Article in brief: Being a part of Design Days Dubai 2015 as an exhibitor, as opposed to being part of the organizing team or being an intern, gave a fresh perspective on how the design pieces inform an interaction between the object and the viewer without any preconceived notions.
Design Days Dubai unfolded its contents yet again this year, for the fourth time since it was launched back in 2011. This annual fair is known to be the leading design fair in the Middle East and South Asia, and its main aim is to showcase collectible and limited edition furniture and design objects. The fair also extends a noncommercial branch in the form of a public program consisting of workshops, talks, screenings, and live design performances, that were running throughout the duration of the fair.
Walking through the fairgrounds and browsing through the various works, I allowed the designs’ different forms and materiality lay their impact on me and form their own conclusions in my mind. There was an endless array of artworks, which I narrowed down to these key pieces that left big impressions on me.
Debuting her new studio, Aljoud Lootah displayed the “Oru” series, which is adapted from the designer’s origami explorations. Aljoud even laid out some samples of the origami paper that inspired the series, which clarified her initial design development process, and served as an inspiration to the audience. It highlighted that simple forms can materialize into functional and aesthetically pleasing objects.
Australian designer Trent Janson, who is represented by Broached Commissions, a gallery from Melbourne, Australia, exhibited a portrayal of an Australian family in the form of a tea set. The Briggs Family Tea Service came about after Janson studied this particular family’s history and their interaction with one another and with the Australian society during the colonial period. The parental figures come from a European and Aboriginal backgrounds, and as a result the children were biracial; the designer incorporated Australian wallaby fur in the tea set to point that out.
Gallery S. Bensimon
Hideki Yoshimoto, a Japanese designer represented by Gallery S. Bensimonfrom Paris, France, placed an interactive light piece that can easily be adapted outdoors and indoors. The stems of the Indho Light Installation move when they sense passersby. The piece extracts the balance between the fragility and the lightweight of the plant it mimics, and plays on the concept of what is manmade and what is natural.
In Studio Markunpoika’s Engineering Temporality, the metal cabinet appropriates the shape of a classical wood cabinet, and the process in fact involves just that. Metal rings are welded with one another around a wooden cabinet. Once the whole piece has been cast in metal rings, the designer sets the wooden cabinet on fire and eliminates its existence, leaving the metal shell as the sole functional remainder. The piece and the process are both inspired by the designer’s Alzheimer-stricken grandmother, who is blissfully unaware of her condition and still believes that she is young and beautiful. The metal shell of what was once inside is a direct response to the grandmother’s condition.
Studio Markunpoika’s representatives, Gallery FUMI from London, UK, also showcased the work of a number of other designers. Among them was Study O Portable, who produced a series of tables that are created by layers and layers of rings, each painted separately and added one by one, to allude to a natural looking finish that could resemble wood or a precious stone. The materials used are all manmade.
LITHIC by artist and designer Talin Hazbar is a product of a design program that was initiated by Tashkeel in Dubai, UAE, where four designers were paired to local based artisans and manufacturers to bring their ideas into being. Talin’s light installation was inspired by a local legend in one of the remote towns in the mountains of the emirate of Fujeirah, where it is believed that a creature resides in one of the caves, and throws stones at whoever steps foot in his cave. The harsh protruded stone forms with cracks of light of the piece run parallel to the theme of the story.
The Crafts Council
The Crafts Council joins together independent designers and design studios from the United Kingdom and provides them with a platform to exhibit their work. Among the exhibiting designers was Stefano Santilli, who looked at how furniture was made through the availability of resources in the forest in the UK in the past, and adapted the same ideology of making use of the available materials that can be found utilized, and so, he incorporated bits of broken car headlights and side mirrors that got knocked off and thrown on the side of the road in the country side, with his wooden Long Bench.
Another exhibiting designer is Nicholas Gardner, who exhibited Corporate Marble, a rectangular coffee table that makes use of marble that is no longer needed in corporate companies and is discarded. The designer relinquishes control over how the marble breaks, and surrounds the surface of the table with the marble.
When going to a design fair either as a collector, a student, or simply as a person who possesses interest in looking at design, one might search for something that is exceptionally large in scale, has new cutting edge technologies warping through it, or something that is perceived to be completely unfamiliar. The pure exploration of stories and interactions that can stem out of familiar or small objects can be easily overlooked and can escape us. But if we pause, interact with the object and with the person, who either designed it, or who represents the designer, the image of the work begins to shift, as it gains more depth that is caused by the tale or anecdote that sparked it.
Moza Almatrooshi is an Emarati artist and designer. After attaining a BA from Zayed University Dubai in Interior Design in June 2013, Moza began her journey in trying to find a place in the creative industry in the UAE, starting with catching a plane to Italy to intern in the UAE Pavilion in the Venice Art Biennale 2013. Since then Moza has dabbled in several experiences such as architecture, design, event planning, art exhibitions, and writing for independent publications. Moza continues to journey through life, art, and design.
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