ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, INTERIORS + PROPERTY
A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION
DHS 25.00 OR 2.70 BD 2.60 SR 25.00 KD 2.10
ISSUE 207 / MARCH 2021
The Art Issue
Cultural celebration Louis Barthélemy has created lifestyle brand UDJAT to pay help revive Egyptian craftsmanship in Egypt
The art of community Foundry is the latest addition to the UAE’s arts and culture scene, merging local and global voices
Ini’s inspiration Ini Archibong’s Pavilion of the African Disapora is scheduled for the 2021 London Design Biennial
A gentle touch US and India-based design duo soft-geomtry creates quirky pieces defined by ‘softness’
Eclectic ensemble Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume reveals its latest collectible design showcase in San Francisco
Photography by Douglas Friedman
Nabil Dada’s rustic family vacation home features an impressive selection of furniture and artworks
A centre for learning Foster + Partners’ House of Wisdom library and cultural centre opens its doors to the public in Sharjah
Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Group Director Andrew Wingrove Editor Aidan Imanova Designer Hannah Perez Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Chaitali Khimji Senior Sales Manager Neha Kannoth Deputy Sales Manager Mrudula Patre Sales Representative - Italy Daniela Prestinoni General Manager - Production S Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor Venita Pinto Contributors Mohammed El-Jachi Max Tuttle Cyril Zammit
identity magazine is printed by Emirates Printing Press. Member of:
Head Office: Media One Tower, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE; Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Fax: +971 4 428 2260; E-mail: motivate@ motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 390 3550 Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, UAE, Tel: +971 2 677 2005; Fax: +971 2 677 0124; E-mail: email@example.com London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Young Habibti
The worlds of art and design are often set apart, but how different are they really? While design aims to solve problems with functional solutions, good design manages to do so without compromising on aesthetic quality. In recent times, it’s not been strange to see pieces of design sit alongside works of art, whether at galleries or fairs. While the lines continue to blur and designers the world over strive to diminish the labels of either one or the other, the rise of the collectible design market has made the case for design as art even stronger. “I think art collectors are becoming design collectors now – it is becoming more and more similar,” says Guillaume Excoffier, one of the two founders of collectible design gallery, Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume. In the following pages, we tour its latest exhibition – which also graces this month’s cover – that is set inside a penthouse in the newly completed Fifteen Fifty residential building designed by SOM, where the duo has curated high-end, rare pieces of mid-century modern furniture alongside contemporary pieces of design and art, in their signature eclectic style. However, even with the case of collectible design, this month’s contributor, design expert and advisor Cyril Zammit, stresses that although design may be valued the same as a piece of art, it is still something that is functional and should be made use of – and that’s one of the reasons Excoffier and his partner Nancy Gabriel choose to show their pieces in a residential space instead of a gallery: it removes a sense of intimidation and allows one to imagine the pieces within one’s own home. “Never forget that design has a function,” Zammit insists, “and you should always be able to use what you buy. If not, then it is a ‘design-art’ piece that you put on a pedestal and look at, the same way you would with a painting.” American designer Ini Archibong is the subject of our main interview this month and a great example of someone whose works take on an artistic quality that goes beyond their function, tapping into the realm of the intangible – filled with mystery and emotion. While it is often art that is considered emotive, who is to say that design can’t fulfil the same purpose? And if the question arises of why design should mirror art at all, the answer, to me, is quite simple. In this world, we need beauty – be it beauty that reminds us of nature, beauty that celebrates our heritage, or even beauty that helps us escape. It also means that because we find these pieces beautiful, we buy them to last, hopefully moving away from purchasing massproduced items that fulfil short-term needs. It makes us more conscious of what we buy and how those items make us feel. “I think it is impossible to create an object that has no feeling or emotion to it,” Archibong told me the first time we met during his visit to Dubai in 2018, when he was giving a talk at Downtown Design. “I think the difficult thing is to have control over the feeling you want to express. There is a lot of design being created that doesn’t consider the emotional effect of the object, and the difference might just be that I do think about it. And once you think about it, it is very difficult to design things without emotion.”
Aidan Imanova Editor
Photography by Douglas Friedman
On the cover: Model penthouse by Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume
#A RGO COLLECTIO N D E S I G N ED BY LUD OVI CA + RO BE RTO PA LO MBA
STAY TU NED www.t al en t i srl .com cu s tom e rs e r vice @ ta le ntis rl.com
Rustic romance S
et against the backdrop of Matera’s picturesque landscape, it is most fitting that Brunello Cucinelli uses the southern Italian city as the backdrop of his Spring-Summer 2021 Lifestyle Collection. Cucinelli is revered for setting craftsmanship at the soul of his work and, with strong ties to heritage and heirlooms, the cave city’s artisanal culture sets the scene for a lifestyle collection that pays homage to the ways in which humans interact with nature. The theme sweeps across the rustic yet elegant objects and textiles, offering simple and refined items for use at home, from kitchenware and décor pieces to soft furnishings and linens. The dining table, which plays a central role in every home, is naturally at the heart of the collection, which blends handcrafted techniques with a contemporary aesthetic across its dining table and kitchen accessories, as well as in its skilful ceramic creations. The items intentionally embrace their rustic quality and uneven colours, adding an authentic touch and a warmth that often contributes so much to the comfort of a home. The dining and kitchenware range from Murano glasses and pitchers to distinct accessories and flatware rendered in refined materials, resulting in the sophisticated simplicity that’s often associated with the Cucinelli brand. Authentic, simple values is another key inspiration for the collection, which now includes a gardening section, conceived to foster harmony with ourselves and with nature. The selection of objects expresses the importance of well-being and the understanding that by taking care of nature and the land we also take care of ourselves. Plant care accessories, for example, combine the warmth of Italian walnut wood with leather and steel. This natural palette is also found in the home décor items, where contrasting colours and fringed inserts add a touch of sophistication to the lightweight shapes of the throws and blankets, while the pillows combine soothing colours and natural patterns. Inspired by the yarns of knitwear, the throws and blankets of the Lifestyle line enhance the sensations of natural cashmere and silk fibres, adding refinement to the overall collection. The Studio line follows suit, combining skilful manufacturing with precision techniques that are similar to those used in jewellery-making. From the natural walnut wood used for detailing to the delicate marble-effect steel and Krion used as decorative elements, the Studio line aims to add style to any living space. And with many people still working from home, the accessories for the office and the desk enrich the Lifestyle collection while taking into consideration the living habits of today.
Left page: Dining set including ceramic vases. Vetro bottle and glass pitcher. Clockwise from top: Maxi scented candle in Ecru. The Studio line including accessories for the oﬀice and desk. Walnut wood and Krion® cutting board. Walnut wood, Krion® and steel Backgammon set. Double cashmere plaid throw in light grey.
THE ART ISSUE
Coffee club M
inimalism is taking over the city – and Roar’s pared-back design for Drop Coffee’s second Dubai location is the latest addition. The city’s coffee culture, which has also become an important part of the urban lifestyle, has in turn established the importance of creating spaces that prioritise good design and customer experience. For homegrown Emirati brand Drop Coffee, the idea is that each branch of the local coffeehouse becomes associated with its own specific colour – in this particular case, burnt orange. The warm hue can be seen on the La Cividina sofa as one enters the space, as well as on the clamp-style coffee tables which were created for customers who prefer to enjoy a quick espresso shot while standing up. The overall colour palette, however, was inspired by the roasting process of the coffee beans; terrazzo-effect tiles include mixed tones of rusted brown and dark terracotta, while dominant hues consist of light oak wood coupled with a concrete paint finish. The café includes two entrances – one connected to the outdoors while the other connects to Dar Wasl Mall. To accommodate the flow of customers from both access points, the design studio, run by Pallavi Dean, set the grab-and-go bar at the centre of the space. “We used very simple framing to form a structure around the bar, which anchors it within the space and highlights its prominent location,” says Dean. The bar gives the illusion of floating, the result of lighted skirting created out of glass blocks that are supported by a wooden structure running across the base. A wall ornament has also been created in the banquette area, where an assortment of broken white tiles have been playfully arranged. “We wanted the interior concept to be consistent throughout and for all the different elements to be streamlined and respond to one another,” Dean explains. “That’s why the idea of the wall piece [stems] directly from the terrazzo floor, as though the leftovers from the tiles had been imprinted on the wall before being chipped away” 12
PHOTOGRAPHY BY OCULIS PROJECT
Berlin apartment by Dimorestudio Photography by Beppe Brancanto
identity.ae The latest architecture, design + interiors news, now online
Reviving the past T
he Volkshaus Basel has played an important role in the city’s urban fabric since the 14th century. Initially, it hosted a brewery and restaurant as well as a concert and beer hall. In 1925, a new version of the Volkshaus was unveiled. Designed by architect Henri Baur, it integrated the existing concert hall and others of various sizes, as well as offices, conference rooms, a shop, a restaurant and accommodation for personnel. The 1970s saw the building wholly renovated, erasing the character of the original architecture as well as the diversity of uses, reducing it mostly to office space. In 2011, Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron began rebuilding the Volkshaus in several stages. The latest addition is a 45-room boutique hotel that has been completely integrated into the Volkshaus, replacing the offices previously located in the head building. “We hope that our modifications and the renewed diversity of uses will not only revitalise this extremely special location in Basel, but also revive the architectural identity of the Volkshaus,” the firm states. With the brasserie, bar and small event halls completed in 2012, the architects began dismantling the renovation of the 1970s, only to find that none of the original substance has survived except for the windows. Adamant to create a design that references the original design of the building, Herzog & de Meuron looked to the original floorplans for inspiration, discovering details such as the bedrooms in the attic with only a bed, closet and washbasin – no different from the rooms found across many historical hotels in the country. The new layout for the hotel borrows elements from these old attic bedrooms and also the office floors, where a wall of storage between the bedrooms and corridors creates generous space for bathrooms and closets. The material palette, which echoes the details in the bar and brasserie renovation, includes stained black oak and dark terrazzo for the flooring. The decorative wallpaper in the rooms features pale etchings, while muted green curtains contrast with the rest of the space. The bathroom is completed with green and black ceramic tiles and windows of black glass that mirror those of the building. The furniture in the rooms includes several of Herzog & de Meuron’s own designs, as well as a bespoke chair designed for the bar and brasserie. The Volkshaus hotel lobby inverts the colour concept of the bar, adding brightness. It comprises a black and green mosaic floor, leather banquette seating and light-painted wainscoting. It also doubles as an exhibition space curated by Von Bartha Gallery, with the inaugural display including a steel sculpture by French artist Bernar Venet.
