Identity - May 2021

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ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, INTERIORS + PROPERTY

identity

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A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION

ISSUE 209 / MAY 2021

The Craftsmanship Issue

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contents

Features 18

Designing with intention Niyya’s portable prayer mats are designed to be a source of pride for the Muslim community

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Detangling ideology Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri is taking over the art scene one 6-metre sculpture at a time

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Cross-culture creativity Ibkki is focused on carrying forward the craft traditions of Algeria’s Kabylia region

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Balancing act Peter Mabeo speaks to identity about finding balance in the world of design

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A grand experience Enter the inner world of The Arts Club Dubai, designed by Dimorestudio

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A brutalist touch

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Chadi Abou Jaoude has designed his Paris home to reflect brutalist design elements

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Living with colour Crosby Studios has created an eclectic and colourful home in Moscow for fashion designer Ksenia Chilingarova

Regulars 32

Photography by Takumi Ota

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Newswire

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Design Focus

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Products

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Library

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#idmostwanted



contents

identity

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Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Group Director Andrew Wingrove Editor Aidan Imanova Designer Hannah Perez Sub-editor Max Tuttle Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Manish Chopra Senior Sales Manager Neha Kannoth Sales Representative - Italy Daniela Prestinoni General Manager - Production S Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor Venita Pinto Contributors Christopher Joshua Benton Cyril Zammit Esra Lemmens Ibkki Karine Monié Ramy Ahmed

identity magazine is printed by Emirates Printing Press. Member of:

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Editor’s Note

Photo by Young Habibti

While we launched our first ‘Craftsmanship Issue’ in October last year, highlighting the work of regional and international designers who are working to preserve heritage and traditional techniques, it is an area that is always worthy of exploration. This may be because artisanal traditions and the act of craft-making go beyond the act of design itself and, in addition to revealing ancestral knowledge and ways of life – wisdom that can still be applied today – it represents a strong ethos in the way designers create today. This is why we felt that an annual issue focusing on artisanal practices and the designers who champion them is vital. This month’s cover was conceptualised, directed and shot by Azel Ait-Mokhtar and Youri Asantcheeff and their team from ‘nomadic’ design studio Ibkki, who are focused on carrying forward the craft traditions of the Berber people of Algeria’s Kabylia region – where Ait-Mokhtar’s family are from. The designers now work with an expert craftsman in Kabylia called Nabil who specialises in ceramics, and with whom the designers have established a close personal connection. While seeking influences from the traditional pottery techniques of the Imazighen people and their use of geometric symbols, the duo has reinterpreted these symbols (which they heavily researched) to create their own ‘alphabet’. It is this alphabet that decorates the duo’s first rug, designed for Parisian gallery Chevalier & Parsua, and is made using traditional techniques by Iranian carpet weavers. The rug is being exclusively revealed through identity and will be officially launched later next year. As we spoke to the two designers over Zoom, they explained that they treat their time working with the craftsmen as a time to learn, much like one would in an artist’s residency, while also sharing their own experience and solutions with the artisans to help them sell their own pieces. “We do not do this for money, but because we want to help them, and it is a small part of the exchange and the dialogue between us, because we now feel part of the family,” Asantcheeff said. Similarly, during my conversation with Botswana-based furniture designer Peter Mabeo, we discussed the romanticism and glorification associated with working with artisans and how, often, the narrative is misplaced. “Who is actually benefitting from my relationship with the craftspeople?” he questioned. “They are the custodians of something that I probably have lost, so what I get from them is immeasurable.” We also discussed the important values to be gained from working with artisans and crafts that, in the age of industrialisation and technology, we are beginning to lose sight of. One of these values is the idea of ‘slow design’, one that is considerate of its making process, its materials and the people who make it, as well as their environment. With the ongoing pandemic shaking up many people’s ideas of how we exist, this way of thinking is beginning to gain traction, and for Mabeo it is the only way of working that feels natural. “Why don’t we take our time a little bit more?” he said. “Why don’t we consider not rushing into making a name or making an impact to get the next sale? Why don’t we think about doing things in a way that will have deep, slow and long-term [effects]: [ones that are] relationship-based versus outcome-based? People are more receptive now to these ideas.” I hope our readers find much to discover in this issue as we reveal interesting narratives and approaches to designing that can be of benefit to society while also creating a sense of beauty in the world.

Aidan Imanova Editor

On the cover: AMENZU rug created exclusively for identity by Ibkki


OUTDOOR LIVING

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STAY TU NED www.t al en t i srl .com cu s tom e rs e r vice @ ta le ntis rl.com


Contributors KARINE MONIÉ

Born and raised in France, where she graduated with a master’s degree from La Sorbonne University, Karine Monié is a trilingual content creator and editorial consultant. Based in California, Karine contributes to design, architecture and fashion publications, including various international editions of Architectural Digest and Interior Design, ELLE Decoration, MilK Decoration and Vogue, among many others. For this issue, Karine enters two gorgeous residences in Moscow and Paris designed, respectively, by Moscow- and New York-based Crosby Studios and Lebanese interior architect Chadi Abou Jaoude. She also explores how bathroom design can be used to create a safe haven at home.

CHRISTOPHER JOSHUA BENTON Christopher Joshua Benton is an American artist and writer based in Dubai. His art practices use film, photography and installation to explore how the working class stages resistance. His works have been presented at Alserkal Avenue, the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, Jameel Arts Centre and Dubai Design Week. He is the former creative director of the technology brand Huawei. In this issue, Christopher investigates the work of Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri on the occasion of her recent solo exhibition at Green Art Gallery in Dubai.

ESRA LEMMENS Esra Lemmens is the design strategist and founder of her eponymous design agency that focuses on empowering contemporary designers across the globe by creating clear business objectives based upon her vast knowledge and experience of the global design industry. An ambassador for contemporary design, in this issue Esra investigates the growing popularity of digital furniture and how this may be the next big investment in design.

IBBKI

For the ‘Craftsmanship Issue’, Azel Ait-Mokhtar and Youri Asantcheeff, founders of Paris and Algeria-based design studio Ibkki, created our cover with an exclusive photoshoot of their first rug, designed for Parisian gallery Chevalier & Parsua and created by artisans in Iran. “It was important to us that our first cover be both a reflection of our work and our influences,” the designers say. “As much in technique as in aesthetics, we try to mix our various inspirations juggling modernity and tradition. With our creations, we like to play with geometric shapes, textures and colours, as shown in the pieces we chose to showcase in the images. For this project, we wanted to capture a dialogue between some of our most iconic pieces, the rug, and our surroundings.”

CYRIL ZAMMIT

Cyril Zammit is a design expert and advisor based in Dubai, and currently working for the UAE federal government. He has previously worked with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority as expert, and headed the launch of Dubai’s first limited-edition and collectible design fair, Design Days Dubai, in 2012. He later participated in the launch of Dubai Design Week in 2015. In this issue, Cyril writes about the inaugural Algerian-French design biennale, DZing 2020+1.


Co-Located with

RECONNECT WITH THE MIDDLE EAST'S INTERIORS INDUSTRY

Three Days of Focused High-Impact Engaging Experiences

31 MAY 2 JUNE 2021 DUBAI WORLD TRADE CENTRE

Register to attend the Middle East's FIRST LIVE interiors show, INDEX Dubai from the 31st May to 2nd June 2021: www.indexexhibition.com. INDEX inspires creativity and ignites new connections, creating a destination where the community will come together to establish new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Interior designers, buyers, retailers, distributors, consultants and contractors attend to witness live installations, product showcases, gain insights from free seminars and network with design leaders, interiors brands and products from across the globe. Show your connections that you're still here and ready to do business, together again, at INDEX!

FIND WHAT YOU’RE SEARCHING AT INDEX

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newswire

Spiritual carpets

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eticulously hand-woven and divinely inspired, Lebanese designer Nada Debs’ Transcendence prayer rugs are testament to the inter-connectedness of faith. Aptly named, the carpets are not limited to one religion or belief, but aim to transcend boundaries in order to spiritually connect the faithful through prayer, peace and human fraternity. To symbolise this unity Debs has chosen the arched doorway and dome, which are recreated within the carpet weave to indicate religious architecture found across mosques, minarets, shrines and ancient churches rooted in the Byzantine architectural tradition from as early as the 7th

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century. The linear patterns are designed to evoke a certain depth, symbolically transporting users into a dimension of spiritual harmony. The collection’s tactile nature serves to awaken the senses as one attends to prayer or meditation. “As craft custodians, we safeguard its legacy by making craft relevant to future generations through a signature design approach,” says Debs. For the Ramadan season, the collection is presented in special, limited-edition gift boxes designed by Debs. Transcendence is the Lebanese designer’s second collaboration with Zuleya by FBMI, an initiative that supports women carpet weavers in Afghanistan.


identity.ae

Natural inspiration

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alm trees are abundant in the Gulf region – a place that inspires Iraqi photographer, stylist and designer Cheb Moha, who is behind the homegrown lifestyle brand Shabab (among other creatives) and lives between Dubai, Kuwait City and Muscat. A self-proclaimed nomad, his fascination with the Gulf and the wider Middle East has inspired him to document the region through a variety of media; and creating objects that pay tribute to its various cultures, environments and people is part of it. Moha’s latest venture is a creative collaboration with Muscatbased design brand Altqadum (which is run by a collective of architects and designers): a hand-tufted rug made using 100% New Zealand wool that depicts a convergence of two palm trees (a motif commonly found across Moha’s various designs). The rug was created especially for a private residence, to be placed in a hallway. This informed the overall form of the rug, which appears almost like a deconstructed runner. The rug’s colour composition is a nod to the earth surrounding a palm tree, as well as to the silhouettes that the leaves and trunks make on the ground.

