Identity - April 2022

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ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, INTERIORS + PROPERTY

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A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION

ISSUE 219 / APRIL 2022

The Craftsmanship Issue

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contents

Features 24

Tactile nature Stem’s Table Object series fully expresses the raw and irregular nature of material

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A creative force Ibiyanε’s soulful woodworking tells of the relationships between people and object

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The spirit of objects Omar Chakil’s collectible objects aim to reinvigorate appreciation for local craftsmanship

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Courage in connectedness Lebanon’s expatriate designers are working to keep local craftsmanship alive in their home country

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Coastal modernism Anarchitect’s newest destination hotel pays homage to Sri Lanka’s tropical modernism movement

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Japandi style Natasha Sturko has blended Scandinavian and Asian influences in a modern Saadiyat Island home

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The art of living A Chilean duplex apartment with Paula Gutiérrez interiors is a feast for the eyes

Regulars 22

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Design Focus

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Products

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Library

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Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Group Director Andrew Wingrove Editor Aidan Imanova Designer Hannah Perez Sub-editor Max Tuttle Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Manish Chopra Sales Manager Jules Acciarresi Sales Representative - Italy Daniela Prestinoni General Manager - Production Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor Venita Pinto Contributors Edmund Sumner Jumana Abdel-Razzaq Karine Monié Lemma Shehadi Natelee Cocks

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Head Office: Media One Tower, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE; Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Fax: +971 4 428 2260; E-mail: motivate@ motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 390 3550 Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, UAE, Tel: +971 2 677 2005; Fax: +971 2 677 0124; E-mail: motivate-adh@motivate.ae London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK; E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae

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Photography by Cristóbal Valdés


LOOK SMART, LIVE SMARTER

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Contributors

(From left)

Jumana Abdul-Razzaq is a Dubai-based journalist who has worked across several global and local publications including Architectural Digest, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. She covers a range of topics including architecture, interior design, art and culture and has led the content management and digital content strategies at some of the largest media companies in the Middle East. For this month’s issue, she explores the latest designs in the bathroom space. Karine Monié graduated with a master’s degree from La Sorbonne University and is a trilingual content creator and editorial consultant currently based in California. She has contributed to international design, architecture and fashion publications including Architectural Digest and Interior Design, among many others. This month, Monié writes about two contemporary residences – in Abu Dhabi and Chile – and explores the work of New York City-based L’Aviva Home, whose pieces are handmade by skilled artisans from around the world.

Lemma Shehadi is a writer and arts producer based between London and Beirut. She often reports on the intersections of culture, design and social issues and has written for a wide range of publications, including Disegno and The Independent, among many others. For the Craftsmanship issue, Shehadi investigates how Lebanese designers – many of whom have now moved out of their home country – continue to support the craft industry in the country in the face of many challenges and crises. Natelee Cocks is a Dubai-based interior, design and architecture photographer. With over 10 years of experience in the field, Cocks began her career in South Africa and, after moving to Dubai, founded her own studio, Natelee Cocks Photography. Her clean, minimalistic style and attention to natural light and intimate details have captured many of the city’s contemporary buildings and interiors. Cocks’ photograph of a home in Saadiyat Island by Natasha Sturko Interiors graces this month’s cover.

Edmund Sumner is a prominent architectural photographer based in London, who has been collaborating with leading architects, editors and curators globally since 1998. He first worked in Sri Lanka for Tadao Ando in 2014, and he returned late last year to photograph Anarchitect’s newly opened Harding Boutique Hotel. “The challenge was to place the project visually within the Sri Lankan context, whilst expressing the purity of the design intent,” he says. “It was a beautiful project and my first overseas shoot in two years.”



Editor’s Note

Photo by Young Habibti

With each passing year we become more obviously confronted by the returned sense of importance that artisanship plays in contemporary design. While traditional techniques and natural materials continue to reign supreme, it is novel approaches which often elevate craft into works of art. And while technological applications are growing equally popular, there is something about creating with one’s hands that is deeply intrinsic to the creative process, something that many designers today value as inherent to their work. In our annual Craftsmanship Issue, you will discover a wide range of makers from across the globe – some may be new to you, while others will have produced works you may have admired through the years; some are situated as close as the emirate of Sharjah, others as far as the island of Martinique. Yet what these individuals and studios have in common is their commitment to preserving and continuing the legacy of traditional knowledge, now rendered in a whole new contemporary language: one that is fresh and intriguing, yet comfortably nostalgic. In Lebanon, for example, preserving traditional crafts and supporting local artisans has become a national effort for its creative industry, as the country continues to suffer financial and political crises. And while an increasing number of Lebanon’s creative community have emigrated abroad, support for craftspeople in the country endures, solidifying the vital place these makers hold in the regional design eco-system. An in-depth feature on this topic can be found in the following pages of this issue. Contrastingly, in Egypt, designers are at the early stages of rediscovering and re-appreciating the value of local craftsmanship, which, for a number of reasons, had not – until recently – evolved into the contemporary sphere. We learn more about the North African country’s creative renaissance by speaking to artist Omar Chakil, whose alabaster furniture and objects seek to raise the profile of traditional materials found in Egypt. We are also excited to see the long-awaited, Anarchitect-designed Harding Boutique Hotel in Sri Lanka finally open to the public. The property takes inspiration from tropical modernism, which was spearheaded in the country by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. In an exclusive interview, we discuss with Anarchitect’s founder Jonathan Ashmore the challenges of the project, not least due to the Covid-19 restrictions, which led to all construction and craftsmanship being produced locally – with artisans creating joinery and furniture on-site and in close collaboration with the studio. This made reflect on the fact that while the relationship between artist and artisan dates back centuries, it is quite remarkable to see that, many years later, these bonds remain resilient while also leaving room for evolution.

