Have you ever asked yourself why you adore Beirut so much? We are firm believers that each person has their own reason for their strong connection toward our beloved city. Whether it’s the food, family ties, architecture, or just the atmosphere there is always something that sucks you back in if you ever try to leave. We were excited to find an artist who feels the very same way about Beirut. He loved it so much that he portrayed it in the matter of candy art and his final works really made our eyes pop!
Meet Ryan Houssari, the artist behind the project Minimal Beirut. Minimal Beirut consists of different known landmarks in Beirut with a new pop twist. He stripped down all the wounded memories of each place and showed each establishment’s real beauty in vibrant beautiful colors. When we saw the eye-popping colored pictures of our beloved city it made us take a step back and actually appreciate the beauty of Beirut. We knew we had to meet with Ryan to see where his colorful inspirations and ideas came from – and so we did. The very first thing Ryan explained to us was why he chose to work on this project. He believes that Beirut’s extensive history has made it hard for everyone to appreciate its real beauty. His mission with this project was to show people how he sees the city. He took away all that he considers an eyesore and turned it into a minimal, candy-colored wonderland. He wanted to show Beirut free of everyday reality bites and politics and give the people a chance to appreciate architecture and culture the right way. “This is my vision of Beirut. And this how I want people to see it.”
For someone to be so dedicated to such an extensive project, they have to have a real burning desire to create it. We wanted to know what it was about Beirut that gave Ryan his drive to create the project. He stated, “The fact that no matter how far you go, there’s always something about Beirut that feeds your appetite and keeps you coming back for more.” He continued to explain that even when you distance yourself from Beirut It’s very easy to get a small reminder whether it be a visual recollection, a song by Fairuz, or that feeling of ease you never get elsewhere – it’s just an overflow of emotions when you think about Beirut.
Ryan’s project includes candy colored versions of Saifi Village, the Manara Lighthouse, the Ferris wheel on Raouche, Beirut’s first ever cinema, St. Elie Armenian Church, Mohamad El- Amin Mosque and Martyr’s Square. It was almost impossible for us to choose one as our favorite, so we knew it would be just as equally hard for Ryan. But you know us, we had to ask anyway. “There’s a piece that I called “The Grand Beirut Hotel” inspired by Wes Anderson’s film (The Grand Budapest Hotel). It’s actually an abandoned building in Downtown that I pumped life into by making it pink. It’s my fantasy hotel and a great example of Lebanese architecture.”
We were truly impressed with this project we wanted to get the inside scoop of any upcoming projects and rest assured there will be more. Ryan plans on taking his Minimal Beirut around the world to spread the beauty of our country to other cultures.
In addition to his projects, Ryan is working on developing Candyfornia, a design studio that focuses on all visual arts, which he hopes will become a creative melting pot for young artists and graphic designers. It looks like for Ryan, these days, there’s nothing sweeter than candy.
Creative Director: Ryan Houssair
Photographer: Matt Crump