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Hello, it’s me, the guy who writes stuff for the Great Design Disaster. I’m going against my usual position of total anonymity because I think it will give you some perspective on the co-founders of The Great Design Disaster, Gregory Gatserelia and Joy Herro. You see, they came to me with this request to write their bios like they were going to the dentist - totally reluctant, yet spurred onward by necessity. And, here, I’m going to take some liberty - my sense is that they’re much more interested in you getting excited about their ideas and the potential behind them, then having you get too worked up about their life story - something I can totally relate to as the word guy here. So I’m going to share with you a little bit of what they’ve told me about themselves and a little bit of my own perceptions. I’m going to do my best to be fair and disastrous at the same time. And humble, too - like I see them - understanding that art and design starts with us, yet is bigger than all of us. I’m sure I’ll muck it up but that’s what makes this so vital - I have no map here, I am the map. Here goes:

Gregory Gatserelia I’m thinking, “Frank Lloyd Wright meets Easy Rider”. There’s nothing predictable about Gregory except his life-long passion for Art and Design. And motorbikes. Originally from Georgia, he made New York City his adoptive home - no wait! - he made Canada and Lebanon his adoptive home(S). But he was also raised, forged like some bronze statue ready to spring to artistic vitality in France. And in these multiple Homelands, influenced by post-modernist - no wait! - his work is eclectic, virtually defying definition while still maintaining a distinct imprint recognisably his own. You see, Gatserelia possesses intuition as much as preparation. His studies at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in Interior Architecture are balanced with a boundless curiosity which has fostered in him a love for travel as much as a well-informed zeal for European antiques, for instance. He is at home in Paris as much as he is at home in Milan or Toronto where he founded Gatserelia Design with his brother Alexander Gatserelia in 1985. Surely, his love for riding motorcycles has informed him, too - the Road. And everything he has encountered there is fair for inclusion in his visions, his creations. Not surprisingly, such authenticity comes with recognition and he was listed by Architectural Digest as being among the top one-hundred interior designers on the Planet on more than one occasion, as well as winning the prestigious UK and International Restaurant and Bar Design Award for Best Restaurant Design in the Middle East and Africa and Best Overall Bar. And there’s more - in 2011, he opened his own art gallery in Beirut, where he promotes both international and Lebanese designers, all just part of his continuing efforts to vitalise, in other words, breathe life into art, design and architecture, plucking at the chords that connect all three disciplines and the humanity they serve. For decades, he has accompanied clients to international art and design galleries and shows, acting as a trusted consultant, a soothsayer of where the art and design world is headed - in fact, year after year, he is also invited to PAD Paris to act as a judge. Few know the world of collectors and collections like Gregory. His long-term relationships with clients proved to be a precursor to the Great Design Disaster where his ability to listen to and navigate his client’s wishes facilitate their active participation in the final results he offers them, the sensibility at the root of the GDD.
Joy Herro I’m thinking, “Frida Kahlo meets Godzilla”. What strikes you about Joy is how she acquired so much knowledge, business savvy and good taste so fast. Equally passionate about art and design but a relative novice to this hardcore unforgiving world, Joy, born in Lebanon, quickly shined in her professional studies in interior architecture and product design in her homeland, then went on to continue her education in Rome, Italy where things started to pop. Her newfound passion for Italian design quickly blossomed into a gig managing a gallery specialising in vintage Italian design. And here is where her talents sharpened into the mission she has taken on today with The Great Design Disaster. The connections she made gave her an industrial spy’s insight into design production and her artist’s soul helped forge connections with talented artisans of every kind. I’m telling you, she’s all business AND she’s super cool, her enthusiasm is contagious!

A DISASTROUS ENCOUNTER It was the summer of 2017, the city of Beirut, Joy and Gregory had been put in touch through a mutual friend - the first outreach was a simple email, then came a disastrous dinner. It was something out of Casablanca, Joy got there early and, despite everybody crowded outside onto the restaurant’s terrace, she found a place inside to await Gregory. He rushed through the door and the chemistry was immediate, “Why the fuck are you sitting inside?” he asked. And as Gregory gallantly ordered a host of food for the pair to sample, Joy created an edible site-specific installation across the table. Gregory’s disgust was palpable. But as more than one critic and artist alike has mused, even a negative reaction is a positive one. And so it was. Like the very friction that brought us electric lights, this contrasting couple sparked a sea of ideas between them, pushing each other, pulling one another along, their mutual intellectual and aesthetic curiosity never ceasing, his wisdom and her irreverence, his irreverence and her wisdom, fuelled more than ever before by just the right blend of disharmony and awe. However, they both agreed that the art and design world had become contaminated by superfluous factors, art had surpassed design by far commercially and, very often, sub-par works of art were outclassing masterful design pieces that required far more know-how and process-mindedness to create. The collectors were being taken for a ride. Their answer - turn the collector into a creator. And that’s when a mere disaster became a vocation. It became their mission. They discovered their kindred need to reinvent a world that never represented them in primis .

Creative Direction and Graphic Design: Studio Vedèt
Press Relations: P.S. Design consulting
Copywriter: Craig Peritz
Set Design: Liberty Allen
Photography: Mattia Parodi