Designers in the Middle – Global Design Forum at V&A LDF17

Hopefully you have now had the opportunity to watch our highlights and interviews taken at London Design Festival 2017

I am sure that when you visited this years events you had exactly the same problem our team experienced: so much to do and so little time! 

You may not have had chance to attend the London Design Festival 2017 Talk’s Programme, where Rona Meyuchas-Koblenz, founder and creative director of Kukka, presented the panel discussion ‘Designers in the Middle’ which examined the experience of designing in or from the Middle East at the Global Design Forum at the V&A.  Here is more information on this fascinating event and panellists.


Designers in the Middle was originally curated by the Design Museum London in 2016 during London Design Festival, to great acclaim, and was followed earlier this year by the organisers at ICFF Exhibition in New York and has been selected by the organisers at London Design Festival to participate at the Global Design Forum at the V&A Museum during this year’s Festival.


Chaired by Suzanne Trocmé, Editor at Large for Wallpaper*, Rona was joined by an expert panel, including designer Nada Debs and Rami Tareef and explored how the region’s craft, heritage, daily life and industrial reality affect the work and lives of its designers.

“I approach ‘Designers in the Middle’ from two angles that interest me the most. Firstly, designers operating in and from the Middle East and secondly, designers who find themselves in the middle between the manufacturing and the political constrains.

The content of ‘Designers in the Middle’ is not political at all. That is also one of the reasons why the word ‘East’ is not mentioned after the word ‘Middle’. What interests me is to bring out the person/designer behind its work.

I am hoping you will find the beauty behind it.” – Rona Meyuchas Koblenz, Designers in the Middle, Founder

Global Design Forum was a week-long celebration of design and what it can do. A layer cake of talks, discussions and workshops the Forum lifts the lid on the most innovative thinking in the world of design today. ‘Be inspired by the pioneers that are changing the way we design and live. Refresh your thinking and reboot your understanding of the power and potential of design as a force for good.’

About Kukka

Established in 2010, Kukka™ is a British design house founded by designer Rona MeyuchasKoblenz. The products are made from sustainable materials and cultural behaviors; these are taken into account during the design process; Kukka admire craftsmanship, aesthetics, and functionality.

About Rona

Meyuchas-Koblenz Born in Tel-Aviv, internationally acclaimed and designer, creates products under her own label, Kukka Studio. The first collection was released in Milan during Salone del Mobile 2007 at Spazio Romeo Gigli and under Rona’s direction as head of design their products are sold worldwide, kukka’s clients varies from Architects, interior designers, private clients, retailers such as Conran, Paul Smith, La Rinascente, Selfridges, De Padova.

In summer 2016 Alexander Von Vegesack, founder and curator of Vitra museum, invited Rona to tutor a week long workshop at Boisbuchet in collaboration with Amorim Cork. In April 2017, Rona was commissioned by The British Council to create a seating area installation, spread across a large area within the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv. Rona again collaborated with Amorim to create the project ‘Blocks’ using cork . Rona is also a visiting lecturer, a writer and the founder/presenter of Designers in the Middle.


About Nada Debs

Nada Debs is a Lebanese designer living and working in Beirut. Her work spans scale and discipline: from product and furniture design to one-off commissions across craft, art, fashion and interiors. What ties her work together is her ability to distil culture and craftsmanship to create pieces of emotional resonance.  Nada believes in the importance of human stories. She places value on connections – to places, to others and to our own identity within the wider world. She is fascinated by the role of the human hand to tell stories and to evoke a sense of belonging.  Nada brings her philosophy to life in a number of ways. Her experience as a designer gives her the language to understand how things are made and how they can be made special. She brings passion to process; she combines ideas, skills and techniques together from her travels, to form a unique cultural exchange. Her mission is more than simply the nostalgic preservation of time-honoured traditions, it is to translate the traditional into something energetic and alive.


About Rami Tareef

Industrial designer and design lecturer Rami Tareef, who hails from a Druze family line that has lived in Northern Israel for over 500 years, graduated from the Department of Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Israel and the ZHDK, Zurich School of Arts. In 2014 he completed a Master in Industrial Design at the Bezalel Academy.  A culture researcher seeking to formulate a new and fresh dialogue of the fascinating intercultural encounter between east and west. He explores the limits of the current discourse between craft and design, new and old, traditions and technology towards progressivism. An experimental craftsman who works on preserving traditional crafts through design.


About Suzanne Trocmé

London born and educated, Suzanne Trocmé spent many years in New York and Paris and has written on the subjects of art, fashion, music, interiors and architecture for a variety of publications including The New York Times Magazine, Architectural Digest, House & Garden, The Telegraph, Interior Design (European Editor) and Wallpaper* (Editor-at-Large).  Apart from her contributions to print journalism, Trocmé began writing books following the birth of her first two sons and is the author of many publications which include Influential Interiors (Clarkson Potter), Retro Home (Rizzoli), Fabric (Mitchell Beazley), The New Moderns (Stewart, Tabori, Chang), Attention to Detail (Stewart, Tabori, Chang) and Cool Homes in Hot Places (HarperCollins).

Trocmé in 2014 curated Middle East Revealed, a showcase of Middle Eastern contemporary design during London’s Design Festival and a second elaborated exhibition in Milan in 2015 before developing the international and inaugural Dubai Design Week with the Art Dubai Group. In 2017 she co-curated the first Sub Saharan contemporary design exhibition Africa by Design to be held in Africa, which launched in Accra, Ghana on the date of their 60th independence. The exhibition will travel through Europe and the Middle East.

Contact Designers In The Middle


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →