Identity July/August 2020

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id 50 / Celebrating 50 individuals who have made positive contributions to design and architecture across the Middle East and North Africa ISSUE 200 / JULY/AUGUST 2020

The 200th Issue

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Contents The 200th Issue

14 The future of design

Cancelled design events: what are the effects on the industry and what can we learn from this?

17 id50

Celebrating 50 individuals who have made positive contributions to design and architecture across the MENA region

35 Design Focus: Escapes

Read about the latest summer collections, meditation spaces and hotels that put storytelling first

46 Bare essentials

Casa Cook El Gouna by Common Architecure is set on the shores of Egypt’s red sea and offers a pared-back luxury

52 Natural Beauty

Interior design and architecture connect to create a villa resort that invites the surrounding nature inside



Newswire On our radar

60 ID classics

62 Products

65 Library

66 #idmostwanted







50 TH A N





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Editor-in-Chief: Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor: Ian Fairservice Editor: Aidan Imanova Designer: Hannah Perez General Manager - Production: S Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager: Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor: Venita Pinto Chief Commercial Officer: Anthony Milne Group Director: Andrew Wingrove Deputy Sales Manager: Mrudula Patre Sales Representative - Italy: Daniela Prestinoni Contributors Agata Kurzela Leanne Henderson Cecilia D’Souza

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id 50: Celebrating 50 individuals who have made positive contributions to design and architecture across the Middle East and North Africa ISSUE 200 / JULY/AUGUST 2020

The 200th Issue

Editor’s Note

Photo by Young Habibti

It isn’t every day that your magazine celebrates its 200th issue – but today it does. identity was first launched in 2002 by Catherine Belbin, who stayed at the helm of the publication for 18 years. Taking over this position at such a pivotal point in the publication’s history is a privilege and one I do not take lightly. Putting identity’s 200th issue together was not an easy task. I contemplated how best to celebrate a significant milestone such as this for a magazine, which has been reporting on design across the Middle East for almost two decades. In the end, it only felt right that instead of focusing on our own accomplishments, we turn our focus to you. identity has thrived on covering the region’s evergrowing design and architecture industries, which have truly come a long way since the early 2000s – and that in itself is something to celebrate. So, therefore, our cover story this month pays tribute to 50 individuals across design and architecture who have made positive contributions to their respective fields. This was also a time for us to recognise that architecture and design is part of a larger network that is not only fed by its talented architects and designers, but also includes a larger collective of individuals. These individuals support the existing ecosystem and drive forward young talent, while helping preserve the region’s cultural heritage and developing its creative economy. Our list is therefore expansive and aims to shed light on the various ways we come together as an industry. And while this month’s issue comes at an important time for the publication, it is also part of a pivotal time in history where, on one side the world is plagued by an ongoing pandemic that has changed our lives, and on the other, the biggest civil rights movement of its kind is brewing worldwide. The global movement is challenging the world to face the fact that our societies are operating on systemic racial injustice that continues to leave its scars on our communities and the industries in which we work. The pandemic had already prompted the need for reflection, however now is also the time for topics such as representation – which have long been undermined – to come to the forefront of our consciousness in order to effectively showcase an industry that is brimming with diverse talent, and one that is strong and inspirational because of it. My aim since joining the magazine has been to widen the conversations around design and architecture in order to create a platform that is more honest, open and inclusive. Nina Simone once said that “it is an artist’s duty to reflect the times”. I believe the same can be said of the media and there is no better time than now to put those words into practice.

Aidan Imanova Editor

200 th issue cover designed by Hannah Perez


A breath of fresh air


ubai and London-based architecture studio Anarchitect has designed a Brutalist-inspired health retreat that acts as an escape destination from our daily urban environment. Set within the Balkan Mountain range in the south of Serbia, the Air Health Retreat is designed to connect one back to nature while remaining in close proximity to the urban centre, offering a minimalist, self-contained accommodation for weekend stays. The resort features a rooftop plateau of planted allotments for growing and gathering wild berries, honey and other organic health foods from the region, while the open-air roof garden encourages outdoor activity and foraging, building a short-term community amongst the guests in residence.


The purpose-built property is strategically placed at the intersection of natural crosswinds where the altitude and air quality is optimal, offering an opportunity for natural cross-ventilation. Guests can sit, lay or gather in the sun on the communal allotment plateau above, to reap maximum health benefits. A shaded, open-air saltwater pool allows for relaxation while being surrounded by spectacular views of the valley below. The project is inspired by health resorts known as 'Air Spas' that were used for medicinal purposes, built

during the post-World War II period in socialist Eastern Europe. The structure is contextually derived from the Brutalist architectural movement of the same era, dictating a dense, thermal mass construction and a sustained longevity and robustness, taking into account the property’s remote and exposed location. The Air Health Retreat is the latest addition to Anarchitect’s ‘Destination Hospitality’ projects, following the completion of Al Faya Desert Retreat & Spa in Dubai and the Harding Boutique Hotel in Sri Lanka.

Monolithic sands


one Studio has revamped a neighbourhood cafe in Al Ain, UAE, by placing a pink, monolithic coffee bar at the centre of its

design, coupled with diverse seating arrangements inspired by desert landscapes. The studio worked with Hint Creative to reinvent the overall brand identity, translating the concept from its design through to its menu, led by chef consultant Ashley Wentling. Bone's design aimed to redefine the coffee bar’s volume as a monolithic sculpture using a cubist approach that serves multiple functions. The height of the bar has been depressed from a customer’s standpoint, serving as a coffee table for guests. From a barista’s position, the bar is at working height, allowing for more fluidity and unification through one’s horizontal vision. The seating and working height hierarchy were inspired by Al Ain’s landscapes and desert topography, allowing for diversity in seating arrangements which accommodates a direct visual connection to the garden, creating privacy and eliminating obstructions of view. The seating arrangements range from traditional Emirati floor majlises to casual, laid back cafe seating. The selection and tonality of materials and treatment of surfaces

The use of bi-fold glass doors accentuates the connection

epitomise the surrounding abundant desert sand, allowing the

between indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a dialogue

space to remain grounded in the origins of its location, while

between the interior and surrounding landscaping.

creating a sense of space. Mineral plasters in coarse and smooth finishes, soft linens and

Directional light fixtures in the shop and garden have additionally been used to mimic soft theatrical lighting

clay table lamps are complemented by untreated aluminium Rivet

silhouettes that add a sense of mystery and drama to the

tables and black steel Trianglo Chairs from Frama.

overall design.




Valley of inspiration



ezza House restaurant in Dubai has undergone a contemporary transformation by Roar, inspired by the dramatic landscape of the Yarmouk River Valley – a small but magically diverse ecosystem on the border of Syria and Jordan. Fusing the dramatic and lush landscape of the Syrian-Jordanian valley with Mezza House’s cuisine, the restaurant is divided into “a succession of naturally flowing areas“ rather than a single open-planned layout, which plays a key role in the overall redesign. Taking inspiration from the Yarmouk River Valley was a “designer's dream”, according to Pallavi Dean, founder of Roar, as the landscape of the valley “offers an incredible array of textures and colours. “Our client wanted to redefine what a contemporary Levantine restaurant should look and feel like in Dubai today, so we thought the

Yarmouk River Valley with its vast diversity has the perfect connotations. “We wanted our design narrative to tell the original story of this iconic Downtown restaurant and retain its legacy, yet reimagine it for the next decade,” she added. With a soft colour palette of rose and green hues, the use of rattan furniture, striking floral arrangements and a network of golden pipes running across the restaurant, the combination offers a new contemporary design direction to the overall space. “Ombre or colour gradation is present throughout, once again a theme we have borrowed from nature. If you stand at the bottom of the Yarmouk River Valley and look around your feet, you can see the vibrant colours of the grass, the plants and the shrubs. “As you gradually raise your eyes to the skies, the palette changes to the more neutral grey and beige rocks at the top of the mountains. The textures also shift from soft, smooth and round to rough, jagged and angular. We deliberately incorporated these contrasts all around Mezza House, from the back of the seats to the art on the wall,” Dean said.


SATELLITE This month’s issue includes inspiring narratives and projects from the Middle East to the Sri Lanka

China Egypt Georgia Greece Oman Sri Lanka United Arab Emirates United States of America


The future of design Does the cancellation of design fairs due to COVID-19 present a chance to rethink old habits? Words by Aidan Imanova



ecent months has seen a mass cancellation of international design fairs and events, with many finding their normally brimming spring calendars unusually empty. While the COVID-19 pandemic surges on in most parts of the world, some are beginning to slowly lift restrictions, while attempting to recover from a huge hit on the world economy. Similar struggles can be observed across the design industry where international design fairs such as Salone del Mobile.Milano play a major role in connecting the larger design ecosystem – an opportunity that was lost this year due to the event's cancellation in light of the pandemic. “By suspending the 2020 edition of Salone, we've missed a very important occasion not only as a business opportunity but also as a moment for coming together and meeting with businesses, designers, collectors and design connoisseurs,” says Salone del Mobile president Claudio Luti, who is also CEO of the contemporary Italian furniture brand, Kartell. Rue Kothari, director of Dubai-based fair Downtown Design adds that although design fairs remain largely traditional in their format, they have always played a key role in the industry’s ecosystem as platforms to build relationships, collaborate and discover new ideas, while personally interacting with the design on show. “Aside from leaving our schedules looking decidedly blank, this situation has had a significant impact on brands who often plan their selling cycles around these exhibitions, she says. Many would have invested heavily on the innovation and development of new products and materials, specifically to launch at international platforms like Salone del Mobile. “While individual designers often work all-year-round to ensure they have new designs to showcase at their local or regional shows; now, without the opportunity to expose their work, interface with buyers and gain crucial real-time feedback, brands and designers have had to look to new ways of getting their products out there. And while digital has been the 'catch all’ approach for many, it still doesn't replace the experience and benefits of interacting with products and people in the real world.” In reality, industry services and creative activities never stopped. Designers continue to create new solutions and concepts, with many researching novel ways for different areas of life to continue within a safer and more health-conscious reality. Yet, even with the continued workflow, the shutdown of production has had a strong impact on manufacturers and brands alike, with small businesses – which are important links within the overall supply chain – feeling sorely tried by the long lockdowns and lack of orders.


Salone del Mobile.Milano, 2019

Another demographic who have been impacted are young designers, who use these fairs as platforms to introduce their work to manufacturers by forming new relationships that could kick-start their careers within the field. Marva Griffin, founder and curator of SaloneSatellite – the exhibition that showcases works by young designers within Salone del Mobile – comments that while cancelling the fair this year is unfortunate, the exhibition is gearing up for an even bigger show in 2021, inviting back all the selected young designers from this year’s cycle. “The theme, ‘Designing For Our Future Selves’ will remain the same because, now more than ever, it is important to create design that is useful after this terrible experience that we all have lived through,” she says, adding that a show like SaloneSatellite is vital to young designers, as most manufacturers remain on-site during the course of the fair and have a higher chance at being discovered than those exhibiting outside the fair grounds. “Young designers want to showcase their creativity, and this has been the success of SaloneSatellite. Every year, the producers who attend Salone del Mobile.Milano visit the SaloneSatellite pavilion to talk, choose and initiate relationships with young designers,” she says. Interestingly, it is young designers who are calling out for changes to be made to the existing cycle of design fairs and product launches, commenting that recent events have created an opportunity to address problems in the design industry that have long remained unsolved. “The past four months have led to a lot of thinking on my part about this industry and

how off track it has gotten over the years,” shares American designer, Brad Ascalon, who has designed collections for brands such as Carl Hansen & Son and Skandiform. “The cancellations of fairs this year, while unfortunate due to the tragic pandemic, has been a blessing in disguise. Many designers have been whispering behind closed doors for years that we have too many fairs each year, in too many cities, with too many new products and certainly without any semblance of sustained attention to those products once they are unveiled to the public. “So many designers work tirelessly to develop products in the right way and over the span of years, while all that the media and design audiences care about is what is new. There is a huge disconnect between what we do, the efforts we make to do it, and what comes of it in terms of the attention our work is granted. Perhaps this pause in what was, until now normal, can show us that there’s a more sustainable way in which the industry can operate, a way that nurtures and markets the hard work beyond a single launch cycle.” Dubai-based designer Ammar Kalo, on the other hand, notes the heavy toll design fairs have on the environment: “There’s a ton of material waste as a product of fairs and exhibitions, which also comes at a huge financial expense that’s currently justified as marketing and PR budget. After this crisis, the industry as a whole must reckon with these facts and optimise the best the way to deliver and showcase products without the huge amounts of waste associated. Perhaps a move to digital platforms and creation of new relevant technology would rebalance things in the years to come.”




