiques district. The two charming, energetic women founded the company about 20 years ago to celebrate Lebanese craftsmanship and produce one-of-a-kind pieces, from wall hangings to upholstered chairs, using fabric embroidered by vintage machines they had found and saved.
For the past several years, Zoe Debs has been buying up dozens of Bokja’s pillows for Arthaus, including several from the latest collection that showcase vibrantly colorful images of nature, such as branches of Lebanese pine and cypress, now-endangered trees that are symbols of the country. “Our work is always inspired by the city we live and create in,” Hibri said. “Beirut is a dynamic and frustrating place of contradictions and opposites: past and present, beauty and ugliness, the ordinary and the exceptional.”
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