An exhibition entitled Middle East: Design Now! opened during London Design Festival, showcasing works by 18 designers from across the MENA region including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.
The exhibition was represented by Dubai Design District (d3) and co-curated by British designer and author Suzanne Trocme, and held at Granary Square, Kings Cross in London between 21 to 24 September.
Taking a look at traditional materials and design methodologies, Middle East: Design Now! portrayed designers and artists from a variety of creative fields and through different mediums, many of whom are utilizing these traditional methods, materials and motifs in a modern day context, understanding how memory – DNA or real – plays a part in the creation of contemporary artefacts and graphics.
The UAE represented five designers, including furniture designer Alia Al Mazruie who showcased her concept chair, Benad, which is a minimalist piece inspired by traditional Arabian Majlis floor seating. The low-seated chair includes contemporary feature while maintaining its essence of comfort for an individual occupant. It has been designed to curve on one side as an armrest, while the other side curves around the back.
Emirati designer Aljoud Lootah,. who has been involved in projects that distinctly interprets the Emirati culture, traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, showcased furniture works and accessories including the Tebr Collection, Misnad, and the Marble Unity Stool.
Also from the UAE was designer and artist Latifa Saeed, who employs an experimental and research-based approach in her material and technique selection. Saeed showcased the Braided Chair, alongside UAE-based graphic design studio who exhibited a branding project in collaboration with the Etihad Museum as well as jewelry brand, Gafla.
From Saudi Arabia, Ayah Al Bitar, showcased her local-inspired modular seating and contemporary prayer beads.
Four of the designers hailed from Lebanon, including design-duo Bokja, whose designs incorporate traditional objects including Aubusson tapestries and modern classic chairs; Ghassan Salameh, who exhibited his Zoomorphic lighting; and product designer Marc Baroud, who works on transforming every day objects, showcased his Relic series.
Interior designer Nayef Francis showcased an array of work including Clip Coffee Table, Gemini Chair, Grid Library, Karma Table Light, Nail It Coat Hooks, Orbit Table, Rotating Library, and Float Arm Chair.
Design pieces from Kuwait included Kawthar Al Safar’s sand-cast works, Loulwa Al Radwan’s sculptures, and Manal Al Maimouni’s seating design that represents visual memories from the region.
Hayan Mani from Jordan, who was also part of Amman Design Week’s curated exhibition called The Hangar, showed his graphic design works.
From North Africa, Cherif Morsi and Salsabel Amin from Egypt showcased their works, alongside Chacha Atallah from Tunisia and Younes Duret from Morocco.
In 2014, Wallpaper* magazine, in association with Dubai Design District (d3) held an exhibit called ‘Middle East Revealed’ during the London Design Festival, bringing together creatives from seven countries in the Middle East.