Dubai 2017 – Bethan Gray explores Omani architecture heritage design-wise. At Design Days Dubai, the Welsh designer expands her Omani contemporary furniture that reinterprets intricate marquetry and traditional Islamic craft dating back to the sixteenth century. The new furniture series features cabinet and tables and is on show at the Britain takes shape exhibition.
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“Cultural referencing is at heart of my design philosophy. Through my travels and research, I’m inspired to create original contemporary pieces that resonate with global, as well as local, audiences, and that have an elegant and timeless appeal.” Says Bethan Gray.
Nature materials like maple wood, solid brass or mother-pearl encounter soft muted feminine shades and highly saturated, more masculine colours. The new designs have been made in collaboration with Mohamad Reza Shamsian, a masterful Iranian artist, and his team of 70 highly skilled craftsmen based in Muscat, Oman.
The Shamsian Nizwa Cabinet is inspired by the rounded architectural castellation patterning of the Nizwa Fort in Oman. The design highlights the meticulous technique of inlaying/overlaying solid brass and mother pearl into coloured solid wood and maple veneer.
The solid brass overlay of the Dhow table collection inspired by the traditional Dhow sailing boats of Oman. “Traditional dhows were driven by large triangular lateen sails made of cotton and sewn together in strips. The sails were bound to the hull using ropes made from coir, which created a unique and textured lineation”.
The Paua collection plays with the glossy and iridescent features of mother pearl – Paua, in Arabic. Mother pearl has been used for centuries from the ancient Egyptians to East Asian and Islamic religious art. “By using paua abalone shell inlay, I created an alluringly elegant collection, which offers a highly unique aesthetic due to the lustrous quality of mother pearl”.
Bethan Gray is an ambassador for contemporary Islamic design. She co-founded The Ruby Tree, placing social purpose at its core, and her work with charitable foundation, Turquoise Mountain, is helping regenerate crafts DNA within the Middle East.
All images: courtesy of Bethan Gray.