© Robert Rieger
THE ART ISSUE
ollowing the international success of Toplum Café in Dubai, design studio XO Atelier has introduced its latest café-lounge concept, The Grey – a stylish destination with a distinct visual identity, designed for the city’s tastemakers, and taking into consideration cultural cues for socialising in a refined setting. The latest project by MAD Hospitality (and its third collaboration with XO Atelier), The Grey is set on the ground floor of the ARM Holdings Headquarters, comfortably integrating into its surroundings, and serves not just the executives of the regional investment company but also an exclusive roster of local clientele. For this reason, the café and lounge needed to not only be reflective of its urban context, but to also become an establishment for informal social exchange. “It was a highly specific brief that we responded to with a lightness of touch, cultural sensitivity and an understanding of placemaking, to give it real roots in the city,” says XO Atelier founder and creative director, Vera Dieckmann. The monochromatic palette sets the tone for the space, expressed through a range of contrasting materials, bespoke lighting and furnishings featuring various tones and textures that create an interplay of light and shadow. At the centre is a long and sleek terrazzo bar that is complemented by grey oak flooring by KAHRS, while chairs and sofas are upholstered with Kvadrat fabrics in varying light and dark shades of grey. It was also important for the design to capture a spirit of creativity within the overall functionality of the space. As a result, art pieces double as seating, such as with the NIDO armchair by Imperfetto LAB, and sculptural modular furniture dots the space, while handcrafted pieces have been commissioned from artisanal workshops in the UAE and Hong Kong. The concept of ‘reflection’ is an overarching motif across the space, beginning with ‘The Dune’ – an artwork featuring a rippling metal orb set on the main wall of the café, designed by XO Atelier – and continuing on in the reflective metal used in the ceiling of the corridor. The selection of lighting further enhances the space; the design team worked in close collaboration with global lighting brand NEMO, utilising its production and design expertise across all areas, from architectural to decorative lighting. The linear pendant lamps contribute to the overall flow of the space, anchoring the bar, while its Tubes 3 pendant lights illuminate the restaurant. Additional delicate wall lights designed by Charlotte Perriand also grace the space. And while the design definitely makes a statement, it is pared back just enough to allow guests to set their focus on the contemporary pan-Asian cuisine and on the vibrant social atmosphere. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEX JEFFRIES PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP
THE ART ISSUE
Photography by Olya Oleinic
Photography by Tommaso Sartori
ireLine is Formafantasma's second lamp for lighting brand Flos, following the launch of WireRing in 2017. The latest iteration sees a continuation of the original concept to design a lamp that uses the electric cable as its star element. WireLine takes this notion even further, forming a ceiling lamp that comprises a light source, a power cable and nothing else. A rubber strap is flattened and hung from the ceiling, supporting a sophisticated extrusion of grooved glass, which contains and diffuses the LED light source. In this way, the lamp accomplishes its mission: reducing itself to its essential components and creating a shape and presence within a space that solely stems from the light source and the power conductor. “What we love about light is that it is intangible, but also technical and emotional. And it is one of the few fields of design that has been transformed recently by an important
technological innovation; LEDs have changed the rules of the game in terms of design, use and human experience,” say Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, the Italian duo behind the Netherlands-based studio. While being industrial in nature, the shapes and contrast of materials lend a poetic and sensual quality to the lamp, which can be installed as a single piece or in a string of modules to create elaborate visual compositions. It is available in pink and forest green and is suitable for a variety of settings, from high ceilings to hotel lobbies – as well as home environments, for those who wish to create a statement with light. First previewed two years ago at Salone del Mobile and miart (the international fair for modern and contemporary art in Milan), where it lit up the VIP Lounge, WireLine is now available for the global market. THE ART ISSUE
Finding utopia Lebanese-French artist Flavie Audi’s first solo show at Italian gallery Nilufar is Terra (In)firma, which imagines a post-human topography where interplays of real and virtual, natural and synthetic and fluid and solid combine to pose questions surrounding the Earth’s resources, human interventions and technology. identity speaks to Audi to learn more. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATTIA IOTTI
ow did the ideas behind this exhibition develop? The show at Nilufar reveals the delicate, vulnerable and unstable state of our territory due to the over-abusive exploration of the planet, and questions our position within the Anthropocene. Terra (In)firma seeks to destabilise our encounter with the terrestrial and imagines a post-human topography. Rocks, symbols of solidity, become disorientating with the fluctuation of light due to their iridescent and reflecting surfaces. In navigating this uncanny plain, we encounter fragments of hyper-liths dispersed through space, rupturing our sense of stability. Rocks become fluid, tilting on their axes, conglomerating. Forms caress and nudge each other in tender relations. Digital aesthetics warp our sense of material nature, hybridising the organic and synthetic. Ultimately, Terra (In)firma confronts us with the Promethean dilemma; should the Earth be treated as a resource whose utility is determined primarily by human needs? Can human technology overcome our environmental problems? Terra (In)firma not only evokes the vulnerable and unstable state of the planet, but also the contradictions of our dual dependency on nature and technology, with its ongoing battle between the physical and digital worlds. How are the pieces produced? What materials do you predominantly work with? All the works are fabricated in various workshops across the UK. Technically, it starts with digital modelling, then CNC and 3D printing of shapes and tools, and going through the manual process of moulding and casting. Depending on the type of cast material, the surface will be polished, or spray-painted and then lacquered. The spray work is done by hand. I experiment with pigments and surface effects to echo a certain digital aesthetic. Often, happy accidents and experimental discoveries reshuffle the choreography of the process. My interest lies in the combinations and alliances of digital techniques with craftsmanship. What fascinates me the most is not the traditions, technologies and conceptual
concerns themselves – but how these different influences are linked together. For Nilufar’s solo show, I have Iayered several surfacing processes. The bridging of diverse digital techniques with traditional craftsmanship reveals a certain ambiguity. The man-made and the industrial robotic manufacturing processes are blurred. The work looks earthy, naturally aquatic and digitally rendered – all at the same time. I strive to keep a certain mystery behind the works. In the show at Nilufar, there was no predominant material. Pieces are in bronze, resin, steel, silver, fibreglass, glass, paint. Can you talk about the significant choice of colour in the pieces? The significant choice was the use of iridescent colours. Throughout the show, there is the recurring use of iridescence on surfaces. We live in an era of iridescence, in constant oscillation between physical and virtual, never fully in the physical and never fully in the virtual. We are shifting between the realms, in the same way colours are shifting on an iridescent surface. I manipulate colours so they appear formless and in a continuous state of flux, suggesting indeterminacy and limitlessness. Iridescent pigments are shapeshifters and never static, as they transform with each changing position of the viewer’s body. What inspires your work? I am often guided by an adoration for a sense of wonder with the world, and inspired by the spiritual significance of landscape fragments such as gongshi, suseiki and Japanese rock gardens. At the moment I am particularly inspired by Hydrofeminism theories, solidarity between watery bodies. My inspiration comes from an accumulation of material experiments and explorations of digital modelling and fabrication techniques. The digital tools we have today are so powerful in shaping our reality, and I think about their potential to create new forms and attribute new behaviours to future geologies and landscapes. How can these tools be a catalyst for new contemporary aesthetics?
