The Creative Space Beirut, a school founded by Parsons graduate Sara Hermez and Parsons professor Caroline Simonelli, has undergone several developments in 2013, gaining local recognition as a platform for free education, and an innovative model for creative exchange. February 2013 marked the beginning of the fourth term, welcoming three new students to the team, bringing the current student count to eight students. CSB has since their third term recruited individual sponsors, interested in funding each student’s education and transportation annually, investing in their potential and providing them with an opportunity. Individual sponsorship is a great achievement for CSB as it allows the non-profit program to admit more students, and not rely solely on the proceeds gained from exhibition sales.
This term also saw an increase in local collaboration, as CSB invited several up and coming designers to teach different courses, and a total of six interested professionals volunteered their time to add integral dimensions to the course programs offered at The Creative Space. Thanks to these volunteer teachers the following courses were taught this term from February – June 2013; Concepts, Sewing and Finishing Techniques, Silk Lab, Pattern-making, Volume, Jewelry design, Marketing and Fashion History.
Another exciting development this year was the collaboration with CSB Denise Maroney who received funding from CEC Artslink, an international arts organization, that encourages and supports cultural exchange among visual and performing artists around the world, to teach a two-month long workshop, The Silk Lab. The objective of The Silk Lab was to expose CSB students to the history of the Silk Road, the process of silk production and techniques in silk painting, dyeing and embroidery. At the same time, The Silk Lab challenged CSB students to use textiles to explore their own complex, cultural narratives and create tactile pieces for artistic exhibit. Through field trips to the Bsous Silk Museum, research on the history of the Silk Road and experiments with techniques in silk painting, dyeing and embroidery, our students developed skills to use in their continuing work as designers, and had the distinguished honour of having their work exhibited at the Silk Museum until October 2013.
Hand-painted scarves were entirely made by the students, from the point of stretching their own silk on canvas frame, to applying colouring techniques unique to silk. They were sold at the exhibition and because the results were so impressive, they were digitally reproduced and printed on silk in order to sell multiple copies, a first experience for the Creative Space.
This development was approached with the future of branding in mind, helping to seal CSB as a fashion brand, as well as a non-profit initiative, furthering us into the world of sales. Another process currently in the works for CSB is the reproduction in limited editions of a few of our prototypes, designed by the students, for sale merchandise in specialty stores. As a brand we have generated an encouraging response from the public, as well as a following of loyal customers, who continue to express their appreciation for the unique concept behind CSB and the innovative and quality designs of our product.
To top it all off, Beirut Design Week invited CSB to host their annual exhibition as a major feature of their event, and enlisted their installation as one of the “top ten must-sees”, which attracted over 300 attendees in the span of four hours. The current collection, comprised of 40 pieces, has been auctioned off to 28 customers, and many interested patrons continue to express their interest in the collection, the program, and the idea that it is literally, free.
CSB is anticipating many advances in the coming months. New students are being interviewed, talks of collaborating with more designers and initiatives are shaping the discourse of the curriculum, and exhibitions abroad are being scheduled. Some photographs have been attached of both the exhibition and a few pieces for your viewing. The Summer 2013 collection can be viewed on our website, www.creativespacebeirut.com . The Creative Space Beirut is growing in many respects, and continues to provide free education to individuals who possess the dream, talent and passion, but lack the opportunities necessary to achieve their goals and access creative education.