Aidan Imanova Editor

On the cover: Home in Saadiyat Island designed by Natasha Sturko Interiors


Villa in Jeddah designed by MESURA. Photography by Marina Denisova

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interiors

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interiors

Golden era

For the 20th anniversary of London’s sketch, India Mahdavi and Yinka Shonibare reimagined its iconic The Gallery restaurant with a striking new design WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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hile The Gallery at sketch was widely recognised for its trendsetting ‘Millennial Pink’ colour scheme, conceived by French designer India Mahdavi (with artworks by David Shrigley), the time had come for the restaurant to bid farewell to its longstanding chromatic legacy, and welcome a new design in celebration of its 20-year anniversary. This time around, Mahdavi collaborated with renowned British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, transforming the restaurant with a new sunshine-yellow setting and a series of 15 new site-specific works that reimagine the space into a powerful celebration of African culture and legacy. For the colour

scheme, Mahdavi has chosen a copper skin for the walls, paired with solar yellow fabrics. “The Gallery at sketch has been linked to the colour pink for such a long time that it was very challenging for me to overcome this success,” Mahdavi shares. “Yinka’s artwork was a real inspiration and enticed me to work differently in this new version of The Gallery. Now textures will transcend colours with metallic copper wallpaper, Aissa Dione’s textured fabric and Inès Bressand’s woven wall-lights. These are elements that have allowed me to extend Yinka’s artistic exploration of culture and identity and bring a warm feel of Africa to the space and furnishings.”

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interiors

Under the title of Modern Magic, Shonibare’s installation features five hand-painted masks carved from wood and 10 framed quilts that are a replica of the African masks found in Pablo Picasso’s collection, referencing the objects used by African peoples to conjure new powers and realms and the inspiration they bore for Western modernist artists, expressed using appliqué and embroidery techniques on richly dyed fabrics. “After Matisse showed Picasso’s African art for the first time, it changed the history of modern art,” Shonibare comments. “Picasso was interested in appropriating from another culture, and I also appropriate from European ethnic art. Cultural appropriation can be a two-way street. This collaboration with sketch has given me an opportunity to expand my creative process – creating a different environment [in which] to encounter and experience my art in a fun and relaxing setting.” Shonibare’s new artworks in Dutch wax batik patterns will stand alongside works designed by African artisans following Mahdavi’s invitation, including Senegalese fabrics by textile designer Aissa Dione and wall lights designed by Inès Bressand, who works with weavers in Ghana. The ceiling will take on a Mandarine au Lait shade, a colour created by Mahdavi in reference to her famous ‘Flowers’ colour range for Mériguet-Carrere, and will tower above walls lined with copper de Gournay wallpaper. A new ceramic tableware designed by Shonibare has also been debuted and masterfully manufactured by British heritage brand Caverswall. Each piece will be dressed in a diamond-shaped pattern, nodding to the Yoruba trickster in Shonibare’s artworks on the walls. Bespoke uniforms for The Gallery’s staff, designed by French designer Sonia Taouhid, will also respond to the sunny redesign. These will 14

Yinka Shonibare and India Mahdavi

include a romantic dress bearing Taouhid’s signature frills, akin to Calla lilies, in violet streaked with golden yarn – a nod to the new golden surroundings. “I was very afraid to change the pink room as David Shrigley is a part of sketch. Then I was introduced to Yinka Shonibare, and I thought, my God, the master himself wants to work with sketch. It was like I was dreaming,” says sketch’s proprietor, Mourad Mazouz. “Yinka’s work is so powerful, intelligent and mythical, and I am so pleased to share it with sketch’s visitors from all over the world.” id


partner content

The centre of wellness Located in an exclusive residential area in Dubai, the new boutique and Technogym Experience Centre is the largest of its kind overseas WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ

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any successful businesses started in a garage. Among these is Technogym, an organisation whose mission is to help people live healthier and happier lives. For founder and CEO Nerio Alessandri, the concept was born by combining two of his passions: innovation and sport. Before founding the company in 1983, he was working as an industrial designer at a local company in his hometown of Cesena, Italy, and exercised during his free time. “By attending a local gym, I saw lots of potential in the sector and I decided to design and build the first equipment in my parent’s garage,” Alessandri remembers. While he initially started creating mechanical products, he soon introduced electronics and software. In 1996, he premiered the first cloud-based fitness industry platform; recently, he launched the on-demand video content Technogym Live – always putting innovation and technology at the heart of everything he does. “The lesson from the old days, that still resonates in my mind and that I keep telling my team, is: ‘If it works; it’s obsolete’.” Far from being only about sport and performance, the brand – which has become a reference for professional athletes all over the world – is also recognised for its design, having won over 50 international awards such as the Compasso d’Oro and the Red Dot Design Award throughout the years. Renowned Italian architect and designer Antonio Citterio is the mind behind the shapes of the Personal Line (available in Dubai), which comprises a range of cardio equipment

from treadmills to bikes to ellipticals. Promoting a lifestyle that is focused on wellness is also essential for Alessandri. “In the early 1990s, while the American stereotype of fitness was about muscles and image, we launched a totally new vision with our small Italian company: wellness – a profoundly Italian lifestyle rooted in the Romans’ mens sana in corpore sano, based on regular physical activity, healthy eating and a positive mental approach,” he says. And this is exactly what Alessandri wants to offer to people in Dubai with this new 1,000-square metre flagship that is an invitation to discover the Technogym ecosystem. Located on Jumeirah Beach Road, Technogym Dubai features a boutique on the ground floor where visitors have access to products, technologies and services that will enable them to do

physical exercise at home. On the first floor, a room for 40 people accommodates operators and client training, with room for seminars and workshops, while personal trainers and interior designers will provide bespoke consultancies on personalised solutions. The opening of the new centre in Dubai marks a new step for Alessandri, which was celebrated with the presentation of the Technogym Ride, the first bike designed by cycling champions for indoor cycling training. Thanks to its 22-inch screen, easy installation and configuration with a single log-in, it guarantees an immersive experience. “Dubai is a very important hub for the Middle East, and we wanted to create a dedicated wellness area [here],” concludes Alessandri. technogym.com/ae THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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design

Spaces in-between A new collaboration between Apparatus and cc-tapis celebrates the power of passage WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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c-tapis is not known to shy away from a challenge – quite the contrary. The Italian textile brand – founded by Fabrizio Cantoni and his wife, Nelly Chamszadeh – has carved a niche for itself by producing statement rugs that have comfortably settled in the medium of fine art. All its pieces are crafted by hand in its Nepalese atelier in Kathmandu, and many have been conceptualised by a vibrant roster of international design talents who do not traditionally work in the medium, including the likes of Faye Toogood and Patricia Urquiola, as well as Lebanese jewellery designer Nadine Kanso. cc-tapis’ products blend abstract forms, bold colour combinations and

expert craftsmanship, making it one of the most sought-after brands for sourcing luxury rugs. Its latest collaboration is with none other than New York’s Apparatus, a studio helmed by Gabriel Hendifar, who creates emotive furnishings and lighting fixtures that are sewn with narrative, and sometimes inspired by Hendifar’s Iranian heritage. Apparatus’ designs are predicated on the modernist principle of ‘gesamtkunstwerk’, where each piece contributes to a singular work of art or vision. Much like cc-tapis’ own dedication to craftsmanship, Apparatus creates each piece with the same rigorous devotion, setting the human hand at the soul of each object.

