The terms “high-end” and “recycled” can occupy the same sentence when referring to beyt by 2b design—a furniture and home accessories company, with headquarters in Cambridge, that transforms architectural salvage into one-of-a-kind creations and employs disadvantaged people of diverse backgrounds.
Here, lampshades and pillow shams are made from the fabric of vintage Chanel suits and embroidered tribal textiles, and wood façades from war-torn areas of the Middle East become tables and candelabras. While creating a unique product is the end goal, two essential elements of the design include people in need, and a heritage at risk.
“They gave me a chance,” says Lorraine Carrington, “they didn’t even ask about my past.” Carrington came to 2b design through Pine Street Inn’s IMPACT program in 2013. An integral part of the business model is training individuals who don’t traditionally have access to the job market. As a result, Carrington hasn’t just learned how to make pillows and lampshades, she’s learned to look at every piece with the eye of an artisan.
Benedicte and Raja Moubarak are the husband and wife duo who manage all aspects of the business. While living in Lebanon, the couple saw homes around them destroyed and used the pieces as way of preserving the past and creating opportunity. A desire for social justice led the couple to begin working with arcenciel—a non-profit that brings together people of different faiths, and mental and physical abilities. Mrs. Moubarak has spent the last seven years training her team in Lebanon to work with machinery, assemble products, apply patina, and sew fabrics.
“You have to work a lot harder on bringing someone up to an acceptable level of artisanship,” says Mr. Moubarak. “It’s very time consuming in terms of effort. You have to be very patient.” It takes an average of seven months to train in the art of lampshade making, but the payout is worth it. “The level of motivation that you see here is so much bigger because they really want to make it.”
Although the company was originally based in Beirut, the American headquarters is now just outside Harvard Square, where a home design boutique opened in 2012. Repurposed materials are taken very seriously–even the floor of the Cambridge showroom came from a local factory that is no longer in use. As a positive sign for the future, department store Lane Crawford recently placed a large order for lamps.
Visit beyt by 2b design, 185 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge; 617-401-8415, 2bdesign.biz.
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