Rue Kothari

Marva Griffin

Photo: Gerardo Jaconelli

A move towards digital platforms can already be observed with some design fairs such as Maison & Objet and Isola Design District launching digitally. Similarly, many brands and designers have also taken to digitally launching new products while keeping communications alive within the idustry during a time of physical disconnection. There has also been a surge in online sales, with e-commerce playing a more important role in design sales and perhaps one that will remain a preferred choice over the years, mimicking sales trends across the fashion industry. Despite the rise in digital performance, Luti still believes that design is a visceral experience, and annual fairs offer something a digital model never can. Ascalon, on the other hand, comments that if the design industry isn’t already using this opportunity to rethink its strategies, then it should be. “Design should not be celebrated simply because of who designed it, or simply because it’s new. Newer isn’t better. It’s only newer. We don’t need newer every single year in Cologne, Paris, Milan, NYC, Chicago and London, not to mention the dozens of other cities in which products are introduced annually. But we do need better. If we have to wait every two or three years for better ideas and not just more eye candy, that’s an idea we should all embrace enthusiastically,” he says, likening the existing design launch cycle to that of the fashion industry, where trends, forms and aesthetics take precedent over necessary solutions. “Until we start pointing this truth out, things will not change. So, it is up to responsible designers and manufacturers to chase a higher standard, not merely a bigger paycheck.” Both Ascalon and Kalo believe designers and fairs can come together to create an alternative solution that can be beneficial to all. “Several other industries have gone through the pains of adapting to an everchanging global technology and socioeconomic climate, and it’s only logical that we do the same as designers. There is a ton of potential to access new markets, wider audiences, and present new kinds of work,” Kalo says. Ascalon agrees. “The industry is filled with brilliant people. But it will take disciplined and purposeful conversations Ammar Kalo between manufacturers, designers and fair organisers to get us to a place where we’re not just doing less bad, but we’re actually doing good.” id

Brad Ascalon


Claudio Luti

50 cover story


Celebrating contributions to design and architecture across the Middle East and North Africa Compiled and written by Aidan Imanova


or its 200th issue, identity pays tribute to 50 individuals who have made positive contributions to the development of design, architecture and culture across the Middle East and North Africa. The list includes design and architecture professionals who have furthered these fields within their respective countries or have expanded the legacy of design onto the world stage. The list also celebrates individuals who have helped establish platforms – be it governmental institutions or design events – that further enhance the development of design and architectre within the region, while maintaining a positive outlook into the future. From creating notable buildings that have put the region on the map, to developing signature interiors and products that are propelling the crafts industry forward and preserving the region’s cultural and architectural heritage, the individuals on this list have time and time again, proven their commitment to furthering design and architecture in the region and abroad. Hailing from countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan and France – these 50 individuals present some of the strongest voices within design and architecture across the MENA region today. THE 200 TH ISSUE


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Elias and Yousef Anastas

Born into a family of architects in Bethlehem, Elias and Yousef Anastas studied architecture in Paris and worked there until winning a competition to build a music conservatory in their hometown. After returning to Palestine in 2010, they expanded into furniture design and research projects that celebrate local artisanal skills. They are partners at architecture firm AAU ANASTAS – which also houses their research arm, SCALES - and founders of Local Industries, a community of artisans and designers dedicated to industrial furniture-making. These three elements of their work intersect and mutually nourish one another. Through their architecture practice, the brothers tackle topics from material exploration to territorial investigations, proposing new relationships to be established within Palestinian environments while their work with OUR AIM IS TO PLACE OUR PROJECTS Local Industries aims to reassert the value of local IN A CRITICAL UNIVERSAL DISCOURSE Palestinian craftsmanship and labor. Their projects WHILE LEANING ON AN ANCHORED such as Stone Matters and While We Wait use local CONTEXTUAL APPROACH. stone to create free-standing structures that showcase the value of Palestine’s natural resources, while also addressing political realities within the country. Qamt – which is part of the Analog series within the Stone Matter project – is part of the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. AAU Anastas is also one of four finalists for the Royal Academy Dorfman Award that honors practices that are reimagining the future of architecture through geographical and socio-political challenges. Their main aim within architecture is an attempt to trace architectural elements and techniques beyond borders and historical periods into a sphere of universal discourse.

Abboud Malak Canadian-born, Palestinian designer Abboud Malak is a product of an eclectic upbringing and professional career – being raised in the Gulf and Europe and later moving to California to pursue his higher education in Fine Arts and Art History. He then attended the Art Center College of Design to study Interior Architecture where he discovered his passion for form, space, materiality and aesthetics with a strong sense for perfection – elements that are vital to his approach to interior architecture and design and some of the core principles through which his Dubai-based boutique practice – Studio M – operates. Upon completing his studies, Malak decided to carve his own path and set up his studio in Los Angeles where he worked for 15 years designing mostly high-end residences before moving to Dubai in 2004 to join Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)’s team as in-house DO YOU KNOW WHAT designer. Having led the design for DIFC’s BEAUTY IS? IT IS THE BIRTH OF AN landmark The Gate tower, the project was ORIGINAL IDEA. praised both locally and internationally for pioneering a fresh approach to corporate design in the region. In 2007, Malak established Studio M that has come to be highly revered for its purist and modern approach with a portfolio that spans high-end residential projects to lifestyle spaces such as cafés, salons and gyms, as well as corporate interiors. His aim to create spaces that embody a sense of elegance and integrity through a minimalist approach is visible across his rich portfolio of work that is pure, original, innovative and enduring.


Born in Australia to Lebanese parents; architect, urban designer, researcher and curator Adrian Lahoud’s early research examines conditions of the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war, leading to his well-known study of post-disaster situations in cities and their response to the extreme conditions from a physical, social Photo by Rabee Younes and political perspective. Being part of the Lebanese diaspora and engaging with the country’s politics led to Lahoud’s early political education which has greatly influenced his approach to architecture. Currently the Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London, and former Research Fellow on the Forensic Architecture project at Goldsmith University, Lahoud was also the curator of the inaugural Sharjah Architecture Triennial under the theme ‘Rights of Future Generations’ that proposed an invitation to rethink fundamental questions surrounding architecture, urbanism and climate to form alternative modes of existence for the generations to come. Under Lahoud’s curatorial direction, the triennial put Sharjah on the map for pushing intellectual thought through the lens of architecture and the environment, while placing the region within a wider geography of the Global South, and proposing nations to connect, learn and form communities around relatable environmental and political conditions. The successful event managed to engage the city as a whole, with efforts made to renovate and reactivate the emirate’s modern architecture including Al Qasimiyah School and the old Al Jubail Fruit and Vegetable market, while leaving the city with an opportunity to carry forward a legacy of dialogue and intervention.

Adrian Lahoud

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Ahmed Bukhash AGi Architects

Nasser Abulhasan and Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea founded AGi Architects in 2006 after meeting at Harvard University where both architects completed their architectural studies. The multidisciplinary office is located in Kuwait and Spain with a strong focus on innovation, ecology, social intervention and research. Set at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, the firms’ work operates between small- and largescale projects as well as within residential and public sectors. With over 30 completed projects and many currently under development in the Gulf region, the firm’s architectural footprint has left a lasting and pivotal mark on Kuwait’s urban identity through modern and sometimes unconventional residential projects, as well as institutional, healthcare, education, commercial, and mixed-used buildings. As a boutique practice that focuses on sustainability and contemporary design, AGi Architects attempts to reinterpret Mediterranean architecture from a contemporary perspective while searching for an enduring understanding between Islamic culture and WE ARE INTERESTED IN contemporary lifestyle. The firm’s main HOW ARCHITECTURE CAN OPERATE interest lies in the dialogue between cultural AS A CANVAS TO and social behaviors and how architecture FORM NEW HUMAN in itself can operate as a canvas for forming RELATIONSHIPS AND new human relationships and behaviors. BEHAVIORS.

Emirati architect Ahmed Bukhash received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Wentworth Institute of Technology from Boston in 2002, later being awarded the prestigious Monbukagakusho Scholarship from the Japanese government in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Higher Education to continue his Masters in Japan at the Kyoto Institute of Technology, which he completed in 2006. After graduation, Bukhash returned to the UAE and began working for Dubai Properties Group where he served as director of Urban Planning and Design until 2014. In 2009, he founded AN ARCHITECTURAL Archidentity with the aim of creating REFORMATION IS REQUIRED built environments and spaces that THAT CAPITALISES FROM A reflect their surrounding culture PAST LEGACY RATHER THAN ISOLATING IT. THIS IS DONE BY through a modern design language PROPAGATING A NEW PARADIGM while reinterpreting traditional TO BE REDISCOVERED BY A NEW archetypes. Serving as chief architect, GENERATION OF ARCHITECTS. Archidentity’s projects embody regional symbolism and vernacular through a post-modernist approach with a portfolio that includes private residential properties and mosques as well as public buildings. Archidentity is also the only local firm to be exclusively awarded the design of a pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai dedicated to the Expo Live initiative. Bukhash remains heavily engaged in the field of architectural education and serves as a member of the Dubai Advisory Committee for the Architectural Program Development at the American University of Dubai.

Born in Beirut in the 1970s into a context of war and adversity, Lebanese designer Aline Asmar d’Amman’s partiality for theatrical settings has been forged by realities of chaos and demolition. In 2011, d’Amman founded her practice, Culture in Architecture, in Beirut and Paris with an approach that stems from a belief in the power of beauty and poetry within the fields of architecture, interiors, furniture design and art direction. Culture in Architecture exemplifies the use of hand-crafted materials while embracing heritage and innovation. From projects spanning luxury hospitality to private residential, d’Amman is behind key international projects such as the art direction of Hotel de Crillion’s renovation as well as the interiors of the new Le Jules Verne restaurant located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. She has also collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld on his ‘Grand

Photo by Stephan Julliard

Aline Asmar d'Amman

Apartments’ décor. And while her many notable projects are located in Europe, d’Amman has strong ties to the Middle East and to Lebanon in particular. “Staying connected to the Middle East feeds every creative journey, whether in Europe, Asia or the Americas,” she says. Currently in the region, she is working on a large-scale residential building in Saudi Arabia and a private project in Bahrain. “I never spend more than a couple months away from my hometown, Beirut, where there I BELIEVE THAT is always a development ahead,” CREATIVITY she adds. D’Amman’s work ELEVATES aims to bridge gaps, whether REALITY AND IS it is between East and West, A FORMIDABLE BRIDGE BETWEEN tradition and modernity, or the CULTURES AND past and the future.




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Aljoud Lootah Aljoud Lootah is an Emirati designer who has gained international acclaim since the establishment of her studio in 2014. Since its foundation, the studio has preserved its distinctive approach by focusing on the idea of contrasts in form and function while reinterpreting Emirati culture and artisanal techniques through contemporary design. Her creative drive comes from a passion for detail and an experimental approach to materiality and aesthetics. This emphasis has resulted in a body of work that is both functional and timeless. Two products from her Oru Series were acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, making her the first Emirati designer to have her work acquired by an international gallery. A woven camel leather Mandoos (chest) by

as creating public installations across the globe. Sudanese-born Ammar Bashier has carved out He also became famed for his portfolio of interior a niche for himself as the go-to designer for design work for a number of Royal families across atmospheric spaces in the Gulf, working across highthe Middle East. His notable projects include the end interiors, temporary spaces and installations, interiors of On Motcomb – a haute couture fashion all while empowering the role of regional artisans. boutique in London, the Post Office Museum in Having studied interior design in London, Bashier Manama and most recently, the Nuzul Al Salam became exposed to the city’s fashion industry hotel in Muharraq, a restored traditional Bahraini through his work with Harvey Nichols and was house and the first hotel under the Pearling Path later mentored by the owner of La Fountaine Center project, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. for Contemporary Art where he was brought on as Bashier has also created designs for the weddings a design consultant. His experience at La Fountaine of high-profile personalities such changed the way he perceived beauty as George and Amal Clooney. His while also encouraging him to set up BRINGING ARTISANS upcoming projects include the his eponymous practice in Manama, TO THE FOREFRONT restoration of Bahrain’s oldest hotel Bahrain. Since then, Bashier has AND SHARING THEIR designed over 120 private houses, CREATIONS AND THEIR as well as a boutique hotel set in the DIVERSE SKILLSETS middle of old Cairo. retail spaces and restaurants as well IS A WAY TO SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL CRAFTSMANSHIP.

Ammar Khamash

Photo by Brian Scannell


Lootah was presented to His Holiness Pope Francis during his visit to the UAE in 2019, containing the title-deed to the first church in the UAE, and was designed as an homage to the rich history of the Emirates. Lootah’s designs also grace spaces such as Dubai’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and the UAE’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Since 2014, Lootah continuously produces bespoke furniture, objects and collectible designs for government organisations and private entities and has been involved in numerous retail and residential interior projects. She also serves as a Member of the Board for the Dubai Women Establishment, an organisation formed in 2006 to support women in the United Arab Emirates.

Ammar Bashier

Ammar Khammash is the principal architect and founder of Khammash Architects in Amman, Jordan. He received his Bachelor's degree in Architecture from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1986, and carried out his post-graduate studies in Ethno-archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at Al-Yarmouk University. Khammash's work features a wide range of residential, cultural, renovation and restoration projects, as well as projects focusing on sustainable tourism, including the Royal Academy for Nature Conservation in Ajloun, the Feynan Eco-Lodge in Wadi Feynan, and the Wild Jordan Nature Center in Amman. He is well established as an expert in Jordan's cultural and natural heritage, and has launched a number of websites on Jordan's flora, geology, and THE SITE IS AN heritage. His expertise spans over different disciplines including history, ARCHITECT. THE geology, archaeology, ecology, botany, ethnography, and socio-economic. PLACE MAKES Khammash focuses on using locally-sourced natural materials to produce THE DECISIONS; architecture that serves as an extension of its site. In 2019, the Jordanian I'M JUST A architect was a laureate of the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture. DRAFTSMAN.

