Lebanese artist-designer Rana Salam was born in Beirut in 1966. She studied in London, graduating first with a degree in Graphic Design from the University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins, in 1990, before continuing her studies in Visual Communication and Art Direction at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1992. After completing her education, Salam’s breakthrough came when she designed the window displays for luxury department store Harvey Nichols in 1994. She subsequently established her studio in London in 1995, where she remained until 2010. During her time in London, Salam worked on collaborations with well-known brands such as Paul Smith (2000); she also completed the brand design for Comptoir Libanais (2008). In 2010, she returned to Beirut, where she continues to run her studio, occasionally collaborating with brands across a spectrum of activities from graphic design for print and digital media to packaging and brand identity, as well as producing her own line of design products and accessories.
Salam refers to her aesthetic as “Middle Eastern pop” and is known for her eclectic mix of pop and op-art influences, mixed graphic styles and bold color choices, and a dash of kitsch with plenty of Middle Eastern flair. Salam often incorporates found objects or graphics into her designs, an example being the fun, maximalist room installation Plastik Fantastik (2010) that the studio created for a gala event commissioned by Lebanese non-profit organization Skoun. In her own line of design products, which includes prints, home textiles, and table-top pieces, Salam emphasizes a slightly retro, screen-printed look that harks back to the Roman Holiday era of Hollywood glam, but through a decidedly Middle Eastern lens. The designer’s mission is to “change the perception of the Middle East through the power of design.”
In recent years, Rana Salam Studio was commissioned to develop a new design for Converse as part of the brand’s Made By You (2015) project inviting designers and artists from around the world to create their own version of the iconic Converse Chucks. In collaboration with Sauce Dubai, Salam also participated in a project to reinterpret Kartell's classic Bourgie Lamp, which was originally designed by Ferruccio Laviani. In 2017, Salam worked on a pop-up installation as part of the Istanbul Design Biennale.