Modular moments

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eritage-inspired brand Chapter 101 has collaborated with Dubai-based furniture manufacturer SkaraBrae to create modular seating, inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean, that can be adapted to various needs. ‘Soffah’ – the historical Arabic term for the word ‘sofa’ – inspired its form, referring to the low-slung sofas that are slightly raised from the floor, which have long existed and been used across a variety of cultures. Soffah’s floor-hugging design has been reinterpreted from its traditional form into a contemporary and adaptable piece of furniture that maintains its cultural roots while bringing a sense of heritage into a space. Soffah is upholstered in a 100% eco-friendly cotton, yet can be modified through a wide variety of finishes, with the aim of allowing homeowners to express their creativity through its flexible design. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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newswire

Pushing the limits I

zmir-born Buket Hoscan Bazman has a lot on her hands. She established her own design brand, Marbelous, in 2015 (which she now manages with partner Erman Bazman), with the aim of producing bespoke furniture and objects where marble is the hero. Soon after, she set up her eponymous studio, where the Turkish designer works on creating ‘timeless’ furniture pieces and lighting. Using mainly natural stone, wood and brass, Bazman focuses on combining contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship, and each piece is made by an artisan in Turkey. Her STRIPE cabinet in wood, brass and marble. personal collections are now available at Love House New York, as well as Galerie Philia and 1stDibs. Under her eponymous brand, Bazman creates limited-edition pieces that champion material experimentation across a variety of forms. “Marbelous has its own design language,” she shares. “All the furniture contains marble detailing, with a strong focus on adaptability. I wanted to integrate the client in the design process; therefore, all the furniture pieces are customisable. Because marble was the first material I ever worked on as a designer, its nature, form and workability inspired me.” Although the pieces designed for her own collection are simpler but sculptural, they also contain secret handcrafted detailing realised by local artisans. “I love being involved in the IO bench featuring hand-sculpted solid wood legs, bouclé fabric and production process, so I usually try to do the patinated brass. finishing touches myself,” she says. For Bazman, craftsmanship is the essence of the design process and one where the true quality and skill of the piece can be displayed. “I love pushing the limits when it comes to experimenting with new techniques, materials and forms,” she adds. “My first inspiration is always the personality of materials and their potential. When I learn [to work with] a new material, it sparks my curiosity and makes me want to explore different possibilities.”

QUATTRO coffee table in unfilled solid travertine.

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identity.ae

Recycled matter L

ebanese designer Richard Yasmine’s voluminous designs are being showcased at the second edition of 5VIE D’N’A – Design ‘n’ Art for a Better World, both physically and as part of a digital exhibition which 5VIE launched last year as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yasmine’s work skilfully blends Lebanese handcrafting traditions with a contemporary sensibility, and Size Matters and Flowing Fragments – which are being exhibited as part of Milan Design City 2021 – offer a perspective on cultural research combined with a focus on environmental issues. Flowing Fragments comprises a limited edition of 16 variations of tables and stools that is part of Yasmine’s research project on producing by using scraps and leftovers and transforming them into sculptural furnishing and objects. Referencing forms found in Greco-Roman architecture, Yasmine says, “Flowing Fragments emphasises our global cultural heritage. It’s an awareness to save the remaining forgotten fragments of previous civilisations.”

The second collection, Size Matters, features several playful pieces of furniture created using basic geometric shapes such as cylinders, cubes and prisms, among others, made using an array of materials such as brass and glass as well as other recycled compacted material structures that have been concealed using an oversized fabric that drapes over each item to fit its shape, and tied by a belt to fix into place. The sizeable and dynamic objects appear almost inflated and are influenced by cubist forms. The pieces intentionally reject the use of any sophisticated techniques, yet their bold shapes and whimsical configurations offer an elegant take on upcycling. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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Mediterranean harmony

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atuzzi’s handcrafted furniture has always expressed the culture of the Mediterranean, and more specifically its home of Puglia, expressing its culture, lifestyle and attitudes. Its 2021 collection, The Circle of Harmony, embraces the same elements while using the concept of the ‘circle’ to express a celebration of beauty through an ideal space where different interpretations of the brand can exist. Bringing together eight designers, all with different approaches and styles, The Circle of Harmony represents a translation of the identity of the brand through a diverse lens, while keeping in mind its Apulian roots and spirit as well as concepts of elegance, comfort and harmony. The designers involved in the collection include Claudio Bellini, Mauro Lipparini, Maurizio Manzoni and Paola Navone, as well as first-time collaborators Marcantonio, Fabio Novembre and Nika Zupanc. It also includes a new textile collection by the Dutch textile design studio BYBORRE, created in collaboration with Pasquale Junior Natuzzi, the Chief Creative Officer at Natuzzi, as part of

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his vision of integrating tradition and innovation. Made with a yarn that combines high-quality wool and recycled PES, Water is a family of double-sided fabrics that are luxurious to the sight and touch, while also being extremely durable. Perhaps the hero is Paola Navone’s Argo collection, which includes a sofa and a chaise lounge, both available in the Water textile as well as traditional leather or fabric upholstery. Argo is inspired by the beauty of imperfection and changeability in one’s environment, similar to the movement of the sea, and takes its cues from the colours and traditions of the Mediterranean while reflecting the relaxed lifestyle of Puglia, where all the pieces are made. The Argo sofa, with its generous dimensions, is a symbol of a particular way of interpreting life and living spaces, and features a soft look that is magnified by the 3D padding and two large brackets that sink into the backrest. The low, almost invisible feet of the sofa reinforce the idea of an extremely comfortable, inviting and enveloping seating system, perfect for moments spent in relaxation. Available in two- and three-seater versions, as well as a swivelling armchair, Argo is designed to be an island of comfort within the living area. The Sleeping Argo chaise longue embodies a welcoming spirit which flows to accommodate various resting positions thanks to the brand’s electric mechanisms that are operated using touch buttons. Designed for comfort in both chaise longue position and in the day bed position, Sleeping Argo is covered with a particularly generous housse (in fabric or leather) that exaggerates the feeling of total and complete rest, which is further accentuated by a large bracket that pierces the backrest, ending at the back with a popglam knot.


media partnership

Triumphant return The Middle East’s longest-running interior design event, INDEX, is making a return this year with a physical fair and talks programme, from 31 May to 2 June 2021. We catch up with fair director Katie McBride to learn more.

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hat can we expect from INDEX 2021? Visitors can expect INDEX to feel (and look!) a little different this year. There will be fewer handshakes, and much more space within the halls to enable sourcing and networking at a safe distance. The experiences, opportunities and content will be greater than ever. We even have some surprises in store, [which are] designed to inspire and enhance the full experience, thanks to some wonderful creative leaders that have collaborated with the show and designed some fabulous installations. We’re also excited to see the show conferences evolving for the 30th edition. INDEX Design Talks has been very popular this year, and it’s been great to see their excitement in being part of this project. There’s a lot to discuss and debate after such a long time apart, so everyone’s really looking forward to this. We’ve also launched a Work Design Summit and a Retail Forum at this year’s show, to meet the demand for education on these topic areas. All in all, it feels much more important and essential than ever before to get the industry back together in person. We can’t wait to open the doors! What were the challenges in setting up a live exhibition during a global pandemic, and why did you feel this was important? The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty on travel policies and whether our international exhibitors are able to participate in the fair. We’re lucky that we’re not the first or largest show to have taken place at Dubai World Trade Centre during the pandemic, so we fully trust the venue’s safety standards and protocols that have enabled them to be successful. And of course, we are very thankful to the Dubai Government for their effective handling of the pandemic, which means we’re in a position to operate earlier than other countries. The global pandemic means it’s now more important than ever before to reconnect, find new suppliers and show the industry who is still in business. This is critical for the survival of manufacturers, retailers and distributors. They need to meet with the community to do business and, more importantly, find out ‘who is doing what’

now. Everyone needs to refresh their contact lists! For specifiers and buyers, it’s [about] finding new products that are available in the region, and learning insights from the region’s leaders. What can we expect from the exhibitors this year – is there a more regional presence? We have some great international brands participating at INDEX, many of whom are returning after being absent for a few years, and some who are exhibiting for the first time. Look out for Cosentino, Geberit, VitrA, Presto, Scientechnic and Eichholtz, to name a few. It has been great to see that, despite the current situation, we’ve also seen this year a huge influx of gorgeous new designer furniture coming to the show from countries such as France, Poland and Italy. ‘A Gallery’ will also be bringing artwork by the famous Christy Lee Rogers to the show, and we have lots of product launches to reveal! I could go on, but you will have to visit yourself to see the variety of products and experiences on offer. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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interiors

Niyya’s collections are divided into single and family prayer rugs.

Niyya’s portable prayer mats are designed to be a source of pride for the Muslim community WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

Designing with intention 18


interiors

Single-size Sabr prayer mat. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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interiors

Single-size Sabr and Tahara prayer mats.