THE ART ISSUE
Photography by Mostafa Ahmed
WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA 22
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NAJLA SAID
While finding himself under lockdown in Cairo, creative polymath Louis Barthélemy seized the opportunity to create a brand that pays homage to the Egyptian cultural heritage he so admires
found myself stuck in Cairo when the first lockdown happened,” Louis Barthélemy begins. Like many stranded outside their countries of residence during the first outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic at the start of last year, the French artist and illustrator was unable to leave Egypt – a country whose culture and history he has long admired. His love affair with Egypt first began when he came across Denis Dailleux’s photography book Mère et Fils, that featured images of Egyptian bodybuilders with their mothers. His interest only grew when he finally visited Cairo, where he not only fell in love with its chaos, but also found romantic love. Three years later, once again finding himself in Cairo – and this time unable to leave – Barthélemy was encouraged by his friend Laila Neamatalla to seek refuge away from the city and travel to the urban oasis of Siwa, located 50 kilometres from the Libyan border. Siwa is one of the country’s most isolated settlements, with a mostly Berber population who have developed a unique desert culture and a language of their own. Neamatalla, who is a jewellery designer, offered to host Barthélemy for five months in Siwa, where her brothers own the eco-lodge Adrère Amellal. Alongside Neamatalla – who is now his business partner – Barthélemy was introduced to different craftspeople. From here, the artist, who has previously designed fabrics for Dior and worked with brands including Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo, began creating objects with the help of local artisans. This organic process resulted in the birth of UDJAT. “[We wanted to] create a community of skilled artisans [who could help us] promote – across Egypt and beyond – the beauty of local crafts through
contemporary vision,” Barthélemy explains. Upon its pillars of craftsmanship and heritage – from which the brand draws its resources and inspiration – UDJAT balances fashion and decorative items made of natural materials that are both casual and elegant, boasting organic silhouettes. Materials across the collections include the salt rock, limestone, ceramics and earthy elements found across Siwa and its surroundings. “All our products involve handwork and a traditional savoir-faire with a fresh and contemporary touch. Shapes are inspired by hieroglyphs, ancient amphorae and the need, especially during this time, to recreate a comfortable home with natural elements,” Barthélemy says. However, it is community engagement that is at the heart of UDJAT, with collaborations including Nilifurat in Maadi, Cairo – a space for learning, experimenting and production, created for a group of refugee and Egyptian women. Together, they bring diverse cultural heritage and storytelling, creating high-quality artisanal products while generating income. For UDJAT, they produce silk-screen printed items. UDJAT is currently backed by Environmental Quality International, a company that is involved in the Revival of the Egyptian Museum Initiative. “When the concept of the brand came to life, it felt appropriate to allocate a retail space for it. And since UDJAT celebrates Egyptian heritage and crafts, the future museum’s gift shop felt like the perfect place to present our products in,” says Barthélemy. The French artist also wishes to involve local creatives within the brand, such as photographers and graphic designers as well as artisans. “We want to create a community of young and promising talent to represent a nation with a booming youth culture,” he says. THE ART ISSUE
The art of community Foundry is the latest addition to the UAE’s arts and culture scene. identity catches up with its curator Giuseppe Moscatello to learn more about its place within the arts community. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MICHAL STANCELEWSKY
he cultural scene in the UAE continues to grow, and joining its roster of recently opened spaces for the creative community is Foundry, a hybrid space in Downtown Dubai that doubles as an art gallery and co-working space alongside a library and café. Plans for Foundry include holding contemporary art exhibitions and hosting cultural programmes for communities across the UAE and the wider region, as well as collaborating with established art institutions, curators and artists. Currently on show are: exhibitions by artists Jeffar Khaldi, Navid Azimi Sajadi and Goncalo Mabunda; a project by Ayesha Hadhir, Rawda Al Ketbi and Sheikha Al Ketbi; and a private photography collection of Emirati designer Khalid Shafar. 24
What is the aim of Foundry? How will it contribute to the city’s design and arts scene? The aim of Foundry is to give everyone, be they artists or art enthusiasts, a creative space and sense of community. A place where people from all walks of life can come together to create and innovate, Foundry contributes to the city’s design and arts scene in more ways than one. Many talented artists will have the opportunity to showcase their work for the entire UAE, and world, to see. What is the significance of the three main exhibitions currently showing at Foundry? All shows throughout Foundry are focused on reflecting the artist’s works and life experiences. Navid Azimi Sajadi’s ‘Allegorical States’ project
comprises three mixed media installations which are an indirect pictorial and allegorical narrative passage of the transiting of the mind, from one state to another. On the other hand, ‘Emotions Running High’ by Jeffar Khaldi is a solo exhibition that sees charged paintings which evolve from political satire and pop signifiers to fantastical, dreamy scenes that marry parallel worlds and landscapes. Khaldi’s body of work reads like a fever dream, indicating that the lives we live aren’t separate from those we imagine. What are your plans in terms of curating the artworks and exhibitions? At Foundry we aim to make art more accessible; [a place] that speaks to a wider audience, allowing different communities to converge at a hub that combines art, culture,
entertainment and work. We enjoy collaborating with independent artists, discussing their work, and curating their projects in line with our vision. How are you planning on bringing together creatives from both the arts and design? I believe that nowadays the line between art and design has become so thin, there are various schools of thought. We are experiencing an important time whereby hybrid projects are becoming a regular occurrence. Artists and designers are collaborating and working together like never before. Can you tell us more about Khalid Shafar’s private collection? How did the idea come about, and are you planning on creating more such exhibitions? The words ‘private collection’ might sound intimidating, but we have always believed that if you create or own beautiful art, you have the responsibility to share it with other people. We have always
known Khalid as a designer, but never thought he would own a collection. When we first saw the collection, we immediately recognised his vision of supporting Khaleeji photographers. We proposed that he showcase this incredible collection to the public for the first time, at Foundry, to encourage other collectors to start buying more such art. This also allows the artists greater recognition and exposure. Tell us about the inspiration behind the design for Foundry and how it accommodates the diverse functions of the space. Foundry led the design of the interiors, which were inspired by brutalist architectural forms. The focus was on the honest expression of materials while providing a clean backdrop to allow the art to take centre stage; [these were] the guiding principles for the team at Zebra Dubai. The ground and first floors are designed for dedicated co-working spaces that allow the
community to come together, collaborate, form new friendships and spark ideas. It is here you will find custom leather-wrapped reading pods, designed exclusively for Foundry – the perfect space to curl up with a book or work away. Foundry has also collaborated with local artists to create bespoke furniture, which itself becomes a piece of art within the space, allowing emerging designers to gain further exposure. What are some of your future plans for Foundry? We are preparing a series of exhibitions and activations for March with street artists such as Harif Guzman, Rex, Adil Aubekerov and many more. Foundry is also expanding with some outdoor installations, as well as enhancing some of its areas with community activations. We are also engaging with a lot of podcasters by bringing in their communities and initiatives to Foundry, and collaborating with regional and international artists and galleries.
Previous page: Khalid Alshafar ‘Private Collection’ showcases lens-based work by regional artists from across the Middle East, North Africa, Iran and Turkey. Top left: ‘A Letter to Future Self’ by Nasir Nasrallah, 2016. Bottom: ‘Allegorical States’ mixed-media installation by Navid Azimi Sadjadi. Right: ‘Rejuvination of Past Vol. 4-1’ by Tariq AlHajri.
THE ART ISSUE
Community voices Ishara Art Foundation’s latest exhibition, Growing Like A Tree, continues to shed light on complex perspectives from South Asia from its hub in Alserkal Avenue WORDS BY MOHAMMAD EL-JACHI
Aishwarya Arumbakkam, from the series ka Dingiei (2016-ongoing). Archival pigment print, 61 cm x 61 cm. © Aishwarya Arumbakkam. Image courtesy of the artist and Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Grant for Photography 2019, SSAF.
pon entering Ishara Art Foundation, visitors are greeted by a complex web of pencilled-out associations between friends and collaborators. A sketch by curating artist Sohrab Hura is a microcosmic representation of the bonds that make up Growing Like A Tree, the exhibition that is currently on show at the gallery. From its inception in 2019 with the exhibition Altered Inheritances: Home Is a Foreign Place to its current showcase, the foundation continues to map a complex topography of South Asian identities and perspectives from its home in Alserkal Avenue in Dubai. The foundation has made a point of featuring both established and emerging artists from the Global South. The intergenerational Altered Inheritances: Home Is a Foreign Place by Shilpa Gupta and Zarina explored placehood and belonging. Amar Kanwar’s 2020 Ishara showcase Such A Morning also ran in tandem with multimedia exhibition The Sovereign Forest at the NYUAD Art Gallery, bringing the seminal artist’s works in 26
film and installation to a collegiate audience in the neighbouring emirate. Through a research-led approach, Ishara has engaged in exhibitions both on and offsite as well as online, in addition to education initiatives in and outside the UAE. Its activities have effectively established and deepened ties to a rich network of South Asian and international creative networks, from artists and academics to similar foundations and institutions. Growing Like A Tree features works by 14 artists and collectives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Germany, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Singapore, several who have never exhibited institutionally on a regional or international level. It also marks Sohrab Hura's first curatorial project as a photographer and filmmaker. The exhibition encapsulates a collective moment in the lives of images that are often fleeting and obscured. “How can an exhibition capture new geographic alignments in the 21st century?” asks Sabih Ahmed, associate director and curator of Ishara Art Foundation, in a question he posed to
Hura. These new alignments are far-reaching, contingent both on shared socio-political struggles and converging personal narratives. Growing Like A Tree therefore showcases an artistic network that is both sustainable and self-initiating, according to Ahmed. Two vignettes, handwritten by Hura, serve as one potential entry point into the exhibition, documenting both a period of decline in his mother’s health and a formative, life-affirming experience as a burgeoning photographer. His own narrative thread is multifaceted, and he reflects on his early life and adolescence in a later archival series that sees his father emerge as a key influence on his artistic trajectory. This same resilience – equal parts dark, whimsical and commonplace – is expressed through works like Yu Yu Myint Than’s Sorry, Not Sorry (2019), which is the only photobook in the exhibition meant to be read. It documents a process of forgetting after the breakdown of a relationship, a slow march of images that parade states of absence and presence. A series by Anjali House – a non-profit organisation in Cambodia that offers both material aid and creative, educational outlets to underprivileged children – is shown across two tables forming a rough ‘L’ shape. “I was charmed by the way they moved with the camera: carefree, raw and unaware of the baggage that came with being a photographer,” Hura says of his time with Anjali House. These images are wonderfully unabashed and intuitive. One of the show’s most striking features is the lack of any conventional labels that would otherwise disrupt its delicate hierarchy of visuals and texts. Hura is present here, in scrawled wall texts and photographic notations interspersed throughout.
Bunu Dhungana, from the series Confrontations (2017). Archival pigment print, 30.5 cm x 45.7 cm. © Bunu Dhungana.
Nida Mehboob, Shadow Lives (2020-ongoing). Archival pigment print, 23 cm x 15 cm. © Nida Mehboob.
