David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem have established a global presence since they set up their studio, david/nicolas, in Beirut in 2011. Their innovative approach to contrasting materials, 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 Scuola Politecnica Di Design in Milan. After graduating, both undertook internships with international design 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 Milan Design Week they launched the bespoke “Artichoke” safe with Agresti for Wallpaper* Handmade, as well as their collection “Dualita” for Nina Yashar’s Nilufar Gallery. They were selected as one of the design week’s three breakout stars by The New York Times. Later the same year, they held their first solo show in Beirut, “Loulou/Hoda” at Art Factum Gallery, exhibiting pieces inspired by their grandmothers that combined Oriental and Western and antique and contemporary influences. In the same year, 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. They were also included on a list of 20 influential Lebanese figures by newspaper L’Orient Le Jour.
In 2015, the duo was selected by Wallpaper* Magazine for their POWER 200, as part of their pick of “20 designers under 40.” david/nicolas was also highlighted among the 86 designers of the year 2015 by AD magazine in France.
david/nicolas work on multiple types of project, from collaborations with prominent international brands, to the design of their own pieces, such as the “Paume” collection, exhibited at Nilufar Gallery in 2015. 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, from the marble, to the door handles, to the cutlery.
Portrait by Guillaume De Sardes