Lebanese jewellery designer Donna Hourani on finding hidden gems in Beirut
Beirut Souks, located downtown, is a shopping district that carries both high-end and street-style brands. It’s the place to go for an authentic Lebanese street-like environment, rather than a mall. A trip to my city isn’t complete without popping into the stores of red carpet darlings Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. And Mar Mikhael is good for independent bookstores, fashion and furniture designers. Ageing mechanics, butchers and a man who only sells bananas now share the streets with trendier shopping options – it’s an eclectic mix of art and fashion.
New about town
Starch boutique in Saifi Village houses some of the best emerging local talent and it’s a must visit for travellers looking for one-off, contemporary items. Look out for Mira Hayek who plays with proportion and volume in her creations. There’s so much creativity coming out of Lebanon and it’s so great to see everyone doing so well. I also like to check out the Beirut-based website lebelik.com as they support some exciting new designers from Lebanon like Elsa O, Nada Zeineh, Jessica K and Karoline Lang. A large variety of illustrated mugs, gold-plated jewellery, beaded accessories and designs emblazoned with Arabic slogans created by over 60 Lebanese artisans are available on the site.
One of my favourite hidden gems is Plan BEY. Halfway between a gallery and a bookshop, it’s a concept store that sells exclusive limited-edition products developed by local artists. There’s everything from paper goods produced in the store’s workshop along with artists’ books, hand-bound notebooks, postcards, silkscreen prints, comic books and more. This is the place for perfect souvenirs – unique, high quality and extraordinarily affordable, their images and stories all focus on the city.
Orient 499 is a boutique-meets-atelier, and it’s the best place in Beirut for high-end furniture from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco and beyond. Bokja is a must for brightly coloured, textured furnishings and handmade pillows by local artisans.
Beirut is all about jewellery and accessories – it’s embedded in our culture and there are so many amazing designers from Lebanon. Among my favourites are the Mukhi Sisters – I love how their pieces resemble fairy tales. I like to visit Joanna Dahdah’s store on Ghandour El Saad Street and another gem is LE66Beirut. They have an incredible collection of fine and contemporary pieces by established and emerging designers.