“Growing Like A Tree lays out an incomplete blueprint of my experience of community and friendship, where photography forms the nucleus of this large and pulsating nervous system that entangles our lives together,” he says. The Nepal Picture Library, which occupies a large swathe of wall space, documents the struggles of the country’s underground communist movement through the activism of Sushila Shrestha and Shanta Manavi. At the end of this wall is Bunu Dhungana’s Confrontations series (2017), which grapples with social visibility through the colour red, catapulting the viewer into semi-darkness towards three ephemeral, inward-looking audio-visual works. One of these pieces, Sarker Protick’s Origin (2016), shows the transition of globular red, in and out of human scale. The piece evokes a spirit of image-making that is felt throughout the space. Growing Like A Tree may very well help visitors reconsider the singular, solitary outlook that artists and practitioners often adopt. This illusion of a creative vacuum is dismantled by Hura, who likens an archive and by extension the exhibition itself to an endlessly flowing stream that belies demarcation. “I’ve always thought of the archive to be a containment. But maybe it’s more like a valve that enables flows passing through. Like Dubai. Like everyone else who is part of this show,” he says. Growing Like A Tree’s approach to both community and exhibition-building signals a deepening of roots for Ishara Art Foundation; a definite step forward for lens-based showcases in the UAE, amidst so much that is impersonally personal. THE ART ISSUE
Ini's inspiration Ini Archibong creates things that last – and his latest venture with the Pavilion of the African Diaspora may be his most ambitious legacy project yet WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
he architectural scale is my most natural scale – it’s where I started, and even when I’m making an object, I’m thinking about the space around it,” says American designer Ini Archibong. After dropping out of business school aged 20 (“I was going to be a banker”), Archibong went on to complete a degree in Environmental Design from the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California – where he grew up, raised by Nigerian parents. From there, Archibong moved to Singapore to work at an
architectural firm, later relocating to Switzerland where he received a master’s degree in luxury design and craftsmanship from École cantonale d’art de Lausanne. Archibong has lived in Switzerland ever since, and currently resides in the small and picturesque city of Neuchâtel. Between all this, he even dabbled in music – he’s someone who is clearly unafraid to move between boundaries, both literally and symbolically. Perhaps this ease comes with the designer’s intuitive nature, which he pours into the work itself.
THE ART ISSUE
The Kadamba Gate in red oak as part of Connected exhibition for the London Design Museum.
Photography by David Cleveland.
The Kadamba Gate in red oak as part of Connected exhibition for the London Design Museum.
Since establishing his own practice, Design by INI, moving across scales has been a comfortable feat for Archibong, who is best known for his ethereal furnishings and objects that are likened to works of art, most of which are handcrafted – something the designer believes carries special value that is both tangible and intangible. Archibong has now expanded upon the comforts of scale, creating installations for galleries, including a permanent collection for the Dallas Museum. More shows are in the pipeline – including for New York’s Friedman Benda gallery as well as a chair for Knoll. But regardless of scale, what unites Archibong’s works are universal themes such as emotion, spirituality and mythology – all told from a perspective that is rooted in his own cultural heritage of West Africa as well as personal experiences, philosophies around the way we exist in the world – and how we connect to the unknown. Growing up in a religious household, Archibong spent a lot of time reading as an adolescent, poring over religious texts, myths and fantasy stories. This otherworldly quality permeates across his work, being present in the way he controls material, light and form. Archibong works with brands that uphold similar values around craftsmanship, luxury and storytelling. His twopart collection for Sé, Below the Heavens, is created to exist as 30
if on the verge of heaven and earth. The celestial spirit of the collection is embodied in its sensual curves, monumental forms and iridescent colours. His Galop watch for Hermès encapsules similar qualities; while it is smaller in size, the thinking behind the luxury object was expansive. “The design of the Hermès watch was based on the reflections that the rest of the environment would place on the watch. That’s why it doesn’t have any edges and is completely fluid, so that it can absorb the environment around it more naturally,” he says. This year is an important one for Archibong, who is on the verge of realising what is perhaps his most ambitious (and largest) project to date – the Pavilion of the African Diaspora for the London Design Biennale 2021 at Somerset House. Talks around the pavilion first began in 2019 with the biennial’s curator, British artist and stage designer, Es Devlin; however, due to necessary funding and later the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans were pushed back. “I didn’t know what was going to happen when I started these projects. It is timely that a lot of these projects are launching now but it isn’t that I’m being very smart; it’s really coincidence that I already had been working on these things. This moment that the world is going through is waking people up to some of the topics
Archibong's collection for furniture brand, Sé.
Photography by Mel Bles.
Gallop watch for Hermès.
that I always felt should be highlighted,” says Archibong. He does, however, note that the rise of international protests for racial justice, beginning with the Black Lives Matters movement in the US, awakened a sense of responsibility towards his community, making him want to reach back after a long absence. “Nobody asked me before why I left America in 2012, and never went back, and I didn’t feel the need to stir up any controversy because I had escaped, and I feel safe,” he says. “I think the biggest thing about the Black Lives Matter movement is that it was kind of the first time since I left America where I started to feel a responsibility towards the people that I left behind. “I think that is probably why I became more vocal – because if it was just about me, I [wouldn’t] have anything to say. I created a situation for myself where I was safe from it; but thinking about the people that I have a responsibility to use my voice for – that made it imperative that I speak up.” The Pavilion of the African Diaspora will
become a place for collaboration, education and dialogue, bringing together people from across the diaspora and highlighting their contributions. The pavilion has been developed with Archibong’s collective studio, LMNO Creative, and comprises three architectural follies “that together represent a trumpet blast going out and the voice of the diaspora carrying a power that resonates and helps guide us into the future,” Archibong explains. The three sculptural forms include a shell, wave and sail, alluding to a myriad of references, from the transatlantic slave trade to myths shared across the African continent. The Shell, for example, is inspired by cowries and conches that were a form of trade. “It also signifies that there has been a disconnect between the contributions and the economic benefits and distribution of resources when it comes to the people of the African diaspora. So, it really became about having a voice and the ability to finally fit into the economic system where our voices have been so powerful in generating so much wealth worldwide,” he says. THE ART ISSUE
The Pavilion is planned to comprise a flexible design to allow it to be dismantled and rebuilt in another location, following the biennial. Overseeing the construction is Zena Howard, principal architect and managing partner at Perkins&Will. Preliminary talks are already underway with the Smithsonian Museum for the Pavilion to be added to its permanent collection. It was also a chance for Archibong to return to his architectural roots. “The design of the three structures was probably one of the most natural and intuitive processes that I have worked on in a while,” he confides. “I don't want to spoil the magic by telling you how quickly it happened, but it wasn’t as labour-intensive as designing a chair, for example. Because for me, [the archiectural scale] is where my creativity was born, so it comes pretty naturally.” The Pavilion of the African Diaspora is also the first project under the Archibong Heritage Foundation – set up by Ini and his two brothers, who each work across different sectors, ranging from investment banking to creative management. The Foundation’s aim is to create cultural and racial inclusion within the creative sphere by bringing together their creative and financial prowess. “Our goal is to have an economic impact in the creative space for our people,” explains Archibong. The designer has also recently introduced tech consulting as part of his studio, a strategy to diversify his creative offering. “What I hope designers realise is that we actually have a place in every space. If you are a designer and you train yourself to think and operate in a certain way, then you add value to every industry.” id
A render of the Pavilion of the African Diaspora by LMNO Creative.
THE ART ISSUE
Palaash Chaudhary and Uthara Zacharias. Photo by Alanna Hale.
A gentle touch INTERVIEW BY AIDAN IMANOVA 34
Utharaa Zacharias and Palaash Chaudhary are the duo behind soft-geometry, a design studio based between California and Kochi, India. The duo is creating artful furniture and home objects that are full of quirks and humour, driven by traditional Indian craftsmanship that’s reminiscent of their childhoods.
hat inspired you to start softgeometry? Utharaa Zacharias (UZ): Each other. Our working relationship, that was centred around design and later friendship, was the foundation for our experiments. We tried to understand what made our collaboration work, who we are together and what we wanted to be doing. The dialogue and process was always interesting, and softgeometry was born as a medium for this continued exploration between us as partners – a medium [that’s] reflective of our intricate, unique quirks and evolving philosophies. How would you describe the pieces you create? UZ: Everything we design is expressive of us and ‘soft’ is how we would describe us - our personalities - if that makes sense. As an extension of that, ‘soft’ is what we aspire to in our products, our work, and everything we touch. We think of ‘softness’ as slowness, intimacy, humour, humility, kindness and a quiet sort of courage and strength to be different and true, even if it is sometimes awkward or strange. It may be hard to view all of this in objects, but the hope is that you still feel it, a softness within geometries, hence the name. How does the context of India influence your design language? Palaash Chaudhary (PC): Growing up in India, craft and craftsmanship were all around us. Some of the most utilitarian objects in an Indian home are hand-made - step stools in bamboo with a distinct colour pattern, block-printed bedding, hammered brass lottas, hand-carved wood boxes, handloom cotton clothes and endless terracotta pottery. Granted, they barely ever matched, didn’t belong to a style or palette, and were not ever modular or stackable or ‘easy to clean’, but they
worked – they were beautiful and they carried stories. We try to carry that idea forward in our work: objects that reflect the process, materials, craft, story and ideas behind them. In other words, our Indian heritage makes us strive for objects that are more than just objects; objects that are poetic. How did you begin working with craftspeople in India? UZ: When we started soft-geometry we knew we wanted to slowly learn of our favourite Indian crafts [and] their context and history, practice their skills and techniques and fully understand and appreciate them, if and before we interpret them in our own work. One of the first crafts we learnt and now handmake by ourselves is the hand-woven cane side table, using the six-step tie technique abundant in India. We learnt first-hand from women artisans who practice weaving cane baskets, stools, chairs and the like at extraordinary speeds, every day, in clusters in Kerala. To commit to doing the cane tops for our tables in-house and by ourselves is something we take immense pride in, as it reinforces the importance of carrying this knowledge forward in modern design, which has a lot to learn from craft. Tell us about some of your key pieces. PC: The Donut Coffee Table was really special to work on. The project was centred around a sustainable use for wood waste. It was challenging, collaborative and quite tricky to solve - all of which made an exciting brief! It started when an export furniture factory from India reached out to us regarding their solid wood cut-offs. Primarily supplying furniture to American retailers, they have to follow a stringent selection process for wood boards. Any board that carries knots or unusual grain patterns has to be rejected. This process of elimination accumulates vast quantities of wood cut-offs that are now waste. Both of us, like many Indians, grew up within strict instructions to never waste anything - not a grain of rice nor the last inch of a pencil. We can still hear our parents' voices saying exactly those things and that became the context for the brief. THE ART ISSUE
‘Soft’ is what we aspire to in our products, our work, and everything we touch.
