HOW IT ALL STARTED
The story of 2b design started when the French designer Benedicte de Vanssay de Blavous Moubarak moved with her husband Raja and their children to Beirut, Lebanon after years of living in different countries. In Lebanon, Benedicte became immediately drawn to the unique style of traditional 18th and 19th century Levantine houses inspired by Venetian, French and Ottoman architecture. The massive destruction of old structures mostly due to unchecked real estate development and to a lesser extent to conflict took its toll on the architectural heritage with very few traditional houses left standing.
Benedicte's desire to rescue a disappearing heritage was the spark that started the project. She decided to travel the country's towns and villages in search of discarded old wrought iron balustrades, railings, window frames and other pieces of architectural salvage which at best would have ended up melted down into car parts.
The aftermath of conflict created other challenges as well: lack of access to training and employment of marginalized and disabled persons, little respect for the environment, lingering tensions between different communities. In 2005 Benedicte created 2b design with the mission of “restoring the unseen beauty of the broken” and the name Beyt (House/Home in Hebrew and Arabic) was adopted as the flagship brand name.
Benedicte’s background includes social assistance to young prostitutes in the Philippines, volunteering with Mother Teresa in India, helping slum kids in Brazil, assisting Karen refugees etc.. her passion for design and social work led her to start local initiatives with artisans in the Middle East and North Africa. Raja has an MBA from New York University and ran different countries for multinationals such as Coca-Cola and regional companies. He has also been active in the non-profit world at board level. Raja develops the different aspects of the social enterprise and spearheaded its expansion internationally. Benedicte searches for unique pieces of architectural salvage, creates the designs, trains the artisans, supervises production and the list of what she does goes on and on…