With over 10 years of experience in multidisciplinary design and interior architecture, Donna Maria Feghali has been a constant in the Lebanese architecture, art and design scene for years. She has worked in Beirut for 10 years, before managing to expand to Paris and Marrakech in 2020 and then moving to Cairo in 2021.
She graduated from the Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University with a degree in Fine Arts in 2005, then acquired a Masters in Interior Architecture from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in 2010. Two years later, she established Studio Noir Clair, constantly evolving into all types of design forms. The Beirut-based studio consists of a talented team that navigates interior architecture projects, product design, oversees scenographic projects, curates and produces art exhibitions, and spearheads creative strategies into business concept and experiences.
She founded the cultural platform Retrieving Beirut in 2016-2019, and was heavily involved in selecting artists for exhibitions and installations, seeing through collaborations, and execution of projects.
In 2020 Donna Maria established a studio in Paris merging her years of diverse experience under one brand Donna Maria Feghali. We welcome her here today to talk about her creative experience and how Egypt has been welcoming her.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Being creative! Creativity is the song of my soul.
One definition of happiness is the overcome of known challenges towards a known goal. Therefore, the satisfaction, which comes from a project well done despite all its challenges, makes me extremely happy.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
Beside the fact that my mother says that I used to vomit colors and glitter, I remember that I was completely lost with my talents, between drawing clothes coquis, painting, writing theater plays for school and working on its scenography and designing spaces for my friends and family. Not knowing back then that it was relevant to the multidisciplinary creative that I am today.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Studying fine arts in Paris and working in this city was and still is the best context of inspiration. Even the simple discussions with strangers can lead me to a new idea, new concept. Everything in Paris touches my soul.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
I am a passionate person and I can only do what I love. Therefore, I truly love all my projects.
Although I engage in a multidisciplinary range of design activities, if you would ask me to choose one discipline, it would be furniture and product design because I like how detail-oriented it is as a process and its collaborative aspect with the manufacturer or artisan producing the piece.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
I founded in 2016 in Lebanon a cultural platform entitled Retrieving Beirut, which had as its main purpose to use the language of art and creativity in order to highlight important topics related to the city and its citizens, from urban to social ones.
We collaborated with more than 300 emerging as well as established artists and designers on various projects and exhibitions until its end in October 2019.
I believe it is the project that others loved the most because it was public and for the public. Creating a community and unity under its umbrella.
It was also an open conversation about Beirut, therefore many were able to relate to it.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
The best thing about Egyptian creativity is that you are less bounded by codes and rules which exist in cities and countries much more established in design. Therefore, it allows you to explore new ideas and design approaches more freely.
BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR
Egyptians are hilarious. I do not have a specific statement, but Egyptian humor taught me a life lesson that whatever difficult the situation is, decide to laugh it through.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
Look with open minds. The country is full of talents.
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
The national museum in Down Town Cairo. It is a beautiful colonial architecture full of mesmerizing history.
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
Alexandria with all its history and charm.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
That it is a dangerous place for women. I am an independent woman living by myself here and I feel safe every moment of my day.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
The openness of its people for the new while being very much rooted in an old and rich history.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
Spirituality to the soul is like love to the heart.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Money is an important tool for freedom. Freedom of choice and freedom of movement.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
The best inspiration source is to have important references and be knowledgeable in history of art, design, architecture. Read, travel and visit museums, never stop learning and growing your horizon.
AN EGYPT BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
The art historian and fashion designer Shahira Mehrez, who documented throughout her career the Egyptian traditional costumes.
Check out more about her wonderful work, right here.