Silky materials and elegance, Kann revisits the curves of the 50’s with a Scandinavian restraint. Both a creative studio and a publishing house, Kann was founded in 2010 by Houssam Kanaan, Meghedi Simonian and photographer Rudy Bou Chebel. To understand the vision of this trio, let us go back about fifty years to the village of Beit-Chabab, a top destination for Lebanese crafts and, above all, the playground of young Houssam, the son of a cabinetmaker. A series of prototypes later, the artisans become a collective. The workshop comes back to life and is now entirely dedicated to Kann production. For the past eight years, Kann has successfully pursued its path, a first showroom in Rue des Vinaigriers, a second in Batignolles, exciting collaborations and above all an endless quest: to manufacture, imagine and design objects that are simply beautiful, and always functional. The coming year promises to be rich in events, a business to be followed with pleasure!
Houssam, Meghedi, what’s your story?
I was born in Teheran, and I studied graphic design before taking up design studies in France. I was the graphic designer for the magazine Mouvement (arts et politique) for several years before creating Kann with my beloved and his childhood friend in 2010. I am passionate about architecture, designer furniture and photography.
I was born in Lebanon in Beit-Chabab, a village located about ten kilometres from Beirut, which is known for its crafts. As the son of a cabinetmaker, I was surrounded by craftsmen throughout my childhood and “my playground” was my father’s workshop located near our house. I arrived in France in 2003 to study, and I established Kann at the end of my business school course in 2010.
How was Kann born?
It wasn’t my favourite project. At any rate, my father didn’t encourage me to become a craftsman. For him, success is achieved through higher education. But I’ve always tried to have a connection with woodworking. Which I made tangible by creating Kann! Before Kann, my father had planned to close the workshop, which by then had only three craftsmen, to retire. When I arrived with my project, he supported me and made the prototypes for our first collection free of charge. Today Kann creations are sold in more than 25 countries. The workshop has expanded. It is directed by my father and my brother Samer Kanaan (an astrophysicist). 22 craftsmen contribute to the manufacture of our furniture.
What is its state of mind and vision?
Objects that are pure, of high quality and functional.
We feel also that our brand is evolving along with us. Now that Solal is here we are more poised, and I think that the lines and the colours of our collection reflect our state of mind at this moment.
Why that name?
It is a name that reminds me of my family name “Kanaan”, and it is the verb ‘to be able’ in German. Two good reasons, right?
How do you choose the designers you work with?
It’s fairly random. At first, they were designers from within our close circle. The first one we worked with was José Pascal, a childhood friend of Houssam. Today we receive more and more proposals from designers whom we meet at fairs, openings or in our showrooms.
Which are your iconic pieces?
The Bi Back bench designed by Meghedi, the R60 bookshelves designed by the Italian duo Nicola Santini and Pier Paolo Taddei.
Apart from those, the essential pieces in our new collection are the Strat storage from AC/AL studio and the Residence chair from Jean Couvreur.
Do you have an artistic movement, an era or a personality that you particularly like?
The Bauhaus for objects that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Our workshop was founded in 1958. “Mid-century design” was the point on which we met with our craftsman and it was obvious. Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen and Jean Prouvé are inspirations for us.
I think that the lines and the colours of our collection reflect our state of mind at this moment.
In your home, which is the piece or object you are most proud of?
Quite simply, the Bi Back bench which I designed.
And the armchair that I saved from my father’s old office and which I recovered in a Pierre Frey fabric.
And what do you dream of having?
A tree in the house! I’ve been looking for an indoor one for a few months without success. In fact, as soon as we visited this apartment, with its six-metre-high ceiling, it was one of the first things I thought about. I’m not giving up hope!
You have here a number of works, and photographs too. Tell us about your choices here?
They are favourites created by our friends or pieces we have chosen during our travels. We are fond of photography and illustration. Our artist friends know this and share it with us. On our walls, we have works by Rudy Bou Chebel, Rami Mekdachi, Matthieu Karst, Shabnam Zeraati, Gabrielle Ambrym, Colin Delfosse, Serge Najjar and limited editions of architecture by Desplans.
What are your plans for the future?
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily