contemporary meets culture for downtown editions at dubai design week 2019
 

contemporary meets culture for downtown editions at dubai design week 2019

downtown design returns for its seventh edition in 2019 as a mainstay of dubai design week. it hosts the middle east’s leading design trade show, exhibiting regional and international brands alongside one another, from the likes of arper and pedrali to swarovski and GROHE. in only its second year, though, downtown editions has become a highlight as it offers a curation of high quality, original design within the trade fair itself. the exhibition spotlights regional initiatives, young designers and up-and-coming brands. for 2019, the curation displays an intriguing trend as the designers merge fresh, contemporary designs, especially in terms of form, with local cultural traditions and craft.

 

we highlight five our favorite design pieces that each blend traditional crafts with modern forms from downtown editions 2019.


mokaعab, lana el samman, tanween 2019
image courtesy of tashkeel (main image too)

 

 

lana el samman, a lebanon-born interior designer, embraces the heritage of sharjah, UAE, in a modular table-cum-shelf collection called mokaعab, which translates as ‘cube’ from arabic. it builds upon the traditional architectural practice of women weaving palm fonds for wall and ceiling decorations, floor mats, handheld fans and baskets. the designer has intertwined these centuries-old silhouettes with modern patterns, folds and geometric shapes. here, camel leather and khoos are intricately woven into a top surface. a wooden structure, made from hard-carved tubes and connected by metal angular components, create a uniform shape that can be attached and stacked together. the versatile furniture can then be adapted to its changing surroundings, from a side table to a set of shelves.


mokaعab, lana el samman, tanween 2019
image courtesy of tashkeel

 

 

lana el samman’s mokaعab collection is the result of tashkeel’s intensive development program called tanween, which encompasses a residency year of labs, workshops and mentoring for creatives. set up in 2013 by tashkeel, an art facility, it challenges upcoming designers in the region to respond to the rapidly developing contemporary scene in the UAE. it does so by nurturing the growth of art and design whilst also establishing and continuing to connect makers with artisan skills, materials and production. the results, like el samma’s collection, engage in cross-cultural dialogue.


mokaعab, lana el samman, tanween 2019
image courtesy of tashkeel

 


grey is not grey from binchy and binchy’s ten tables collection – made in collaboration with kvadrat maharam
image courtesy of binchy and binchy

 

 

binchy and binchy’s ten tables collection mixes rich, local heritage with revolutionary materials. with the UAE-based architectural practice understanding that architecture should be an extension of a certain time and place in history, their range of design objects, which appear as tables, captures this philosophy on a smaller scale. each of the 10 pieces reference one of their architectural projects, either in their form, materials or both. although looking incredibly sturdy as if constructed from stone, granite or concrete, the bases are actually made from a process that compresses thousands of paper sheets. the tops, however, offer a distinct contrast. they feature bespoke, intricate patterns made from luxurious materials that encapsulate traditional symbolism, culture and ethnic elements.


tranquillity from binchy and binchy’s ten tables collection

 

 

spanning across the middle east, north africa, and south east and central asia, irthi contemporary crafts council’s program of creative, cultural and commercial initiatives is designed to empower women through indigenous craft. ranging from sculptural totem-like chair stacks to hand-blown palestinian glass, their latest exhibition at downtown editions displays a range of crafted design objects that exemplify rich hand-making heritage of sarjah and the UAE. their two initiatives encourage the sharing of knowledge: crafts dialogue forms collaborations between UAE and global designers to exchange art and production techniques; and design labs acts as a residency where bidwa artisans, enrolled in the bidwa social development program, are paired with regional and international designers.


emirati clay x italian murano glass by fatima al zaabi and matteo silverio, irthi contemporary crafts council, crafts dialogue
image courtesy of moez achour

 

 

in crafts dialogue, emirati clay x italian murano glass by fatima al zaabi and matteo silverio fuses emirati and european materials to craft an intricate vase, lamp and phone charger collection. it not only juxtaposes the fragility of glass with the sturdiness of clay into single objects, but also blends handmade and computerized techniques. here, parametric design and digital fabrication tools were used to create molds while artisans hand-manipulated the glass and clay.


emirati clay x italian murano glass lamp by fatima al zaabi and matteo silverio, irthi contemporary crafts council, crafts dialogue
image courtesy of moez achour

 


safeefah by ghaya bin mesmar and mermedlada estudio, irthi contemporary crafts council, crafts dialogue
image courtesy of moez achour

 

 

inspired by the local region in terms of both craft and visual cues, safeefah by ghaya bin mesmar and mermedlada estudio is a palm fond-weaved chair collection. it was inspired by a single image of a desert house – made from the namesake weaving technique – that had been blown down by the wind to resemble a cone shape. this form was mirrored in the chairs to allow for both privacy and protection from the elements. its conical back welcomes users within. the design modernizes the traditional safeefah weave by adding a unique, vibrant color range.


safeefah by ghaya bin mesmar and mermedlada estudio, irthi contemporary crafts council, crafts dialogue
image courtesy of moez achour

 


safeefah x sand casting by irthi and architecture and other things, irthi contemporary crafts council, design labs
image courtesy of moez achour

 

 

in irthi’s design labs initiative, the safeefah x sand casting by irthi and nadia taryam, faisal tabbarah and khawla al hashimi of architecture and other things is a collection of sand-casted furniture. forming a table and a set of stools, the range began as an experiment of different combinations of water, sand, concrete, clay and soil. the resulting rock-like material was set into special frames to form these soft yet monolithic shapes. safeefah-weaved camel leather is then laid on top of the structures, before falling down towards the floor.


safeefah x sand casting by irthi and architecture and other things, irthi contemporary crafts council, design labs
image courtesy of moez achour

 

 

exhibition info:

 

fair: downtown design

curation: downtown editions

event: dubai design week

dates: 12-15 november, 2019

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