In 2018, Beirut Design Week (BDW) returns for its seventh edition themed “Design and the City: ___________”. Under this theme, designers are invited alongside activists, writers, educators, students etc. to consider design’s transformative role in conceiving of the urban space in such ways that express our needs, desires and dreams as inhabitants of the city.

“Design and the City: ___________” draws inspiration from local grass-root movements which redress questions of agency and representation vis-à-vis decision-making processes that have direct influence on our lives. These movements provided alternatives for imagining inclusive models for the urban experience. While the viability of these models continues to be debated and explored in several spaces across the city, this year’s theme offers its platform to showcase objects, tools, vocabularies and processes that help create new itineraries for the everyday practice of place-making and reclaim the right to the city.

Design is in every aspect of our life. The endless list of possibilities in the design-scape is what constitutes and remakes our experiences. It calls upon all the creative designers to bring forward their own visions of how their practices can contribute to good governance, social inclusion and environmental justice.

Design & the City: Social Change
How can architecture, furniture design or jewelry design collaborate with social workers to play a transformative role in the city?

Design & the City: Environment
How can a fashion designer or a documentary maker engage with nature and make us rethink our rapport to our environment?

Design & the City: Fair-Use
How can the food and beverage industry adopt a design thinking approach that extends from the sourcing of the ingredients to the production of the goods, affecting local economies and contributing to the city’s environmental ecosystem?

Design & the City: Governance 
How can architects, urbanists and planners influence state policies related to the reconstruction of a post-war city? And share some lessons learned with other neighboring destroyed cities getting ready for reconstruction?

Design & the City: Access
How can the tech-industries collaborate with designers to reimagine our daily interactions within the city and enhance our urban life? What can smart solutions offer to people who are abled or with special needs, women, children etc.

In keeping with this notion, the BDW 2018 theme focuses on searching for what is possible across the horizon of creative practice rather than dwelling on what already exists. It aspires to depart from the current city with its visible and invisible aspects, tangible and intangible realities, private and public spheres, towards an open ground for experimentation. It envisions an alternative shared future with better conditions to live, thrive and engage.

By proposing this theme, BDW2018 asks the following questions: How can designers across the wide spectrum of the creative industry channel ideas and skills to model structures that address blind spots, shortages and problems within the urban experience? And in what ways can they collaborate with other stakeholders (activists, environmentalists, artisans, entrepreneurs, agriculturalists and food experts, technology consultants, and researchers etc.) to face systemic and supplemental challenges?

This year’s invitation is extended to actors within and beyond the design community in Lebanon who are motivated by the necessity for urban change. By providing the conditions for experimental and strategic coalitions between designers and other experts, BDW introduces its new direction towards encouraging cross-disciplinary initiatives.

BDW is programmed as a participatory and community-led initiative, calling upon stakeholders to take active part in the strategic planning, thematics, initiatives and educational programs which together will make the whole of BDW2018.


In line with its new direction, BDW 2018 will be centered around participatory and co-design approaches. These approaches reflect BDW’s belief that change can be inspired and mobilized through building coalitions and creative collaborations between the design community and various actors, practitioners, and stakeholders in the social and urban spheres. Therefore, BDW aims this year to adopt these approaches throughout the various stages of organization, by opening up its platform for cultivating interdisciplinary designer collaborations with urbanists, academics, programmers, economists, entrepreneurs, makers, businesses, civil society, municipal bodies, non-profit organizations and NGOs, etc...

Furthermore, by proposing “Design and the City” as the theme for its 2018 edition, BDW will invite participants from these different backgrounds to think of the city as a structured system of shared beliefs and values, of tolerance, inclusiveness, and openness.

In order to implement these approaches, BDW will start out by inviting everybody who share its values, concerns and aspirations and who are interested in exploring design’s potential and contribution in developing the envisioned city, to share their ideas and resources. These meetings will be held at “landmark” locations in Beirut.

1. An Open House will be organized on the 8th of February, where all different actors can suggest ways in which they can contribute to the planning, structuring and programming of this year’s event.

2.This step will entail a reorganization of BDW’s operation to accommodate those who wish to contribute and actively participate in the process and developing the structural components of BDW2018. From there, a series of meetings will be held where participants, contributors and team members through a public open call program along with direct invitations to our loyal partners in addition to international and local advisors and guests. The meetings will raise discussions related to the various components of the BDW platform such as structure, theme, fundraising, program, selection and curatorial process, locations, participants, exhibitions etc.