David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem have established a global presence since they set uptheir studio, david/nicolas, in Beirut in 2011. Their innovative approach to contrastingmaterials, along with their unique way of blending retro, contemporary and futuristic elements, gives their work a timeless aesthetic that translates to a wide range of projects, from furniture design to high-end bespoke interiors.
David and Nicolas met at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, where they both studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, going on to undertake Masters degrees at the ScuolaPolitecnica Di Design in Milan. After graduating, both undertook internships with internationaldesign studios, Nicolas going on to freelance for a year in Beirut while David worked as a designer at Fabrica, in Treviso, Italy.
Since 2011, david/nicolas has staged several exhibitions and collaborated with established international brands. The duo’s “retro-futuristic” aesthetic is rooted in a wide range of influences, from Oriental geometry, to antique furniture, to robots, space travel and the music of Daft Punk. The partnership is built on mutual criticism, as much as encouragement.
David creates detailed sketches while Nicolas prefers to write down his ideas, and no design is ever completed without both partners’ input. While one is working on a design, the other will often “hack” it, vetoing a particular aspect or suggesting an addition that necessitates a fresh approach.
The duo’s breakout year came in 2014 at the Milan Design Week during which the New York Times selected them as one of the design week’s three breakout stars. Later the same year, they held their first solo show in Beirut, “Loulou/Hoda” at JM Design Gallery, exhibiting pieces inspired by their grandmothers that combined Oriental and Western as well as antique and contemporary influences. Subsequently, the studio introduced its first industrial project at Maison & Objet, the “Orquestra” tableware collection for Vista Alegre, which was awarded the Red Dot Design Award and the Wallpaper* Award.
From local Lebanese newspapers to international magazines, david/nicolas have not come short of making an appearance in their most prominent articles. The duo was selected by Wallpaper* Magazine for their POWER 200 as part of their pick of “20 designers under 40”, they were also highlighted among the 86 designers of the year 2015 by AD magazine in France.
david/nicolas work on multiple types of projects, from collaborations with considerable international brands, to the design of their own pieces, like the “Paume” collection, exhibited at Nilufar Gallery in 2015. Since 2016 they are represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, which exhibits their limited edition pieces such as the “Monocle” cabinet. They also work with individual clients on projects that capture their imaginations, whether that means refurbishing a classic car or designing a custom interior for a high-end restaurant. Their near obsessive attention to detail means that they leave nothing to chance – every last aspect of the interior is designed and produced by the studio.
Portrait by Marco Pinarelli