Karen Chekerdjian’s practical beginnings were in advertising, working in both film and graphic design at Leo Burnett Beirut in the early 1990’s and as a co-founder of one of the first branding companies in the Middle East.
Karen moved to Milan in 1997 to pursue a master’s degree in industrial design at DOMUS academy, under the guidance of Massimo Morozzi, a founder of Archizoom. Chekerdjian used her time in Italy to experiment and explore the extensions and limitations of her art. She began developing a language of design, where the ability for her pieces to take on new functions in varied contexts became a continuous thread in her work.
In 2001, Chekerdjian moved back to Beirut, the city where she was born. That same year, she founded Karen Chekerdjian Studio. At the time, design was still in its nascency in Lebanon and the region at large. Rather than succumb to the challenges imposed by a lack of industry and technology, Chekerdjian harnessed an existing history to begin carving a foundation for design in Lebanon. Interested in culturally specific traditions and skills, she began working with local artisans, transforming the process of handcraft into distinct product design and creating a dialogue between designer and craftsman that, she insists, is necessary for actualization and re-visitation.