Its collection for cc-tapis is a natural continuation of its search for beauty and irregularity, comprising a series of modular rugs called Sequence, which investigates the relationship between form and material, featuring simple sinuous and linear planes that can be customised into endless configurations. Hand-tufted in Thailand using pure Vietnamese silk and worsted New Zealand wool, the rugs’ shapes are fused at a distance using Apparatus’ brass hardware, highlighting the power of the ‘in-between’. The collection recalls the silhouettes of French fashion icon Pierre Cardin, while highlighting the circular sense of passage evoked by a porte-cochère.

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Phygital revolution Andrés Reisinger’s first ever public art piece delves further into the artist’s fascination with integrating the physical and digital WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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ndrés Reisinger is arguably the most sought-after digital artist of the 21st century. In 2021, Dutch design brand Moooi partnered with Reisinger to produce his Hortensia chair – initially designed as a purely digital piece of furniture, it went viral on Instagram and got dubbed as the ‘chair that cannot be made’. Fast-forward to earlier this year, and the artist sold ten pieces of virtual furniture in an NFT online auction – with the most expensive piece fetching almost $70,000. “I remember when growing up, all of my friends were obsessed with playing video games, while I saw in myself the

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desire to create the environments in which those video games happened,” Reisinger recalls. “I pursued that interest and dedicated my time to learning how to use the digital sphere as a creative outlet from a young age. I soon understood that it is a realm that allows for wider experimentation and thus [an] expansion of possibilities, which is the same reason why I still enjoy it so much today.” His latest endeavour is also his first ever public art piece. Commissioned by Gallery Collectional, the Gulf’s first permanent collectible design gallery, it presents a ‘phygital’ (physical and digital) installation called ‘SUN/LEAF’, exhibited at the gallery’s space located at Eden House. Unveiled during this year’s Art Dubai fair, ‘SUN/LEAF’ consists of a digital artwork named ‘Sun’, and its physical counterpart, dubbed ‘Leaf’. The installation features a 90-second audio-visual loop with a subtly animated landscape that is projected onto an LED wall which was placed at the borders of a water feature outside of the gallery. The physical artwork, a chromed metal armchair, is staged in the pond and in contact with the water, set in front of the screen. “My practice is concerned with the introduction of a new way of experiencing art – a hybrid of digital and physical, two spheres that become complements of each other and offer a richer understanding,” he explains. “’SUN/LEAF’ embodies that idea, with a physical and [a] digital element that are [each] built to speak [to], coexist [with] and enhance each other – the same way I understand the world we live in today.” Reisinger has conceived the artwork as a single unicum piece, composed of digital and physical halves, with each half intended to be tied together forever. The main inspiration for the work, according to the artist, is a tree “or any kind of plant with leaves” – one of nature’s most iconic symbols, as it is seen to reflect so many of its aspects. “Many of my works have a physical and digital counterpart, and ‘SUN/LEAF’ was my first ever public installation of this kind – I have reached a point in my career where I am interested in showcasing my work to a wider public, so I am looking forward to more of this type of work,” he says. For Reisinger, 2022 is set to be a big year. “At the moment, I am focusing on my next exhibition at Salone del Mobile with Nilufar Gallery, and [also] on POLLEN, a complex new project that revolves around recombinant art and involves collectors as key denominators in the evolution of a work.”


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“I

am a creative technologist,” begins digital artist Orkhan Mammadov, who has been a pioneer in the digital arts sphere in his native Azerbaijan since 2013 through his first exhibition with Baku-based gallery YARAT. “If we talk conceptually, my paint is data, my brush is algorithms, and the displays are my canvas.” Mammadov’s works are a blend of his Azerbaijani heritage, along with popular aesthetics and references to surrealism, which combine to become Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-based installations. Mammadov’s solo presentation with London-based GAZELL.iO, titled ‘Singularity in Heritage’, was shown during Art Dubai Digital, the fair’s first experience of showcasing a body of digital artworks under the curation of Chris Fussner. Offering a glimpse into the artist’s ongoing research project and autonomous AI art – which was first shown at the Venice Contemporary Biennale in 2019 and the Moscow International Art Biennale – it features a series of video works that are the result of an AI algorithm designed by the artist to understand and find similarities between carpet designs and traditional ornamentation across the Middle East. After processing over

150,000 archival images of carpets, rugs, kilims, miniature paintings and ornamental patterns found across museums and libraries worldwide, a neural network computing system brings together this amalgamation of heritage through a digital lens, enabling the viewer to encounter a visual history of traditional carpet designs – making them the first-ever carpets to be designed in the metaverse. Historically, carpets, miniature paintings and decorative oriental patterns have played a significant role in forming Azerbaijan’s heritage and aesthetics. And while the Middle East is home to a wide range of carpet traditions, many of them share similarities such as geometric patterns, floral motifs and calligraphic shapes. “Perhaps with machine intelligence, we can redefine the concept of repetition,” Mammadov suggests. “The installation’s visual component imitates traditional Azerbaijani patterns. As a result, viewers see how AI builds new alternatives. These alternatives have a synthetic nature that has nothing to do with the history of authentic ornament patterns. AI imitates and fakes a traditional learning process [that is] usually handed down from generation to generation. “By accessing the data of authentic ornament images, AI becomes an independent master that can invent new ideas to update culture,” he continues. “Besides symbols, AI generates new concepts and meanings. It blurs the boundaries between [what is] real and [what is] fake. These actions further prove cultural development, as non-human intelligence replaces traditional craft tools.” Mammadov likens his creative process to “painting with data”, and although the crafting process is executed entirely through digital means, tangible heritage is vital to his work. “The main goal that I want to achieve through my art is to remind visitors of the value of cultural heritage,” he concludes.

