THE BIG TINY WORLD OF HANDCRAFTING
Posted On April 28, 2015
It’s no secret that we are currently living in the era known as the micro period. Whether it’s your handbag, phone, or starters at a restaurant (which to be honest we aren’t huge fans of) everything seems to be only getting smaller. You can now basically fit everything you need in your pocket. But have you ever tried taking a book from your library, your blow dryer, or even your toilet and putting it in your pocket?! Okay, we aren’t talking about literal versions of those objects but we’ve met an architectural genius that has managed to make the perfect replicas (and we mean perfect) of places and objects from your everyday life. Imagine a random item such as an old T.V. box that now holds a full library sculpted, painted, and made to fit exactly to scale inside of it. Each detail from start to finish makes you feel like you’re looking at either a real life kitchen, library, or even your own room. We needed to get an up close and personal look at these projects as well as the team of the hour, Gaby Kamar and Nada Abdallah
The moment we walked into their workshop, Les Arcanes, we instantly felt the creativity bouncing off the walls – and we mean that in the most literal sense. There is about one centimeter of space between each project on the walls and they come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and purpose of use. While our eyes wandered for a bit, the ever-so-charming Gaby Kamar walked our way and greeted us with a smile. He immediately introduced us to his partner Nada Abdallah and we began our sit-down. Nada is a fashion designer that mostly comes up with the idea part of the job; she has a natural knack for all things creative. Now onto the man who brings the creative to life: Gaby’s love for handcrafted projects started when he was extremely young – and that same love lead him to study architecture in college. Ever since 1976, he has worked in the same architectural design office but he didn’t want to let his love for craft die out. He opened his shop 3 years ago, building and making antique projects, both life-size and miniature. But what’s the difference between a regular antique and his projects? Well, Gaby takes antique pieces that belonged to one item and transforms them into something completely different. A perfect example was a piece hanging directly above us. Taking the knobs off antique bathroom doors, he created a hat and coat rack out of them by screwing them on to a wooden headboard. You would have never guessed that these were bathroom knobs, take our word for it. However the start of his miniature projects didn’t start until 2 years ago. If there’s one thing we can stress on before you continue you reading this article, it’s that we emphasize on the word miniature. Every detail is even smaller than your pinky finger and that is exactly what blew us away. Looking at these tiny replicas, we wondered how do you transform such adequate figures perfectly and where do you even get the supplies from? Gaby explained that their projects come to life using supplies that almost anyone would throw out; everything from buttons, broken pins, thumbnails, beads, and chair pieces – basically anything from everything. And get a load of this; if they need something specific and can’t find the exact pieces to execute the object, they make it completely from scratch. Just looking at the miniscule bits and pieces you can tell how much time, dedication and passion goes into each detail. Depending on the complexity of the work, it can take up to 6 months to fully complete one project. Yup ladies and gentleman, our talents suddenly felt completely mediocre.
Since the business is a partnership we had to know what inspires each of them to come up with their ideas. Nada explained that she is a southern girl at heart. She loves ANYTHING old, like things that remind her of her grandma’s house in the south; items that you won’t find in a modern day house, like the water basket, or the gardening tools. She loves to incorporate her nostalgia into her work. As for Gaby, he loves the rustic and old. The house he grew up in has been standing for 200 years and everything, from the architecture to the furniture has become his muse. They both agreed that their home-life is the base of their inspiration and it comes to life through their work.
When something takes up to 6 months to accomplish, we weren’t even sure if these specific projects were up for sale – but they were. Nada explained, “Even though we put so much time, effort, and patience into these projects, they are for sale BUT I sell them the way I want too. Meaning, if a certain piece costs $2,000 I won’t sell it for a penny less, I don’t care if the piece stays in the shop for 10 years or if the customer begs for us to bring down the price – this is how it works – you’re buying a piece of our heart with these projects. The right person that is meant to have these pieces won’t care about the price, but appreciate the work and effort.”
Gaby and Nada explained that the idea of the miniature projects isn’t a new one, but they aren’t all the same. “We make sure that the outside presentation is as interesting as the inside; we use old T.V.’s, radios, clocks, anything that catches your eye from the first look. You have to have a knack for it, a love for it that will make you want to perfect the project from start to finish, regardless of the time it takes or else it won’t come out special.”
With such a strong love for their work I knew that the next question wasn’t going to be an easy one to answer. We asked Gaby and Nada, which project was their favorite and they both gave a shy smile. Nada expressed that she loves all of her projects as if they are her own children but if she had to pick one it would be the kitchen/garden. It was her first project and it was based on her biggest inspiration: her home. Gaby’s favorite was the bathroom and it was his first project as well. He explained that he made a lot of those pieces from scratch and a lot of time went into this specific work.
They both have really exciting mini-projects coming up in the future. Gaby is currently working on a flower shop; as a matter of fact he was painting one of the pots when we walked in. Nada plans to do another kitchen but a European-style one. She also has a very interesting project she wants to work on in the near future but we promised we would only give you a small preview. As a fashion designer one of Nada’s favorite designers is none other than Coco Chanel. She believes that Coco’s inspiration and creativity outshined her designer abilities and she wants to recreate her earlier days by making half the project about the days when Coco used to design hats, and the other half for when she designed clothes. Now that’s a project we can’t wait to see!
As much as Gaby has loved working in architecture over the past 30 years, he officially decided to dedicate all his time to his first love: Handcrafting. As we were in the midst of saying our goodbyes we had one last question, what is your secret to your successful partnership? Gaby smiled and said, “She is the brain, and I am the hands and we make an incredible team.”
If you would like to visit Gaby and Nada’s workshop, Les Arcanes, pass by on Lebanon Street, Tabaris (opposite Kiwan) or call 03 262 924