Previous page: The ‘Donut’ coffee table in Sugar by soft-geometry. Top: Elio lamp. Above: summer-winter (sw) collection featuring sw chair in hand-woven fluffy yarn. Right page: Weaving process behind the Cane side table, part of the sw collection.
We worked closely with the factory on studying and categorising all of the different sizes of wood cut-offs. What was both beautiful and challenging was that there was little uniformity between them. We decided the piece needed to be sculptural, something that can take on these different sizes and celebrate them instead of discarding their ‘flaws’, and thus we arrived at the ‘Donut’. The seemingly simple form of the ‘Donut’ and its circular cross-section allowed us to design a system of arranging the wood boards that made all these weird sizes come together, and then could be carved on a CNC machine. The process of arranging the boards is on a grid format but the final form is rounded (we cannot pre-guess the wood grain), so we are only able to see the grain after the piece comes out of the CNC - which makes every piece unique and allows little room for waste. Any piece that came off the carving can again be used in the next ‘Donut’. It was very satisfying to arrive at an object that is so beautiful and very ‘us’, using waste material. What are some changes that you would like to see within the furniture industry? UZ: We exist in the tiny fringe of ‘collectible’ design within the larger furniture industry. Within the bubble of that space, one of the more encouraging things we have seen is a small start to being more inclusive of aesthetics
that are different from just Euro-centric modern design. It's getting more expressive, louder, more fun and there are more diverse voices. It’s long overdue and we hope that continues. What we’d love to see change in the larger furniture industry is mass retailers and the like to start crediting small design practices for the ideas that they quite shamelessly rip off year after year, and pump into the market. Why is it okay for mass-market retailers to visit design weeks every year, see original designs from small studios, take photographs of details and send it to their suppliers to recreate? There is an argument to be made for high-end design trickling into the mass market; however, larger companies have the clout and resources to either collaborate with the small studio/designer or at the very least credit them when they use their work as ‘inspiration’. What’s in the pipeline for soft-geometry? PC: Last year, somehow, even with the chaos of the lockdowns, we made an exciting foray into a new material, texture and story with the Elio lamps. We’ll be thinking of exploring the depth of that idea more and expanding the series. We also have little ‘minion’ projects at the experimental stage right now: some glass, some inlay crafts, some castings and so on. Usually, as we work through them, the fog clears and there are one or two that emerge as compelling and we steer that way. It’s still too early to tell! id
THE ART ISSUE
Eclectic ensemble The Gabrielle et Guillaume collectible design gallery makes its West Coast debut with a model penthouse in San Francisco’s coveted SOM-designed residential building
WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
ocated on the 40th floor of the recently opened Fifteen Fifty residential building in San Francisco that was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is a model penthouse exhibiting an eclectic selection of collectible design curated by Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume – the travelling collectible design gallery’s latest showcase and its first venture in the West Coast. Run by Lebanese and French duo Nancy Gabriel and Guillaume Excoffier – who founded the gallery in 2013 – Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume has hosted several exhibitions between Beirut and Paris, as well as a show last year in New York at 111 W 57. Utilising a different landmark location each time, these temporary spaces act as ephemeral design galleries, showcasing the duo’s diverse selection of rare, museum-quality furnishings that range from vintage pieces to contemporary designs. “Our choice of location is always coherent with our content – it carries the same values. So, it’s always a form of storytelling,” says Gabriel. The 158-square metre three-bedroom penthouse chosen for the latest exhibition in San Francisco features original mid-century modern furniture from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s from Brazil, Italy and France, juxtaposed with contemporary furnishings and artworks from France, Italy and Lebanon – including pieces by David/Nicolas and Namika Atelier. This eclectic manner of mixing eras and modern forms with contemporary pieces in daring, bold colours has become a feature one looks forward to with Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume; a style that is a signature of the way the duo curates its content to convey a living space of an imaginary modern-day collector. “While we share the same taste, we also always trust each other’s taste,” Excoffier says. “We also share a passion for mixing pieces in an eclectic way; pieces that you would rarely see together.” And while the majority of these pieces find their roots in Europe and Brazil, it is equally important for the gallery to shed light on the talent hailing from Lebanon. “When we went to New York for the exhibition we thought it made sense to ‘export’ the work of some Lebanese designers. Besides the fact that Lebanese designers are very talented, they also have very strong craftsmanship skills, and we are very much interested in this craftsmanship.”
Photography by Brendan Mainini
THE ART ISSUE
Photography by Douglas Friedman
Photography by Douglas Friedman
Showcasing in San Francisco was a novel experience for the duo because it was unlike any location they had exhibited in before. “We are very excited to be showcasing in the West Coast because it is an entirely different atmosphere from Lebanon, and even from New York,” Excoffier explains. “New York, in a way, is very European and there is something also very formal about it. And Beirut is also a formal city with the way the buildings are designed – there is a sense of old-school glamour. San Francisco is totally the opposite. Still, the architecture is gorgeous, and the people are very wealthy and sophisticated. It was super interesting because we could show very cutting-edge furniture from the likes of Martin Szekely, who is very popular among contemporary art collectors – but not famous in the way Phillipe Starck is, for example – he is quite niche. In San Francisco, we could show these pieces because people are always looking something fresh – so we could do something totally
different here that is much younger in its approach.” “[Also] because the building in San Francisco is very new, we needed to give a theme and a concept to the exhibition, and the guiding line was that you enter the home of a young and laid-back collector. The pieces are all high-end, but they are put together quite casually,” Gabriel adds. Upon entry, visitors step into an inviting foyer with clay-orange walls that quickly leads into a contrasting deep blue open kitchen, featuring custom grey oak cabinetry, polished white Caesarstone countertops with Italian Calacatta Caldia marble backsplashes, and Miele stainless steel appliances with Home Connect technology and integrated panelling. The interiors were designed by American practice Marmol Radziner. The kitchen overlooks a spacious room that features a dynamic dining area with a Sergio Rodrigues dining table made of Jacaranda wood and marble, and lacquered wood dining chairs
by Martin Szekely from the late 1980s (edited by Galerie Neotu) – all tied together by a wool rug from Beirut-based Iwan Maktabi. The dining space seamlessly flows into the living area, which boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city. Here the furniture includes: a 1950s sideboard in wood, originally from Copacabana, Rio, by Joaquim Tenreiro – a pioneer of modernist Brazilian furniture; a white fabric sofa by Martin Szekely from the late 1980s (edited by Galerie Neotu); and a large 1950s architectural Jacaranda bookshelf by Jorge with bold green accents. Other designs include a pair of shell armchairs by Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler; a sleek, low, black lacquered wood bench from Italy by Ranya Sarakbi and Niko Koronis; lighting from the 1950s by the famed Angelo Lelli; as well as a selection of contemporary ceramics by Namika Atelier. The eclectic composition is complemented by soft pink palette on the walls – Modern Love by Backdrop. THE ART ISSUE
Photography by Douglas Friedman
The master bedroom is an exercise in balance, with light almond green walls bringing a soft, soothing atmosphere to the space, contrasting with dynamic designs such as the Liceu de Arte bench, ornate ceramic Georges Pelletier table lamp, 1950s vintage chandelier, a contemporary brass stool by Mauro Mori from Italy, L’Atelier side tables and a colourful hand-knotted wool and silk rug by Marguerite le Maire with orange and blue tones, while sprawling city views can be accessed from every corner of the rounded room. Other features in the master bedroom include an extra-spacious windowed walk-in closet and a grand five-piece master bathroom featuring marble surround double vanities, a bathtub and a glass-enclosed walk-in shower. The standalone office features 1980s-style graphic green wallpaper, giving it a playful and modern yet sophisticated feel. It was designed to evoke a salon – an idyllic space for intimate conversations or moments savouring coffee or an 42
evening beverage while overlooking the city. The space has ample seating, including a Brazilian midcentury Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler velvet sofa and a pair of velvet burnt orange Leon Rosen swivel armchairs with pedestal bases. Also included are a 1950s Brazilian Geraldo de Barros desk, a black marble side table, and a round David/Nicolas rug from Iwan Maktabi. The second bedroom brings forth a calming grey-blue tone on the walls – The Early Stuff by Backdrop – with distinct yet functional furniture such as the eye-catching vintage black camel-style sofa, terrazzo Portego side table, a bold brass Sergio Mazza Delta sconce from Italy, as well as a set of metal Gino Sarfatti floor lamps. The bed lays low and simple, adding to the tranquil, cool atmosphere, while the closet acts as a phone booth. As for the art, Jessica Silverman – who curated the dynamic art collection throughout the building – selected the thought-provoking contemporary works featured in the penthouse in close
collaboration with Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume. Just as with the furnishings, it includes an eclectic mix of paintings, photographs and sculptures from renowned and emerging artists. While Galerie Gabriel et Guillaume has become a well-known and loved gallery, it has never held a physical space – being the first gallery without a physical space that has been accepted to show at important art and design fairs, such as Salon Art + Design in New York and PAD in London and Paris. “There is a sense of intimidation when you are looking at design in a gallery, and we wanted to take away that intimidating feeling, even if you are looking at museum-quality pieces,” Gabriel explains. “It is a matter of attitude. You can have beautiful, extremely important pieces in your home and live with them and have a laid-back attitude about it. So, it was also about making people feel that they can actually live with these museum-quality pieces. They are there to be used and they are functional. We wanted to make the pieces livelier.” id
Photography by Brendan Mainini
THE ART ISSUE
Mountainside magnificence In the luxury ski resort of Faqra in Lebanon, architect Nabil Dada opens the doors for identity to take a tour of his rustic yet modern holiday home which includes an impressive selection of furniture and artworks
WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY WAEL KHOURY
THE ART ISSUE
‘Soft’ is what we aspire to in our products, our work, and everything we touch.