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interiors

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iyya’ (or ‘Niyyah’) is the Islamic concept of having intention in one’s heart. It is this very word that has driven Brooklyn-based digital product designer Myhra Mirza to create a Muslim lifestyle brand with the same name that caters to a younger, modernday Muslim community. Niyya’s prayer rugs are portable and have what may be now described as a ‘millennial aesthetic’ – an array of bold and pastel hues and abstract shapes influenced by Arabic calligraphy. The colours are also symbolic of the Islamic faith, with green appearing across all the collections as the colour that’s representative of Islam. While modernising the designs was important, Mirza wanted to keep a sense of familiarity with traditional prayer rugs. For this reason, Niyya’s mats maintain the arch motif which traditionally indicates the direction of the Ka’bah in Mecca, towards which Muslims pray. The idea for the brand began when Mirza, planning for a vacation, was searching for a portable prayer mat to take with her on the trip. “There were either the beautiful traditional mats we have all grown up with, or they were super-simple, in solid colours with a border. There weren’t any that spoke to a modern design aesthetic,” she says. She also struggled to find a mat with thicker padding. “Creating a portable mat that is thicker and softer than a thin sheet opened up the possibility for the mat to be utilised for a variety of uses. I liked that I was creating a mat that could be worn as an accessory and serve other functions for the user throughout the day, and then be changed for prayer. It creates a greater purpose for that object, and this was in line with my mindset of not over-saturating the marketplace but being more ethical with consumption, by creating a well-rounded product [but one that is] readily available for prayer,” Mirza explains. Instead of opting for the traditional velvet-like material often used in prayer mats, Niyya’s mats are made from

100% locally sourced cotton, woven in the United States. “I thought it was important to support American businesses to create Islamic-based products. It helps emphasise that we are also part of this nation and want our industries to thrive,” Mirza explains. Cotton also allows for the mat to be durable and easy to clean while enabling it to be utilised for a multitude of uses, be it a neck scarf, shawl, throw or beach mat. This sense of flexibility may help bridge communities, Mirza explains, as well as being an item that the Muslim community can use with pride. “The work I’m doing is a way to create mindful conversations between different communities. As Muslims, we are welcoming of others to inhabit our spaces and see how we practice our faith. The prayer mats allow people to learn more about Islam and visualise Muslims in a peaceful way. I hope that this helps normalise Muslims within the public spectrum and creates a more open space for people to practice their faith [in].” Mirza, who was born and raised in London, had moved with her family to the United States a week after the tragic events on 11 September (“Needless to say, that was a very tense time for Muslims in America,” Mirza says). Growing up, not having resources and contemporary products for modern Muslims didn’t help with the ‘othering’ feeling she and other Muslims felt, she shares. “It was important to me to design something thoughtful for the Muslim community, not just using my culture in visual design but also using design as a tool and as a complement to my faith. Growing up, our differences were brought to attention in a more negative way, so the work I’m doing is a way to create mindful conversations between different communities. I hope my products allow people to learn more about Islam and the Muslim community as they integrate Niyya into their day-to-day lives,” Mirza says. id

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Detangling ideology


Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri is taking over the art scene one 6-metre sculpture at a time WORDS BY CHRISTOPHER JOSHUA BENTON


art

Photography by Joachim Guay.

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fra’s hair is the colour of saffron with streaks of mashed turmeric. It’s thick and coiled like frayed edges of rope, and tumbles past her shoulders. When she was a girl, it grew past her knees. In some public spaces, she covers her hair, keeping it obscured from view: “My upbringing says it’s a private body part,” she says. However, in her recent solo show, ‘Split Ends’ at Green Art Gallery in Dubai, her hair is there plainly on view for everyone to see. It’s pressed and twisted into knots; combed into rope and twine; and folded with watercolours and gesso. You can see it hanging from large-scale installations and used like string in delicate sculptures. Emirati artist Afra Al Dhaheri, 33, grew up in Abu Dhabi but spent her summers in the United States. Her interdisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture, textiles and ceramics. She received her MFA at the esteemed Rhode Island School of Design, which helped give her a new understanding of home. “Time slows down in the United States and fast-forwards in the UAE,” she says. “I’d come back from college and drive around, and everything looked so foreign to

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me: new buildings, new houses, new developments. Imagine [that] everyone dresses differently and wears their makeup differently. [Then,] suddenly everyone has fillers and looks the same.” Upon returning to the UAE, Al Dhaheri joined the faculty of Zayed University. Along with Hashel Al Lamki and Maitha Abdalla, she founded the powerful art collective BAIT 15, which operates two studiocum-art gallery spaces in Abu Dhabi. “With BAIT 15, we were interested in taking part and creating an environment for community and dialogue for artists,” she says. For Afra, a type of artmaking has always been in the family, a lineal passing down from mother to daughter. Her mother owns the art store Crafty Cottage, and sometimes appears on television to talk about her crafts. Going back a generation, Afra’s maternal grandmother knitted, sewed and made the sort of dolls you find in many Emirati households. Her paternal grandmother practiced palm leaf weaving. In many ways, Afra channels the spirit of these vernacular ways of making and re-interprets

these craft traditions through the more conceptual gestures of the contemporary art system. “I’ve always associated creativity with my mother,” she says. “She has always put me into classes to learn to sew or crochet or make jewellery, and as a kid I used to love baking French bread. I think that’s where a big sense of [my] materiality and process comes from.” To visit the artist’s studio is to see her mind laid bare across tables, floors, hallways and ceilings. Any surface is a canvas for work and play. She is a master of iteration. Her work is the result of extensive materials-based experimentation, which she calls an “immersive production process.” She likes to linger on each aspect of an object for as long as possible, with the act of making becoming a meditative practice. In the mornings, she loves to revisit the work, tweaking just one thing, sometimes for weeks, until the form and concept is resolved. “It’s almost like caring for someone you love,” she observes. Her materials and processes reference a sort of invisible labour that often goes unnoticed. Through this reading of her work, Al Dhaheri’s use of hair and


art

braiding becomes shorthand for the duties of a homemaker. Her use of glass, concrete and cement relates to the labour of construction workers and the built landscape. And her use of rope can be seen as a re-telling of UAE maritime history, which in its official version has left out the narratives of the pearl diver. There is an instinct among many UAEbased artists to preserve the present and look nostalgically to the past. Al Dhaheri sees this impulse through the lens of time. “The pace of change in the UAE is beyond comprehension,” she says. “So, one must ask: how do we absorb things? How do we protect things? How can we process? So, in my art practice, I’m adamant in trying to slow down my process because fast movement creates a shorter span of memory.”

This interplay between time, memory, family and labour is essential to Al Dhaheri’s art, making her one of the UAE’s most exciting artists. Each year, her work grows bolder, like her monumental 2020 commission for Abu Dhabi Art, where she constructed a colossal hanging sculpture that shot up six metres into the air. Recently, she sold a sculpture to House of Artisans, a new museum dedicated to preserving lost Emirati heritage and crafts. The artwork was inspired by the sorts of things that her grandmother used to make. “There’s a sort of handicraft here in UAE called kajooja,” Al Dhaheri says. “My grandmother would say she’d do it to pass the time. My mom used to do it, too, but she no longer remembers how. One day I asked her what happened.” Her mom’s answer: “No one has the time.” id

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Crossculture

Model holding the Aslal vase.

Founded by Azel Ait-Mokhtar and Youri Asantcheeff, Ibkki is a design studio focused on carrying forward the craft traditions of the Berber people of Algeria’s Kabylia region

Model holding the Anir 2 vase with Izza vase in the background.


cover story

WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

The Yuba vase.

creativity

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cover story

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ocated in northern Algeria, the Kabylia region forms part of the Tell Atlas mountain range and is set just at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. The region was historically part of Numidia, an ancient Berber kingdom located in the northwest of Africa in modern-day Algeria that later expanded across what is now Tunisia, Libya and some parts of Morocco. It is this mountainous region that influenced Azel Ait-Mokhtar and Youri Asantcheeff to start their design brand, Ibkki, collaborating with local Algerian craftsmen to create objects inspired by the culture, people and craft traditions of Kabylia. The founders, who themselves were already working with handcrafts in Paris (Ait-Mokhtar worked with wood, Asantcheeff on metal) found common ground with Ibkki. Ait-Mokhtar’s ancestral ties connected the brand even further to the region. His family are Imazighen (Berber) people from Kabylia, who have had a long history in the region, where craft was an integral part of society. While he continued to visit his ancestral home where his family still resides, on one of his trips he invited Asantcheeff to join him (the two had met during university in Paris while studying industrial design). A friend of Ait-Mokhtar’s father

The Tamt vase.

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The Yuba vase showcases Ibkki’s experiments with mixing diffeent glazes.

introduced them to craftsmen around the area, one of whom the duo formed a strong connection with. “At this point it was pure discovery,” Asantcheeff recalls. “When we came back to Paris, we thought it would be interesting to push these meetings further as we are both very much into hand-crafting; it felt like a natural [next step]. We decided to go back and see what we could do.” Today, Ibkki works primarily with ceramics: vases, plates and bowls. Pottery is an important tradition among Berber people in Kabylia, where it was practiced primarily by women for functional needs such as carrying water and conserving, serving or preparing meals. It was also used for ritualistic purposes, integrating various geometric symbols that served both a decorative function, helping to pass on stories and various teachings, and one of communication among various villages and families, especially during the time of French colonisation. “My grandmother did some pottery as well,” AitMokhtar shares. “It is something that is very deeply linked to the culture.” While Ibkki’s own designs are inspired by these symbols, the duo researched meanings across libraries in the country’s capital, Algiers; they then experimented with their own interpretations of geometric patterns and forms, which developed into a language or ‘alphabet’ of their own.


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AMENNZU rug shot and styled exclusively for identity by Ibkki.

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Azel Ait-Mokhtar with ceramicist Nabil in his workshop in Kabylia.

“When we began, we set a rule that we wouldn’t use traditional archetypes of the region so as not to appropriate what already exists,” Ait-Mokhtar explains. “What we wanted to do was use the ancestral way of making ceramics by studying it and learning from the craftspeople, and from there create something completely new. This is why one of our main inspirations is the actual feeling of living there. We tried to take in as much as we could from our life there, everything we have experienced, and to translate it into object form, and I think that’s how the separation between ancestral craft and contemporary design was formed.” Nabil, the craftsman the duo met and formed a close relationship with – and who primarily produces their objects – also influenced their material choice. “Nabil is very young, so he is open to challenges and from there we were able to gain a lot of freedom in our work. Ceramics is [a] very rewarding [medium] to work with; you are literally giving shape to your ideas, but it is also very technical, so we had to do a lot of research while also bringing some of the knowledge that we gained in France. I think it was the best material to start our journey and give body to this new language,” Ait-Mokhtar adds. Ait-Mokhtar and Asantcheeff treat their time in the workshops as one would with a residency: learning, perfecting and collaborating directly with craftspeople. It is a hands-on approach and the preferred way of working for the duo. However, the area of the making process where they have taken full ownership is the glazing, which they feel lends the most freedom for creative expression and experimentation. “For example, we use glazes that don’t ‘like’ each other; ones that don’t like to move with one that moves a lot – and we try to see how it works. Sometimes we fire the pieces several times – also something that we aren’t ‘supposed’ to do. We also like to mix glazes from Algeria with ones from Paris. I think that is also a cool parallel that we are able to create with our projects: they mix together even though they are not from the same place,” Ait-Mokhtar shares. The duo is conscious of the volatile nature of traditional crafts in Algeria, which are slowly disappearing as the younger population look for better-paid work. It is a difficult and time-consuming endeavour to create something that will actually sell, the designers explain. Many of the craftsmen rely on international brands who commission big orders, or trinkets for tourists which do not allow for the practice or preservation of their traditions. “I wouldn’t say we are trying to find a solution to the problem, since we are not a large practice, but we wanted to find an alternative way of working that would preserve the crafts and allow the craftsmen to earn money and to work freely and perpetrate their traditions,” Ait-Mokhtar explains. 30

The Tamt vase rests in a colourful setting.