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Anne Holtrop

Photo by Fabian Frinzel

Dutch architect Anne Holtrop graduated in 2005 from the Academie van Bouwkunst in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with a degree in architecture and in 2009 started his own studio, Studio Anne Holtrop, with offices currently located in Muharraq, Bahrain and Amsterdam. Holtrop’s projects have come to be known for their deeprooted material exploration which at times dictates the outcome of the architecture itself. His work spans temporary installations and permanent buildings, many of which adopt abstract references that stem from drawings and form. In 2015, his first two major buildings, Museum Fort Vechten and the National Pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain – a country THE WAY THE MATERIAL FLOWS AND FORMS AGAINST THE BOUNDARIES he had never visited at the time and where he now lives- for OF SOIL AND TEXTILE AND THE SITE Milan Expo 2015, were completed. Holtrop has since designed BECOME ASPECTS THAT EXPRESS a number of projects across the Kingdom, many of which are THE CHANGE OF THE MATERIAL currently under construction. He has completed the design STATE, AND DEFINE THE FORM OF for the Customs House in Manama, operating as its main post THE ARCHITECTURE. office, while the Qaysariya Suq and Green Corner Building in Muharraq are nearing completion. The studio is currently working on new stores worldwide for Maison Margiela with flagship stores in London, Paris, Osaka and NYC, and several UNESCO-listed heritage buildings in Bahrain including Murad Boutique Hotel and Siyadi Pearl Museum. For his practice, Holtrop has been awarded several grants from the Mondrian Fund, as well as receiving the Charlotte Kohler Prize for Architecture from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds in 2007.

Cyril Zammit

Photo by Ieva Saudargaite

Bernard Khoury

Lebanese architect Bernard Khoury spent his adolescence in Beirut during the civil war, after which he moved to the US to study architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, later obtaining a Masters in Architectural Studies from Harvard University. Upon returning to Beirut, Khoury began his professional career and founded his architectural practice DW5 in 1993 with the post-civil war city and its urban landscape becoming his workshop and sources of inspiration. He gained acclaim in 1998 for the design of music club B018, a subterranean discotheque constructed on a former refugee camp which was awarded an honorable mention for the Borromini Prize in 2001 by the municipality of Rome, giving rise to an array of temporary entertainment buildings in Beirut. Khoury’s work demonstrates exceptional creativity and flexibility and a firm stance against conforming to I HAVE NO norms; instead Khoury focuses on creating his own INTEREST FOR opportunities to produce buildings that reflect a less POLISHED, sugar-coated narrative of his home city. Alongside SMOOTH, DW5, Khoury also co-founded the Arab Center for WELL-BEHAVED Architecture. He has lectured and exhibited works ARCHITECTURE. across a number of prestigious academic institutions from Europe to the US. He also served as the architect and co-curator of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s national pavilion at the Venice Biennale’s 14th International Architecture Exhibition in 2014, under the theme ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’. Over the past twenty years, his office has developed an international reputation and a diverse portfolio of projects, both locally and in over fifteen countries abroad.

Paris-born and Dubai-based Cyril Zammit started his career at the Institut Français in Prague, before relocating to London where he served in the cultural department of the French Embassy. After working as Sponsorship Manager for the Montreux Jazz Festival, he joined UBS and then HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland for which he signed a five-year partnership with Design Miami. In 2012, Zammit launched Design Days Dubai, a fair entirely dedicated to collectible and limited-edition design – the first of its kind in the Middle East and South Asia, helping establish a platform that launched the careers of many young local designers across the region. Zammit had since then worked to bridge relationships between brands and designers, focusing primarily on introducing local talent to an international audience. In 2015, he participated in the launch of Dubai Design Week, giving the first design event of its kind in the city its distinctive identity. In February 2017, Zammit established himself as an independent design advisor and consultant, working with Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. In February 2020, Zammit joined the team of HE Zaki Nussibeh, Minister of State, where he now serves as expert for Cultural Affairs.



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David/Nicolas Lebanese designers David Raffoul and Nicolas Moussallem have established a global presence since setting up their studio, david/nicolas, in Beirut in 2011. Through their interdisciplinary approach and retro-futurist design aesthetic, the duo have staged several exhibitions and collaborated with established international brands such as Vista Alegre, CC-Tapis, Moooi, and Vogue Italia. The pair work in a salon-style studio environment and have fostered a creative space where their individual ways of creation can flourish. The designers met at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, where they OUR WORK PHILOSOPHY IS AN EVOLUTION OF OUR VISION OF were both studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, going on to undertake Masters degrees at the Scuola Politecnica Di Design, in Milan. In THE PAST AND HOW THIS CAN SHAPE THE FUTURE. 2014, the duo held their first solo show in Beirut, “Loulou/Hoda”, exhibiting pieces inspired by their grandmothers, that combined traditional and contemporary influences. Subsequently, the studio introduced its first industrial project at Maison & Objet, the “Orquestra” tableware collection for Vista Alegre, which was awarded the Red Dot Design Award. Since 2016, they are represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Their solo exhibition “Supernova” was shown in both Paris and New York and is continuously expanding into a wide range of carefully crafted pieces.

Photo by Matt Harrington Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Driss Kettani Moroccan architect Driss Kettani graduated from the National School of Architecture in Rabat in 2003 and founded his practice Driss Kettani Architecte in 2005. His work is part of an approach that combines architectural rigour with a search for the sensitive and poetic dimensions of architecture, while honouring the visual language of the ArabMediterranean. In 2006, he won the competition hosted by the Taroudant University alongside his partners and friends, Saad El Kabbaj and Mohamed Amine Siana. Together, the architects have also realised the Guelmim School of Technology in 2011. These two projects, that are defined by their volume and colours, have come to define the architects’ work and has been exhibited in New York, Paris, Venice and Milan. The Guelmim School was also shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2016. Kettani’s work has been distinguished by the Archmarathon Prize in Beirut in 2015 and the Mimar Sinan Prize in Istanbul in 2016. Kettani has been invited to teach ar the Venice IUAV workshop W.A.Ve in 2014, 2019 and 2020 and has given lectures in Morocco, the UAE, Italy, Lebanon, Tunisia and France.

Duncan Denley Duncan Denley is a UK-chartered landscape architect and founder WHEN I ARRIVED IN THE and managing director of UAE-based landscape architecture MIDDLE EAST IN 2002, I HAD practice desert INK. Denley has been involved in some of the largest NO IDEA WHAT IT HELD IN and most complex landscape developments in the Middle East STORE FOR ME BUT HAD A including the Mall of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Central Markets FEELING THAT IT WOULD BE EXCITING, AND I WAS RIGHT! and Doha’s Sheraton Park – all of which have been completed under Denley’s creative leadership. With over 18 years of experience in the Middle East, he is one of the most seasoned landscape architects in the region. Since 2015, desert INK has createda number of exciting landscaping projects across the Middle East, all of which are synonymous with creative problem solving, sustainable design and the use of regionally native plants. From roof top pool hangouts and private designer residences, to sustainable eco-hotels, desert parks and urban plazas, desert INK’s regionally-responsive view on design is consistently pioneering and environmentally-focused. Some of its most notable projects include ‘The Block’ in Dubai Design District and Al Faya Lodge in Sharjah. The team is currently at work on some high-profile projects including the Fly Dubai Headquarters and the highly-anticipated Sustainability Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai in collaboration with Grimshaw Architects and The UK’s Eden Project.



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Gerard Evenden British architect Gerard Evenden studied architecture at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, graduating in 1985. He joined Foster + Partners in 1991 and is now a head of studio and part of the Design Board. Gerard has been responsible for a number of schemes in the United Arab Emirates, including the masterplan for the Reem Island Residences, The Index, World Trade Center Souk and Masdar City, where he was design director for the 640-hectare masterplan that explores sustainable technologies and the WE CAN ALL LEARN planning principals of the traditional walled city, to create a desert community that is FROM THE MIDDLE set to be carbon neutral and zero waste. He is currently working on the Zayed National EAST’S FORESIGHT AND FORWARDMuseum in Abu Dhabi which is the centre piece of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District THINKING AS WE that will showcase the history, culture and social and economic transformation of the DESIGN FOR AN Emirates. Foster + Partners has long been involved in a number of notable projects across INCREASINGLY the region, including countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Currently, the URBAN FUTURE. firm is engaged in several projects along the Red Sea, including a number of eco resorts. Among the projects completing later this year, are the ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai and the House of Wisdom, the practice’s first project in Sharjah. Reflecting the importance of the region to the Lodon-based practice, Foster + Partners has established offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with a significant presence in Kuwait and Jeddah.

Ghassan Salameh

Ghassan Salameh is a Lebanese designer, researcher and educator with a Master’s degree in European Design Labs from IED- Madrid. Salameh runs his design practice focusing on experimental design installations and creative direction. His design portfolio extends from commissions in Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, London, Venice, Rotterdam and Lebanon, and includes works that have been exhibited across design fairs and design galleries in London, Milan, Venice, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Madrid, Berlin and Beirut. Salameh's experience also includes production and operation management of the hub of contemporary art in Beirut, Beirut Art Center from 2014 to 3015, as well as numerous collaborations on initiatives and interventions in the fields of urban design, public space and designing for social impact. In 2018, Salameh curated Beirut Design Week: Design & the City, where local creatives were encouraged to become change instigators, resulting in city-wide activations, and engaging the local design community to critically examine the urban realities in which they abide. In 2019, Salameh consulted the Goethe-Institut Libanon on the FANTASMEEM program that offers design and business edutraining programs for design entrepreneurs and creative startups, aiming at supporting local creative industries. As of 2020, Ghassan has been appointed creative director for Dubai Design Week with the mission of incorporating home-grown design programs and engaging more local and underrepresented regional creatives in producing contextual and timely content, while focusing on designing for impact and positive change.


Georgian-born designer Gregory Gatserelia was raised and educated in France until 1967 when he moved to Lebanon to study Interior Architecture at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux- Arts. In 1987, he opened Gatserelia Design International in Toronto, Canada with his brother Alexander. However, with the end of the Lebanese civil war, Gregory saw an opportunity to contribute to the YOU'RE AS GOOD AS country’s reconstruction and in 1996, moved the company’s YOUR CLIENT ALLOWS central office to Beirut, from where he has gone on to create YOU TO DREAM. an array of projects, both regionally and internationally, prioritising notions of innovation, functionality, beauty and sustainability. Gatserelia also acts as an art curator, consulting a number of private clients. A believer in the transformative power of art, Gatserelia opened the Smo Gallery in Beirut in 2011, which, in addition to its international guests, seeks to promote local artists and designers. The Gallery has taken part in major expos such as PAD London and PAD Paris, promoting up-and-coming talent who, subsequently, have gone on to achieve major success with exhibitions in major worldrenowned galleries. Recently, Gatserelia began an enterprise in Milan with young Lebanese designer, Joy Herro called The Great Design Disaster. The startup is dedicated to facilitating collectors in bringing their own creativity to the works they acquire by walking them through the entire creative process with handpicked artisans to create custom pieces while supporting the work of skilled craftsmen and the culture of design itself.

Gregory Gatserelia

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HH Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi

Photography by Sebastian BÖttcher

Hashim Sarkis Lebanese architect and educator Hashim Sarkis earned a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a Master of Architecture and a PhD in Architecture from Harvard University. He is the principal of Hashim Sarkis Studios (HSS), established in 1998, with offices in Boston and Beirut. He is also the Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 2015. Before joining MIT, Sarkis was the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at Harvard University. He has also taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University, the American University of Beirut, and the Metropolis Program in Barcelona. Sarkis is best-known for his contribution to the development and reconstruction of Lebanon, from Beirut’s downtown to the country’s fishing village of Tyre. His projects span from affordable housing, residential projects, parks, institutional buildings, urban design, and town planning. The firm’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Pavilion of the United States at the Biennale Architettura 2014 and the Pavilion of Albania at the Biennale Architettura 2010, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as the International Architucture Biennale Rotterdam. Sarkis was appointed curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale for 2020, which has now been moved to the following year.

HH Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi holds a BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, a Diploma in Painting from the Royal Academy of Arts as well as an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art. In 2003, she was appointed curator of Sharjah Biennial 6 and has served as the Biennal’s director ever since, positioning the event on the art-world calendar and elevating the emirate’s influence within the arts and culture sector. In 2009, Al Qasimi founded the Sharjah Art Foundation, which she moved from the Expo AT SHARJAH ART Centre to the city’s heritage area that is now known as the Heart of Sharjah FOUNDATION, WE – home to a series of preserved heritage buildings that sit beside new AIM TO CONTINUE CONSERVATION contemporary constructions – a move that further established the emirate PROJECTS TO as a powerful incubator of ideas within the arts, architecture and heritage. REFLECT SHARJAH’S She was the curator of the UAE National Pavilion for the Venice Biennale CULTURAL HERITAGE, in 2015, as well as the second Lahore Biennale which took place earlier AND TO PRESENT ITS this year. Al Qasimi led the inaugural Sharjah Architecture Triennial ARCHITECTURE AS A which saw the restoration of the emirate’s modern architecture. In 2018, VALUABLE ASSET FOR along with Salah Hassan, she set up the Africa Institute – a think-tank THE FUTURE. for African studies set to be housed in a new building designed by David Adjaye – of which she is president. Although Al Qasimi has established herself in the international arena, her work remains committed to the local context and is deeply rooted in her commitment to Sharjah and its people.

