Passion for furniture design
LAU adjunct faculty member Vanessa Dammous shares her passion for design.
LAU adjunct faculty member Vanessa Dammous’ passion for furniture design was first sparked on the stage. “Theater design and setting up stages intrigued me. I was particularly interested in the detailing and small interventions the work demanded.” From there it was a natural step for Dammous to venture into designing furniture.
Graduating in 2001 with a bachelor degree in architecture, Dammous currently teaches a furniture design workshop at LAU, where she was once a student. From LAU she went to Italy and completed graduate studies in product design with an emphasis on small objects.
“We never had a furniture design course when I was a student—but we did have a shop course where we got to work with our hands,” she says. “That’s where I got my first taste of what it is like to work with wood.”
Dammous’ furniture design workshop is a professional elective offered by LAU’s School of Architecture and Design and while not everyone who takes this course intends to be a furniture designer, the curriculum teaches valuable design lessons that can be applied to various situations. “Designing on a computer is one thing, but the actual production with its detailed complexity is another matter altogether,” Dammous explains. “It’s important to learn how to deal with the material itself—the nerve of the wood, the strength of the steel—the material has a character that you need to understand,” she says with poetic candor.
Dammous transmits her passion to her students and encourages them to be original and imaginative in their designs. She is known to champion the work of her apprentices and speaks with palpable pride when she refers to their projects.
“I am always taken aback by the level of talent and creativity we have here at LAU,” she says. “The students always want to learn more.”
With respect to her own commercial work, Dammous says she finds inspiration from her surrounding environment. “Context is everything—I think about where I am working, the people I am working for—it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where inspiration comes from.”
According to the architect, the most critical step for a designer is to have a narrative behind his or her project. “If you have a story that justifies your idea then any project can be convincing,” she says. “Design is more than just the final product, it is also about the process.”
Her advice for future architects: “Remember design is not just about aesthetics— think of it as a verb, not a noun.”