Youri Asantcheeff (left) holding the Kebbu vase and Azel Ait-Mokhtar (right) holding the Amzin vase.


Model holding the Anir vase in Paris.

And while the craftsmen help bring Ibkki’s designs to life, the designers in return help them with finding solutions for how to sell their products. “We do not do this for money, but because we want to help them, and it is a small part of the exchange and the dialogue between us, because we now feel part of the family,” Asantcheeff adds. The duo has an office in Paris and spends between five to eight months in a year developing their collections in Kabylia, as well as taking orders for various retailers and private clients. Each of the pieces are unique and created in clusters of ten per model. Recently, Ibkki has collaborated with French brand Maison Château Rouge on a new ceramic collection of four vases, part of a larger project that pairs designers with artisans from across Africa – spanning Mali, Madagascar, Togo and Tunisia, among others. They have also created their first rug, AMENZU (revealed exclusively through identity) for the Parisian gallery Chevalier & Parsua, which has been working with Iranian craftsmen since 2001. The rugs are all made in Iran using traditional techniques and natural dyes. “It was our first time working on a twodimensional piece, but we accepted the challenge as the gallery has the same ideals in shedding light on the knowledge of craftsmanship within a contemporary setting,” the duo explains. They designed the rug while in Kabylia, working on their second collection of ceramics. It is no surprise then, that AMENZU is a dynamic translation of the feeling of being in the mountains, expressed through a reinterpretation of the geometric alphabet found across Kabylian pottery. “In the future, we [want to] experiment with different materials,” the designers reveal, “but [still] keep to the same model of working and learning from craftsmen while creating dialogue between cultures.” id

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Balancing act

Finding himself at a crossroads between an intuitive process and market demands, Peter Mabeo is not one to conform. Here, he speaks to identity about the challenges of navigating the world of design and carving his own path. WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

Supa chair by Mabeo Studio.

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hile the design world abruptly switched from a roaring whirlwind to a barely perceptible breeze as a result of the ongoing pandemic, for Peter Mabeo the sudden shift in pace was not an earth-shattering moment. While it affected business activity (“Small businesses have been affected everywhere,” he Dira Stool family by Vincent Van Duysen. says), it allowed him to better relate to the bustling world of design – while also enabling the design world to, perhaps, understand him better. The Botswana-bornand-based furniture designer has maintained a tranquil pace not only in the way he lives his life but also in his work, resisting the pressures often presented by the industry. He remains at the helm of his furniture practice Mabeo, which he launched internationally in 2006 with a collaboration with designer Patty Johnson. After 10 years of working locally and regionally, creating bespoke furniture with local artisans for commercial projects, the challenge has since been maintaining a balance between what feels ‘normal’ and upholding his presence within the global design sphere. “As much as I try to conform, I just don’t have that capacity,” he confesses. But like everyone entering into a new world, Mabeo felt the pressure to compensate by pushing himself harder. He admits that, at the time, the gap that existed between where he lived and where he was Peter Mabeo photographed by Ruan Van Jaarsveldt. led Peenabled a greater latitude to his work and presented greater opportunities to connect with people “I was approaching things in a way where beauty had to be woven who perhaps share his views and attitudes. Yet, despite global into every fabric of whatever activity we were doing; it was the recognition – Mabeo’s pieces can be found in homes and hotels prerequisite for us, but then I realised that the [actual] prerequisite across Milan, Stockholm, Hong Kong and New York – he couldn’t was success: success to get by, success to keep your practice running help but feel betrayed by his initial perception. if you’re a designer,” he continues. “So, it is this vicious cycle. It was “Design broke my heart, because I went into it and I was so really difficult and I had to compensate and I had to sacrifice a lot, refreshed because there was so much latitude for expression," he and push harder, but in the process there was some good: the way explains. “But then I realised that beyond the expression, there is a of working, staying consistent, developing meaningful relationships, lot of striving, there is a lot of stress; everybody is under pressure, finding better ways of doing things, things becoming easier, my everybody is trying to gain, everybody is trying to sustain and that becoming more attuned to the ways things work outside; but at the causes a lot of discord in relationships. So, I was confused because same time growing ever more attuned to the way things are working I saw this beauty and this free and inspired way of working but, here and growing in confidence and not being afraid to question.” behind the veil, it was really quite ugly.”

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Naledi table by Patricia Urquiola.

Sefefo long table by Patricia Urquiola.

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In light of recent events, Mabeo sees a greater reconciliation between his own way of life and work and that of the industry. While we speak over Zoom, he steps out of his car to share his surroundings, a peaceful desert environment that sits quietly beside its urban counterpart. “For us, it is a little bit of a mixed bag because living in a place like this and then working with people who are in a completely different context – it’s like we had two minds,” he says. “And when [the pandemic] happened, in a sense, it made this distinct relationship that we had a little less so. It has helped me become more confident and more honest with myself about the distinction – the two minds that I’ve always had to switch between. Now there is a kind of convergence. Now, when I have a conversation with someone, they can kind of see things more from my perspective.” Today, topics such as sustainability and conscious design have taken even greater precedence, with brands and designers alike participating in conversations around how we can be more responsible in the way we participate in the world. For Mabeo, being considerate of his environment and culture has always been a driving force. “It’s like ‘welcome, we have been waiting for you’,” he laughs. He’s often praised for his work with local artisans who make all the products under his eponymous brand, but for Mabeo it is simply a way of working with what is available in a way that is conscious and responsible. “Sometimes I say, ‘Who’s actually benefitting with my relationship with the craftspeople?’ People always say ‘Oh, it’s so good you’re creating work, you are creating an opportunity and outlet for the craftspeople’, and I’m like ‘What do you mean? Why are you looking at it like that? Am I benefitting or are they benefitting?’ And I say, ‘They are the custodians of something that I probably have lost, so what I get from them is immeasurable’,” he explains. “You’re either looked at as being overly romantic about things, or you’re too much of a ‘philosopher’,

Thuthu table by Patty Johnson.

or you’re trying to save the environment, or you’re looking for a good angle to make your way in,” he continues. “But [for me] it is more [about] trying to work with what is available to me. I just want to live a life that seems somehow normal to me.” “You start to work with craftspeople because craft is more accessible mentally – it’s not layered with things like ‘industry’ and ‘market’ and all these things that seem so fuzzy and unclear,” he adds. “So, it’s easier to work with an artisan because it is direct, it is simple; it’s easy to work with someone who harvests materials in that way. So, when you say that I have been working this way all along, it’s not that I set up to, I just set up to work in a way that felt like it fits my life – but the environment dictated that I look deeper, that I am more considerate, that I take [things] a bit slower

when I am not sure. I pause – I put things aside.” However, sensing the various limitations within his environment, Mabeo set out to explore what was outside, exhibiting at design fairs and events worldwide. It was here that he established collaborations with some of the biggest names in design, including the likes of Patricia Urquiola, Vincent Van Duysen, Inès Bressand and Garth Roberts – people with whom he felt an aligned sense of vision, while still maintaining ties to local production and African culture and heritage. “The notion of being local while being international is catchy because it is really a rejection of limitations, classifications and divisions that have been created. All our work, whether directly evident or not, is an example of this. I prefer the actual practice of culture beyond the narrative.” id

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The Arts Club Dubai Library. Courtesy of The Arts Club Dubai.


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A grand experience The recently opened The Arts Club Dubai offers an immersive journey through design, history and art, from one of the world’s most historic member’s clubs WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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aving found a home within the triangular contemporary Foster + Partners-designed glass skyscraper, ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai International Financial Centre, the second location of the historic The Arts Club is already much more than a stone’s throw away from its 19th-century Mayfair location. Established in London in 1863, The Arts Club is something of an institution, once attracting the likes of Charles Dickens, Franz Liszt and Walter Sickert. Today, it caters to a modern clientele of artists, patrons and other like-minded individuals. Its second location in Dubai mirrors the grand ambitions of the city itself, boasting a generous 6000-square metre space set across four floors and designed by one of Milan’s most sought-after design practices, Dimorestudio, run by founders Britt Moran and Emiliano Salci. “We have brought The Arts Club to Dubai to complement the dynamic, diverse and creative landscape that is flourishing here,” begins Ajaz Sheikh, CEO of The Arts Club Dubai. “We worked very collaboratively with Dimorestudio, which was important as they had not worked on anything of this scale and in this region before. There were many changes along the way, but we had tremendous confidence in the studio to use their sophisticated design aesthetic and historical understanding to bring our ideas to life. We were all coming from the same design direction. We chose them for that.”