Isabel Pintado

Spanish-born designer Isabel Pintado has been at the forefront of the interior design industry in the Middle East for over a decade, helping establish the interior design department at Godwin Austen Johnson in 2005, and later moving on to LW Design as managing director. She is currently senior vice president for Africa, China, Middle East and Thailand at Wilson Associates, as well as regional managing director for Bangkok, Dubai and Shanghai. With an invaluable familiarity of the region’ culture and business landscape, Pintado generates opportunities for Wilson’s global design studios, while overseeing the design direction of all projects across the three studios. With Pintado’s leadership, Wilson Associates has quickly become one of the most sought-after hospitality design studios in the region, accumulating a range of high-profile projects including the Palace Hotel Downtown, the contemporary Marriott Resort in Taghazout Bay, north of Agadir, Morocco, and a nightclub in Vietnam, as well as numerous luxury hotels in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. Pintado was also ambassador for global non—profit organisation, Surge for Water that works to provide access to clean water to communities across three continents and 11 countries.



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Jean Nouvel Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel has long left his mark on the Middle East since establishing his practice in 1970 and with the completion of the Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe) in 1987 that won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its role ‘as a successful bridge between French and Arab cultures’. Since then, Nouvel has gone on to design a number of highly-acclaimed projects in the region, many of which are located in the Gulf – most notably the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum located in the UAE’s capital. His strong beliefs and somewhat provocative opinions on contemporary architecture in the urban context, together with

his unfailing ability to inject a sense of originality into all the projects he undertakes, have formed his international reputation. He was also a founding member of the Mars 1976 movement whose purpose was to oppose corporatism in architecture. He also co-founded the Labor Union of French Architects in marked opposition to the existing national Board of Architects. In a recent announcement, Atelier Jean Nouvel revealed its design for a new hospitality project in Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO World Heritage city of AlUla. The monumental Sharaan Resort will serve as an anchor point to a larger portfolio of hospitality offerings in the city.

Jesper Godsk Jesper Godsk co-founded LW Design in 1999 with the aim of creating bespoke designs for the Middle East. 20 years later, the firm has come to be known as one of the most recognised interior design company in the region, highly regarded for its hospitality and dining spaces. Under his leadership, LW has completed projects for some of the world’s most well-known international hotel brands, from Zabeel House to Grosvenor House, Hyatt Regency to JW Marriott Marquis, and Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa to the magnificent Dusit Hotel. Godsk has applied his Scandinavian sensibilities to LW’s portfolio of projects, resulting in modern contemporary designs and timeless spaces. From the Middle East, LW Design expanded into Hong Kong, Sao Paolo DESIGN IS ALL ABOUT CREATING SPACES FOR and London, growing a small, local company based in Dubai into PEOPLE, WITH PEOPLE. a multi-national, multi-disciplinary firm.

Jonathan Ashmore

Photo by Misha Obradovic


is committed to the development of young professionals British RIBA Chartered architect Jonathan Ashmore through participating in professional mentoring schemes founded his boutique practice Anarchitect seven years ago and engaging in design critiques at UAE’s schools of in Dubai and has since expanded into London, with the firm architecture. Anarchitect has delivered a number of now working on projects across the globe. With a vision acclaimed projects in the UAE, including Al Faya Desert to forge projects across the globe that embody contextual Lodge in Sharjah and modernist luxury residence Dubai modernism through an approach that embodies a global Hills Villa, with other residential projects currently under perspective through local relevance, Ashmore and his construction, including the Sri Lankan Harding Boutique team deliver contextual architecture and interiors that are Hotel that features a fresh take on Tropical Modernism. The informed through local research and fused together with a progressive design outlook, creating spaces that are culturally WORKING IN THE UAE HAS GIVEN ANARCHITECT GREAT responsive and intrinsic OPPORTUNITIES OVER THE YEARS TO TRULY EXPLORE AND extensions of their natural DEVELOP OUR PASSION AND INTEREST FOR CONTEXTUAL, environment. It purposefully PROGRESSIVE AND DETAIL-DRIVEN ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS. specifies local materials and practice has also recently broken into the African market techniques for projects across the Middle East, Asia, Europe with an urban design hotel scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya. and Africa, championing a passive approach to design and Anarchitect is alo designing its first residential project in a non-green-wash approach to sustainability. ABritish London this year. Council Cultural Excellence Fellowship Mentor, Ashmore

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HH Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed

HH Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum

HH Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum is the founder and director of Tashkeel, a centre for contemporary art and design founded in 2008 that provides specialist facilities for artists and designers living and working in the UAE. She graduated from Zayed University Latifa College in 2007 with a B.A. in Visual Arts and has gained widespread recognition for her digital montage work. Her artwork can be found in private collections nationally and internationally. An exhibiting artist since 2004, she has participated IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE THAT THE in exhibitions in cities including Berlin, Venice, PROGRAMMES Washington, Paris, New York, Denver, Brisbane, AND INITIATIVES Shanghai and Seoul. In 2011, Sheikha Lateefa became OF TASHKEEL one of three artists selected to exhibit at the National HELP FOSTER Pavilion United Arab Emirates – la Biennale di Venezia WIDESPREAD 2011, curated by Vasif Kortun. She is a recipient of the CURIOSITY IN Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons THE RESOURCES, KNOWLEDGE AND of the Arts Award and the Distinguished Patron of the SKILLS ABUNDANT Arts Award. Since its establishment in 2008, Tashkeel IN THE COUNTRY has provided a nurturing environment for the growth AND NURTURE of contemporary art and design practices rooted in A BELIEF IN the UAE. Through multi-disciplinary studios, work INNOVATIVE DESIGN spaces and galleries located in both Nad Al Sheba and THAT IS ROOTED IN Al Fahidi District, Tashkeel enables creative practice, THE UAE. experimentation and dialogue among practitioners and the wider community. The programme has given rise to a number of initiatives including Tanween, which promotes emerging UAE-based designers, and has supported the likes of The Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East Emergent Designer Prize and the Abwab exhibition for Dubai Design Week.

HH Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has started her career at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority since its establishment in 2008. In 2014, she became the Vice Chairperson, and in September 2019, was named as Chairperson. Through her continued commitment to the cultural and creative sector, she has become one of its main champions in Dubai, while working towards fulfilling His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision to position Dubai as an international cultural centre. Under her patronage, guidance and direction, Dubai Culture has launched its renowned Dubai Art Season which includes Art Dubai, the SIKKA Art Fair and the Global Grad Show which is part of the annual Dubai Design Week, set under the Sheikha’s patronage. These projects and others have helped establish Dubai’s position as the first city in the Middle East to become UNESCO’s ‘Creative City of Design.’ Drawing on her own cultural outlook that THROUGH MY WORK stems from Dubai’s distinctive Emirati heritage, its AT DUBAI CULTURE, contemporary urban identity and its futuristic vision, I CONTINUE Sheikha Latifa is dedicated to communicating the TO SUPPORT cultural narrative of Dubai and catalysing creative AND ENABLE enterprises through landmark initiatives. THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY AND HOPE TO FURTHER STRENGTHEN THE CITY’S CULTURAL SCENE AND ITS TALENTS TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN THE REGION AND THE WORLD.

Lina Ghotmeh

its handcrafted envelope in Beirut, as well as the Les Grands Lina Ghotmeh is a French-Lebanese architect and founder Verres restaurant housed in the contemporary art museum, of critically acclaimed international studio Lina Ghotmeh – Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Her studio is currently designing Architecture. Ghotmeh was raised in Beirut in the aftermath the wooden tower 'Réalimenter Massena' dedicated to of the Lebanese civil war and studied at the American sustainable feeding in Paris, a passive building for the New University of Beirut after which she left the city to collaborate Ateliers Hermès in France, as well as an urban renovation for with Ateliers Jean Nouvel in Paris and Norman Foster in London. The archeologist-architect founded her practice in Paris in 2016, THE MIDDLE EAST, MY LAND, MY ROOTS. THE EARTH bringing together architects, designers, and THAT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE MY ARCHITECTURE INTO researchers in the pursuit for innovative A WELCOMING REALM OF ENCOUNTERS, OF TEXTURES, and cutting‐edge projects. Crossing scales TRADITIONS, MYSTICAL BEAUTY, AND SWADDLING WARMTH. and geographies, from objects to museums the Maine Montparnasse site. Her work will also be exhibited and with projects from France to Japan, her work draws a at the upcoming Biennale Architettura 2021. With ties to historical and sensitive approach to architecture. Ghotmeh’s the Middle East, Ghotmeh’s projects establish a humanistic internationally-recognised projects include the Estonian approach to architecture, bringing with it references from the National Museum, an ethnographic museum sitting by an geography of her upbringing in Lebanon’s capital. ex‐military airfield in Tartu, the Stone Garden tower with



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Bahraini politician and government minister HE Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa is a leading figure in the Arab culture and art scenes, having spearheaded national efforts to develop infrastructure in the Kingdom of Bahrain for heritage conservation and propel the growth of sustainable tourism in the country. She is currently President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and has previously served as Minister of Culture from 2010 to 2014, Minister of Culture and Information from 2008 to 2010 as well as Assistant Undersecretary for Culture and National Heritage at the Ministry of Information. Holding an MA in Political History from Sheffield University, she has been awarded the Creation and Heritage Prize from the Comite Colbert as well as the Watch Award by the World Monument Fund in 2015 for her role in the preservation and protection of culture and heritage in Bahrain, the first-ever Arab personality to receive the recognition. In 2017 she was made the Special Ambassador of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). As the founder of the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research and Chair of its Board of Trustees since 2002, she works actively to foster culture and preserve the traditional architecture of Bahrain. The center has since conserved and rehabilitated over 25 traditional Bahraini houses and spearheaded the urban regeneration of the historic city of Muharraq. Amongst her myriad achievements have been the inscriptions of the Qal’at al-Bahrain, the Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy and Dilmun Burial Mounds as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in addition to the founding of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre.

HE Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa

Nada Debs Lebanese interior architect Nabil Dada studied at the Libanaise des Beaux Arts with already a number of small-scale interior decoration projects under his belt. Shortly after, Dada opened his store, Schemes, in West Beirut – being one of the only two stores in the country to stock contemporary furniture and fixtures, also supplying demand in Saudi Arabia. Through championing brands such as Tekno, Rosenthal and Saporitti, the store grew into Dada & Associates through which Dada established close ties with a number of Italian furniture manufacturers. Due to the civil war in Lebanon, Dada was forced to relocate to Saudi Arabia which brought him a succession of projects, and through which he established connections with gilders, embroiders, carpenters and other craftspeople in Italy and Lebanon, enabling him to put his own stamp on the more classically-oriented projects that were commissioned to him during his time in The Kingdom. Since relocating back to Beirut, Dada & Associates has grown into a sizeable practice with recent projects including the new Beirut souks cinema and the Beirut Yacht Club as well as Al Amin Mosque. While the practice may be best known today for its mastery of the classical style – Dada is mostly partial to the Midcentury Modern style and many of his earlier projects in Beirut are an homage to it. This may be why, even at their most ornate, Dada & Associates' projects possess a degree of simplicity associated with modern design.

Nabil Dada


Nada Debs is a Lebanese designer living and working in Beirut and whose work spans from product and furniture design to one-off commissions across craft, art, fashion and interiors. Debs grew up in Japan, studied design at the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States and has Photo by Tarek Moukaddem spent significant periods of time living and travelling the world, finding connections between different cultures. What ties her work together is her ability to distil culture and craftsmanship to create pieces of emotional resonance. She calls her approach “handmade and heartmade”. Fascinated by the role of the human hand to tell stories and to evoke a sense of belonging, she describes craft as a feeling that goes beyond geography, language and culture. Debs opened her first showroom in the Saifi district of Beirut in 2003. Her work embodies various crafts and techniques found across the Middle East, presented in a contemporary language and often interacting with global techniques and crafts. LOCAL IS THE Debs was the first designer from the Middle East to have a solo NEW GLOBAL. show at the Rossana Orlandi gallery during Milan Design Week in 2018. She is also known for supporting artisanal crafts, with one of her projects – the ‘You and I’ rug collection commissioned by the Fatma bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative (FMBI), being created in collaboration with female carpet weavers in Kabul, merging traditional techniques with a contemporary application.

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HE Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Management Information Systems from UAE University in Al Ain before completing an Executive Leadership Programme at the London Business School in 2011. In 2017, she was appointed UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and has been responsible for the promotion of UAE-based cultural initiatives on both a national and international levels, developing policies and legislations that support cultural activities in the UAE, as well as nurturing young creative talent within the community. Previously, she held the post for Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and as well as being CEO of twofour54. The Ministry has worked on several architectural projects, most notably the publication of ‘In Search of the Spaces of CoExistence in the UAE: An Architect’s Journey’, which compiled various mosques, churches and cultural centres across the UAE. Additionally, the Ministry’s efforts include the restoration of Nuzul Al Salam houses in Bahrain and Al Nuri mosque and its leaning minaret in Mosul, in addition to two churches and a library in the neighbourhood. In addition to her ministerial duties, Al Kaabi is President of Zayed University and Chair of the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science.

