Nicolas Moussalem is an emerging, young Lebanese designer. After completing his BA in Interior Design in Beirut he moved to Milan to study product design. During his internship, he worked closely with Diego Grandi for the development of the un e mezza tablescape. Back in Beirut, he is now responsible for the interior design of a luxury hotel.

The whole project began with a dish that I threw on the floor the first day you were at my studio... didn’t it?
Yes, it’s true. I remember at first it really scared me. I didn’t understand what was happening. I thought you were angry but then I understood you 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 young 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”.

Milan based, Diego Grandi founded DGO Diego Grandi Office in 2002. He deals with product and interior design, design consultancy. His research investigates the visual qualities of materials and surface. He explores the codes of dwelling – new rituals and daily gestures – and recombines them into new typologies. DGO collaborates with Abet Laminati, Casamania, DuPont-Corian, Ferrino, Guzzini, Lea Ceramiche e Skitsch.