In the works of digital media artist Orkhan Mammadov, technology and heritage speak the same language WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

Digital ornaments

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design

Designed in New York City and fabricated by highly skilled artisans around the world, the handmade pieces by L’Aviva Home are an ode to craftsmanship – with a contemporary twist WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ IMAGES COURTESY OF L’AVIVA HOME

Reinventing tradition

Doma pendent from the Talabartero collection

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aura Aviva started her career in the editorial world, where she held the position of creative director for Travel + Leisure magazine for eight years. She then realised that she needed more creative freedom, which materialised through the launch of her own lighting and product design studio and brand. Based in New York City, L’Aviva Home comprises several collections of lamps, rugs, pillows, blankets, throws and wallpapers that are inspired by the founder’s many travels and personal background. Raised in Los Angeles, Aviva was inevitably influenced by Mexican culture. Today, Latin America is one of the places where she finds the best craftsmen to fabricate her products. A case in point: the new Saddle lamps were made in collaboration with master craftsman Edgar Beltrán Jaramillo, who is based in Bogota, Colombia. With its production involving 15 distinct steps, this series follows the same formation techniques as those used in crafting equestrian saddles, where sheets of leather are laid over custom-formed

Noma sconce

wood moulds in a series of successive and meticulously executed steps. “The result is called, accordingly, ‘board-formed leather’,” Aviva says. Available in three styles – Capa pendant, Doma pendant and Noma sconce – and five hues – Alemendra, Mora, Palma, Cobalto and Negro – and crafted from a saturated jewel-tone colour palette that draws on the works of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, these lamps are part of the Talabartero collection, which was initially launched with leather poufs and pillows. “We marry the distinctive style of the master artisans with our own, designing through a process of a shared vision,” Aviva explains. Evoking the stone masks of the ancient civilisation of Teotihuacan, the Piedra lighting line in marble and onyx was created in the Mexican city of Tecali, while the Atzompa lighting collection was produced with artisan Eligio Zarate in the town of Santa María Atzompa (in the Mexican state of Oaxaca), where the pottery-making tradition dates back to the ancient Zapotec culture.

“When we start to look at a new collection and we are in the beginning stages, we always have a few goals in mind that guide our design process,” says Aviva. “First and foremost, we want to create something that is beautiful, in its own right; that draws on tradition in a new light; and that feels timeless – something that you can’t quite put your finger on in terms of what period it is from. In that way, we look to breathe new and enduring life into the pieces we create.” This approach also pervades the Jujuy rug collection made by a women’s co-operative in Argentina, the Bolivian hammocks woven in the Amazon and the Khovar fabrics and wallpapers with patterns transposed from the mud paintings of Hazaribagh in northeastern India, among others. “We find inspiration in the unexpected alchemy of cultures colliding,” Aviva says. “We honour the ties that bind an object to its origins, and we understand luxury as a way of deeply connecting with the people and the things that surround us.”

Atzompa collection

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Tactile nature Stem’s Table Object series expresses the raw and irregular nature of materials through minimal design forms WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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ailing from Noida, a planned city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in India, design duo Stem are led by the belief that objects can be emotional. After beginning their careers in interior design, co-founders Aman Bhayana and Sugandhi Mehrotra felt inclined to work on a smaller scale, from designing furniture and lighting to sculpture and installations. The studio’s main aim became driven by examining the role of objects in a space and exploring materials and surfaces in a new light, where cultural and societal relevance reigns supreme. “Each product is a medium to express emotion, with honesty to the material and process,” the design duo tells identity. “Luxury, as we understand [it], is an emotional experience. We feel the need to capture this intangible aspect in our products. Our work explores boundaries between art and design, with each product aiming to bring artistic quality into everyday objects. The design allows us to shift the focus on[to] the craft, resulting in a meaningful relationship with the product.” Stem’s latest Table Object collection is about “letting the material take over the conversation”. Consisting of a bookend, pen stand, pen tray, table tray and paperweight,

the collection draws inspiration from the idea of embracing beauty in its purest state. Sand-casted in solid metal by Indian craftsmen, the pieces in the collection celebrate artisanal craft and timelessness and are made in various solid metals such as aluminium, brass and gunmetal bronze with a darkened patina finish. The objects have been subdued to their minimalistic forms, letting each material reveal its distinctive personality gracefully and honestly. While aluminium is redefined into a luxury product – devoid of any layers of paint or ornamentation, and exposed in its natural state – brass is, in turn, expressed through its nostalgic nature, and allowed to gain a distinct patina on its surface. Lastly, the darkened gunmetal bronze gives all objects an antique appearance, being both subtle yet bold. “In today’s world, where we are working in the age of industrial production, the handmade nature of products slows everything down and brings the essence of the human touch into our personal spaces,” the duo explains. “It helps us build an innate connection with the maker at a spiritual level. By recognising the value of craftsmanship, we are able to have a more profound understanding to support artisans and help carry forward the traditional knowledge of materials and techniques. It provides a deeper insight into the culture and lifestyle behind the making of the product.”

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The power of craft An ongoing collaboration between Irthi and artistic collective Lél combines the distinctly different worlds of safeefah and stone WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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reserving traditional craft techniques is at the heart of both Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi) and artistic collective Lél, who have unveiled their latest collaborative project, the Thaya Collection. The series of objects that has been handcrafted by female artisans from Irthi and craftsmen from Lél uses materials sourced from their respective regions and involves weaving safeefah fibres into punctures in various stone objects, pushing the boundaries of both crafts in unprecedented ways. Lél has long been dedicated to preserving and evolving the 16th-century Florentine and Mughal art of hand-crafted stone inlay, as well as supporting local Afghan artisans escaping the war across the Pakistani border. Production has continued at Lél’s Peshawar base, even during the height of the Taliban insurgency in the early 2000s, the collective says. “All of us lost a friend or relative at that time. But the work became a way of pushing back, changing the narrative. To conserve an ancient art in violent times is a therapeutic experience,” says Meherunnisa Asad, Lél’s creative director. The collective is also working on furthering its contemporary evolution of stone inlay, using a variety of semi-precious stones from the mountains of Pakistan such as onyx, jasper and agate, as well as lapis lazuli from the Badakhshan province in Afghanistan and malachite from South Africa, or turquoise from Iran. Describing the work done by its Afghan refugee craftsmen to preserve and reinterpret the artistic tradition of pietra dura – a 16th-century handcrafted stone inlay technique – as an example of tangible and intangible heritage that crosses over national borders, Asad says: “Our artisans are not only preserving this art form 26

but reinterpreting and innovating within the medium and developing signature techniques that bring together different practices from across the globe to enhance the craft. We see this act of preservation as a healing mechanism, and it reinforces craft’s power to shape perceptions and replace an identity that is being lost to war and conflict.” Irthi, an affiliate of UAE-based NAMA

Women Advancement, is similarly exploring the pivotal role of traditional crafts in nurturing cultural assets and social identities and contributing to the world’s collective heritage in the form of adorned textile and other craft forms. First unveiled last year during Design/Miami Shanghai, the Thaya Collection is a merging of both these worlds, where each piece is one-of-akind and fully crafted by hand.


