Manuel Shaabi left Lebanon in '79, when the country was in the midst of a civil war, emigrating to Bavaria, in what was then West Germany (and where the ongoing division of the nation was, at best, "cold"). He brought with him his skills as a wood sculptor and cabinetmaker, initially making a living creating one-of-a-kind furnishings and restoring sculptures for churches and cathedrals. After relocating to Hamburg in 1984, as a consideration for his daughter's asthmatic condition, he found regular work harder to come by, and so returned to school to complete his formal training. This culminated in the piece he created as his final test, a fine hand-made trunk, impressing his teachers so much that he was offered a position as an instructor. Manuel attained numerous awards over the years that followed, but by the early 90s he was yearning for an outlet that would allow him to exercise a greater degree of creativity.
Thus began a second big "start-over", as he took on becoming an apprentice pipe-repairer at the Pipe Dan factory. Having greatly progressed his knowledge of pipes throughout his time at Pipe Dan, by 1998 he was ready to set off as an independent artisan - which is exactly what he did. Suffice to say Manuel Shaabi's considerable dedicated streak has served the development of his art well, and it shows in the briars which bear his name; beautiful lines, wonderful form, and quite an eye for quality materials. We find all of it here, in this shapely, yet graceful bent Egg design, the briar's fine flame and birdseye grain complemented by a beautifully patterned cumberland stem.
- Eric N. Squires