Houssam Kanaan was born in a mountain village 24 km north of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. Famous for its historic handicraft tradition, it’s no wonder that the son of a cabinet maker has continued in the footsteps of his ancestors by keeping the craft alive. Today he is based in Paris, where he runs his studio with Meghedi Simonian, his partner both in business and life. Their creations retain an artisanal quality while introducing something of a modern twist. Beautifully crafted and led by the integrity of the materials, here Houssam gives us an insight into his journey so far.
Kann Design encompasses a workshop, a makers collective, a studio and a showroom. Was this an organic process, or was it your vision from the beginning?
And a café that opened the 6th of December! It’s a new space that showcases our know how through a changing display every 6 months. We can say that it will be the playground of our creative team.
It was my vision from the beginning to have these various aspects of the business. My father founded the workshop 60 years ago. When I started Kann Design I wanted to work with makers like my father (the old fashioned makers) and show their work in a modern way. I have of course been affected by the experience of entrepreneurial life and made some modifications in the way I work but the vision has stayed the same since the beginning.
What were you like as a kid, and how did your childhood influence your professional life?
I am the son of an artisan, a man who made his living creating things with his own hands. Throughout my childhood I was surrounded by people like my father: confident, talented, easygoing. It’s this kind of contact that I missed most when I came to France. I think that subconsciously, my motivation to create a furniture brand stemmed from a desire to work with these guys.
My childhood entourage also taught me about the importance of sharing in business. Artisans share their techniques without hesitation because they believe it’s the only way to ensure the longevity of their craftsmanship.
What qualities do you aim to draw out of an object, a piece of furniture or a light you create, and how does this impact the experience you want to facilitate for your clients?
We draw from simple and practical design. For me esthétisme comes from simple lines. I like to imagine our furniture matching in different interiors; it could be in a flat in Westminster or a house near Aix en Provence or a coworking coffee shop in Brooklyn.
How does light – natural and artificial – influence the way in which you design objects and spaces?
Especially when we design spaces. At the beginning of our reflection on a project (an apartment, a restaurant etc…) we think about the light simultaneously with the furniture. It’s our landmark for choosing the materials and the colours.
How does your own home and family life inform your work?
We are a couple who work as a duo. We often bring our projects home and we can say that our flat is in a way our laboratory. We don’t stop trying new compositions of furniture and lighting. Our last modification (due to the acrobatic prowess of our son Solal) is in the hallway. We created a composition of a wall mounted console and a Focus Light by Kann with the Enno bulb from Tala.
What is your most prized possession in your home and why?
An original dining table designed by Arne Jacobsen.
What would you say are the building blocks of a well-designed interior project?
Definitely the equilibrium between the materials and the lines. A well-designed interior project is one with lines that frame beautiful and well matched materials.
Find Kann Design at Maison & Objet, 18 – 22 January 2019, in Hall 6, Today Signature Stand M126. Featuring the Tala Porcelain range paired with the Focus Wall Light by Tree Design House.