Dubai 2016 – The second edition of Dubai Design Week 2016 kicks off under a video-mapped Burj Khalifa with exhibitions and installations but also talks and workshops taking over the city. We picked 7 must-see projects highlighting the status of the art of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) design scene.
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The exhibition Cairo Now! Incomplete City captures for the first time and under one roof the Egyptian capital’s current design landscape. “Cairo pulses in a perpetual state of unrealised or disjointed design – be it intentional or by circumstance” explains curator and architect Mohamed Elshahed.
On show Furniture, lighting, clothing and architecture but also posters, comic books and fonts. The exhibition manages to evoke the frenetic personality of the city’s creative scene. “Despite the lack of a marketplace or an infrastructure supporting their practices, young creatives keep innovating to turn Cairo trash into new products… And revive fading traditions with a contemporary edge” adds Elshaed.
Inspired by neon lights and signs that flicker in colourful frames, Hani Abyad of Studio MrWhite presents animated projections created exclusively for Dubai Design Week that interact with the Burj Khalifa’s architecture and design.
Abwab – door in Arabic – works like a design biennale. Six countries from the MENASA region have been invited to showcase installations responding to the theme “Games: The Element of Play in Culture”. Located within the walkways of d3, the pavilions of Algeria, Bahrain, India, Iraq, Palestine and the United Arab Emirates are made from a re-appropriated greenhouse structure and form a traditional arabic courtyard.
Palestine pavilion focuses on the disappearing craftsmanship related to olive trees and features an intricate wood-design arch. Iraqis Rand Abdul Jabbar and Hozan Zangana have dotted model versions of their country’s iconic forms on a landscape of black sand. Curated by Salem Al-Qassimi & Maryam Al Qassimi the UAE exhibition pays homage to the Emirati kitsch cafe culture and features fried chickens and not-so-fancy drinks holograms.
Left Impression by Talin Hazbar and Latifa Saeed is a seating installation inspired by the Emirati Majlis: traditional UAE gathering places for families, neighbours and people of a community. The designers created a social space filled with almost spheric stools that were made by deforming pure geometry by adding a different imprint on each unit.
Takki W Hakki interactive installation by Maha Al Sudairi, founder of Jeddah-based studio Think Tank Co, brings people together in a unified playful experience of music and movement across time. The seats feature Sadu print cushions and are shaped like camel saddles, evoking ancient Bedouin transportation methods across the Arabian Peninsula. They are repurposed as swing seats in a circular formation and matched with headsets that all utilise the same upbeat track.
With the Hexalite installations, Zainab Al Hashimi combined Swarovski crystals and mirrored steel in 33 hexagonal structures to create an infinite series of kaleidoscopic views. “In numerology, the number 33 represents world harmony” says the designer. “The installation aims to challenge audiences to interact with the reflections, exploring the connections with each other and the world around them”.
Precious Emirati materials like coral and camel leather are the main ingredients at the Tashkeel’s Tanween pop-up store that features a selection of products by the alumni of its design programme. Bespoke lamps by Zuleika Penniman and leather hammocks by Saher Oliver Samman’s provide a fancy idle retreat.