Nicolas Moussalem is an emerging Lebanese designer. After completing his BA in Interior Design in Beirut he moved to Milan to study product design. During his studies, he interned at Diego Grandi’s DGO studio where he has worked closely with Diego Grandi for the development of the un e mezza tablescape, of a family of wooden toys and other products. Back in Lebanon, he has worked for a year as the product and space designer at l’Hotellerie SA, a luxurious boutique hotel. In 2011 he co-founded with the SPD colleague David Raffoul the david/nicolas design studio based in Beirut.

Let’s begin with the Un e mezza project that you completed while interning at Diego Grandi’s. The whole project began with a dish that Diego threw on the floor the first day at the studio… didn’t it?

Yes, Diego Grandi wanted me to look deeper into the material, radiuses and sections, which actually helped me a lot to feel and understand the physical relation between the container and its content.

Where does the name of the project “un e mezza” come from?

“Mezza” in Lebanon – where i come from – is a mix of “antipasti” but it is not served in individual portions. We place the “mezza” in the middle of the table and everyone digs in, it’s all about sharing. The name also refers to lunch time even though I don’t like to call it lunch because it is so much more than having a meal, it’s a social ritual.

To what extent has your Lebanese origin influenced this design?

It’s in the geometry of the plate, in the almost mathematical process of adding and taking away generating new patterns. As a result the entire table becomes an ever-changing landscape to combine and recombine. Also the tray plays with the idea of modularity. I believe that the food culture connected to this product is now very contemporary and global. And Lebanon has always been a platform for spreading integration among different cultures.

As a designer deeply involved in a digital culture, what have you learnt from such an artisan process?

Actually this has been a real turning point for me. Everything is possible in the digital world but when you go into production, reality hits you. I started developing the plates in a 3D process but I couldn’t understand how the material would respond. I had to spend a lot of time at the ceramicist, taking care of everything, from the mould to colours and finishings. For instance, the thickness of the plate turned out a little bigger than we expected and for this reason we choose a pretty dark palette, in order to minimize the visual perception of “weight”.