Furniture Designer Nada Debs on Life and Love as a Third Culture Kid

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Nada Debs
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs

To the typical design aficionado, the name Nada Debs needs no introduction – but here goes. The furniture designer is of Lebanese origin, was raised in Japan and educated at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design in the USA, and started her first company in the UK. Needless to say, she’s a Third Culture Kid (TCK) through and through, a fact reflected in her multicultural approach to all things design.

Currently based in Beirut, the veritable citizen-of-the-world has just launched a new collection – entitled ‘Now and Zen’ – at Comptoir 102 in Jumeirah. It features handcrafted furniture and home accessories such as concrete tables with mother-of-pearl detailing, pebble-color platters, and embroidered pillows – each of which carries her signature fusion of minimalism and Eastern traditions. As she takes Savoir Flair through her next collection, pictured below, we discuss seven key life lessons that she has learnt by being a TCK.

Nada Debs Tables
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
1

Travel

“It’s always interesting to travel and discover different cultures. In fact, it’s almost difficult to be around people of the same culture. It is more comfortable for me to be around an international crowd. Airports, hotels, etc. make me see that the world is full of people of all nationalities – it always makes me wonder where they come from, what their lives are like, and how their lives are different to mine.”
Nada Debs Lamps
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
2

Design

“Our surroundings and upbringing influence our designs much more than we think – and my career as a furniture designer showed me this. I wasn’t aware that I was influenced by both my Japanese upbringing and my Arab roots, but it’s quite evident in my design products.”
Nada Debs Candle Stand
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
3

Food

“Every culture has its own eating habits and take on what comfort food. Some people eat by hand, others with bread or chopsticks or knives and forks. Some cultures find spices appealing, whereas others like food that has subtle flavors. My theory? Don’t judge what and how one eats – it’s all relative.”
Nada Debs Tray
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
4

Home

“When you’re surrounded by different cultures, you feels most secure in one’s own home – where you actually live and with the family you belong to.”
Nada Debs Fruit Tray
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
5

Relationships

“It’s very attractive for us TCKs to meet people who are very comfortable and confident of their own culture and nationality. But when it comes to close relationships, we start to realize that we are more tolerant and open-minded.”
Nada Debs Plates 2
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
6

Starting Over

“Starting over is natural – a new city, a new culture, a new energy. Every time we start over, there’s something new that we learn and acquire, and it makes us possess more wisdom.”
Nada Debs Cushion Red
Photo: Courtesy of Nada Debs
7

Stability

“We have to be strong and stable, despite our need to belong. We have to be able to accept our differences – otherwise, we would lose our sense of identity entirely."
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