“The brief we were given was to create a multifaceted, luxurious and grand space for a discerning clientele,” the Dimorestudio founders reveal. This was no easy feat as the designers worked to craft a spatial journey through time and different styles. The end result is characteristic of the studio’s signature design language: an eclectic assortment of materials, hues and furniture pieces. The layered luxury, which can often feel overdone, is masterfully controlled in the hands of Dimorestudio, who expertly marry fabrics, finishes and colours one would not imagine to be complementary. And with the expansive scale of the club’s Dubai location, this was not an easy feat. Strategically, the designers imagined a different atmosphere for each floor, to allow for a myriad of experiences for the members, while managing to maintain a sense of coherence throughout. “On each floor, the rooms are distinct from one another, but share similar detailing, drawn from the architectural design: from the flooring, the frames and the rich, vibrant and saturated hues to the precious materials. We designed custom floors with elaborate patterns in marble, wood or cement tiles, as well as the hand-painted wallpapers, frescos and precious boiseries. The furniture is a sophisticated mix that spans across eras: historical pieces, and custom-made built-in and loose furnishings designed by [the studio, as well as] others sourced from the Dimoremilano collection,” the designers share. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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The Arts Club Dubai first floor staircase. Courtesy of The Arts Club Dubai. Courtesy of The Arts Club Dubai

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“As in all of Dimorestudio’s projects, we combined diverse materials and fabrics to create a balanced mix of colours and patterns; but this time, due to the scale of the building, we had an enormous variety within the same space.” Connecting the different floors of The Arts Club Dubai is a champagnecoloured steel staircase complete with a biscuit-hued carpet, designed around a cage-like structure made of black-painted metal stems, set within glass cylinders to provide lighting. The ‘grand’ staircase is almost like a large vessel transporting members and visitors alike across an experiential journey of the spaces within. And while Art Deco remains the main inspiration behind the design, the spaces have been enriched with other styles in order to create a nonlinear narrative. Inside the entry hall, the Art Deco-inspired woods and geometric shapes draw the eye, while on the first floor, where the brasserie is located,

Amoako Boafo's Floral Halter Dress, 2020 located in The Brasserie. Oil and photo transfer on Canvas, 210.8 x 198.1 cm. Courtesy of The Arts Club Dubai.

a geometrically patterned marble floor sets the tone of the space. Adjoining rooms are characterised by wooden floors with off-scale fans. On the second floor, the Latin restaurant features cathedral-like stained glass windows, the boiseries and a custom-made wallpaper mural depicting tiles in coloured concrete. The third floor houses an Italian restaurant characterised by floors made of three different marbles in a geometric hexagonal pattern, which is recaptured in a statement ceiling in backlit briar wood. Naturally, as one would expect from a member’s club for the arts, the selection of artworks itself plays an integral role within the overall space. “Art is fundamental to the club,” says Sheikh. “We are gradually building our permanent collection with works, some of which will be sourced from local and regional collections and artists. Our latest acquisition is Akram Zaatari’s Scratched Portrait of Mrs Baqari, which hangs in the library. There will also be works coming from much further afield; we already have a beautiful work by Amoako Boafo hanging in the brasserie, and our curators, Wedel Art, continue to work on the collection, ensuring it is always inspiring and elevating members’ artistic encounters at the club.” “In time, we will be building on our Artists’ Commissions initiative. This was started in our pre-opening period, supporting young emerging regional artists and contributing commissioned works to our collection,” he adds. The Arts Club’s current exhibitions feature works from one of its founding members, Elie Khouri, in a show titled Think it Forward: Selections from the Elie Khouri Collection, in addition to the show Faces and Places: Huguette Caland. The club’s Cultural Programme is an equally important part of the club life and the members’ experience, Sheikh adds: “Through our programming we look to work with regional arts institutions, artists and initiatives to bring their stories to our members and the club [but also to lead] our members to them.” id

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Akram Zaatari's Damaged Negatives: Scratched Portrait of Mrs. Baqari located in the Library, made from a 35mm scratched negative found in Hashem el Madani’s archive, 2016, Inkjet Print, 180x120cm. Courtesy of The Arts Club Dubai. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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A brutalist touch

The original staircase connects the three floors of the apartment. With its new black colour, it fits the contemporary look.

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With raw concrete walls and ceilings combined with a mix of vintage and contemporary pieces, the home of French-Lebanese interior architect Chadi Abou Jaoude is full of surprises WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY SEBASTIAN ERRAS

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The exposed concrete brings a lot of character to the living room, which is furnished with a Pianca sofa, an Antonio Citterio armchair and ottoman, and a coffee table in reclaimed wood, among others.

In the main living area, small figurines with different colours and styles - which were purchased at flea markets - adorn the shelves.

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hen you are accustomed to designing spaces for others, creating your own home can be a challenge. The advantage of having total freedom soon transforms into infinite possibilities – from the floor plan to the material and colour palette to the selection of furniture and art. For French-Lebanese interior architect Chadi Abou Jaoude, surprisingly, the outdoor space was the decisive factor. “I had been looking for an apartment with a terrace for a very long time,” he remembers. “There are just a few in Paris, as most of the historic buildings have zinc roofs, which don’t allow for rooftops.” Located in Paris’s 20th arrondissement – an eclectic, young and en vogue neighbourhood described in French as bobo, which means bourgeois and bohemian at the same time – the 75-square metre flat is nestled in a typical building from the 1980s with tiled façades. “Outside, it has little external appeal,” Abou Jaoude says. Inside, however, the atypical, row distribution of spaces organised over three levels seduced the interior architect, in addition to the 20-square metre

terrace that offered an immediate ‘wow factor’. Described by Abou Jaoude as “small yet divine,” this al fresco area is where he feels totally relaxed. “I am an outdoor person and since I’ve become a fan of gardening, I can spend whole days taking care of my plants,” he says. For Abou Jaoude, the conception process was key to envisioning every detail. “During this phase, I am obsessed. I can’t sleep, I am asking myself thousands of things; it’s exhausting!” he describes. “I am doing the project in my head until finding the right combination.” The entrance – where an old carpenter’s workbench from the early 20th century serves as a desk – leads directly to the living room, which is filled with natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. A departure from the elegant Haussmann architecture, there was no moulding, parquet or fireplace – but the demolition revealed the real character of the apartment. “When we started the renovation, I discovered the raw concrete ceilings and walls that were in a very good state,” Abou Jaoude says. “This material gives a lot of personality to the space. It adds a brutalist and contemporary touch.”

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Interior architect Chadi Abou Jaoude (on the chair).

One of the interior architect’s objectives consisted of giving life to a real home that would not look like a showroom, but instead be his refuge in which to entertain and host friends. To create a sense of balance throughout, he chose a raw, light oak flooring, while the rest of the design and decorative elements are mostly white, grey and beige, with a few black details. Abou Jaoude is fascinated by mixing different styles, and took this approach in his home. In the living room, an L-shaped Pianca sofa combines with coffee tables made with reclaimed pallets from the SNCF (the French national train operator), an Antonio Citterio armchair and ottoman (from Vitra), the Parentesi pendant lamp by Achille Castiglioni, several figurines purchased at flea markets and a cowhide rug, among other elements. The original staircase, which gives access to the other floors, was painted black for a more modern look and now has a handrail against the wall instead of the initial guardrail. Comprising just a few pieces that express a feeling 46

The kitchen and dining room - with a wood table designed by Chadi Abou Jaoude - are located on the top floor, next to the terrace.

of peacefulness, the two bedrooms (master and guest) with a bathroom and an independent toilet are situated downstairs, providing privacy from the rest of the apartment while sharing the same aesthetic characterised by neutral tones. The upper level is home to a veranda, which hosts the open kitchen and dining room. The space is adorned with Costanzina lighting and furnished with Eames chairs, complemented by a pommel horse used as a bench, while the heavy, solid wood table was designed by Abou Jaoude. Last but not least, adjacent to this space is the terrace surrounded by greenery, where the interior architect recharges and recovers from the stress of the city. “It is pure happiness,” he says. Although Abou Jaoude loves the cosiness and functionality of his current home, he is already thinking about what’s next. “I’ve never stayed more than three years in the same apartment. It’s so exciting to discover a new environment and neighbourhood, to have new habits. I don’t feel attached to places, I am a nomad who gets bored easily!” id


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Living

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In Moscow, fashion designer Ksenia Chilingarova’s home – created by Harry Nuriev from Crosby Studios – combines historical Russian references with contemporary art WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKHAIL LOSKUTOV COURTESY OF CROSBY STUDIOS

Most of the pieces of furniture and accessories were custom-designed by Harry Nuriev, founder of Crosby Studios, including the purple-coated shelves for Opening Ceremony. In front of them, two carved-oak totems create a visual contrast.

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In the living room, the purple sofa is one of the key elements while the windowed, wood-panelled walls feature lace curtains, giving a warm and vintage touch to the space.

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hen two creative minds meet and collaborate on a project, the result is inevitably one-of-a-kind. A case in point is the Moscow apartment of fashion designer Ksenia Chilingarova, who trusted Harry Nuriev from Crosby Studios to make the spaces visually Fashion designer, Ksenia Chilingarova in her Moscow apartment. daring yet sophisticated. “I met Ksenia through a mutual friend, and we had an immediate connection based on similar tastes in art, design, fashion and architecture,” remembers Nuriev. “She was a separate kitchen and a study, the feeling of spaciousness is present in open to my design approach, and I had a feeling that [it was] going to every corner of the apartment. “Most of the walls are white for two reasons,” Nuriev explains. “First, be a great collaboration.” The Russian-born Moscow- and New Yorkbased architect and designer had carte blanche to transform the blank we wanted to add as much light as possible. Second, we needed a suitable apartment into a kaleidoscope of colours and a true reflection of the backdrop for the art collection – we didn’t want the walls to steal the attention. But we added many different colours by experimenting with owner’s personality and style. Located in the Kutuzovsky district – an historical area near the city the custom-made furniture: there are light blue chairs, a purple sofa, centre with beautiful post-war buildings – the 280-square metre home a pink stool, a green sculpture, etc. We [also included] some nostalgic was not an easy find for Chilingarova. “I had been looking for a big wooden details like a Soviet-style hardwood floor and furniture pieces, apartment for a long time, because I realised at some point that I need which give some warmth to the space.” Featuring purple powder-coated shelves designed by Crosby Studios more space for myself,” she explains. “It is difficult to find large spaces with high ceilings and an abundance of natural light in the centre of and a pair of carved-oak totems, the living room clearly epitomises all of Moscow. That’s exactly what I found in my new apartment, which is why these concepts, becoming a feast for the eyes where contrasts between I fell in love with it. I also wanted [to have] lots of walls to hang beautiful colours, textures and styles are used to create balance throughout. artworks on and a large dressing room. All of that came together [here].” Natural fabric for several decorative elements, steel for some objects and With two bedrooms (master and guest), two bathrooms, a living room, an abstract terrazzo pattern for the bath complement the look.