HE Noura Al Kaabi Photo by Mohamed Somji

Noura Al Sayeh Noura Al-Sayeh is an architect and curator currently working at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) as Head of Architectural Affairs, where she is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of cultural institutions and museums as well as the creation of an active agenda of exhibitions and academic exchange initiatives. She holds a Masters Degree in Architecture from the Ecole Polytechnique IT IS AN Federale de Lausanne. Previously, she worked as an architect in New York with Michael Sorkin INCREDIBLE SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY Studio, in Jerusalem with the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Project and in Amsterdam at SeARCH. She was the co-curator of Reclaim, Bahrain's first participation at the 12th Venice TO WORK ON PROJECTS Architecture Biennale in 2010, which was awarded a Golden Lion. She was also the Deputy THAT HAVE THE Commissioner General for Archaeologies of Green, Bahrain’s National Pavilion at the Expo POSSIBILITY OF Milan 2015 which was awarded a Silver Medal for Best Architecture and Landscape. Since INFLUENCING THE 2015, she has been directing the Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy UNESCO World WAY A COUNTRY Heritage project, which was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the 2019 cycle AND CULTURE IS as part of the Muharraq Revitalization Project. More recently, she was the curator for the main PERCEIVED AND show at the Hangar as part of the Amman Design Week 2019. PERCEIVES ITSELF.

Pallavi Dean Indian-born and Dubai-raised interior designer Pallavi Dean is a trained architect and sustainability specialist, and founder and creative director of award-winning boutique practice, Roar, established in order to create design that offers memorable experiences. She first launched her eponymous studio Pallavi Dean Interiors in 2013, later rebranding to Roar in 2018 with flagship projects including the UAE offices for media firm Edelman, The Nursery of the Future for the UAE IT’S TIME WE START Prime Minister’s Office and Sharjah Research and Technology park. As former SHOUTING ABOUT OUR professor of interior design at the American University of Sharjah, she strives to OWN DESIGNERS, AND implement the latest theoretical and practical research into the firm’s designs. EXPORT THEM TO ALL FOUR Dean is an active member of the UAE design community, writing for industry CORNERS OF THE GLOBE! publications, assisting with key trade events and mentoring students in the region. Earlier this year, Roar launched a research and digital division that focuses on topical white papers relevant to the design industry. The firm has completed 117 projects and has work spanning across eight countries. In addition to her practice, Dean has also produced a number of furniture design and lighting pieces, the latest being a collaboration with Artemide during Euroluce at the 2019 Milan Design Week. THE 200 TH ISSUE


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Patrik Schumacher

Patrik Schumacher is principal at Zaha Hadid Architects and has led the firm since Zaha Hadid’s passing in March 2016. He began working with Hadid in 1988 and was seminal in developing Zaha Hadid Architects to becoming a strong global architecture and design brand. He has been a partner at the firm since 2003 and is co-designer of all the studio’s projects. In 1996 he founded the Design Research Laboratory at the Architectural Association in London where he continues to teach. Patrik holds a PhD in Cultural Science and has published over 100 articles in architectural journals and anthologies, as well as a two-volume treatise on architecture. Zaha Hadid Architects’ legacy in the Middle East runs deep – and not only due to the late architects's Iraqi origins – but also due to the firm’s portfolio of projects in the region, from the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan which received the London Design Museum’s Design of the Year award in 2014, to the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi as well as the recently completed The Opus in Dubai and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, and the Bee’ah Headquarters, which is nearing completion in Sharjah.

Paul Bishop

UK-born Paul Bishop has evolved as one of the most prominent interior designers in the UAE, having worked in the region for over 20 years, and with an array of award-winning projects under his belt such as the Massimo Bottura’s renowned restaurant Torno Subito located in the W The Palm. Bishop Design by Paul Bishop, which was founded in 2004 in Dubai, is now an international, multiaward-winning design house with over ninety regional and global awards from projects rolled out across the globe. A hospitality project in DESIGN IS NOT ABOUT China is set to become one of the firm’s most ACHIEVING PERFECTION. exciting projects to date, set to encompass DESIGN IS ABOUT ACHIEVING technological advancements at the heart of the THE IMPERFECT, PERFECTLY. design featuring elements such as self-checkin, flip disc kinetic mediums controlled by human movement, social media walls, programmed storage opportunities, automated grab ‘n’ go machines and even a robotic bar. The design scheme is in line with the firm’s strong commitment to shaping the future of the GCC region, as well as its’ hunger to break boundaries.

Peter Jackson Bartlett-trained British architect Peter Jackson first came to the UAE in January 1972, working on projects for John R Harris, in London, Dubai and Muscat. His research of a wind tower house in Dubai’s Bastakia quarter led to the publication of a book entitled, 'Windtower' in 2007, that examines an architecture that is both important and unique to the region. Jackson spent the next quarter century in southern Africa, first in Zambia, and then Zimbabwe, where after independence, he established a new architectural partnership. It was in Zambia where he first learnt to design more economically and sustainably, maximising the use of local skills and minimal material resources. Zimbabwe also I DERIVE ENORMOUS PLEASURE provided material for his first book, ‘Historic Buildings of Harare’. He FROM LOOKING AT BOTH MODERN believes writing and research to be an essential part of an architect’s AND HISTORIC BUILDINGS THAT development and ability to communicate, all of which, together with POSSESS THE POWER TO MAKE extensive design experience in private practice, Jackson brings to his YOU SMILE AND YOUR HEART TO current role as architect advisor for HH the Ruler’s Office in Sharjah, SING OUT. SUCH IS THE ART OF ARCHITECTURE AT ITS BEST. where he currently manages the design of museums and interpretive centres. Jackson has extended his expertise into contemporising the emirate’s already established governmental architectural portfolio. He has also led the design for several projects including Sharjah Islamic Botanic Garden and Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre in Kalba for Sharjah’s Environmental and Protected Areas Agency. Jackso also played a significant role in the Wasit Wetlands Centre by X-Architects, the 2019 recipient of the Agha Khan Award for Architecture.


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Rabih Geha

Lebanese-Croatian architect Rabih Geha launched his eponymous multi-disciplinary firm, Rabih Geha Architects (RG/A) in 2006, representing a generation of young architects in Lebanon that are paving the way for a new approach within the country’s urban landscape and design sphere. Geha has left his distinct mark on numerous projects across Lebanon including Beirut’s popular fitness spaces, nightlife venues, luxury residences, as well as other commercial and retail interiors, with clients including the likes of Aishti, AddMind Group, A&S Chronora Rolex, Four Seasons Hotel, Images d’Orient, Uberhaus, Patchi, and U Energy health Club. Geha is a strong believer in contributing to the design community and supporting young talent. With this in mind, Geha launched an experimentdriven and research-oriented workshop at l’Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in 2006, where he is currently mentoring Lebanon’s next generation of architects. Geha’s recent projects include AHM, a rooftop lounge bar in the Four Seasons Hotel, boutique healthclubs such as U Energy, and Vim and Vigor. He has since expanded his practice into Nigeria and Saudi EVERY PROJECT HAS AN INDIVIDUAL Arabia and is currently working on IDENTITY. IT TELLS A CERTAIN STORY the restoration of an old heritage AND HAS ITS OWN NARRATIVE house in Lebanon. WHICH IS BASED ON ITS PARTICULAR CONTEXT AND PURPOSE.

Rania M Hamed

Interior architect Rania M Hamed is the founder of multiple award-winning boutique firm VSHD based in Dubai and Montreal. She is known for her innovative interiors and outstanding quality designs, ensuring her work goes beyond current trends and are instead synonymous with timelessness and longevity. Hamed is interested in the challenge of integrating traditional culture and techniques into contemporary design and strives to introduce this dichotomy in her work. During its 12 years of operations, VSHD has designed over 50 residential projects and commercial and sports facilities in Dubai, Cairo, London & the US. One of VSHD’s latest accomplishements is a residential project in the Four Seasons Mansion in Orlando, Florida – which Hamed considers a landmark project for a Dubaibased firm, as it puts VSHD on the map for future international projects. Over the years, VSHD has won multiple regional and international awards, including the prestigious IIDA award.

Rana Beiruti Rana Beiruti is the co-founder and director of Amman Design Week, a non-commercial design biennial taking place in the capital of Jordan. Beyond the nine-day event consisting of largescale curated exhibitions, interventions, learning programs, and cultural events, Amman Design Week’s support programs branch out to commissioning new works and mentorships, as well as supporting designers, craftspeople, and students. Following a year-round learning program, the biennial acts as a focal point for dialogue on design in the region, and enables the development of critical and commercial design practice. Over the past three editions, Amman Design Week has grown to be one of the largest events in the region, with the most recent edition attracting over 40,000 visitors, attending over 150 events in 50 spaces across the city, and supporting over 300 participating designers. With a background in architecture, Beiruti’s work and interests aligns cultural programming with curatorial practice in art, design, and architecture. Over the past few years, her focus has been on research and learning programs with social value. Alongside Amman Design Week, Beiruti launched a platform in 2018, through which she collaborates and consults on curatorial projects across the region. She has been involved in the set-up and management of several programs, including Takween in 2019, that offered a learning and mentorship programme, grants, and a co-working and production space for designers and students in Amman.

Sahel Al Hiyari Sahel Al Hiyari a Jordanian architect and principal of Sahel Al Hiyari Architects (SHA). He holds Bachelor Degrees in Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Master of Architecture in Urban Photo by Giuseppe Musi Design from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He has carried out post-graduate work at the School of Architecture at the University of Venice, where he also taught from 1993-1995. In 2002, Al Hiyari was chosen as the first architect to receive the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, where he was mentored by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza. He has also served as a reviewer and a member of the Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. His practice covers a wide spectrum of design-related disciplines ranging from urban design, interior and furniture design, to architectural installations and exhibition design. SHA’s work is designed to suit its context while taking into consideration traditions – all of which are open to redefinition and reinvention. THE 200 TH ISSUE


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Samer Yamani

Syrian-born Spanish contemporary design expert, curator and creative director Samer Yamani is specialised in design and contemporary crafts. Through his Barcelona-based creative consultancy ‘Creative Dialogue’, Yamani has worked on curating design projects for museums, design institutions and galleries as well as curating design trips for young creatives and helping launch design collections for brands such as BD Barcelona Design – for which he is brand ambassador – and emerging designers. Yamani’s experience spans over 23 countries with a special focus on the GCC and its crafts, launching the first of its kind design accelerator programs for local designers, in addition to working with crafts institutions Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai to explore innovative local crafts techniques and applications through bespoke design collections. His work as creative director and curator has been presented in several international and regional design fairs such as Salone del Mobile.Milano, London Design Fair, Paris Design Week, Mexico Design Week as well as Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design. The Post Crafts Collection, which was created under his leadership and curation, was the first ever art-design collection for BD Barcelona Design that featured five Arab designers from the GCC. More recently, Yamani has been appointed as creative director and curator of the Design and Crafts Programme at Expo 2020 Dubai, for which he is curating a programme that will present Emirati crafts through a new approach that is both contemporary and experimental, while establishing collaborations between international designers and local talent and artisans – all of which will be presented exclusively through the programme at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Shahira Fahmy is an Egyptian architect, urbanist and creative researcher. She is the founder and principal of Shahira Fahmy Architects, a practice spanning the fields of architecture, urbanism, interiors and product design, established in Cairo, Egypt in 2005. Fahmy is a three-time recipient of Harvard’s postdoc fellowships for her groundbreaking and award-winning architectural work and has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Fahmy has built projects in the Middle East, London and Europe, and has been hailed by Phaidon as one of the "architects building the Arab Future". Some of her notable projects includes the Wooster Group Theatre in New York, the Delfina Foundation in London, the Master Plan of ‘A ndermatt Swiss Alps’, the ‘Mask Architects Project’ for the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, as well as the Malak Gabr Theatre interiors at the American University in Cairo. She is also a recipient of the Tamayouz Excellence Award for Women in Architecture in the Near East and North Africa in 2019. Fahmy is currently working on affordable housing projects in Cornwall, UK and Egypt.

Shahira Fahmy

Stephane Malka Architect, urbanist, theorist, author, lecturer and former graffiti artist, Stéphane Malka has founded Studio Malka Architecture in 2010 in Paris, later opening an office in Los Angeles. Malka has collaborated with prestigious international firms such as Ateliers Jean Nouvel, and architects and designers such as Rem Koolhaas and Philippe Starck, among others. His body of work aims to blend art and architecture from a humanist perspective, while remaining positive and sustainable. His signature projects include Oxygen La Défense, Europe’s biggest business center’s new gate to Paris, UNESCO’s COP22 in Marrakech and Pernod-Ricard’s new headquarters in Paris. Of late, Malka has contributed an array of projects – both built and under construction – that aim to elevate and celebrate Egypt and its contributions to architecture. Some of these projects include the gold-clad student housing complex in Paris which houses the Egyptian Embassy’s reception, intended to create an emblem of Egyptian culture while reflecting the country’s diverse fabric. Other projects include the Cheops Observatory located on the plateau of the Giza Necropolis, offering an observatory and artists’ residence that consists of a series of spaces including a garden, swimming pool and a ‘time room’, all of which are oriented to offer spectacular views of the Pyramid of Khufu. Malka’s work has been exhibited around the world including the MoMA in New York City, La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris, Smolny Sobor in St-Petersburg, the Museum Victoria in Melbourne, MUBE and MIS in Sao Paulo as well as the Royal Academy of Arts in London.


