Beirut-born and Dubai-dwelling, photographer and jewelry designer Nadine Kanso represents the bi-coastal reality of many Arabs today.
Having spent her entire childhood in Beirut, Nadine later gained two degrees from the Lebanese American University – Communication Arts and Advertising Design. These degrees, along with her faithful appreciation for all things art and fashion laid the foundation for her work in design and photography today.
Photo Credit: Nadine Kanso Facebook
Nadine worked in various design-related fields along with several stints in journalism, before she began dedicating all her time to photography and jewelry design. With a clear passion for Arab culture and in particular, expressing it through a contemporary visual framework, Nadine’s work underwent a directional change after she was invited to exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as part of a group exhibition entitled “Arabize Me” in 2006.
Later that year, she adapted the exhibit for a solo show at B21 Gallery in Dubai, with a collection that included a series of portraits depicting Arabs from across the region with an eclectic mix of artistic, creative and cultural milieus entitled, ‘Who I Am’ or ‘Meen Ana’ in Arabic.
In 2006, Nadine created her jewelry line, a complementary offshoot to her exploration of Arab identity, ‘Bil Arabi’, taking inspiration from the Arabic alphabet to craft rings, bracelets, pendants and earrings. Using 18-carat gold and embellished with an array of precious and semi-precious stones the Bil Arabi series (which is a literal translation of ‘In Arabic’), the collection is akin to bling bling with a Middle Eastern edge.
Nadine Kanso has experienced the city’s creative awakening and enthusiastic expansion over the past 17 years. From her roots to her new home of adoption, her work explores new ways to express what it means to be an Arab in today’s world. Crying out Beirut’s dualism of both suffering and joy, underlining Dubai’s ambivalent shapes, both extravagantly materialistic and humanly authentic.
Her message is a message of optimism, written out in the ancient art of calligraphy, throughout her photography, collages and recently, the walls of La Cantine du Faubourg. This creative dialogue masterfully confronts issues of cultural identity, offering very personal insight yet allowing room for the individual to ponder.
Dr. Nasrine was able to visit with the creative force that is Nadine Kanso to discuss what she finds imperative to have on hand during her busy work days.
What does your average day look like?
My days are usually packed and rarely average, between meetings, emails and creative process, I would say it is fun and on the go…but there is always time for coffee breaks!
What top five items comprise your desktop arsenal? Why?
Obviously my mac and IPad along several sketch books and different pencils…and of course my camera… sketch books are essential to keep the ideas in one place if that is even possible.
What is one desktop item you just cannot live without?
Pencils and pencils…
What are some must have interior design pieces for this year?
I saw few nice pieces at Dubai Design Days, If I would choose one it would be the lights at Victor Hunt gallery by Sabine Marcelis and pieces by Commonplace studio.
Add who is your greatest inspiration?
I am inspired by events, people and places; it is my experience and not really someone else’s.
What is your favorite spot in Dubai?
I have few favourite spots and if I had to choose I would say sitting home on the entrance of the garden …nothing fancy there but I find peace…