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A few yellow pieces add some bright pops of colour to the black and white kitchen.


“We wanted to take the best from Russian heritage but make it bold and elegant at the same time.” HARRY NURIEV

Abstracted terrazzo patterns adorn the bathroom.


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For inspiration, Nuriev started with Chilingarova’s fashion taste. Deep research into the apartments of the Soviet intelligentsia, however, helped to bring this project to life with a vintage touch. Both the architect and fashion designer watched the 1977 movie Office Romance in their childhood, and it also became a reference, in particular for the windowed, wood-panelled walls. “We wanted to take the best from Russian heritage but make it bold and elegant at the same time,” Nuriev says. The custom-made furniture, which Chilingarova loves, was a result of her discussions with Nuriev about combining traditional Russian folklore and street art. From start to finish, the duo fine-tuned every detail until achieving a completely unique atmosphere. “We’ve been coming up with new ideas during the whole time of working on this project,” Nuriev says. “For example, once I saw a photo of a traditional Russian house from Ksenia’s trip to a small town not so far away from Moscow, and immediately started thinking about these white linen curtains that you can still see in Russian villages and post-Soviet countries – and we build a whole story around that particular aesthetic that you can notice in the kitchen.” Mostly blackand-white, this area features pops of bright yellow through the chair, transparent cabinet and chandelier. “From the interior, you usually instantly get the idea of what the homeowner is like, and it was important to me that people coming to visit could understand two things: that I love, support and invest in contemporary Russian art, and that I love, write about and invest in fashion too,” says Chilingarova, who also wanted to express a sense of cosiness and comfort in order to share moments and conversations while at ease with her friends. Artworks by emerging and famous Russian artists – including Nikolay and Vika Koshelev, Anna Titova, Evgeny Antufiev, Sasha Pasternak, Maria Kacharava, Dmitriy Mironov, Sofia Stupenkova and Olga Chernyshova, among others 54

Chilingarova’s home reflects her passions for Russian contemporary art and fashion.

– adorn the home. It has become Chilingarova’s refuge, but it is also used by the owner to host small parties for young artists, stylists and journalists, as well as fashion and art photoshoots. Filled with rare art and design objects, the apartment, however, doesn’t feel like a museum. On the contrary, it exudes the character and taste of its dweller. “It is a place where my soul feels good,” she says. “My apartment has secluded corners where I just enjoy spending time, watching or researching something, reading, writing.” Some of the spaces Chilingarova particularly loves are the small home

office where she works and, above all, the fabulous dressing room, which is a true showstopper – not surprising for a fashion expert. The walls were painted in a very sophisticated pink tone to highlight the collection of clothes and accessories, while acting as a backdrop to a hairy pink ottoman – one of Chilingarova’s favourite pieces. “My apartment is my fortress; I feel very secure,” says Chilingarova. “Home is where you rest and recharge. Therefore, it is important to be surrounded by things that follow that goal, raise your spirit, inspire you and [do] not irritate, but on the contrary, give you energy.” id


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A metal chandelier prevails in this bedroom, which opens to the homeowner’s closet.

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Cruise collection by Ludovica + Roberto Palomba.

Outdoor living Umbrian brand Talenti is working with international designers to redefine the outdoor experience

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hen Talenti made its Salone del Mobile debut in 2009, the Italian brand chose Egyptian-born Canadian industrial designer Karim Rashid to lend his futuristic touch to its first contemporary outdoor collection – a bold move from a firm that had only recently switched its focus from classical garden furniture. It was the first step on the path to bringing Talenti closer to the world of international designers, who have since created many of the Umbrian brand’s outdoor products. Long before the blurring of indoor and outdoor had become a consumer demand – which has only increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,

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with many wanting to seek refuge outdoors – Talenti had already begun responding to this shift in modern lifestyles by creating outdoor furniture pieces that are not unlike those found within the interior world, but use durable materials and technologies to allow for a whole new way of living outdoors. “In an era of forced closures and distancing, the importance of outdoor spaces is set to grow more and more,” says Fabrizio Cameli, Talenti CEO and founder. “People want to rediscover their freedom, including through the virtuous use of the outdoors. From this point of view, design can be a fundamental ingredient in creating outdoor spaces [that are] tailored to individuals, where refined

environments are able to reactivate their senses.” In order to anticipate trends and lifestyle shifts by offering creative and imaginative scenarios for outdoor living, Talenti prioritises its collaborations with designers. The brand has already worked with some of the biggest names in the design world, including Marco Acerbis, Ramón Esteve and Ludovica + Roberto Palomba of Studio Palomba Serafini Associati. Recently, Talenti added the signature of French interior designer Jean-Philippe Nuel to its list of collaborations, with the launch of the Riviera collection in 2020. “One of Talenti's founding values is a love for creativity, for the forms of beauty realised


design

by human genius,” says Cameli. “Relying on the imagination and creative power of designers is absolutely fundamental for us. Collaborating with several designers allows us to incorporate different ideas and suggestions from different countries and cultures. All this contributes significantly to the overall creativity of the brand, allowing us to come up with new solutions for people's satisfaction.” The new Casilda daybed – part of the Casilda collection – has already become something of an icon amongst Talenti’s collections, and was designed by Spanish architect Ramon Esteve, who says, “The daybed stands out for its extraordinary proportions; it is the result of the extreme contrast between mass and lightness. The simplicity of the structure fully highlights the most special elements of the piece, creating an elegant and sophisticated product worthy of the Casilda collection.” The metal structure of the daybed takes inspiration from a traditional pergola, while its largened soft cushions create an interplay of varying proportions. The geometric lines of its structure additionally highlight the various elements that define the product, such as the straps on the back and the wooden inserts in the armrest. Talenti’s latest Riviera collection by Nuel comprises sofas, tables, chairs and sun loungers as well as poufs, chairs and coffee tables. With its simultaneous use of ceramics, leather, fabric and aluminium, Riviera is a multi-material collection designed to enrich the outdoors. Its’ sophisticated lines are evident in the two-seater sofa, complete with a waterproof cover, and in the Living armchair that is both wide and deep, making it perfect for relaxation. It is also the first time the brand has used stoneware in its collection, a material which interacts with the other materials in the collection.

Riviera collection by Jean-Philippe Nuel.

Casilda daybed from the Casilda collection.

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partner feature

Finding balance At a roundtable held at Cosentino in Dubai, five prominent designers from the Middle East gathered to discuss finding the right balance between current trends in a transitioning world

WORDS BY RAMY AHMED PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOACHIM GUAY 58


partner feature

VSHD Design’s Orijins café is a surrealist take on a traditional coffee shop

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partner feature

Dana Al Matrook and Newsha Dastaviz, founders of The Line Concept.

Emirati designer Aljoud Lootah.

Levantine designer Nada Debs.

Mustafa Khamash, founder of Kart Group and Lebanese designer Fadi Sarieddine.

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partner feature

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n an effort to foster collaboration and material exploration, surfaces brand Cosentino recently announced the launch of its first capsule collection, a range of furniture and home accessories created with five regional design houses. Using the brand’s Dekton Slim material – a new 4mm ultracompact surface – the bespoke pieces are set to highlight the surface’s functionality and aesthetic value while reflecting the theme of ‘Breaking Boundaries’. The practices and individuals involved in the collection include Studio Nada Debs, Kart Group, Fadi Sarieddine Design Studio, Aljoud Lootah and The Line Concept. While the collection will launch during Expo 2020 at the Spain Pavilion, and showcased during Downtown Design 2021, the collaboration has kickstarted with a roundtable discussion, during which the designers shared insights into the current state of the furniture design field in the Middle East, and the associated worldwide challenges. Unsurprisingly, many of the pressing market demands at the moment have been initiated by global responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With work-from-home lifestyles becoming increasingly permanent, the need for designs to be shapeshifting in order to accommodate several uses, simultaneously and with ease, has placed practicality and functionality in the spotlight. “When we’re stuck working at home, new needs start to emerge,” said Fadi Sarieddine, founder of his eponymous design studio. “Your dining table also has to be your desk because we’re not all working with large spaces.” “It’s about making life simpler,” added Mustafa Khammash, founder of Kart Group. “Multiple areas have become concentrated into one minimal space, so the focus is on function – not [on] the way your surroundings appear.” For the designers, functionality lends itself to modularity. As professionals balance multiple activities, the need for spaces that flow between purposes has naturally emerged. And with ease of transition comes comfort, as well as positive psychological responses. “Boundaries between the home and office are very blurred,” said Newsha Dastaviz from contemporary furniture design studio The Line Concept. “And the wellness movement translates to furniture as well. People today buy furniture knowing the power of what we surround ourselves with, and how it impacts our wellbeing.” The designers agreed that materiality continues to be a priority for consumers, as interactions with objects and spaces (whether physical or visual) are largely dependent on the authenticity of textures and quality; however, now, difficulties in importing goods have reignited conversations around sourcing locally and working with regional artisans – despite the challenges this can pose. “We have always tried to utilise local materials and work closely with manufacturers based in the UAE as we believe that this will help enhance the creative economy,” said Aljoud Lootah, who contributed to the conversation remotely. “However, during the pandemic and until now, there were specific projects we worked on which required materials that aren’t available in the UAE.”

