Colour Diary from Beirut Designer Rana Salam

IMG_6596While normally we run a week’s worth of images from design notables in our colour diary strand, this month’s subject designer Rana Salam wowed us with her exotic snaps from her hometown of Beirut so much that we couldn’t bring ourselves to edit them to seven. Beirut-born Rana is the founder and art director at Rana Salam Design Studio, which works on various projects in the design industry from interiors to products. The pop culture – or ‘shabby culture’ – of the Middle East is an influencing factor behind Rana’s distinctive style, and whatever they are working on, colour is a major part of it.

When she was growing up in Beirut – and as the daughter of one of Lebanon’s notable modernist architects, Assem Salam – Rana would hit the streets on her scooter to take in visual memories that have continued to shape her work today. She opened her first design studio in London in 2002 with clients including Harvey Nichols and Liberty of London and after eight years returned to her roots in bustling and ever-changing Beirut. Here are her colour snaps from a week in her vibrant city.


F&B_Lemon_Rana Salam

“I love lemons and anything yellow. Tourmous is a local snack eaten by the sea. Served with a sprinkle of lemon juice.”

F&B_Street Hjab_Rana Salam

“Hijab in window outside a ribbon shop.”

F&B_Studio Wall 1_Rana Salam

“The studio wall for staff.”

F&B_Kitchen Curiosities_Rana Salam

“Kitchen Clutter at the studio, where I feel most at home…vintage books found in London live now in Beirut.”

F&B_Pepsi Glass Bottles_Rana Salam

“Glass Pepsi bottles are still sold in many local shops around Beirut.”

F&B_Ribbons_Rana Salam

“Scenes from the ribbon shop.”

F&B_Cabinet2_Rana Salam

“Cushion accessories stacked high inside our medicine cabinet.”

F&B_Bridal Wear_Rana Salam“A bridal dress found in a ribbon shop.”

F&B_Studio Samples_Rana Salam

“Sample corner of the studio, ready for many ideas to come.”

F&B_Studio Kitchen_Rana Salam

“The kitchen in the studio.”F&B_Lemon Labneh_Rana Salam

“This morning it’s Lemon Labneh at the studio, with lemon oil and zaatar.”

F&B_Vintage Bus gear_Rana Salam

“Vintage School bus steering wheel found at the kids’ school.”

F&B_Vintage School bus graphics_Rana Salam

“Vintage school bus graphics also found at the school.”

F&B_Artichokes_Rana Salam

“It’s artichoke’s season: freshly prepared at home for friends on Sunday during Beirut Design Week.”

F&B_Street typography_Rana Salam

“Wooden chair’s rental sign found in Basta…”

F&B_Vintage Chair 2_Rana Salam

“…along with this vintage chair spotted on the way.”

F&B_Holy water_Rana Salam

“This for holy water and I found it inside the church next to the studio. It’s the month of the Virgin in Lebanon so I went to church this week and came across this beautiful object.”

F&B_Print in Progress_Rana Salam

“Back to the studio collecting our digital prints for our Monday launch during Design Week.”

F&B_Files_Rana Salam

“Studio filing is a key Friday activity!”


For more colour in Beirut, follow Rana’s Instagram.

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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