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R & Company, Lehmann Maupin, and House of Today team up in Aspen to celebrate design from Lebanon

How different things can feel in the span of just one week. Last Saturday, New York galleries R & Company and Lehmann Maupin, in collaboration with Beirut-based nonprofit House of Today, opened Haptic Narratives, a pop-up exhibition of contemporary design from Lebanon presented alongside important international works of contemporary art and historical furniture. Mounted in the picturesque Aspen Core building to coincide with the summer arts season in Aspen, the show was created to support House of Today’s ongoing mission to nurture upcoming Lebanese designers and to introduce their work to new audiences. In light of the recent tragedy in Beirut, this support has never been more urgent.

Just as R & Company was opening Haptic Narratives, we reached out to owners Evan Snyderman and Zesty Meyers to learn more about this wonderful project. And then yesterday, we learned that many of the designers in the exhibition have lost their studios. With love to all of our friends and colleagues in Beirut, we are sharing this interview, followed by a list of organizations that could use your donations in Lebanon’s time of need.

Unique Foam & Concrete Chair (2020) by Carlo & Mary-Lynn Massoud. Photo © Carl Halal, courtesy R & Company & House of Today

Design Miami: Tell us about your project in Aspen this summer.

Evan Snyderman: It has been a challenging time for everyone, and working together to build a stronger community within the design world is critical. We started thinking outside the box as soon as the reality of the pandemic set in several months ago. The Aspen project grew out of an exhibition originally planned to open in May in our New York gallery—a collaboration with House of Today, a nonprofit organization from Beirut that mentors young designers and connects them with manufacturers, craftspeople, and galleries.

Zesty Meyers: When House of Today approached us with the idea of sharing a space in Aspen for the summer with Lehmann Maupin, we felt the collaboration was the perfect fit. With a mission to bring about change and to give back, House of Today, R & Company, and Lehmann Maupin created an exhibition specific for Aspen titled Haptic Narratives.

Stone & Broom Fiber Bench (2020) by Sayar & Garibeh. Photo © Carl Halal, courtesy R & Company & House of Today

DM: What is distinct about the Aspen audience, and how is different this year?

ES: Aspen is a unique place—its own micro-society filled with art and culture that has had a long and interesting history in that regard. With institutions like Anderson Ranch, Aspen Museum, and Aspen Institute, there is a continuous feed of cultural events normally throughout the summer. Aspen also has a very sophisticated demographic of collectors from New York, LA, Dallas, Miami, and Chicago who summer there.

ZM: What is different about this summer is that the typical events such as Wine & Art Crush and Anderson Ranch's benefit auction and talk series are all canceled. The collectors are still here, but there is much less to do. We felt it was a great opportunity to reconnect with clients in an environment that is easy and safe to social distance.


Foam Cushion (2020) by Sayar & Garibeh Photo © R & Company

DM: Tell us about some of the highlights of Haptic Narrative.

ZM: The entire space has to be seen because it feels much more like a private residence than a white-cube art space. It’s very dynamic.

ES: The work by contemporary Lebanese designers like Carlo and Mary-Lynn Massoud, Hala Matta, Karen Chekerdjian, Sayar & Garibeh, and Stéphanie Moussallem is really sophisticated and looks amazing in dialogue with contemporary artworks by Catherine Opie and Nari Ward.◆


Haptic Narrative – The Aspen Edition is open by appointment August 1 to September 15, 2020 at 535 East Hyman Avenue in Aspen.

Please lend your support and donate to these organizations on the ground in Beirut helping victims:

Lebanese Red Cross
Embrace Lebanon
Islamic Relief
Beirut Blast Victims GoFundMe

You can also donate to House of Today.