Previous page: The Donut Coffee Table in Sugar by soft-geometry. Top: Elio Lamp. Above: summer-winter (sw) collection featuring sw chair in hand woven fluffy yarn. Right page: Weaving process behind the Cane side table, part of the sw collection.
THE ART ISSUE
e bought this holiday home over 20 years ago, so we have a lot of memories here,” begins Lebanese architect Nabil Dada, founder of Dada Associates and the man behind a number of notable projects across Beirut, such as the Beirut Yacht Club and Al Amin Mosque. “I watched my kids grow up in in this home. It's a beautiful place to spend both summers and winters in, and it's always filled with friends. It's a mountainside home, so we wanted to create a warm, rustic feel with a modern twist,” he says. The Dada family acquired the house when it was still under construction – the core architecture was designed “by a dear friend”, Lebanese architect Assoman Tourba. The main feature of the house is its large cylindrical volume that houses the elevator and staircase of the building. The different spaces of the
house were designed around this core. The living room and bar area features a double-volume slanted ceiling, which stretches into Dada’s eldest son's bedroom on the second floor – and can even be seen in his bathroom. To further accentuate its length, the ceilings have been cladded with long wooden strips. Dada says that a major renovation has been undertaken only once since the acquisition of the house – almost a decade ago. “We were going for an unpolished look, emphasising the beauty of raw and textured materials. We cladded the surface of the cylindrical core with raw metal which reflects light differently throughout the day, revealing different hues of blue. As for the rest of the surfaces, it's all about the texture. Walls and ceilings are either cladded with sandblasted cedar wood panels or finished in a textured light grey paint.
For the floors we used a local Lebanese stone called Namoura, which has a bumpy surface. The stone extends out to the terrace, creating a continuity between the indoor and outdoor spaces. We didn't want the terrace to feel like a separate part of the house, especially since it becomes very much part of the living space in summer,” Dada explains. He continues: “There's a bar, which serves both the indoor and outdoor areas, as well as two living rooms and a dining space arranged around the cylindrical core in an open plan. My three kids, my wife and I all use the spaces simultaneously with our friends but we do feel like we all have our own space. A platform made out of raw slats of wood wraps around part of the core and acts as structural support for the bar element as well as a deep bench which connects the bar to the living room.”
The bar element was designed by Dada himself alongside his eldest son, Adib; the base is created in raw metal while the top is a solid, untreated piece of marble. The view from the house is incredible, Dada says, and on clear days one can see Beirut and the sea from the living room. During the renovation, the windows were enlarged in order to maximise the views “but nothing beats the uninterrupted view from the terrace”, Dada says, where “often we get a mesmerising vision of the clouds gathered below.” The rustic wooden interiors are both offset and often complemented by an array of carefully selected furniture pieces – including stools by French artists Sido & François Thévenin for the Lebanese-Italian brand Sawaya & Moroni. Adjacent to the bar is the living area, where a thick, raw and untreated piece of marble is used as a coffee table. “It's incredibly heavy so we placed it on two wood slats, similar to how marble is usually displayed at the quarry,” Dada says. A
decade-old large plant acts as a divider between the living and dining areas. The latter features a 1985 Alessandro Mendini table coupled with Gio Ponti Superleggera chairs, while the colourful TV room creates a striking contrast with the sober, all-black dining room. Here, the architect has put together a selection of the quirkiest pieces that the family has collected throughout the years, including a Gaetano Pesce sofa, a bright red clay table by Maarten Baas and a polystyrene chair by Max Lamb. The bedrooms on this level of the house have a lighter atmosphere than the common spaces, where the walls are painted in a plain light grey. “My sons added their own touch to each of their respective rooms,” Dada reveals. “My eldest son's room is on the second floor and features a wall-to-wall glass window which overlooks the common area below.” The holiday home also features pieces by Lebanese creatives which Dada describes as his favourites. A bold, dark bronze sculpture by Michel Basbous (“which adds a lot of character to
the bar area”), is kept company by a portrait by Lamia Maria Abillama from her Clashing Realities series. A ceramic piece by Marilyn Massoud sits on the ledge of a window and lights up beautifully in the afternoon when the sunlight penetrates its perforated surface. “In the TV room there's a bright pink and yellow artwork by Rana Begum, which might be the most colourful piece we have ever acquired,” Dada admits. While the materiality and furniture selection play important roles in characterising the space, Dada believes that the spatial layout defines the way the family interacts with the home. “Circulation is key,” he says. “We always try our best to achieve an easy flow between spaces. This is what makes a successful social space and defines the experience in this home, which was designed to bring together family and friends. My favourite aspect of this house is that there are no corridors, so there is no waste of space whatsoever. It's an intimate, casual place – so there's no need for boundaries.” id
THE ART ISSUE
BEYOND THE SURFACE
esides choosing beautiful furniture pieces, interesting décor items and the right lighting, perhaps the most impactful spaces of the home are its walls and floors. Here we dive into the latest wallpaper collections, rug designs and carpets that are not unlike pieces of art themselves, merging bold patterns, abstract forms and pops of colour.
walls and f loors
Contemporary Wallpaper Collection by Wall&decò
Collection XI by Glamora
Wall&decò has developed a custom wall covering that is available either in nonwoven fabric and vinyl (such as with the Out of Curiosity line by Talva Design pictured here), or in a new eco-friendly 100% recyclable substrate (CWC-ECO). CWC is a non-woven fabric substrate with cellulose, additives and PVC. The surface layer, in vinyl, is embossed, dry-removable and washable. CWC-ECO, on the other hand, consists of a non-woven fabric covered with cellulose fibre and polyester base. Made with an ecological production cycle, it is recyclable, totally PVC-free and phthalate-free, as well as certified A+ according to the French label (following European norm ISO 16000) and Indoor Air Comfort GOLD certified. The material is highly breathable and ideal for any kind of interior. The pictorial collection features designs from photographs, drawings, trompe l’oeils and illustrations, opening up to a wide range of inspirations.
Collection XI blends Glamora’s personal touch with references from contemporary art and fashion, as well as inspirations from nature and an intersection of cultures from across the globe, from Africa to the Far East. Tricks of reflections and vibrations, transparent effects and neon shades recall the fluid creations of Janet Echelman, the American artist who works with light, wind and water. Other colours and decorative innovations evoke the world of English fashion designer Michael Fish who, in the late 1960s, reshaped traditional palettes and patterns, influenced by the revolutionary sounds of the music scene of that period. Also evident across the collection is a desire to return to nature that’s fulfilled by floral and foliage-themed designs which bring secret leafy spaces indoors. THE ART ISSUE
ART-AI collection by Inkiostro Bianco The ART-AI collection travels from Italy to explore the African continent, bringing together cultural and aesthetic diversity through the creation of six graphic patterns that are inspired by the work of Italian designer Giuliana Ravazzini, who has worked extensively in the region. Ravazzini set up the ART-AI project to create a bridge between Africa and Italy, driven by artistic inspiration, cultural diversity and research. He first travelled to Burkina Faso and Congo where paper-cloth is traditionally made, transforming waste material, paper and plants into harmonious decorative compositions. Fascinated by the process, Ravazzini experimented with the technique while 52
there, and continued upon his return to Italy. He later moved to North Africa, where his experiments with the technique developed, working closely with a group of artists in Morocco and Egypt, using the colours from the leatherdying process that is native to the region. It is this outcome that Inkiostro Bianco wishes to immortalise in its latest wallpaper collection, which features natural colours such as ochre, tobacco and burgundy, as well as orthogonal geometries and inlays. Additional features of the wallpaper collection include an oxidation effect from the maceration process – all adding to the natural yet strong expression of the collection.
walls and f loors
Plasterworks by David/Nicolas for cc-tapis The traditional square-shaped rug has undergone a radical transformation, and now comes in innovative shapes and abstract forms. One such example is Plasterworks, designed by Lebanese design duo David/Nicolas for Italian producers of contemporary hand-knotted rugs, cc-tapis – whose products are all created in Nepal by Tibetan artisans. Kaléo restaurant in Beirut – where the design duo and cc-tapis first conceptualised the collection – inspired its design, referencing the triangle patterns that decorate its walls. This motif was spun out into multiple variations featuring soft lines, interesting colour combinations and contrasting textures. Each hand-sketched design was later translated into an ultra-fine handknotted rug in Himalayan wool and silk.