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Studio KO

Studio Toggle

Since the beginning of Studio KO’s creation ten years ago, architects Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty have marked their influence through projects across Europe, the Americas and North Africa. The creative duo embodies an eclectic spirit, approaching each project with a fresh perspective. The team has developed an array of styles out of a penchant for storytelling – a narrative framework in which light, space and texture become the protagonists. Whether private residences, public spaces, or contemporary homes in a natural setting, Studio KO’s method Studio KO, Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty seeks to enliven a space by considering its © Matthieu Salvaing context, which becomes the starting point for any design whether a Parisian THE TRUE MEANING OF MODERNITY IS bistro or a monolithic architecture in a desert landscape. The French TO AT ONCE RECOVER THE PAST AND architects have two offices: one in DIVERT FROM IT. Paris and one in Marrakech and have made notable contributions to Morocco’s urban landscape, from contemporary private residences with powerful architectural forms that stay rooted in the local context to the award-winning Yves Saint Museum in Marrakech that pays homage to the famed fashion designer’s oeuvre, while making use of local materials and building techniques.

Studio Toggle was established in 2012 by architects Hend Almatrouk and Gijo Paul George, upon graduating from the University of Applied Arts (die Angewandte) in Vienna. The practice focuses on logical design and problem-solving techniques with a specific emphasis on architecture and urban design. Studio Toggle believes in balance between the opposites, that form follows function, that simplicity is complex, and that even chaos can be organised. Studio Toggle’s expertise ranges from public-sector, commercial, residential and hospitality architecture to interior design. Operating from its two offices in Porto, Portugal and Kuwait City, Studio Toggle has designed, supervised and handed over multiple projects including private villas, apartment buildings, public pavilions and retail and hospitality interiors, bearing testament to its varied range of expertise across multiple scales and typologies. Although a relatively young firm, Studio Toggle has emerged as one of the most celebrated boutique architecture firms in the region, displaying a strong handle on design parameters of architecture within the Arabian Gulf. Its multicultural architect-led team is composed of highly WHAT IS accomplished architects and engineers from Kuwait, Portugal, ARCHITECTURE, Brazil, Latvia and India. This rich diversity adds depth to Studio BUT A DANCE Toggle’s practice and enables it to deliver its ethical, site-specific OF THE EPHEMERAL ON version of desert modernism without the danger of being onedirectional. The practice operates in cities as well as remote areas THAT WHICH IS TIMELESS? of Kuwait, Portugal and Oman.

Talin Hazbar

Sumaya Dabbagh

Multi-award-winning Saudi architect Sumaya Dabbagh is the founder and principal of Dabbagh Architects, which she founded in 2008 as one of the first RIBA-Chartered practices in the Gulf region. Educated in the UK, Dabbagh’s diverse experience in architecture and interior design spans over 25 years. Following an education at Bath University under the guidance of the late Peter Smithson and Sir Ted Happold, Dabbagh began her career in London DABBAGH and Paris in the 1990’s. Her return to the ARCHITECTS IS Gulf region was part of a quest to gain a PASSIONATE deeper understanding of her own identity, ABOUT a unique mix of influences and sensitivity CREATING towards both Western and Middle Eastern MEANINGFUL ARCHITECTURE cultures. Dabbagh Architects since its THAT IS foundation has seen the completion of a CONTEXTUAL range of projects across various sectors TO ITS SETTING including commercial offices, retail, residential, educational, as well as cultural. AND RELEVANT The award-winning Mleiha Archaeological Centre building has been globally TO ITS recognised as a significant example of a new emerging approach to architecture COMMUNITIES. in the UAE. Her practice has since completed the design of Al Ain Museum, a recent addition to its renowned portfolio of sensitive, contextual designs. Through her work in architecture and design in the Gulf region Dabbagh’s quest to bridge the cultural and gender gaps continues. She has participated in a number of conferences to share her design philosophy and approach and has played an instrumental role in setting up the RIBA Gulf Chapter in 2009 with a passion for bringing further awareness to the region on the value of good design. She has served as the Chair of the RIBA Gulf Chapter from 2015-2019.

Syrian artist and architect Talin Hazbar works across different disciplines including architecture, research and art. Her work stems from an interest in understanding and exploring natural matter and its formations, qualities and potentials. Hazbar has been developing a body of work that can be referred to as ‘structures of impermanence’ that accentuate the importance of designing within natural systems and challenging materials’ properties of accumulation and decay. Her work encompasses the pursuit of recalling natural built structures and understanding the relationship between nature and architecture. Her research-led projects examine the natural and urban landscape of the Middle East, from the Sharjah desert to traditional Syrian architecture, showcasing the role of nature and architecture within social contexts and in the ways it influences cultural heritage. She has exhibited at Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi, Tashkeel in Dubai as well as at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which featured an exhibition that showcased columns of sand collected from archeological sites across the UAE. Hazbar has been the recipient of various regional and international art awards including the British Petroleum Award, Skyward Award and the Gulf Research Meeting Award. THE 200 TH ISSUE


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Tarik Zaharna

Founder and director of T.ZED Architects, Zaharna is a graduate of the Bartlett School in London, and has a wide range of international practice, including his work with Urban A&O in New York and Bolles+Wilson in Germany. FOR T.ZED Zaharna views architecture as a craft-science ARCHITECTS, ARCHITECTURE that responds to a plethora of factors tied to IS A CRAFT human and spatial behaviours, which attempts SHAPING AND to improve human activity and interaction. DEFINING A Based in Dubai and Luxembourg, Tarik has a ‘PLACE’ FOR passion for developing a global architecture SUCCESSFUL and design language. His experiences have HUMAN allowed him to position himself as a young EXPERIENCES. pioneer in the steadily growing design and achitecture scene of the Middle East. Through on-going research and an attempt at a deep understanding of context, Zaharna aims to promote a new language within the region that reflects the birth of a new contemporary, modern architectural movement. T.Zed Architect’s timeless and craft-driven approach can be observed throughout his portfolio of projects that include the likes of mixed-use developments such as KOA Canvas and the members-only co-working space Nasab, in addition to retail, hospitality, residential and dining projects across the Middle East and Europe. Zaharna has additionally served as mentor for the British Council for the Cultural Excellence Fellowship Program launched by Abu Dhabi Music and Art Foundation.

waiwai waiwai is an award-winning multidisciplinary architecture, landscape, graphic and urban design studio with offices in Dubai and Tokyo, led by Lebanese architect Wael Al Awar, and Japanese architects Kazuma Yamao and Kenichi Teramoto. Known for addressing the social, environmental, economic and technological aspects of architecture, the firm has worked on prominent cultural institutions including Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf waterfront sculpture park, Al Warqa’a mosque, Hai d3 and Jeddah’s Hayy: Creative Hub. Al Awar founded waiwai in 2009 as the principal architect, after moving back to the Middle East from Tokyo. Formerly known as ibda design, the firm was renamed to waiwai in 2019 to mark its 10-year anniversary. Dubai THE GCC IS A TABULA RASA and Tokyo each foster multicultural diversity, OFFERING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARCHITECTS TO and the range of cultural backgrounds in the EXPERIMENT. waiwai team inspires communication through a clear, simple and deliberate approach. Each have unique stories that first led them away from their home countries, then later to collaborate in Dubai. They share an ability to observe a city up-close and intimately, yet also from afar, with the attentive eye of an outsider. The principals share extensive experience in designing projects of various scales and programs, including art centres and parks, school and university campuses, mixed-use developments, private villas and mosques. The firm was a shortlisted nominee for the Aga Khan Architecture for Award in 2019, with Al Awar and Teramoto selected to curate the National Pavilion UAE for 2021 Venice Biennale under the theme ‘Wetland’, exploring how salt compounds found in the UAE’s Sabkha (salt flats) could inspire renewable building materials.

X Architects Architects Ahmed Al Ali and Farid Esmaeil established Dubai-based multidisciplinary practice X Architects in 2003 and over the course of its 17 years, the firm has developed an international reputation for its significant portfolio of diverse projects in the Middle East, ranging from master plans, civic and cultural buildings, offices and residential buildings to private houses. The studio’s research-driven approach has created built environments that are both adaptive and AT X ARCHITECTS WE contextual. X Architects’ projects have SEE ARCHITECTURE AS A gained continuous recognition and have LANGUAGE THAT SPEAKS been exhibited by the Royal Institute of OF THE PLACE. British Architects (RIBA) in London and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen. Recently, the firm was awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture for its Wasit Natural Reserve Visitor Center in Sharjah. id


design focus / escapes



ESCAPES Although this summer may not be the one we had hoped for, it has however presented a perfect opportunity to press the pause button

and reflect on our physical and mental health. Escape is commonly regarded as a means to turn away from reality, but in our present situation, it is the perfect opportunity to turn inwards. The projects

and designs within these 'Escapes' pages present a renewed regard for nature, for the power of story telling and for social consciousness

design focus / escapes





e all love a good story and often, design is used to deliver just that. Aware of the power of good storytelling, designers have frequently constructed ephemeral narratives when pitching projects to clients – even though, sometimes, these stories struggle to leave a durable or meaningful trace within the executed project. There is a fine line between a narrative that is subtle and one that is overbearing, and this makes all the difference. Some designs, unfortunately, turn out so literal that they slide into outright kitsch, while others never manage to inject the story into the core of the architecture. However, when the design is solidly grounded and created with a sense of honesty, the story powering the project is bound to leave a lasting effect. With trends in hospitality consistently undergoing changes and redevelopments, one that has remained consistent has been the property’s ability to create a form of escape through powerful storytelling and an equally impactful design story. A property’s location, natural surroundings, historical significance, and sense of community are all different ways in which hotels can engage its visitors, all while creating an opportunity for design to take centre stage in telling a powerful story. In the examples below, we look at four properties across the globe that have utilised a prevailing design story to offer the perfect escape.



design focus / escapes

Photo: Dexamenes / Claus Brechenmacher and Reiner Bauman

Dexamenes Seaside Resort Location: Kourouta Beach, Greece Owner: Nikos Karaflos Design consultant: K-Studio Architects


The origins of the hotel are deeply rooted in the turbulent history of grape-growing and winemaking in Greece’s Peloponnese region, charting its success, failure, recovery and subsequent decline. When French vineyards were struck with a disastrous insect infestation in 1879, the Peloponnese was already famous for its Black Corinth grapes, also known as currants. France’s misfortune proved a blessing for Greece, with French winemakers snapping up Hellenic grape imports and fueling the development of local infrastructure. That bonanza came to a halt a decade later, once the French vineyards recovered from the original blow and France closed its market to imports. Greece’s so-called “currant crisis” was a major historic event, causing mass emigration. Trying to find buyers for the unsold harvests, the Greek government encouraged the distilling of unsold grapes, creating a local wine industry. Originally built in the 1920s as a set of wine tanks that allowed ships to load up directly off the shore, Dexamenes was abandoned in subsequent decades – until a new owner realised the value of its location and the industrial architecture. The rows of former wine tanks, each measuring around 30m2, were converted into individual hotel rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom and a patio. The architectural intervention preserved the original forms, colours and some of the imperfections in a successful balancing act between preservation and refurbishment. The introduction of new materials is respectful to the patina of the industrial palette and it expands instead of competing with it. In the central courtyard, two round silo tanks stand proudly in the middle of a reflective pool as a celebratory sculptural testimony to the shattered but cherished past. Guests stay at Dexamenes to experience the quiet, luxurious privacy that an isolated and abandoned winery can provide. Hotels that take this type of minimalist design as seriously as Dexamenes has done, do not give themselves any wiggle room to deliver anything poorly: there is nothing to hide behind! The simplicity of this property creates a stage for the team to deliver, understated and localise luxury in a friendly and unpretentious manner.


Photo: Alila Hotels

Built using traditional Omani construction techniques, in harmony with the serene landscape of Jebel Akhdar and the backdrop of the Grand Canyon, Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel is barely visible upon approach. It slowly emerges from the landscape within which it was built from local materials, making it barely discernable from the surrounding rock formations. The thoughtful and well-proportioned simplicity of the structure is infused with subtle touches of local crafts – carved wooden doors, woven mats, pottery from nearby Bahla, local fabrics and motives of Damask rose – a nod to the local essential oil production. This is a contemporary resort that still manages to evoke the feeling of Omani living and hospitality through its subtle introduction of craft. The setting on the cusp of a canyon awes guests with the scale of the drop below, highlighting the amazing vastness of the surrounding mountainscape, and providing a sense of protection from the outside world. The history of the area touches the guests throughout their stay, from its traditions and ritual dining to the use of essential oils within the spa that is harvested from nearby terraced rose plantations.

