Q & A With Lebanese Artist Nadim Karam on his Collaboration with Louis Vuitton

Renowned Lebanese artist Nadim Karam has recently joined forces with the Louis Vuitton store at the Mall of the Emirates for the launch of the new “family room.” The artist created a colorful Traveling Elephant for the occasion with the help of children from a workshop given at DUCTAC (Dubai Community and Theater Arts Center).

The event marks the opening of the first family room in a Louis Vuitton and celebrates children as its defining feature. LV executives from Milan and Paris arrived arrived to celebrate the extension of the Mall of the Emirates boutique and the new collaboration with the Nadim Karm and the world of Middle Eastern contemporary art and culture.

We got a chance to converse with the artist first-hand about his work with Louis Vuitton.

Q. The first Louis Vuitton family room pays tribute to children as its defining feature. Could you describe your experience working with Dubai-based international children on “The Traveling Elephant?

A. I had a wonderful time, and I know that the children enjoyed it as much as I did. It was an occasion to express their creativity in a spontaneous way, while they saw me doing the same. We went on an experimental journey together, building up the excitement as “The Travelling Elephant” came into being.

Q. What was the inspiration for “The Traveling Elephant” and how were you able to incorporate it into the Louis Vuitton aesthetic?

A. I have created many figures called Urban Toys with which I have done projects all over the world, but I have a particular affection for the elephant. The Elephant evokes memories and journeys for me, but his shape very cute, wonderfully absurd. He is a traveller because we are all travellers in life, on real, metaphysical and spiritual journeys. And perhaps children in Dubai would know a little more about travelling than most.

As for incorporating it into the Louis Vuitton aesthetic, I don’t think I can claim to have done that, but it was definitely a mutually enjoyable collaboration.

Q. Over the last few years there has been an increasing tendency for luxury brands to work with contemporary artists. Some term the result of such creative collaborations to be a new form of luxury branding. Could you touch on your creative experience with the Louis Vuitton brand? Do such collaborations constitute a new form of marketing tool for consumers?

A. I view such collaborations as a contemporary version of the art patronage like at the time of Leonardo da Vinci. Louis Vuitton is bringing art to a public who would normally only see it in a museum or gallery, and an artist to children who experience two days of thinking outside the box.

Q. Art and fashion have historically developed side by side. They are both expressions of emotion and passion. Although inherently similar, what differentiates the luxury object from the art object?

A. Ultimately, they return to their raison d’être. The first to its function, the second to its absurdity.