This is how 10 Emirati designers tackled nature-inspired theme for Milan exhibition

This is how 10 Emirati designers tackled nature-inspired theme for Milan exhibition

Dubai Design District, Emirati designers, Khalid Shafar, Milan design week, UAE, UAE Design Stories

The ‘UAE Design Stories:  The Next Generation from the Emirates‘ exhibition which held its first edition at Milan Design Week presented pieces inspired by the country’s “flora, fauna, and soil”.

Hosted by Dubai Design District (d3) and curated by Emirati product designer Khalid Shafar, the exhibition aims to highlight talent from across the country, with designers showcasing current design pieces, artworks and projects.

Here are some of the highlights from the exhibition: 

Stringray by Alia Mazrooei

Photography by Cristian Castelnuovo

Inspired by the body and movement of a stingray, the chair features various characteristics of the sea animal including an oblique body abd long tail. Stingrays have long been linked to the history of the UAE, often seen as a threat to pearl divers.

Stingrays were utilized as food, in addition to being used as tool for daily tasks such as using the bard of the tail as a tool to cut wood due to its sharp limbs. The oil from its liver was also extracted for lanterns and polishing wood.

Al Areesh by Aljoud Lootah 

A lAreesh stool by Aljoud Lootah is part of the Al Areesh collection, a set of furniture and lighting products

inspired by the traditional palm frond structures found across the Gulf. A typical structure would be created using dried plain fronds of palm leaves, placed vertically as poles, and linked by rope to create simple enclosures that provide shade and protection from the wind.

Fly by Latifa Saeed

Fly is a kinetic design that attempts to change perceptions of traditional craft and evolve them into a new language of possibilities and functions. Latifa Saeed discovered new methods of using khoos (palm frond weaving), using motion mechanics and kinetic art, resulting in a sculptural toy made using alternative forms of palm frond weaving.

Saeed collaborated with local artisans which exposed her their methods of work, fabrication and survival in the modern world, all of which contributed to her deep exploration and understanding of palm frond weaving. Fly is part of the designer’s wider Kinetic Khoos collection.

San’am Rug by Zeinab Alhashemi 

San’am (meaning the hump of a camel in Arabic) is a modular rug made out of a double sided authentic camel leather, a traditional material that has been used consistently throughout the years in the UAE, from past to present.  The utilisation of camel leather has survived a dramatic shift: when once used for survival, the material is now seen as a a luxurious material.

Alhashemi’s rug plays with these two dichotomies, contrasting tribal stitches with hexagonal shapes, with an aim to create a rug that is “lost in time”. The rug can be folded into different shapes, and contains contains sand.

Intinstic Flux by Abdalla Almulla

Intrinsic Flux.

Intrinsic Flux is a wall surface made from clay, one of the oldest building materials used across the UAE; as well as being both a durable and sustainable material. The aim of this piece is to create a continuously altering wall panel that can be adjusted and tailored into countless variations to form which allows for an ever-evolving aesthetic.

Octwov Cluster. 

Almulla has designed another piece for the exhibition, called Octwov Cluster, which consists of a table a that features a cluster of four planes of various heights which are supported by four interwoveb geometric steel columns. Inspired by shapes found in nature, with an interwoven base that presents the structural composition found in nature.

Yareeda by Azza Al Qubaisi 

Yareeda is a range of  furniture and decorative objects that utilise Kurab (wide palm

branches). The series results from years of experimentation and previous works by the artist, including ‘Seeking Identity’ ( 2007), that expresses the changes in day to day living within a modern context, while

remaining rooted in Emirati identity and culture.

Acacia 11 by Roudha Alshamsi 

The Acacia collection is inspired by Acacia trees, locally called “Samr Trees”. and consists of two tables: a

coffee table and a side table, as well as a carpet.

Leaf by Alia Bin Omair 

Leaf by Alia Bin Omair is inspired by palm tree fibre and is handcrafted from 18 carat gold.

Mimicry by Salem Al Mansoori

The concept behind this project was to take the principles of metamorphosis in nature and adopt them

in the process of generating a series of 3D-printed sculptures. The shapes were created using an

algorithmic, generative code-based process. To conceptually borrow from the life cycle of a butterfly, the designer began with basic platonic shapes (tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, sphere, and geodesic) and applied progressively complex algorithmic transformations. Each shape was then captured in

five different stages in the hopes to tell a story of organic growth similar to that of the analogous


Having debuted in Milan, the exhibition is set to London as part of London Design Festival in September for a second exhibition entitled ‘Nomadism: Yesterday & Now’, where the same 10 designers will display specially-commissioned pieces. The show will then return to Dubai as a final showcase, and will be exhibited during Dubai Design Week (13-19 November).

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