Carla Baz, the eponymous studio located in the Lebanese capitol, carries a specific pride and adoration for the specialty artisans that facilitate the distinct paradigm of her collections. Beyond the end product, the final design that is proffered to the public after the strenuous design process, are the hands behind the creation. Resting at the apex of noble materials, skilled craftsmanship and a nuanced design philosophy, the designer amalgamates an international yet culturally distinct ethos.
That story, the story of rich cultural tradition woven throughout the fabric of the studio, the captivating draw of disparate inspiration and a willingness to glean from those surrounding her, are cornerstones to the unique dialogue of Carla Baz. Rooting herself and as an extension, her firm, into these influences creates a story that is ultimately a celebration of the vibrancy and dynamism of a larger community. And that perspective is what ultimately shines through in every facet of how she approaches her work.
Here, the designer discusses her Lebanese roots, balancing noble materials with indelible craftsmanship, and her distinct application of innovation within her design.
How does the confluence of your Beirut origins with diverse international design experience inform your own interpretation and implementation of innovative contemporary design?
I believe my work is imbued with the many influences that I inherently carry within my own identity, journey and experiences. I am very drawn to symmetry and geometry and I constantly strive to create pieces that are pure in their lines but intricate in their materials, process, or textures. Both my French and Lebanese roots have awakened my respect and admiration for artisanship and I try to find new ways to honour this heritage by constantly exploring new ways to approach these traditional handicrafts and techniques – I like to say I’m a neo-stalgic designer as a result.
"This respect for workmanship has been at the core of my INSPIRATION and I have spent countless days, hours, in workshops learning from these highly skilled ARTISANS to truly take part in this symbiotic relationship..."
Working in tandem with accomplished artisans is paramount to your design process. How has an artisan-forward business model transformed your creations?
From the inception of my studio, working hand in hand with master artisans has always been my process. Being Lebanese, I am fortunate to have access to a diversity of handicrafts and noble materials that are worked by hand in a traditional way. This respect for workmanship has been at the core of my inspiration and I have spent countless days, hours, in workshops learning from these highly skilled artisans to truly take part in this symbiotic relationship they entertain with their craft/mediums. Through sharing their passion and multiple dexterities, I humbly earned their trust and together we started exploring new approaches to these same gestures and materials. It’s very gratifying because every piece is the result of dialogue and exchange and I think that’s what makes them so relevant.
Many of your designs are innovative and modern interpretations of nature. Elaborate on the distillation of your inspiration to the holistic creative process.
What is beautiful when you work in an ecosystem such as ours, is that everything is intertwined. The inspiration, the materials, the journey to their process, and the end result are all part of a complete practice. I typically work with noble natural materials (brass, marble, glass, metal) and the way they are crafted contains in itself an almost sacred moment where materials meet artisanal excellence so my work highlights the intersections between the sum of all parts, and these intersections offer pockets of potential for innovation.
Varying mediums are woven throughout many of your creations – rich marbles, sandblasted glass, painted steel. Do you find your creations are material forward or vision forward?
I think it’s both. Working on modernising traditional crafts inherently invites you to push the boundaries of your materials in order to innovate, whether it be on the raw material or the end product as a result of that novelty, so material forward fits the description to a certain extent given my relationship to the medium/technique. However, I believe that journey can only be made possible through a joint vision between the maker and the designer.
"What is beautiful when you work in an ECOSYSTEM such as ours, is that everything is INTERTWINED. The inspiration, the materials, the JOURNEY to their process, and the end result are all part of a complete practice."
Beirut has faced many challenges in the past years but retains a thriving design community. How has your presence in the city shaped your own design studio?
I think now more than ever our Lebanese identity is looking to be defined within values and aspirations that truthfully represent our collective characteristics – Supporting our local artisans, collaborating with my fellow designers on projects and setting collective goals is what drives us forward and makes us stronger. I am very proud to represent my country’s incredible talent.
Balance is at the core of your design philosophy – balance between the sculptural with the practical, ornate with clean, form with function. What is your metric for maintaining this balance?
I maintain this balance through honouring the process. I feel through the past years I've found the right approach that works for me. It’s anchored in mutual exchange, a dialogue where experience meets innovation, where artisanship opens the door to new interpretations but most importantly where the magic of collaboration and discussion yields the best product.
What, ultimately, do you hope a Carla Baz patron derives from your collections?
An homage to artisanal excellence through distinctive products that hold a story.
Meet the Founder
Greatest source of inspiration
Nature and people
Favourite piece of architecture
International Fair of Tripoli by Oscar Niemeyer
Signature of a well designed piece
Gabriella Crespi’s Fungo Lamp
Favourite part of the design process