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A creative force Ibiyanε’s soulful interpretations of woodworking tell stories of the relationships between people and objects WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA IMAGES COURTESY OF IBIYAN ε

Elombe 012, The New Guard: Stories From the New World (2021)

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Elombe 013, The New Guard: Stories From the New World (2021)

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t can be said that a creative force brought together Tania Doumbe Fines and Elodie Dérond – the duo that now makes up design studio ibiyanε (derived from the Batanga word that means ‘to know one another’). The pair met in Montreal, where Doumbe Fines spent most of her life – besides her native Cameroon, and Gabon – and where Dérond moved from Martinique to study, exploring music, painting and drawing. While Dérond was in pursuit of her creative path, Doumbe Fines already held a BFA in Interior Design, and had been working in architecture and industrial design. Montreal’s first lockdown in 2020 led Doumbe Fines to begin crafting a birthing chair, while Dérond observed. This later led to the creation of more chairs for an upcoming exhibition titled ‘Black Experience Isn’t a Spectacle’, at which point Dérond moved from being an observer to helping form the collection. “It became clear that there was a lot of synergy in the process. We were both pouring ourselves into it and enjoying it, [and] that’s how ibiyanε came to life,” the duo remembers. The pair later moved to Dérond’s native Martinique, where the designers say they “both feel at home.”

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Elombe 011, The New Guard: Stories From the New World (2021)

“We found the space and the welcome we needed, adding to the weather and familiarity of the culture and population,” they explain. “We do not think of ibiyanε as a place, [but] rather as us, as individuals, in a creative relationship. We often describe it as an ongoing conversation.” They assert that the feeling of home in Martinique has helped tremendously in their creative process and has undeniable impact on the source of the studio’s storytelling. “But we [do] know that ibiyanε is going to travel as we will travel, to grow as we will grow. The encounters and questionings that we will have as we grow as persons and as a duo will influence our practice as well,” they add. Ibiyanε’s creative process begins with questions such as ‘what do we want to share?’, while musing upon one’s relationship with objects and the moments these hold, as well as revealing stories of their own backgrounds and heritage. “We’re both artists as well as freedom-seekers, and that’s why we leave room for life to happen during our process. Our intentions are the only aspects of our creation that are set in stone from the start, and even then, it’s very interesting to witness how many interpretations they can hold.” THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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Tania Doumbe Fines (left) and Elodie Dérond (right)

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Below: Elombe 002, Black Experience Isn't A Spectacle (2020). Right: Ibiyane in their studio, working on The New Guard: Stories From the New World (2021)

perception of what is comfort, how our bodies interact in certain spaces,” the duo shares. “We would say that our practice is influenced by a lot of philosophies and movements such as animism, humanism, negritude and Afrofuturism. We fondly believe in our capacity, through everything we do, to nurture and work towards Photography by Karl Obakeng Ndebele the ability to make every living being’s daily life better,” they add. While the designers are self-taught and make While working exclusively with wood, the duo World’. Their collection, Ale (meaning ‘then/ is currently focusing on a technique using stacked now’ in Creole), drew inspiration from the col- all their pieces themselves, they now have plans laminated wood from which a desired form is cut lective memories of their families. Inspired by the to create under the mentorship of Jules Pognon, and extracted and later sanded. “The technique unfading ties between people and objects, the duo a Martinician woodworker, who will help them really inspirits the sculptural aspect of our cre- designed a reinterpretation of the Ti-ban stool – a to expand their understanding and mastery of ations,” the duo share. And while the designers Martinician staple bench – as well as their grand- wood. The duo is also currently working on the conceptualise everything as a team, they also play mothers’ rocking chairs, each piece holding pieces official launch of their studio and on their first personal collection. to their strengths, where Doumbe Fines is in of their memories. “We are driven by the curiosity of what will be,” “Our sub-Saharan African and Caribbean charge of the cutting and Dérond of the sanding. Though a young studio, ibiyanε has already upbringings, definitely, are the main influences they say. “We are also eager to share our views and shown its work as part of an exhibition at in who we are, [and] hence our work. They are experience of the world and our interpretation of Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York, the environments we grew up in. They translate design… We only pray to be given the freedom, called ‘The New Guard: Stories from the New into our appreciation of certain forms and our time and space to learn, explore and share more.” id

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Objects of spirit Omar Chakil’s series of collectible objects in ‘pharaonic alabaster’ is part of the artist’s mission to reinvigorate an appreciation for local craftsmanship and materials

WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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O

mar Chakil is what one would call a true multi-disciplinarian. Growing up observing the sketches made by his architect mother, in addition to his own childhood passion for film and later a chart-stopping singing career, has moulded Chakil into a believer of creative plurality. “I think I am a storyteller,” he muses, “and that is something you can do that through any [medium].” Chakil’s career in interior design began serendipitously, and now spans over two decades. His own Parisian home drew keen attention – leading the artist to design the homes of many friends and family, and later, even celebrities whom he would not name – yet his singing career continued to take centre stage. When that came to an end, Chakil returned his attention to design, but felt interior design to be “too enslaving”. His next possible option was designing furniture and objects. “You can work on objects the same way you work 34

on songs,” Chakil remarks. “But when you’re an interior designer, it’s like you’re always on tour”. At a time when collectible design was still finding its legs in the art and design market, Chakil enrolled in the NABA design school in Milan with the aim of creating objects that would instil a sense of spirit into a home and tell stories through craftsmanship. “I felt like what I wanted to do didn’t really have a representation in the market,” he shares. He remembers going to galleries in Paris at a young age and looking at objects that were neither industrial design nor antique, but feeling compelled by them, nonetheless. “They were pieces of craft and I was just obsessed with them. The objects were so unique and made with such care and intention that they just felt very special,” he says. Chakil is of Egyptian heritage and was born in Beirut and raised in Paris, where he has spent the majority of his professional life. Over the

years, he found himself spending longer periods in Egypt, which led the artist to pursue local craftsmanship and materials which were in an abundance, but none were fully captivating to him. It was a trip to Luxor that revealed to Chakil the powerful spirit of raw Egyptian onyx marble – or ‘pharaonic alabaster’ as he likes to call it. It was nothing like the stone he was used to seeing in the markets of Cairo, which he did not particularly care for. He proceeded to study the properties of the stone with which he felt strongly connected. The heavy translucent stone attracted Chakil because of its colour, which he says captures the spirit of the desert, and its deep-rooted connection to ancient Egypt. “At the beginning, when I first started designing the objects, I was very intense about saying that [they] had mystical powers. But then it became such a New Age trend to talk about these things,” the artist shares. “I have put a lot of work into


