Design – Tashkeel, the creative platform providing a nurturing environment for the growth of contemporary art and design practice in the UAE, presented the work of Eman Shafiq Khawla Al Balooshi, Nuhayr Zein and Tasnim Tinawi, four young designers selected for Tanween 2021, the year-long, fully-funded professional training programme that focused on the intersection between design and science.
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Led by local and international mentors, the designers embarked on a journey of research and experimentation to define a product concept and engage in material innovation inspired by the UAE. Their out-of-the-box collections debuted at Downtown Design, Dubai Design Week 2021.
With the support of professionals in biology, chemistry, geotechnical engineering and construction, Eman Shafiq developed BioSand. This innovative desert sand-based construction material uses a biopolymer from a regionally abundant plant to induce the microbial calcification of desert sand. Her Sehra cabinet highlights the unique characteristics and the architectural potential of the material. Indeed, the furniture displays a connection system for the BioSand panels similar to that used for architectural cladding.
“There is an abundance of desert sand in the UAE and this region that we can’t really do anything with. Desert sand is too fine and too smooth for cement and concrete. Finding a way to use it could have an immense impact. It could revolutionise the construction industry.” Says Eman Shafiq.
Tasnim Tinawi presents The Kapok series comprising a chair and an ottoman. The furniture is upholstered with desert cotton, a fully developed material sourced from the cotton buds of Aerva Javanica. The native shrub requires less water since it adapts to saline soil conditions and does not need pesticides compared to other plant-based stuffing.
“It was important to consult with specialists and botanists to know not only how and where to source organic material but also what qualities to explore,” explains Tasnim Tinawi. “The Kapok series as a whole proves the potential of Desert-cotton as a stuffing material for the mid to high-end upholstery industry and furniture market.”
With the Seed series, Nuhayr Zein creates a balance fusing nature made with machine-made, traditional with modern and past with present. Indeed, the furniture is made of digitally carved oak wood and a sustainable plant-based and naturally textured material developed by Nuhayr as an alternative to exotic leather.
“The project began at the beginning of 2020 when I saw river tamarind trees in my neighbourhood shedding brown pods and I deduced to experiment with them,” says Nuhayr Zein. “Over the 12 months of Tanween, I developed Leukelather, a durable, flexible leather-like fabric with luxurious qualities.”
Khawla Al Balooshi has created the Taht Al Ghaf lamps collection to celebrate the UAE national tree: the ghaf. Seven pieces of treated wood, shaped as half-cylinders, hide the light source, creating an exquisite gold light reminding the desert sun, the colour of the sand, the undulating waves of the dunes and the warmth of fires after dark, a nostalgic reminder of traditions and the importance of family. The designer teamed up with scientists to minimise the use of chemical materials and avoid varnishes during the design process.
All photos: courtesy of Tashkeel.
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