Alila Jabal Akhdar Location: Jebel Akhdar, Oman Owner: Omran Design consultant: Atkins



design focus / escapes

Photo: Wuyan Skywells / Marc Goodwin and Xia Zhi

Wuyuan Skywells Hotel Location: Jiangxi, China Owner: Edward Gawne, Selina Liao Design consultant: Anyscale Architecture Design / Andreas Thomczyk, Mika Woll, Amy Mathieson


Chinese homes in the Huizhou style traditionally face inward, onto a skylit courtyard with very little connection to the exterior paths. Often, they are so discreet that you would miss the entrance if you didn’t know where you were going. This type of design is perfect for those wishing to experience rural China in all its beauty and rawness and then be whisked into luxury upon return to find a space of more refined beauty. Owners of these types of properties usually have strict control over who comes and goes – which, at times like these, gives guests a level of comfort. When these homes are converted, there is a balance between the number of rooms and the ability to personalise the guest service. Some of the more successful hotels have created a new identity for added properties and run several locations from one back-office – just like the multi-branded big box hotels. Wuyuan Skywells Hotel has taken on the challenge of bringing together rural China within a portfolio of international luxury. The owners and hotel developers bought the derelict former merchant inn and refurbished it following the introverted regional typology. The lightwells, called locally “Skywells” from the Chinese ‘Tian Jing’, illuminate the interiors during the day while maintaining a sense of privacy. The property dates back 300 years, while the structure continues to be a respectful testimony to its organic growth over time. The home-like hotel, set amidst a private garden, has a labyrinth-like quality, with artefacts and objects thoughtfully placed throughout the property, evoking a sense of discovery. New interventions, although contemporary in nature, such as a glazed patio and the roof mansard, highlight and frame the otherwise historical features. Wooden beams and columns dissect the white walls of the minimalist guestrooms and are offset with modern and simple furniture. Where possible, the original wooden features such as carvings and latticework have been skillfully restored with the help of the local artisans.


Photo: Adjara Group

Stamba in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi occupies the shell of a 1930s industrial complex that used to house the printing presses of Soviet government newspapers. Opened in 2018, the hotel has created a veritable ecosystem of cool in Tbilisi, with its cavernous library bar, an ultraviolet-lit vertical farm, growing miniature vegetables, and avant-garde concept stores nestled within the brutalist structure. Building on the reputation of a more conservative and equally successful sister hotel, Rooms Hotel, located next door, Stamba has become the symbol of Tbilisi’s transformation from a Soviet backwater to a sophisticated, globally connected metropolis. The building’s nooks and crannies delight guests with every vignette. Visitors not only experience the history of the building – and Tbilisi – by being cocooned amid Stamba’s book collection, but the attention to detail goes as far as the fittings’ selection, especially in the bathrooms, with consistent references that date back to the 1930s. The narrative is balanced by the hotel’s offering of luxurious linens and amenities, reminding guests that they are in the 21st century, after all. Guests feel like they are stepping in and out of a bygone era with every turn. Stamba’s homage to the scars of the past serves as a symbol of Tbilisi’s new chapter, while both new architectural and literary additions provide a commentary on that past, used as a building block in creating a new, contemporary national identity.

Stamba Hotel Location: Tbilisi, Georgia Owner: Adjara Group Design consultant: In-house design team



design focus / escapes


by India Mahdavi for Monoprix

Photo: Mumbai Courtesy of Monoprix


or her second collection for French retailer Monoprix, Paris-based architect and designer India Mahdavi’s MADE IN/BY INDIA collection comprises a series of objects and clothing that stands as an “optimistic chromatic manifesto”. Partly inspired by the aesthetic of the 1970s in India, the collection reminisces and romanticises the hippie glamour of Goa and Puducherry that acts as a gateway to an imaginary journey, illuminating a vision of escape. Mahdavi worked on different families of shapes and motifs, with stripes being primarily showcased across the collection, from the clothing items, to the tableware and beach accessories. She then decided to add distortion to the vertical stripes which led to the beautiful wavy effect that became a signature theme throughout the entire collection.


Photo © Thierry Depagne

MADE IN/BY INDIA features an eclectic combination of objects including tableware, side tables and stools, a shopping trolley, beach accessories as well as a clothing line and fashion accessories that includes tote bags and sunglasses as well as jewellery. The clothes – that are made of cotton and highquality synethic fibres, have been produced by Creative Handicrafts, a social enterprise that has been training women from Mumbai in textile and toys production methods since 1984, in order to support them in gaining economic self-sufficiency.

Photo: Mumbai Courtesy of Monoprix

summer inspirations

Hermès Maison 2020


arm tones, bursts of colour, natural materials and motifs of greenery, water and the outdoors are all brought together in Hermès’ latest Maison 2020 collection. Featuring an array of furniture, accessories and bright wallpaper, the new collection for the home maintains the high fashion brand’s signature authenticity while set to bringing the outside in. From clean lines to geometric patterns and vibrant textiles, the collection is in line with today’s reality, seizing an opportunity to liven up one’s space while bringing with it a large dose of positivity.

The Les Trotteuses side tables feature three porcelain tops with colourful motifs fastened with bridle-leather straps and a wooden base in solid oak which folds in and out and can be effortlessly moved around the house. The tables can be used individually, as a pair or as a trio, with new tops set to be added to the collection every year. The collection also includes a series of hand-embroidered rugs designed by Gianpaolo Pagni and Studio Hermès that are traced out by a slender cord, as if drawn with a pencil.

Photography by Studio des Fleurs®

Part of the collection is an iconic chair by British designer Jasper Morrison from 1997, which is now accompanied by an armchair and a table. Crafted from a single piece of wood, the seat of the armchair features apertures in which a saddlestitched leather pad is perfectly fit for added comfort, while the table consists of a bevelled tabletop, slanted legs and crisp corners on the outside that are contrastingly rounded on the inside. Also, part of the range is the Hippodrome coffee table designed by Normal Studio that combines a rectangular tabletop in oiled oil and features aircraft wing edges as well as an oval lower shelf covered in smoothed and burnished bridle leather.

Leather marquetry is also featured on three square boxes made in solid wood such as cassia, mahogany and sapodilla inspired by the design on jockey silks, while clay – a material used for the first time in a Hermès home collection – is moulded to obtain a rectangular shape. The brand also launched its tenth collection of furnishing fabrics and wallpapers, inspired by the interaction between urban settings and nature, merging inside and outside. Eloquence, generous lines and the energy of the hand are conveyed in ballpoint pen, felt-tip pen, coloured pencil, watercolour and more, bringing a human touch. Our favourite is the Tropical swim wall décor collection that combines the outside world within a villa interior, with nature entering the home via a large window, showcasing a vast mountain range and reflections of water. THE 200 TH ISSUE


design focus / escapes

NATURAL INSPIRATION The Dunes Platform located deep inside Dubai’s desert landscape offers a space for meditation


et deep within the desert sands, The Dunes Platform is located in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve – the largest desert reserve in Dubai known for its unmarred and undisturbed wildlands that have been left untouched by human civilisation. Blending into its desert environment, the structure is inspired by the surrounding sand dunes and the shrub formations that form over the sand. The focal point of the building is its organically-shaped roof, mimicking the forms found in the surrounding nature, shading the platform below. Featuring irregular cell-like perforations that act as a lattice, it allows sunlight to filter through, creating formations of shadows across the viewing platform as well as against the building’s stone-paint walls. Acting as the main structural element, the 70x50 metres covering is a combination of steel frames and GRP-cladded material with a stone finish. Resting underneath the undulating roof is a single-storey concrete structure which houses indoor and outdoor platforms. The indoor platform comprises a multipurpose hall that can be used for Yoga and aerobics, with a glass partition that opens up to the shaded outdoor platform, allowing visitors to exercise and meditate out in the openness. The outdoor platform also acts as a viewing deck, offering visitors a chance to take in the vastness of the desert landscape, while enjoying the sunrise or sunset over the dunes. The Dunes Platform was designed by Dubai Municipality and is a part of the portfolio of ecotourism projects, with the final design selected by High Highness at the early stages of the project in September 2016. “In order to enrich the visitor experiences with the goal to transforming Al Marmoom Desert into an important destination for eco-tourism, the Environment Department of Dubai Municipality managed to develop The Dunes Platform as part of the Master plan development for Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve,” says Samer Saad Hameed, Principal Projects Engineer at Dubai Municipality.





design + architecture



Set along the shore of Egypt’s Red Sea, Common Architecture-designed Casa Cook El Gouna reveals a design that goes back to basics Words by Aidan Imanova Photography by Ana Santl


design + architecture


n the warm shores of the Red Sea, in the stylish Egyptian resort town of El Gouna, sits the latest addition to Casa Cook’s line of boutique beach-side resorts, all of which cater to a growing generation of independent travellers, offering simple, laid-back luxury. Casa Cook El Gouna, designed by South African architectural studio Common Architecture, is tucked further away from the bolder structures that grace the landscape of the coastline town and its islands, some of which are designed by famed architects including American Michael Graves, resembling traditional rural Egyptian architecture that is found across its countryside and Nubian villages.



design + architecture


design + architecture

Inspired by the rugged terrain, the contextually driven architectural approach produced a series of “background buildings” that are subtle and subdued, creating a vessel for a memorable escape. Its strong tactile appeal is enhanced through the issue of rough-hewn timbers, textured plasterwork and a neutral colour scheme, which is offset by the soothing hues of its surrounding nature of sand and sea. “By drawing inspiration from common construction methods, humble materials, and simple forms, we aim to design projects which respond with sensitivity to their unique environments – a philosophy that has worked well at Casa Cook El Gouna,” says lead architect Mark Bellingan. Clean lines and sculptural forms that are juxtaposed by tactile elements like brass, rattan and linen, result in a design that is rooted in the history of the area while maintaining contemporary sensibilities. “Whether you are in shared or private spaces, the design is pared back and combines minimalist elements with tactile materials creating a contemporary feel that remains true to the sense of place and history of the area,” Bellingan explains. “In shared areas, creating a sense of community and togetherness was a priority and in the private spaces, combining indoor and outdoor areas creates secluded sanctuaries.” Indoors and outdoors connect seamlessly through terraces and courtyards that balance between private and public spaces, encouraging a cool breeze to flow naturally throughout, all while maximising the undiluted natural light.



design + architecture

The pared-back, considered architecture lays the foundation for the interior design, which follows a similar philosophy with fittings, fixtures, furnishings and accessories. Textured fabrics, geometric patterns, natural tones and clean lines seamlessly blend classic and contemporary elements that speak of the structure’s location and the rich history of the region. The use of tactile materials continues with the interior design, that utilizes raw wood furnishings and tarnished ceramics with simple and chic décor elements such as rattan furniture, patterned cushions and neutral lines. The bathrooms feature an equally


minimalist approach, complete with black matte sanitary ware and textured plasterwork. The rooms each boast their own private terraces – ranging from Standard Rooms to Villas – and feel earthy and private, with the Premium Roof Terrace rooms boasting expansive sunset views. The hotel also offers a myriad of shared spaces, including dining areas, a spa, and the lagoon-side Beach Club, creating zones for guests to curate their own experience. “Our philosophy was to create a considered escape for the discerning city dweller that links indoor and outdoor spaces and balances private and shared areas,” Bellingan says. id

design + architecture



design + architecture

NA T URAL BE AU T Y The Sri Lankan holiday home blends into its surroundings, offering open spaces that emphasise its tropical landscape Words by Aidan Imanova Photography by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen


design + architecture



design + architecture


ituated in the small fishing village of Kottegoda, near Hiriketiya beach in the southern province of Sri Lanka, the K House offers an architecture that is inspired by its tropical setting, using natural materials and climate constraints to inform its design. Designed by Danish firm Norm Architects and Chinese studio Aim Architecture, K House is a secluded beachfront property surrounded by lush vegetation and striking views over the ocean, boasting an architecture that effortlessly blends into its surroundings through the use of large openings, soft transitions and natural materials. The exclusive villa resort is comprised of two peaked-roof concrete buildings – East House and West House – which together form an L-shape, framing a central garden and pool area that slopes down towards the spotless sandy beach. While the East House sits atop the hilly part of the property, opening up to the sea, the West House is slightly tucked away behind a patch of leafy trees, providing a more sheltered feel and an added sense of privacy. The barn-like structures feature a polished concrete façade while the roof is made out of recycled terracotta tiles, shading the outdoor areas of local granite stone. Both buildings feature a series of shutters made from local teak wood that can be pushed back to reveal the surrounding landscape, creating an interplay of open and closed spaces.


design + architecture



design + architecture

The West House comprises living spaces that evoke a more intimate and enclosed atmosphere, complete with polished cement walls and floors. The rooms are withdrawn and private, with minimal interiors and dĂŠcor providing a peaceful place to retreat to when necessary. The chunky sink basins in the bathrooms are made from dark grey terrazzo, two of which open up to the private stone-walled courtyards, allowing for the luxurious sensation of showering outdoors. The property is also home to an array of bespoke furniture including an inbuilt sofa in the luxuriously pared-back lounge area and headboards that extend the full length of the bedroom walls, acting as either a seating option or a tabletop. Together with the teakwood dining 56

tables and chairs, it graces the rooms with a touch of warmth. The combination of these modern and minimal furniture selections along with other locally sourced antique pieces and accessories creates an interior setting that is familiar while staying true to its locality. Contrastingly, the interiors of the East House has a more open-plan layout featuring whitepainted surfaces, that are adorned by locally sourced antique artworks. The outdoor living and dining spaces make up the common areas of the villa complex, where large sliding doors open up to key spaces of the garden, while the generous roofs of the buildings shelter both areas from rain and sunlight, creating a comfortable feeling of being in nature, while simultaneously remaining protected. id

design + architecture



on our radar



Photography by Daniel Civetti

Houston-based chair stacking artist and photographer Cary Fagan shares the concept behind his first chair design, exclusively with identity Words by Aidan Imanova