THE ART ISSUE
Ply by MUT Design for GAN Spanish duo MUT Design’s Ply rugs for GAN is another example of the organic shapes takeover, complete with compelling patterns and enveloping textures. Visually inspired by plywood, the rugs are hand-tufted and built of juxtaposing layers of tightly woven loops. The Yellow model (pictured) is the largest in the series, combining shades of yellow with two neutral tones, while offering alternations of textures. A flat, small one is available for the base; another for lines. Together, they acquire a distinctive volume and hypnotic effect. The series includes an additional two models: one in pink shades and with circular form, and another in blue tones and with an elongated shape that doubles as a runner.
walls and f loors
Sierra by TSAR Carpets Melbourne-based TSAR Carpets has launched its latest Sierra collection, a series of broadloom wool-rich Axminster carpet designs inspired by mountainous terrains and desert landscapes. The collection features an array of natural, earthy tones in five distinct patterns, ranging from geological motifs to glacial-like elements that offer a sense of tranquillity and fluidity. “The Sierra collection was first and foremost inspired by Iceland’s historic and impressive female-led weaving industry and the natural beauty of the country’s stark and craggy landscape. That investigation further spurred interest in bringing to life additional rugged and arid landscapes worldwide
– from California’s Coachella Valley to the rugged cliffs of the Shire of Mornington Peninsula in Melbourne,” says Charlotte McGeehan, a trained weaver and TSAR’s in-house designer. The collection’s textures were derived from an array of McGeehan’s experimental and labour-intensive hand, seersucker and jacquard weaving techniques, which were then digitally translated into broadloom Axminster carpet designs. Incorporating 80% New Zealand wool – a durable material thanks to the fibre’s unparalleled diameter and strength – the collection is suitable for a wide variety of hightraffic public spaces as well as residential environments. id
THE ART ISSUE
A centre for learning Foster + Partners’ House of Wisdom library and cultural centre in Sharjah is officially open to the public PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS GOLDSTRAW
ocated on the Sharjah International Airport Road, ten kilometres from the city centre, is the recently opened House of Wisdom, designed by UK architecture practice Foster + Partners – which already holds a number of highprofile regional projects under its belt, with more currently in the pipeline. “[The brief for the building was], very simply, to create a library for the future – one that would allow people to gather, learn and exchange ideas,” Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners tells identity. “The project was initially referred to as the Digital Library but through our research we found many parallels with the original House of Wisdom, which was set up in Persia in the fourth century as a place for scholars to exchange ideas. We had some great conversations with the client, Her Royal Highness Sheikha Bodour, and her team about how the aims of the building had many parallels
with one of the world’s earliest scholarly institutions, which informed the design process.” The two-storey building, which houses a library and a cultural centre, embodies a sense of lightness, featuring a large floating roof that cantilevers on all sides of its transparent rectilinear volume. The team at Foster + Partners began the design process by exploring the woven Barasti architecture that’s native to the region, which strongly influenced the design of the building envelope – “a very lightweight box,” Evenden describes. The 15-metre-wide overhang shades the façades throughout most of the day, while fixed aluminium screens of differing densities filter the low sun in the evenings. Users are encouraged to interact with its architecture by adjusting moveable bamboo screens, either for privacy or to control glare. When not in use, the bamboo screens are left open in order to preserve the connection between the building and its landscaped gardens.
THE ART ISSUE
“The moveable screens allow people to moderate their local environment by adjusting the amount of light that illuminates the space they occupy. This allows them to create a personalised environment for focused work. Working within a tight budget, we were keen to use CNC production to maintain a high level of quality while keeping costs low through mass-production processes,” Evenden explains. Housing both a library and a cultural centre, the building’s two functions have been integrated to promote communication and “cross-fertilisation of ideas.” “In our experience, overlapping uses creates a richer programme that promotes learning – something we were keen to bring to the House of Wisdom. This also creates a certain flexibility
that will allow the building to meet future needs and changing patterns of learning. This is increasingly important from the point of view of sustainability.” The building was designed to be open and inviting within a simple square plan, laid out as four distinct quadrants around a densely planted and shaded open central courtyard. Inspired by the Oasis in Al Ain, the courtyard acts as an outdoor venue for social events or as a space for isolation and contemplation. The floating roof of the building is supported by four cores that also contain all the back-of-house and service spaces, creating a large column-free floorplate. Visitors enter the building from its western edge, into a double-height reception. The expansive ground floor contains large spaces
for exhibitions, as well as a café and a children’s educational space. It also houses the archive and a reading area with various facilities including an ‘Espresso Book Machine’ that prints and binds books on-demand. The upper floor hosts a series of pod spaces suspended above the central courtyard, which offer quiet and collaborative spaces, exhibition areas and reading lounges, including a prayer room and a women-only area. Throughout the building, there is an emphasis on establishing and retaining a connection with the outside, looking onto the gardens surrounding the building. The main book library and research part of the building is set over two floors towards the south of the building, with its façade open onto the landscaped garden.
THE ART ISSUE
Divided into two sections, the landscaping – which is a vital part of the overall complex – features a knowledge garden and children’s playground to the south, and includes several native species and a water feature, alongside a more formal, geometrically arranged garden to the north containing ‘The Scroll’ – a public art piece by British artist and designer Gerry Judah. The sculpture is a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Arabic scrolls as a single, spiralling sculpture that loops towards the sky and commemorates Sharjah as the UNESCO 2020 World Book Capital. Additionally, it creates a dialogue with the House of Wisdom and its landscaped gardens and water features, connecting the two parts of the complex together with the hope of encouraging visitors to also explore the outdoor landscape, which has been specifically designed to complement the building’s programme. In order to create a library and community space that is 60
relevant to the 21st century, the team at Foster + Partners visited libraries around the world to understand best practice. “We found that the most successful spaces allowed people to use the building through an extended period – a 24/7 community space that belonged to them,” Evenden says. “Alongside the libraries, there were spaces for talks and lectures, larger social areas, cafés for food and drink, child-friendly spaces – all functions that encourage people to come together. We planned the House of Wisdom by plotting many ‘day in the life scenarios’ of different potential user groups – including students, senior citizens, young mothers, school parties, evening class groups and authors – evaluating their needs [and] clarifying our approach at every step.” At its core, the House of Wisdom is designed as a flexible place for learning, encouraging people to come together to share ideas. id
THE ART ISSUE
An open book
LWK + Partners has designed a new luxury residential development in Hong Kong that reflects its academic environment
0 LaSalle rests on a corner site in Hong Kong’s covetable low-density neighbourhood of Ho Man Tin, an area studded with traditional elite schools and best known for its well-established academic environment. Designed by LWK + Partners, the new luxury residential development soaks up its immediate context, forming architectural elements that reference the literary ambiance of the area. The slender 19-storey single block is situated in this tranquil pocket of the city, amid a network of tree-lined streets which are an uncommon sight in highly dense Hong Kong. For this reason, the architects took full advantage of the surprising environment by orienting the building towards the famous Lion Rock and nearby cityscape. The views are further maximised by large glass windows that let in generous sunlight. “The tower is also set back from the street to mitigate the blocking of views by nearby buildings, especially for lower units, while at the same time reducing any street canyon effects,” says HC Chan, director at LWK + Partners. Adapting the local heritage of the area as well as its reputable academic presence, the architecture uses craftsmanship and bespoke elements to communicate a structure that contributes to a contemporary living environment through an elegant, sculptural quality that seamlessly connects with its timehonoured neighbourhood. The curvilinear language that is present across the building has been adopted to achieve a sense of unity and connectivity across its design. The residents’ clubhouse is a key example of this. Set on the first floor and complete with recreational facilities and social spaces, it is designed to reference an “open book with flipping pages”, as a nod to the context and cultural heritage of the area. THE ART ISSUE
“In close proximity to La Salle College, within an urban context, a bespoke design concept is tailored to infuse the essence of reading into the residential property and bring about a harmonious integration with the academic atmosphere,” says Chan. The clubhouse comprises a podlike structure, using volumetric design that has been wrapped in vertical bronze architectural fins from floor to ceiling, creating a sense of continuity. At dusk, light spills out through the louvres, producing a tranquil space that glows amid the foliaged streetscape. With contrasting shiny and rough textures, 10 LaSalle sparks an intriguing dialogue between space and materiality. The façade of the building features extensive glass cladding that is punctuated by premium granite, while the balconies have curved glass balustrades lined with slim bronze railings, integrating with the architectural style across the whole
building and, once again, referencing the concept behind the ‘flipping book’ seen in the clubhouse podium. The lobby walls feature ‘sheets’ of stone that flap up like worn pages of a well-read book, accentuated by gentle backlighting for added depth. On the outside, the façades at the base of the building are made with bespoke parallelogram-shaped masonry. “10 LaSalle is an integration of function and art,” says Chan. “LWK + Partners designed every detail based on the idea that embracing your surroundings, whether it is the natural environment, cultural heritage or social community, is an important part of living well. We aim to give residents peace of mind within a high-density context. Understated luxury is rigorously executed through high-standard craftsmanship, celebrating boutique modern home living in an age of information explosion. Rather than just a property asset, 10 LaSalle is conceived to be a tasteful collectable.” id
Photography by Tanya Marar.