Although Lootah has managed to source materials from outside her home country, the other designers noted inflated prices and shipping delays as large obstacles to their projects. Another issue raised was that sourcing locally is not always the most costeffective option. The designers cited additional challenges that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic, such as the recent consumer-led demand to blur indoor and outdoor spaces. And when combined with the need for multi-functional designs, selecting a durable material becomes a game of touch-and-go. “It’s not easy to have one product with multiple uses in this climate,” said Khammash. “Sometimes, a natural material will not be suitable for different uses, especially in the UAE.” The challenges in sourcing local materials nearly match those of finding local artisans, who, according to Sarieddine, are gradually vanishing – though both he and Debs strive to nurture traditional craft practises, specifically in their home country of Lebanon, where they’re still very much alive. “Just caring has become an important thing to do,” said Debs. “We have given too much importance to imported items, and now we’re realising that we have a strong identity. We have the expertise. It can be home-grown, and we should be confident in who we are.” Regardless of the challenges, the designers agreed on the significance of supporting the local workforce and opting for a minimal approach to manufacturing for environmental reasons. In essence, it’s about doing what you can with what you have. “We still believe that producing locally will enhance the creative economy,” said Lootah. “Prior to the pandemic, we always worked on incorporating ways to make the projects more sustainable.” “I think I speak for all of us when I say that all of our items are made to order,” said Dana Al Matrook, co-founder of The Line Concept. “And what does this mean? It means that for every order, we buy the materials needed for that piece, so we aren’t wasting anything and therefore it is a more sustainable solution.” But beyond what Sarieddine cleverly labelled “design farming”, the designers are seeing a rise in efforts to combine craftsmanship with technology. It’s a balancing act that hasn’t yet been polished, and it’s also been a polarising topic in the past. Many have opted to choose sides rather than find a middle ground. Today, though, things are starting to change, even for designers who prefer to make their pieces by hand. “3D printing, though it may not be used to produce the actual piece, can make components as simple as nuts and bolts [exactly] the way you want them,” said Matrook. “I would love to see technology [become] more readily available [in order] to recycle organic matter that currently goes to waste. It’s been done before, but it would be great to have that be more accessible.” “It’s not bad to mix craftsmanship with technology,” said Debs. “That’s the future.” id

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design focus

DESIGN FOCUS

A HAVEN WITHIN THE HOME

There has never been a better time to turn a bathroom into a sanctuary – these products and projects show how to get started WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ

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bathroom design

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long with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic came new ways of life. By obligation and by choice, people are spending more time at home to cook, entertain, learn and work. In such a changing and stressful environment, one thing has become essential: finding how to rest and recharge. And what better place to do so than in your home’s most private space? Bathrooms should be optimised and reflect a true sense of peace in a stylish atmosphere dedicated to wellness. This requires imagination and creativity, but also a high dose of design and innovation. Several brands and designers understand this well, and are leading the way with new concepts that are here to stay.

Rise by Zaven for ZuchettiKos.

Photography by Delfino Sisto Legnani.

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design focus

Medameda tap by Zuchetti.

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Photography by Delfino Sisto Legnani.


bathroom design

The best of tech It can seem that technology is at the opposite end of the spectrum to nature. The two are sometimes, however, much more complementary than they seem, and innovation is increasingly more synonymous with sustainability. Newly launched for Milan Design City 2021 in the renovated Antonio Lupi showroom, the freestanding 024 sink – made of recycled, leftover pieces of Carrara marble or Nero Marquina, glued together by resin in a contrasting colour – is a good example. New developments in bathroom design are also coming, along with sophisticated products – such as the Apollo showerhead designed by Brian Sironi for Antonio Lupi that brings together water and light. New products by the Zucchetti and Kos brands earned four Red Dot Awards for Product Design 2021 in the bathroom category: the Helm and Medameda tap series designed respectively by David Lopez Quincoces and Alberto and Francesco Meda; the Beam collection designed by Visibility – which includes a washbasin made of Biobased Cristalplant® that was named ‘Red Dot: Best of the Best’ for being the most innovative product; and the Rise collection by creative duo Zaven.

024 sink from Antonio Lupi.

Equally innovative, and combining water, steam, lighting and aroma, is the Kohler Stillness bath – part of the brand’s smart home products that will be available at the end of 2021 – which offers an invitation to pause and indulge one’s body and mind. Embracing today’s reality is the new informative and inspirational digital platform Grohe X, which enables visitors to the hub to create their own experience and look for the perfect state-of-the-art product innovations, to imagine what their dream bathroom could look like before making it a reality.

Apollo by Brian Sironi for Antonio Lupi.

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design focus

Wabi-sabi inspiration The Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in nature’s imperfections. Design-wise it can be translated into Zen spaces with natural materials and textures, which will softly develop patina over time. The architects from US-based Thomas Melhorn have echoed this approach in their latest project, a house built on the dunes of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. “All great vacation homes have these moments that reside in the memory, drawing us back time and time again,” says co-founder Christian Thomas. “It Bathroom in Florida home designed by Thomas Melhorn. is these feelings, smells and tastes that return unexpectedly from time to time and bring a soft smile to our faces. This particular home was intended to conjure wood. The walls were clad in locally sourced cypress just these feelings. It was important to us to catalogue boards that have been treated with a lime wash, and the history of the house by employing finishes that were a soft wax was applied to the hand-burnished plaster naturally occurring and would age gracefully, leaving ceiling. “These materials come together in concert to the marks of previous generations. We wanted to allow create a feeling of a timeless house on the ocean,” says space for the materials to develop their own voice and Thomas. Giving priority to everything that is natural – aesthetic over the life of the house.” from textures to colours – is a way to reconnect us with In the bathroom, this aesthetic was achieved by our surroundings in a subtle way. fuming the oak flooring, which alters the colour of the 66

Photo by Nicole Franzen


bathroom design

Dare to be bold “In the bustle of grey everyday life in big cities, you could go into your bathroom and feel like you are on the seashore or in the jungle, surrounded by the aroma of freshness,” Dmitry Reutov, founder of Reutov Design says of the fantasy-like New York apartment he designed. “That is why I used bright shades of natural greens combined with cement in natural dyes and gradient-painted concrete. There is no white, in order to create a complete immersion into another world. When entering, it doesn’t seem to be a bathroom, but there is this immediate desire to come here again and again, to feel the unity between nature and design.” Giving energy and happiness through colour in bathrooms is something that interior designer Noé Prades has also mastered. In the Barcelona home he created for an artistic couple, a pink bathroom – with Bathco sinks, Nuura lighting and Noé Prades Studio mirrors – is one of the stars of the show. With curved shapes expressing femininity, the bespoke tiles accentuate the light and the daring hue on the walls and floors. Visually powerful, vibrant colours are a way to set the tone for a space; they have the ability to fully transform it. These two projects

showcase how to create balance through the use of contrasting yet complementary materials, and demonstrate how small spaces like bathrooms are ideal for taking risks with colour. Young and talented designers from different parts of the world are proving it: A new trend is born, and it’s encouraging people to go bold. id

THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE Bathroom in Barcelona home designed by Noé Prades.

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Photo by Elton Rocha


design

A new design phenomenon is on the rise with the introduction of metaverse digital furniture – and it just may be the next big investment opportunity WORDS BY ESRA LEMMENS

DIGITAL FUTURES

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irtual economies within the metaverse are gaining traction. They are already popular with those that move in sartorial spheres, and you can now verify virtual couture using NFTs (blockchain-based non-fungible tokens). This form of transaction means that digital items can be easily traded with other buyers, with the hope that their illusory clothing will significantly appreciate in value. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this relatively new market is now attracting some serious attention and investment. Brands such as Dutch digital fashion house The Fabricant are currently creating extraordinary digital clothing designs and curating remarkable fantasy fashion collections for the likes of Atari and Buffalo sneakers, amongst others. We are also already seeing consumers enthusiastically purchasing virtual garments that are 'worn' in gaming and social media platforms. Louis Vuitton-clad avatars are not uncommon in the popular League of Legends video game, nor is CGI (computer-generated imagery) apparel on our Instagram feeds. The only limit is one’s imagination: one day, you could be posing at the Burj Khalifa; the next, you could be walking through the Jebel Jais mountains with your pet dinosaur. Contemporary design has formed its own soughtafter genre of digital assets by following fashion's trajectory of dematerialisation. Trends are already showing that furniture could flourish at an even faster pace than fashion. There is an established demand for virtual environments; historically, these have been part of architectural production. Digital renderings have long served interior designers and architects, helping them and their clients visualise buildings and spaces before construction commences.

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Hortensia chair by Andrés Reisinger.


design

The new generation of digital artists takes imagination to another level, creating ethereal products, furniture and homes that will never be built or created. This new wave of inspirational and innovative projects is coercing more and more brands to use virtual scenography for their branding, product and campaign imagery. The metaverse is a grown-up version of gaming. This sphere sees a shift from spending free time competing, slaying and questing to a virtual space where there is downtime to socialise, dine, hold conversation, shop and live. Large-scale digital furniture sales need to be realised and mde available to the mass-market. Of course, it is more complicated than an avatar skin that is accessible to all ages and genres. Mainstream furniture brands are watching with interest as building games such as Design Home attract millions of players who are encouraged to purchase digital interior design furnishings from West Elm and Pottery Barn, for example. Similarly, in 2020, furniture giant IKEA cleverly published the Animal Crossing: New Horizons-themed furniture catalogue, which married styles from the Nintendo game and the trademark Scandinavian IKEA brand. This way, the increasing array of products adds value to traditional furniture sales. One can place virtual items in any shared metaverse or virtual space, including open worlds such as Decentraland, Somnium Space and Minecraft; or use them in augmentedreality applications and development platforms to create games, animations and CGI movies. Recently, an online marketplace auctioned virtual furniture for just under $500,000; a custom piece that will be designed by the buyer and Argentinian digital artist and designer Andrés Reisinger sold for nearly $70,000. We have already seen Reisinger create the spectacular cloudlike armchair that went viral on Instagram at the turn of the decade. He made the Hortensia chair a reality with over 20,000

Holo - Scandinavian by Six N. Five. Furniture design by Artur de Menezes.