Photography by Cary Fagan

on our radar


tackable chairs are a common notion among designers and manufacturers, a feature created for flexibility and portability. Some of world’s most famous chairs feature a stackable design, from Eames’ Molded Plastic Stacking Side Chair and Kartell’s Master Chair to Alvar Aalto's iconic Stool 60 for Artek. For Houston-based chair stacking artist and photographer, Cary Fagan, the process of stacking chairs is less functional, and more about the practice and exploration. “Stacking chairs is more about the sculptural performance and the thoughts leading up to the creation – the end piece. It isn’t meant to showcase design, though it accomplishes that notion. It is merely to show that it is possible to create in this form,” Fagan explains. Beginning his creative journey as a photographer and film maker and working with well-known names in the music and fashion industries including Solange, Kanye West and A$AP Rocky, Fagan became interested in chairs when he was invited to Japan for an artist’s residency in 2018. There he experimented outside of his usual medium and instead, discovered a love and appreciation for chairs, which he compares to people in their balance of complexity and simplicity. “If you think about it, the kanji for chair in Japanese means ‘strange wood child’,” he says. This discovery later led to the creation of a community-based platform called ‘Chairs are People’, where people from across the globe share their recent finds and cultivate one another’s appreciation for chairs – be it on its website, on reddit or on Instagram. A year after his residency in Japan, Fagan was invited to Florence by Numeroventi, an artist and design residency, where he was commissioned to further explore chair stacking as an artform, which he says opened his eyes to the artistry of stacking. In Italy, Fagan also had the opportunity to explore chairs from a more design-focused perspective. “In January, I was in Milan visiting the Triennale Milano and ironically, they had an exhibition called ‘Italian Radical Designs’. I got to study some of the most prolific works from the 1940’s to the 90s, with the Pratone being one of my favorites,” he shares.

Photography by Daniel Civetti

“Stacking chairs is more about the sculptural performance and the thoughts leading to the creation – the end piece." Earlier this year, Fagan designed his first chair, which is currently under production. The unnamed piece will be launched under his newly established and trademarked brand, Chairs are People – an extension of his existing online community. The steel-framed chair will feature leather upholstery and curved legs that appear to be floating, with an acrylic form connecting the legs and seat to establish support, inspired by the shapes found across the Memphis style which Fagan greatly admires for its bold forms. “I’ve been very inspired by the Memphis Group and Memphis style. I love their shapes,” he shares. “The idea is to give the viewer clean lines that are then interrupted by this object in the middle.” The soon-to-launch chair, which he describes as an

“original design that is imperfect”, is also inspired by designs from Natuzzi and Herman Miller. “I fused my favourite chair designers with my favourite features from their designs,” he says. “I’ve recently come to the consensus that this chair is meant to serve as a temporary experience – maybe as a dinner or luncheon chair. I’m sure the idea will evolve once it’s in front of me,” he adds, explaining his plans to introduce a family of chairs based on his first design that will serve different scenarios – from lounge to work, and even a stool version. “I have a few other ideas for chairs in the future but this aspiration is an investment and a risky one,” he confides. “As I approach my first prototype, I keep in mind that there is, in fact, no such thing as a perfect chair.”



id classics

The Mastaba by Christo and Jeanne-Claude This month we pay tribute to a man simply known as Christo, who alongside his partner Jean-Claude, created large-scale, site-specific installations. Christo passed away earlier this year before realising his dream of creating The Mastaba – a permanent installation planned for the Abu Dhabi desert.

Words by Aidan Imanova



ulgarian artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, commonly known as Christo, passed away of natural causes on May 31, 2020, at his home in New York. He was 84 years old. His partner in life and work, Moroccan-born artist Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, passed away in 2009. The couple were born on the same day – June 13 1935 – in two different cities and met in Paris in the late 1950s. Their work was vast, visually impressive, and sometimes controversial; taking years, and even decades of meticulous preparation and always financed via the sale of their own artworks. From early wrapped objects to monumental outdoor projects, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artworks transcended the traditional bounds of painting, sculpture and architecture. In 1969, the pair – who first worked under Christo’s name – wrapped the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art while it remained open and went on to wrap many other notable buildings and structures such as the Pont Nuef bridge in Paris as well as the Reichstag building in Berlin as public art projects. This propelled them to begin another project called Valley Curtain, which first materialised as an orange curtain of fabric that was hung across the mountainous Colorado State Highway 325, later moving on to Tokyo, The Netherlands and the South Pacific. Their project, Surrounded Islands, began in Miami where the duo planned to surrounded eleven islands in the city’s Biscayne Bay with almost 604m2 of pink polypropylene floating fabric. This concept was similarly adopted for its Floating Piers installation at Lake Iseo near Brescia, Italy, allowing visitors to walk just above the surface of the water on floating walkways made of around 200,000 polyethene cubes covered with 70,000 m2 of bright yellow fabric. Their concept for a project called The Mastaba was first realised in London in 2018 , embodying a temporary floating installation that consisted of 7,506 oil barrels in the shape of a mastaba – a type of ancient Egyptian tomb with a flat roof and inward sloping sides. It sat on a floating platform of high-density polyethene, held in place by 32 anchors and painted in bright hues of red, blue and mauve. One of the artist’s biggest dreams was to create The Mastaba in Abu Dhabi which was to become the duo’s first permanent large-scale work. First conceived in 1977, the project – if realised – will become the world’s largest sculpture, made using 410,000 multi-colored barrels to form a mosaic of bright sparkling colors, echoing Islamic architecture. The colors and the positioning of the 55-gallon steel barrels were selected by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1979, the year in which the artists visited the Emirate for the first time. The proposed area is located inland, in Al Gharbia, approximately 160 kilometers south of Abu Dhabi, near the Liwa oasis. The project is still a workin-progress. The artists have always made it clear that their works in progress should continue even after their deaths. As per Christo’s wishes, his project 'L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped' in Paris, is still on track for September 18 – October 3, 2021. “Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible, but realising it,” said a statement from Chisto’s office following his death. The artists always pointed out their projects’ deepest meaning was its immediate aesthetic with the purpose of bringing joy, beauty and new ways of seeing the familiar.

id classics

Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 1979 Christo

Photo: Wolfgang Volz © 2012 Christo




Products From earthy tones to natural materials and organic shapes, this month’s selection of objects are perfect for summertime day dreams – while some are even good enough to pack for a staycation!

Image courtesy the artist and Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

A Pot About A Teardrop Nicollete Johnson

Brisbane-based ceramicist Nicolette Johnson’s work draws on traditional pottery techniques which span millennia. Her forms marry the organic and the handmade, echoing botanical symmetry and patterns found in the natural world. This new collection, entitled “Assemblages” are Johnson’s playful response to isolation. The glazed stoneware vessel is branded with what appears to be animate symbols that gives it its’ ethereal appearance. The artist is currently represented by the Sophie Gannon Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. Available on


Portable Gople Lamp Artemide

The basic form of the Gople Lamp enhances the beauty of glass which is hand-processed according to an ancient Venetian blowing technique that gradually turns white glass into crystal by combining the two – making each piece unique. The lamp is then completed by using a range of innovative finishes. The growing Gope family now has a new version that is portable, and offers a 26-hour running time without electricity, making it the perfect lamp to carry from indoor to outdoor settings to create just the right amount of ambiance. Available on


Blobby ceramic candlesticks Anisa Kermiche

The abstract shape of Parisian Anissa Kermiche’s candlesticks are fashioned from ceramic in Portugal with a hand-painted matte glaze finish. The curvaceous sculptures can be used as originally intended or instead left as a standalone artwork. Kermiche’s homeware brand adds an experimental edge to any décor, and in inspired by female role models, including artists such as Alexander Calder and Fraciois Morellet, whose works can be observed in the bold shapes of Kermiche’s work that are both striking and elegant. Available on

Beosound A2 2nd Gen Bang and Olufsen

With a refined, compact design, the new Beosound A1 wireless speaker offers a premium musical experience, designed to be shared - as its Multipoint feature allows two devices to connect and control the tunes. The portable speaker comes with an even more powerful battery life and a lighter design, allowing for up to 18 hours of playtime. The durable Beosound A1 is waterproof and completely resistant to dust and sand – a perfect fit for a summer getaway. Its internal microphone also makes it the perfect choice for online meetings and hands-free calls. The Grey Mist colourway offers a contemporary take on the timeless aliminium tone and matches perfectly with just about anything. Available on




Bonbonniere / Bon Bon Helle Mardahl

The Bonbonniere and its little sibling Bon Bon are part of Helle Maradahl’s wonderful world of colourful, shiny and ornamental objects, inspired by the sweetshops the designer visited as a child. The jars feature various bursts of saturated hues and rounded shapes and are handmade in Denmark using traditional mouth-blowing techniques, making each piece unique and that much more special. The bulbous silhouettes of the Bon Bon can be used as a statement ornament or by simply removing the lid, it can be the perfect vase to hold fresh flowers, while the Bonbonierre jar can be placed on a mantlepiece as a charming focal point. Available on

RawUrban Rock

Dinousaur Designs Dinosaur Designs’ yellow Rock cup is taken from the Australian label’s Joie de Vivre collection, which celebrates Antipodean al-fresco living. Handcrafted at the label’s Sydney-based studio from artfully marbled resin and shaped to a large organic dimension, the cup can be displayed with its coordinating pieces when not in use, for a pop of vibrant colour. Available on

Pochette Loewe

The Pochette bag blends three different materials, featuring a supple hand-woven raffia basket base, a waterlily-printed canvas closing with calfskin drawstring, an adjustable calfskin strap, as well a LOEWE anagram patch on the exterior. The bag is part of Paula’s Ibiza which has now flourished into a fullyrounded collection, complete with a vibrant fragrance and playful accessories. The collection features items that embody the spirit of ‘letting go’, according to creative director Jonathan Anderson. 40 euros for every product sold will go to educational projects for children affected by COVID-19. Available in LOEWE stores and on 64


The RawUrban kitchen and tableware collection is inspired by Nigerian designer Olubunmi Adeyemi’s mother’s cooking for which she would use a spatula called ‘omorogun’ to prepare local dishes. RawUrban stems from this traditional kitchen tool, but has been refined into a contemporary collection, and handmade using locally-sourced wood. The utensils and tableware are all created using the Afrominima design ethos that combines African culture with a minimalistic approach, giving rise to a new design language. Available at @thedabrand


Books Exploring the role of race within the built environment, these three books shed light on a topic that deserves urgent reexamining at a critical time for racial justice Words by Cecilia D'Souza

African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945 by Dreck Spurlock Wilson In February this year, Harvard celebrated the accomplishments of the lead designer of its Widener Library – African-American architect Julian Abele. In a series of articles published on the website, the Ivy League university admitted that the contributions of the Philadelphia-born architect were largely ignored and hence long overdue. It is that kind of misrepresentation that African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1945 strives to avoid. Written by over 100 experts

The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race by Adrienne Brown

and edited by Dreck Spurlock Wilson, the book shines a spotlight on the lives and careers of over 160 African-American Architects. Each entry is peppered with a write-up, an all-important list of known works and a bibliography of published sources. Starting from the last quarter of the nineteenth century – an intense period in the United States history that laid the foundations for social change – the book also features over 200 portraits of an appendix of buildings sorted by geographic location.

Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present by Irene Cheng, Charles L Davis and Mabel O Wilson

Many of us would consider the metaphorical juxtaposition of skyscrapers and racial anxiety in the United States to be a farfetched argument. Adrienne Brown disagrees. With developments of the first skyscrapers in the 1880s, environments could expand vertically as well as horizontally. Chronicling the soaring skyscrapers from Chicago’s early 10-storey tower to the completion of the 102-storey Empire State Building in 1931, in The Black Skyscraper: Architecture

and the Perception of Race, Adrienne Brown gives a detailed insight into how scale and proximity affects not only the shape of the city, but also shapes our understanding of race and how the early skyscraper threatened to reveal the ‘nothingness’ of race at a time when the superpower coveted nothing more than to assert and prolong its purpose. The book claims that ever since skyscrapers first ascended, they, in turn, challenged human beings to cultivate new ways of seeing and relating to others.

When Mabel O. Wilson looked through 28,000 objects within The Museum of Modern Art's Architecture and Design archives, she was stunned to find that they had no records on the works of African-American architects. Keep in mind that this is the first museum in the world to have an architecture collection. Race and Modern Architecture – a book Wilson co-edited with Irene Cheng and Charles L Davis – exposes how modern architecture and culture has been heavily influenced by representation, inequality and racism. The book enlightens its readers by writing back race into architectural history, shedding new light on the built environment and maybe shaking the very foundations of architecture itself. THE 200 TH ISSUE


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The Cascas tea trolley and Raiz console uses Amazonian wood alongside recycled and upcycled materials. The top parts of the console are made out of a compost of marble waste and wool yarns giving it a burst of pop,

Photo: Filippo Bamberghi

Raiz and Cascas by Patricia Urquiola for ETEL 66

Available at

while the smooth roundness of the side table and tea trolley shows the natural beauty of Brazilian wood.

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