THE ART ISSUE
A singular ambition
UNNO’s digital design gallery debut marks a new era for Latin American design 66
WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANA HOP THE ART ISSUE
evisiting ancestral traditions of mythology and making, UNNO gallery aims to put the spotlight on design from Latin America that pays homage to the history and culture of the region, while showcasing its contemporary capabilities through a digital platform. The name of the gallery is inspired by the Spanish word ‘uno’ – meaning ‘one’ – and refers to the idea that Latin American cultures, countries and people share a common heritage that unites them as a whole. Founded in 2019 by interior designer Maria Dolores Uribe, who heads up her own design showroom called Studio 84 in Mexico, and architect and sculptor Laura Abe Vettoretti, who is director of interior design at Gloria Cortina, a studio based between Mexico City and New York, the platform’s aim was to create a space “for young designers by young designers”, bringing forward fresh ideas and a desire to challenge the status quo. With 10 years of experience in showcasing European art to the Mexican market, Uribe – alongside partner Vettoretti, who shares her appreciation for the artisanal crafts of the region as well as a love for contemporary art and design – decided to flip the script and showcase a renewed vision of Latin American design that displays its potential within the sphere of contemporary collectible design – this time to a global audience. And what better way to do that than through a digital gallery that is accessible to all, at all times? “After long nights of talking about design, we came up with the idea that we want to share the contemporary vision of a group of young Latin American designers with the world,” the founders explain. “We came together as UNNO because we believe that the image of Latin American design [usually] portrayed to the world doesn’t always correspond with our own view, which is something that is pure, deep, raw, mystical and elegant – and that’s the Latin America we want to show the world.” With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo decided that the most organic approach would be to adapt the gallery in a way that allows it to be accessible everywhere, and to everyone, allowing collectors and designers to connect with ease. “We are living a digital revolution and [becoming] the first Latin American digital gallery sounded just right.
We want to create an experience of connection between our pieces and the life experiences of the collectors [by creating a] narration of the history of our land in a contemporary manner. The experience behind the digital gallery is structured as a narration through time. It has an artistic, theorical and graphic value, and as a user you discover the pieces through storytelling – but it is also functional at the same time.” The debuting collection includes the works of Abe Vettoretti and Uribe, as well as Mexican designers Cesar Nunez and Bandido Studio, and pieces by Brooklyn-based designer Ian Felton. The digital gallery is set at 32 General Prim, a ‘Porfirian’ house from the early 20th century that’s located in the Colonia Juárez neighbourhood in Mexico City – a location that has lived through the Mexican Revolution and later became the home of a tobacco brand. In 2014, the building was restored by architect Albert Kalach, preserving its personality and history. The design pieces selected for this first exhibition pay homage to the “sacred origins envisioned by our forefathers,” the duo states. Inspirations behind the design include ancient architectural traditions of Mexico, pre-Hispanic architecture, the symbolism of the sun in pre-Colombian inscriptions and Mesoamerican culture, as well as artistic movements throughout Colonial Mexico. Each piece is handcrafted by local artisans and celebrates materials and forms found across the region – from lava stone, jade, cast bronze, onyx and obsidian to brass and black marble. “We believe that every act of creation demands a well-thought interplay between materials and technique, an alchemy achieved through composition and procedure,” the founders explain. These ancestral procedures are present in the craft and values of our designers; artists who work exclusively with natural materials and controlled extraction.” id
From left: Laura Abe Vettoretti and Maria Dolores Uribe.
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Tlanextli collection by Bandido Studio, Nusca collection by Laura Abe Vettoretti and Maria Dolores Uribe, Tequitqui collection by Cesar Nunez, Mullunu collection by Ian Felton.
Photography by Mariana Valdovi
THE ART ISSUE
Make it pop! A round-up of the latest objects, lighting pieces and accessories we love from MENU's adjustable candle holders to Bang & Olufsen's moveable home speakers
Perla Ana Kraš for HAY Design Available at hay.dk
1. Red LM Stool by nmbello studio. Available at lichennyc.com . 2. Beosound Level by Torsten Valeur for Bang & Olufsen. Available at bang-olufsen.com 3. Bacio scented candle by Fornasetti. Available at ounass.ae 4. Duca candle holder by Kroyer-Saetter-Lassen for MENU. Available at menuspace.com 5. TRN Lamp F2 by Pani Jurek. Available at adorno.design 6. Medium Swirl stripe notebook by Paul Smith. Available at matchesfashion.com 7. Multicolour alpaca and mohair large check scarf by Acne Studios. Available at ssense.com
THE ART ISSUE
Design is collectible. But what kind of collector do you want to be? Reflections on design by Cyril Zammit
hile the art market is already established, questions around collectable design are still being raised. The UBS Global Art Market 2020 report indicates that global sales of art and antiques reached an estimated USD 64.1 billion in 2019. There is no such estimation for design, though one now knows that High Net Worth (HNW) collectors are also looking at alternative investments, and 78 percent of them purchase decorative art and design. So, is design collectible? And if yes, what is collectible and is it a good investment? Before we try to answer these questions, let’s first look back and draw a timeline of modern and contemporary design. A century ago, design was an element created by architects to complement their projects. There was no distinction between design and architecture, and all great architects – including Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, to name a few – were creating furniture as part of their overall projects. After the Second World War, architects such as Jean Prouvé hit the light for their inventive and cost-effective design creations that were supporting the reconstruction of Europe. It was only in the early 1950s that a new generation of designers made an appearance. They were still architects, but they developed projects that didn’t necessarily associate with housing or buildings. This trend developed until the early ‘80s, when a few galleries decided to extract design from its mission of pure functionality, and approached designers to work on limited edition pieces in order to offer a buyers a sentiment of uniqueness and rarity. A decade later, auction houses opened their design sections and started to put design pieces under the hammer. They followed with interest the hard work of a few galleries in Paris, London or New York that promoted new talents alongside the great names from the 20th century. In 2005, design.05 in Miami kicked off the design fair movement. Rebranded Design Miami a year later, the fair opened the doors to a rising market looking at fine design, later moving to ‘design-art’ – a notion I personally don't like.
So, what is collectible design? The easiest definition is a creation that is rare with outstanding craftsmanship, innovative through its material or form, and a ground-breaking concept that will mark history. To this, one can add architectural historical design looked after for its rarity, although some of it was produced in larger quantities. To me, it is important that the purchase of a design piece is driven by the heart more than a return on investment. A design creation is a living element in your house, not something you will store. Never forget that design has a function, and you should always be able to use what you buy. If not, then it is a ‘design-art’ piece that you put on a pedestal and look at, the same way you would with a painting – not my preferred way of appreciating design. On rare occasions, you will also find design pieces that are more affordable than art. If you are interested in buying a historical piece, learn about its history: to whom did it once belong? Touch it, feel it and connect with its soul. Art buyers will make sure that they not only acquire great artworks for their walls, but also an outstanding line-up of furniture and design for their homes, too. That was a statement made by art dealer and auctioneer Simon de Pury during a talk I organised in Basel in 2008. When it comes to contemporary design, look at the creativity of the piece, the material used, its finishing and how you can see yourself with this piece in 10 to 15 years. More eager buyers will also look for market added-value in the case of resale, so only purchase certified limited editions to avoid fakes and duplicates. Buying from a gallery will give you a guarantee that the designer has been properly vetted by the seller, and offer a certain assurance of value growth. A collector will always firstly buy from the heart. Keep this rule as your first motivation.
Cyril Zammit is a design expert and advisor based in Dubai. Follow him on Instagram @cyrilzam and on www.cyrilzammit.com
Books This month’s selection highlights Nike’s design legacy and a survey of the best in contemporary drawings from artists the world over
Vitamin D3: Today’s Best in Contemporary Drawing Conceived and edited by Phaidon editors
Following the success of Vitamin D in 2005 and Vitamin D2 in 2013, Phaidon’s editors continue to explore the evolving possibilities of drawing from a contemporary lens – a medium that has been elevated to sit alongside painting as a central art form. Drawing has since expanded its scope of possibilities, from intimate to large-scale works, across a wide range of markmaking processes and materials. The latest iteration in the series, Vitamin D3 continues this exploration, showcasing works of more than 100 artists – including the likes of Miriam Cahn, Otobong Nkanga, Wael Shawky and Toyin Ojih Odutola – nominated by more than 70 international art experts.
Nike: Better is Temporary Sam Grawe Published by Phaidon
For lovers of urban culture (or simply good book design), this landmark publication may just be the thing. Nike: Better is Temporary charts the brand’s transformation from “rebellious upstart to global phenomenon”.The publication is an immersive visual survey, a behindthe-scenes exploration of its ethos-driven design formula, innovations and products, as well as unpublished designs and prototypes. The book is arranged in five thematic chapters: performance, brand expression, collaboration, inclusive design and sustainability. We also can’t help but also fall in love with its exceptional design that nods to its contents. The vibrant cover features overlapping silkscreened layers of Nike's proprietary Volt yellow and Hyperpunch pink colours overlaying an image of world-champion marathoner Eliud Kipchoge printed in a half-tone dot pattern. The book's spine, visible through the clear jacket, showcases a series of coloured tabs that extend from its interior pages.
THE ART ISSUE
id most wanted
The lamps from Tooy’s Nastro collection by Studiopepe are born out of practical functionality and a quiet poeticism. Combining the flexible and supple element of a ribbon (‘nastro’ in Italian) with a more stable and fixed element such as a weight, the items in the collection offer a juxtaposition of opposing elements – giving each piece both body and lightness. The union of soft and bold forms defines the collection’s poetic yet whimsical nature.
Nastro by Studiopepe for Tooy 74
IMAGE © ZANOTTA
CAPTIVATING PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS ON THE HISTORY OF THE UAE SOURCE HIGH QUALITY BOOKS AND PRINTS FOR YOUR BUSINESS DIRECTLY FROM MOTIVATE MEDIA GROUP AT BOOKSARABIA.COM