A Lucid Dream in Pink, Sleep Cycle No 2 by Anders Brasch-Willumsen.

© Studio Brasch 2018

fabric petals; the first real version of the chair is on display at the Montoya gallery in Barcelona. This chair has amassed tens of thousands of likes, created numerous conversations and attracted three orders – for a non-existent chair. Reisinger anticipates virtual design to be the new, complementary way to grow the interior and architecture industry, together with designers' careers and businesses. Amongst his eccentric collections is a shiny bulbous pink table that bears a resemblance to bubble gum, a settee that looks like an oversized deflated silver balloon and a chrome storage unit with seemingly precariously balanced draws. He is also working on a customised piece that will be transformed into a physical object. Buyers display digital furniture in a virtual gallery and sell pieces for a profit when their values increase, much like a physical piece of furniture in a traditional gallery would be. To prevent forgery or replication, each piece of furniture is ‘tagged’ with an NFT that can be traced back to the maker and owner. The ownership of the NFT is absolute, which means that collectors immutably own their NFT or virtual furniture, not the artist that created them; in other words, you own what you are buying. Artists who choose to sell their virtual designs to a global audience allow them to bypass galleries or auction houses, thus saving them sometimes disproportionate seller’s commissions. Royalties can also be programmed into the NFT so that the creator receives payment each time their art is sold to a new owner. Engaging online exhibitions offer a glimpse at the new hybrid and extended reality where art is freed from spatial and time-based constraints. The physical and digital worlds are colliding to form a unit and this fusion will only go further, showing that design can become larger than its tangible form. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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products

Hot and cold Our juxtaposed round-up of the latest furniture, lighting pieces and accessories in warm and cool tones include Pedrali's latest summer collection, India Mahdavi's Rattan screens and a wonderful pop of blue from ClassiCon

12:30 bowl from the Meridiane collection Lato x Lato Available at latoxlato.com

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1. X Lito 24kt-gilded porcelain trinket tray by Lito Karakostanoglou for L'Objet. Available at matchesfashion.com 2. Nuage rattan folding screen by India Mahdavi. Available at india-mahdavi com 3. Loftbolur stoneware vase by Alison Lousada. Available at matchesfashion.com 4. Sticks candeholder by Campana Brothers for Ghidini 1961. Available at modaoperandi.com. 5. Panarea lounge armchairs by CMP Design for De Gaspé and Pedrali. Available at degaspe.ca 6. Sol Side Table by OrtegaGuijarro for ClassiCon. Available at superstudio.me 7. Handcrafted straw placemats by Sensi Studio. Available at matchesfashion.com

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design

DZing 2020+1 inaugurates its first Algerian-French Design Biennale - and it's one worth paying attention to WORDS BY CYRIL ZAMMIT

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nitially planned a year ago, the first design biennale to ‘rethink the city’ in the capital of Algiers is finally going ahead, and set to take place from 25 May 2021. France’s long and complex colonial history with Algeria has played a significant role in shaping the latter country’s architecture, urban planning and design output. This relationship between the two nations is the focus of the event, which aims to mobilise talents working across these sectors to create a cleaner, safer and more human-centred urban canvas for the city and the country. The biennale invites reflections on the effects that design – by integrating local culture and practices – can bring to the environment in which it acts. ‘Reinventing the City Through Design’ is the focal point of this first edition of the design biennale, which is organised around an open call for designers, architects, engineers, researchers and artists, inviting each one to propose projects capable of anticipating the future of the city’s built environment at a wider scale, or to narrow ideas down to districts or streets by transforming these areas into veritable laboratories of urban innovation. Ultimately, the proposed aesthetic and practical improvements could eventually result in long-term projects that are cared for by local communities. It is, of course, important for a city to develop its own identity – one that is contemporary and responsible, following more than 150 years of foreign presence on its ground. Titled DZing, derived from the historical Dziri name (‫ )زيري‬of the local population, the biennale pays tribute to these roots while acknowledging the French presence on its soil since 1830. Algiers was then a typical Casbah: construction was reminiscent of the Middle Ages, with Ottoman influences. The French started to modify the city inside its walls, later expanding it with the construction of the first ‘European-style’ houses. The new Algiers was first used as a position of defence before it was transformed into an economic, cultural and residential capital. In 1870, with the change of regime in France, Algiers became influenced by the major changes that were initiated in Paris by Baron Haussmann. A neo-classical movement emerged – often cited as the ‘Belle Epoque Algéroise’ (the beautiful epoch of Algiers) – with large public buildings by the sea

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and boulevards. In the early 20th century, a ‘néomauresque’ (Neo-Moorish) architectural trend became popular, bringing in cultural influences from Arab, Berber and Moorish traditions. From 1930, Algiers underwent a massive urban transformation, and one famous architect arrived with a vision for the city: Le Corbusier. His project, ‘Obus’, featured a complete transformation of the city and offered an alternative to the néo-mauresque movement. The modernist architects became inspired by this – but activity came to a sudden end with the beginning of the Second World War. In the early ‘50s, the time came for the ‘bataille du logement’ (‘fight for accommodation’), brought about by the expanding demography of Algiers and a pressing need to create new homes as an attempt to reduce growing slums. This was the start of the construction of large collective housing – but, with the changes in political climate in 1958, a new fiveyear ‘Constantine’ plan wasn’t able to go ahead. After its independence in 1962, Algeria consolidated some key features for its capital, including the likes of the marine port, the airport and the railway. Collective housing also became a top priority. Looking back at the architectural history of the city, there is a lot to expect from this first FrancoAlgerian biennale. Beyond the intricate connection between the two countries, the Algerian authorities have demonstrated a strong commitment to support ing their national talents. The organisers have planned two stages. The first one will kick off on 25 May, with three exhibitions

showcasing all the possibilities of expression, both classic (objects, interior equipment, furniture, crafts) and architectural, as well as real subjects of research and development; technical solutions linked to urban activity, and aesthetic staging in traditional neighbourhoods; and explorations of new materials and other ecological alternatives. The themes cover sustainability, circular economy, design of environmentally friendly projects, self-sufficiency and the concept of ‘zero waste’. The French Institute in Algiers has also connected Algerian students and professionals with their French counterparts, in order to share expertise, insights and experiences. The expressions of the new generation of designers will be integrated through school projects, with the Polytechnic, Architecture and Urbanism School of Algiers (EPAU) and the Musée Nacional des Beaux-Arts. For the second period, ephemeral urban design installations will be offered with the intervention of two collectives – one comprising designers, the other EPAU students – in collaboration with designers from France, to illustrate the diversity of the field. This period will also host meetings, debates and master classes led by international design personalities. Back in 2014, I was pleased to present Algerian designers at Design Days Dubai. It was a rare opportunity to showcase emerging talents and I look forward to discovering new names as well as confirmed professionals in the coming weeks during DZign 2020+1.


library

A legacy of art The latest addition to Assouline’s Ultimate Collection is Chinese Art: The Impossible Collection that reveals the evolution of China through the lens of its artists

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t is difficult to know where to begin, if one attempts to understand the rapid growth and transformation of China into the world power it is today. Renowned art collectors Adrian Cheng – founder of the K11 Art Foundation – and John Dodelande argue that perhaps the answer can be found in China’s art. In their highly anticipated volume, Chinese Art: The Impossible Collection, the authors have compiled 100 works of art that reveal the social, political and cultural evolution of a nation on the rise, further asserting how the art of China has always been in conversation with its customs and the preservation of its heritage. “It was not an easy task to map the varied landscape of Chinese art in one hundred representative works,” writes Dodelande in the book’s introduction. “Adrian Cheng and I selected them with three categories in mind: firstly, artists who cannot be overlooked in any discussion of classical, modern and contemporary Chinese art; secondly, artists who command the special attention of today’s global market; [and] lastly, artists who feature prominently in the collections of major museums and institutions across the world.” “From the human face and fish pattern bowl of the Yangshao Neolithic culture, to more contemporary

artifacts, one can most assuredly assert that these artists and artisans were, and are, undeniable pioneers of their times,” Cheng adds. The works presented in the book are organised chronologically, beginning with traditional paintings from the turn of the 20th century and culminating with some of the most cutting-edge works by China’s ‘new generation’ of artists, whose creations explore and often critique the politics that have defined the country’s current status in the world. The works of art are complemented by a series of essays and commentary from three experts on Chinese art: Philip Tinari of the UCAA in Beijing, Alexandra Munroe of the Guggenheim in New York, and Karen Smith of OCAT Contemporary Art Terminal in Xi’an. Part of Assouline’s Ultimate Collection, Chinese Art: The Impossible Collection is a collectible piece of art in its own right. The oversized volume is hand-bound using traditional techniques, with several of the plates hand-tipped on artquality paper and housed in a luxury silk clamshell.

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id most wanted

Etat-des-Lieux is a clean-lined contemporary lighting system defined by its variable silhouette that pays homage to the scenic mountains in Quebec, Canada. The poetic lighting features a conductive cable that support the light modules and is elegantly finished in matte black. Playing with geometry and tension, its flexibility enables a variety of configurations, from a single lighting arrangement to a monumental centrepiece. The hand-blown glass globe is available in four colours, in clear or frosted finishes.

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t c e p Ex Dubai - Al Ferdous 1, Al Safa First, Al Wasl Road, Tel. 04 332 2220 | Dubai - Umm Hurair, Tel. 04 336 6646 Abu Dhabi, Tel. 02 644 4674 | Sharjah, Tel. 06 559 0158 www.alhuzaifa.com


Wash Basin and Accessories: RAK-DES Bathtub: RAK-CLOUD Shower Tray: RAK-FEELING Mirror: RAK-JOY Wall: CEppO DI GRE’ Floor: SELECt WOOD