Portrait of Nadine Hajjar - © Photo credit: Richère Trudeau
Imagination is not given, nor is it acquired. Imagination is experienced. Nadine Hajjar's imagination draws its origins from her childhood in Beirut, Lebanon, and it developed further throughout her adventures abroad.
Trained back home as an interior architect, she worked in this environment to realise that she was actually and truly attracted to the shape, texture and above all, function of the Object. Nadine therefore decided to specialise in furniture and industrial design by enrolling in, and obtaining, a Masters degree at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy.
Nadine was kind enough to answer our questions.
At what age did you leave Lebanon? And for what purpose?
I left Lebanon when I was 27 years old. I arrived in the middle of winter because I was looking forward to a new adventure, I could not wait for spring for my new start! My career was not moving at the pace I wanted.
Why chose Montreal as a place of residence and work?
With my family we had applied for a permanent residence in order to have an exit door if things went wrong in Lebanon. Repeating the whole process for Europe would have pushed back my goal by a few years. I finally came alone to Montreal.
What led you to choose the craft of designer cabinetmaker?
Since I was very small I was attracted by the forms, the objects, the textures, the touch. When I was 12, I was collecting bottles of miniature fragrances. The bottles were so beautiful and different from each other! It was at this point in my life that I began to realize my interest in objects.
I soon realized that I wanted to be a creative artist. During my Bachelor's degree in interior design I discovered my passion for the workshop. In Lebanon, manual trades are often transferred from masters to apprentices. So it was in Montreal that I took the opportunity to develop myself as a cabinetmaker. It was very liberating to finally give life to my own creations...
How would you describe your style?
My style is experimental, but the end result is contemporary with retro influence. I like to say that my products are poetic with a touch of humor.
Tell us about your inspirations? Inspiring people met on your professional path?
All around me can be a source of inspiration! Whether it is the plant world, an element in the ventilation of a waiting room or the distorted shadow of any object on a wall. Very often I am inspired by the material itself. Lately I exploit russian (birch) plywood which gives me a multitude of results.
Tell us about the first object you made.
My first object was a lamp. It's called "Vagabond". This one describes me when I left Lebanon. It is composed of a stick and a bulb at its end. This lamp represents the character of my youth who left his family and his country.
Vagabond Lamp - © Photo credit: Richère Trudeau
What is your process of creation and production? And which part do you prefer?
When I have an idea in mind I leave it to mature for a long time before drawing. My furniture and objects are mostly drawn by hand and to a scale, it is for me the best way to see them. I also take time to make small models. From all the creative processes, prototyping at the workshop is the part that I prefer.
Do you have a preference for a wood species?
I must admit that I do not have a wood of choice. I have often had to work with walnut, this wood has a particular smell and when applying a finishing oil it reveals its variances of colors and depth.
Are there any new materials or textures you would like to experiment with?
I am developing my molding techniques. Once mastered, I wish to mold several materials such as plaster, cement, silicones, etc. Possibly ceramics is also a material that I want to exploit.
What technique do you prefer?
Among the many techniques in cabinetmaking it is sculpture that I prioritize. It gives me creative freedom and it is in this technique that I fulfill and express myself as an artist. It sometimes has therapeutic effects on me.
Any professional projects for the future?
In the short term to concentrate my efforts to develop my business, broaden my horizons and exploit new markets. In the longer term I would like to have my own shop!
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Florist, horticulturist and now ceramist, Isabelle Simard creates utilitarian objects where the emphasis is on color and shapes. Her strong and spontaneous gesture is a representation of the present moment as did the automatists.
She kindly answred our questions.
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