Panelists at Fantasmeem launch. (Goethe-Institut Libanon/Alia Haju)
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A month after the damning McKinsey report was made public, Lebanese designers are keen to increase their role in the burgeoning knowledge economy, one of the five sectors the report hopes can save Lebanon's economy.Fantasmeem, a yearlong program recently initiated by the Goethe Institut, seeks to address these issues by supporting Lebanon's design industry and equipping designers with entrepreneurial skills.Under its recommendations for the knowledge economy, the McKinsey report doesn't single out design as a locus of this movement -- even though the design industry is booming in Lebanon.Countries are ranked based on the number of designers that have been granted the A' Design Award, an accolade considered by many to be the industry's most prestigious.Myriam Saad, a freelance graphic designer, said she agrees a social security plan would help incentivize the design industry in Lebanon.The program offers a variety of opportunities for designers from the MENA region living in Lebanon, including a design residency program, professional mentoring and guidance for startup ideas, startup grants and job shadowing opportunities.Roula Haidar, general manager of L'Artisan du Liban, which supports local craftsmanship, agreed that for the design industry to flourish here, designers must emphasize function.The panel was under no illusion that design could solve all of Lebanon's problems.
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