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the actual form of the objects; it really is design as well. So, I try not to emphasise too much the spiritual or symbolic nature of the material [anymore] because I don’t want to distract people. “However, the reality of it is that stones have power. It has been recognised throughout history,” he continues. “Alabaster, specifically, has the power to heal and to enhance or to inspire one’s vision into the afterlife. There is something practically alive about the stone, which is why the show is called ‘Suite Anima’ because ‘anima’ refers to the soul, and it is also the root of the word ‘animism’, which is a belief that all things possess a spirit.” ‘Suite Anima’ is Chakil’s first exhibition in Egypt and the first time all his works in alabaster have been shown in a single space. By the time the exhibition opened, the artist had decided to work exclusively with the material and had already shown his works internationally and regionally – including in Beirut and Dubai. His Egyptian debut was made at Le Lab, the country’s first collectible design gallery, spearheaded by art collector Rasheed Kamel. “Rasheed was amazing because he just allowed me to do whatever I wanted to the space [and] I’m really happy with the result,” Chakil says. “It’s like a small museum. I love the fact that’s it’s been on for over three months and people are still going every day. This is new for Egypt.” The exhibition features 22 pieces of the artist’s collection of objects, comprising lighting fixtures, accessories, large scale plinths, stools and tables, and a bathtub that is carved out of a single piece of alabaster. Although a commercial venture, Chakil’s bigger ambition is to elevate design and craftsmanship in Egypt, along with the overarching appreciation for beauty, which he believes uplifts a nation, regardless of its societal and economic challenges. “In France, most people can’t afford to buy Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior or Chanel – but the fact that these things exist in the country is just a benchmark that creates a balance. I’m always very aware that I’m selling luxury in a country where there is [still] a lot of misery. [But] people misjudge the concept of trying to uplift things by creating something that is sometimes unattainable. It has to exist in order to lift the whole cultural space,” says Chakil. The artist’s greatest ambition lies in creating for the public space, to inspire the Egyptian population which, despite positive growth in the

country, is still recovering from years of crises and challenges as well as social and economic inequalities. “I want to create something for everyone,” he says. “Not something to buy but something people could celebrate as a symbol of reconciling Egypt’s past with its present.” id

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craftsmanship Fabraca Studios creates its lighting pieces in Beirut’s industrial quarter in Sed Bouchrieh, which is home to many of the city’s workshops

Photography by Tarek Kandil

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Courage in connectedness

Now scattered across the globe, Lebanon’s expatriate designers are working to keep local craftsmanship alive in their home country WORDS BY LEMMA SHEHADI

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eirut’s buoyant creative industry has produced many of the region’s most important designers. But a succession of financial and political crises in Lebanon, including the explosion at the Beirut Port in August 2020, caused many of the city’s designers to emigrate. “It was hard to be creative in Lebanon. The people were losing their spirit. We were living with limited fuel, electricity and water,” says Rami Boushdid, founder of Beirut-based Studio Caramel, a design studio known for its handmade, luxury bar carts. A year ago, propelled by the crisis, Boushdid moved to Paris, where he set up the French arm of Studio Caramel. “In order to grow as a company we had to set up a base in Europe,” he explains. But the production, he adds, remains in Lebanon. Boushdid is one of many Lebanese designers seeking new bases abroad, while continuing to work with local Lebanese craftsmen. Together, they produce objects in wood, metal, stone and other traditional materials. “Lebanon is where it all started; it’s where the products are made, it’s part of who we are and part of our traditions,” he says. Among those spending more time in the UAE is designer Nada Debs, founder of her eponymous studio in Beirut. “Dubai was the next natural step. We have a lot of clients here, and the emirate is a regional and international hub,” says the studio’s business manager, Tamer Khatib. But Debs, like many others, is adamant that the studio’s production remains in Lebanon. “Our vision and goal has always been to support

Lebanese craft. The challenges that we face in return are what made us a studio,” says Khatib. “Our studio is still in Beirut, and employs over 20 people, excluding the artisans that we also work with. We’re here to stay.” Part of many designers’ reasons to continue to keep close ties with Lebanon is due to the long-standing relationships that they have developed with local Lebanese craftsmen. “I’ve been working with the same artisans for years,” says Thomas Trad, a Lebanese product designer who recently moved to Dubai. “Not only do they have exceptional skill, but they’re eager to learn contemporary techniques, which creates a beautiful dialogue between the designer and the craftsmen. It has helped me improve my own designs.” Trad’s most recent projects in the UAE, including a collaboration with Lebanese carpet maker Iwan Maktabi in Dubai, have been entirely produced in Lebanon. “Dubai is a great place to meet people from different backgrounds and from all over the world,” he says. “There have been new opportunities here, yet I still want to support Lebanese craftsmen.” Trad’s newest series includes handmade marble vases,

and a hand-carved wooden table in a low-lying Japanese style with a gouged surface. “The wood carver was trained in more traditional carving techniques, but we were able to work together to produce a modern gouged surface,” Trad says of his collaboration with the artisan. Often, these relationships between designers and craftsmen have been key to the development of many Lebanese design studios. Jeweller Alexandra Hakim has been based in Madrid, the Spanish capital, for the past two years. A maker herself, Hakim first set up shop in the Bourj Hammoud district of Beirut, which is known for its fine jewellers. “I walked around the area looking for somebody who would integrate me into their studio and let me do my own thing,” she recalls. Eventually, she was taken in by Ajemian, a local jeweller and workshop owner. But building trust took years. “In Lebanon, women don’t make jewellery; the artisans are usually male,” she says. “So, Ajemian tested me at the beginning. He took [my presence in his studio] as a joke.” Hakim’s contemporary approach involves casting found objects and waste products into jewellery. This often clashed with the techniques of more traditionally trained craftsmen in Ajemian’s studio. “I had to tweak what I could work with,” she explains, “but once Ajemian trusted me, I was able to train his artisans to make things the way I wanted them.” THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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Above: Zenobie collection by Nada Debs and Irthi

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Designers insist that the quality of craftsmanship in Lebanon is unrivalled in the region, which compels them to keep producing there. “We’re working with highly specialised crafts like marquetry and mother of pearl inlay,” says Khatib of the work at Studio Nada Debs. “We’ve yet to find the same approach to craft elsewhere.” And, in a small country like Lebanon, it is not difficult to gain access to a diverse range of crafts and workshops. Samer Saadeh, founder of Fabraca Studios, creates bespoke lighting and architectural

solutions using traditional metalwork and other locally available techniques. He works in Beirut’s industrial quarter in Sed Bouchrieh, which is home to many of the city’s workshops. “It’s like a giant toy store, with so many different types of craft so close to each other,” he describes. In light of the financial and political crisis in Lebanon, Saadeh has focused on overseas projects that can help promote the industry. Among these is designing lighting solutions for the Emirates Palace hotel in Dubai, a currently ongoing project. “I


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wanted to show that you can still have this exclusive and beautiful detailing and production from Lebanese artisans,” he says. Yet he also notes an increased demand in Lebanon for locally made products. “The crisis has been a big slap in the face for people who previously relied on imports,” he says. What makes Lebanon’s crafts industry, Saadeh adds, is its historic roots. “A lot of the craftsmen in the industrial city were Armenian refugees from the Ottoman Empire, and they brought their craft with them,” he says. What’s more, Lebanon’s craftsmen

Nationale bar cart by Studio Caramel

held an important regional reputation in the 1960s and ‘70s. “The older artisans of the industrial city recalled to me how people would come all the way from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or Jordan to have their furniture made in Lebanon,” he says. Retaining a base in Lebanon, designers add, is also important for a brand’s identity. “Beirut was a good source of inspiration for the way I work,” Hakim explains. “There’s a charm to almost everything like the cafes, the streets, the restaurants, the graffiti [and even] the rubbish.”

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Above: Good Karma collection by Alexandra Hakim Next page: Alïa vases and M table by Thomas Trad

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For Boushdid, Lebanon’s hospitality scene, with its vibrant bars and restaurants, helped shape the direction of his studio. “In Lebanon, it’s important to think about your guests. Our culture brings people together. We didn’t learn about hospitality, we lived it. It may be the reason that we make bar carts.” he says. Indeed, many of Lebanon’s most famous architects made their mark in Beirut by designing restaurants and nightclubs. Yet today, producing in Lebanon is fraught with challenges. Khatib recalls how fuel and electricity shortages in the past year hampered the studio’s production. “We are working with artisans all across the country, so getting the different parts and materials to them was tricky,” he says. Others have struggled with the long distance. “The production process is the stage that I love best,” says Trad, “so I miss being in Lebanon and visiting the workshops.” While the industry continues to produce at a high quality, it is also fragile. “Many of the craftsmen became unemployed, and they didn’t teach their skills to their children,” says Saadeh, who witnessed the closure of a workshop employing dozens of artisans. Meanwhile, emigration continues to shrink the pool of available talent and craftsmanship. Both in the industrial quarter of Sed Bouchrieh and the jewellery district of Bourj Hammoud, local artisans and their families have been migrating out of Lebanon. Nonetheless, Lebanese designers are determined to continue, whatever the cost. “I have suggested to Nada [Debs] that it would be easier to produce abroad, but she immediately reminds me of our mission to support local craftsmanship,” Khatib shares. And, in a bold move, Studio Caramel plans to launch a more accessible range of bar carts later in the year. This would see its production increase tenfold from 10 or 15 bespoke bar carts a year, to up to 200. “Of course, we have a plan B and a plan C,” says Boushdid, citing production in countries like Portugal or Italy, whose advantages are scalability, easier distribution routes to Europe and, in some cases, lower costs. “But for now, our aim is to produce entirely in Lebanon.” id

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Lily chandelier by Fabraca Studios


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architecture

Coastal modernism

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Anarchitect’s newest destination hotel pays homage to Sri Lanka’s tropical modernism movement WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDMUND SUMNER AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA PRIFTI

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hile Sri Lanka’s Southern Province continues to be highly sought-after for its lush landscape of endless coconut groves, its tropical climate and a popular surf break, architectural prowess is not a feature that is often associated with the area. Yet the small region is, in fact, home to a number of private houses designed by some of the most prominent architects of the century, including the likes of Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban, in addition to hotels such as Amanwella, designed by Kerry Hill, and some of the earlier works of the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. “You essentially have four globally prominent star architects on the south coast of a relatively discreet country, on an island where people just fell in love with the natural beauty and commissioned amazing architects to do great work. That was an inspiration for us. It was [also] quite intimidating, but why not?” laughs Jonathan Ashmore, founding principal of Dubai and London-based architecture practice, Anarchitect. The studio had been approached by AustralianSri Lankan hotelier Paul Harding to design a boutique hotel in the coastal town of Ahangama, located on a plot that is a mere thirty-minute drive from the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle Fort. Ashmore, who was already in Sri Lanka’s southern coast at the time working on

a private villa, was also nearing completion of the studio’s first destination hotel, Al Faya Lodge, set in the Sharjah desert. The Harding Boutique Hotel felt like a natural next step in developing the studio’s passion for small-scale destination hospitality. It was also the complete climatic antithesis to the studio’s previous project, which proved to be an interesting challenge. “Architecture can be a key component to the guest experience,” Ashmore comments. “A lot of times, I feel that more [attention is being paid to] the decoration or the interiors [of a hotel], while the exterior of the building doesn’t relate. But there are many examples with hotels like Aman and Habitas, where people will travel for the architecture, which is so intrinsic to its context and its culture – it’s an individual one-off experience. That’s what I wanted to do [here],” he explains. Harding also confirms that for him the hotel was a passion project (which he funded in its entirety), but also one that is very personal. “Gem Milhuisen was my great-uncle and one of the premier hoteliers of Sri Lanka, an innovative pioneer who opened the country’s first Geoffrey Bawa-designed hotel, The Blue Lagoon, Negombo,” he recalls. “I wanted the property to be in keeping with my great-uncle’s vision and creation – almost a

continuum – with references to Bawa throughout.” Already from the first sketching session, Ashmore drew the building that comprises the Harding Boutique Hotel as we know it. The vertical structure – an uncommon choice for a building of its kind – follows the exact footprint of the previous building that was destroyed by a tsunami, and kinks at the back to allow views towards the ocean and the town to the rear. The narrow east-west cross-section of the hotel encourages natural cross-ventilation that filters the prevailing coastal winds across the interior spaces which are marked by their permeability, resulting in a consistent feeling of being both indoors and outdoors, and in touch with the surrounding natural elements. The infinity-edge swimming pool on the ground floor is slightly elevated to rise above the vegetation and allow for privacy, complete with a pink pigmented pool deck inspired by the area’s clay-coloured soil and resting by the hotel’s small café. As one moves up, the six-suite property offers garden rooms that have a dual aspect, with framed views to the coconut groves – almost like extended artworks – to one side as well as open-air rain showers, and a front-facing set of rooms that look out to the ocean and each feature both an outdoor bath and rain-shower, with sliding panels which can be opened or closed upon preference. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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“But the complication [here was] that an outdoor bathroom or shower is usually on a horizontal spread,” Ashmore explains. Despite this, the architect insisted that connection to the outdoors was a key architectural component of the Sri Lankan hospitality experience. “We challenged ourselves and asked, ‘can we design a vertical building that creates a new perspective on the south coast?’” he recounts. Besides the rooms, which are subdued in their material and colour palette, with references to Scandinavian design, the façade and internal staircase of the hotel forms a building that is dynamic in nature, mirroring its bustling surroundings while remaining considerate of its climate and natural context. “There is a lot going on outside,” Ashmore says. “It is a dynamic façade which takes quite a bit of influence from the footprint of the building, but it also engages with this idea of slight shading and cross-ventilation. The open apertures between all the slats allow the wind to flow but it is also safe and secure; it is enclosed. At night it becomes a bit of a lantern while in the daytime it draws in the natural light. So, the only areas that are truly air conditioned are the insides of the guestrooms.” The façades to the staircase and private balconies are purposely dynamic and interactive for the guests to easily manipulate by hand to alter the building in response to various changes - such as wind and sunlight. The staircase itself is fundamental to the whole building and is the most intersectional space within the entire structure that leads up to the rooftop terrace bar. On each half level there is a small nook, either for respite or as a place to socialise. “You get all of the elements around you: the wind, the smells, the birds, the beeping of the horns of the tuk-tuks going by – everything is in that staircase. When you arrive at the building and you look all the way up three storeys, you see all the guests and staff just circulating around – so it is very social and it is again about creating that dynamism,” Ashmore says. “It animates the building, so that when everyone is asleep is it very still, but the moment everyone is awake it becomes dynamic and the silhouettes of the people from the day to the evening make it a building you want to go in and explore.” Collaboration with local craftsmen and contractors was also vital to the realisation of the building – which was delayed by almost two years due to the pandemic, which brought additional 48

challenges to the project due to the six-month lockdown in Sri Lanka as well as an import ban, making materials scarce and difficult to come by. Anarchitect decided to explore traditional techniques and materials, which were comfortable for the makers to understand while still pushing the boundaries of their application. “It was a simple material palette and nearly everything was locally sourced,” Ashmore says. “We really didn’t want to bring large imports [in], and everything was sourced from a close proximity, and [only] as far as the capital, Colombo.” “We didn’t want to layer too many elements into this building to make it busy visually, or to make it complicated to build,” he continues. “We had to make the building practical to be built with local knowledge and new challenges – but still within the parameters of what is possible. We had to remain responsible to Paul. Which meant these craftsmen were comfortable using the material but the slightly different

approach or scale or surface took them out of their comfort zone; although once they were in that zone, they were back in comfort because they know their materials.” Materials were chosen for their longevity – such as concrete, aluminium, and a robust satin polished plaster known as ‘titanium concrete’ for a high-polish finish for the walls and floors – while local craftsmen produced the hotel’s custom timber joinery and furniture. “We didn’t want to stylise,” Ashmore explains. “What we wanted to do was try to create a building that had this more modernist approach, which was about framing and engaging more with the nature and the climate. When I stayed there, it was the first time I ever felt calm in my own building. Because usually architects don’t,” Ashmore laughs. “I felt that the building was settled, and it felt pure – it didn’t shout at you, and it didn’t try to impress you – it just felt of [its] place.” id


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A human experience From the modern and bold to the classic and sustainable, bathroom design is evolving in ways that are making the space a truly sumptuous retreat

WORDS BY JUMANA ABDEL-RAZZAQ

Class act A skilful play of geometry and fluidity best characterises the silhouette of Italy-based Ritmonio’s Diametro35 model, which brings a modern and harmonious look to the traditional bathroom tap. By combining craftmanship, aesthetical research and specific technological competences, Ritmonio capitalises on classic design, inherent in the timeless shape that makes the collection distinct, while finding expression in four variations with great finesse, combining style, luxury and elegance. With a touch of the avant-garde, Diametro35 reveals architectural contexts with a strong identity, presenting itself in a wide variety of solutions for all areas of the bathroom environment.

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New generation Representing a vision of bathroom design as an architecture of the senses, Agape’s new outdoor collection expands the boundaries of the bathroom outside, bringing a new generation of washbasins, taps, tubs and accessories to complement the Agape experience. Referencing the Bjhon family of washbasins – first created in 1970 by Angelo Mangiarotti as a flowerpot and only later turned into a basin – the new

collection uses novel materials to enhance a series of products that exudes elegance and resilience. While the Ufo bathtub and the Carrara washbasin – classics of the Agape catalogue – are joined in the Outdoor collection by the new Petra, Amuleto and Open Air, icons like the Vieques and Kaa series, the Handwash washbasin and the DR and In-Out bathtubs, are all reimagined in materials suitable for harsh climates, and resistant to atmospheric agents. THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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Limitless luxe Representing timeless luxury and an art of living, THG Paris is a pioneer of the high-end bathroom fittings and accessories sector, using the finest materials, from marble to semi-precious stones, to offer a wide range of designs adapted to contemporary, transitional or baroque styles. While incorporating recycling systems and an ecological production cycle, THG Paris uses materials such as crystal, porcelain, onyx and optical glass to add a distinct feel to any bathroom. Similarly, the use of natural marble in the THG Paris collections makes it possible to perfectly coordinate the taps with the washbasin or bathroom coverings for a bespoke finish. 52


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Calming retreat Luxury retailer SV CASA has partnered with British interior designer Kelly Hoppen to bring its first collaborative collection of home and bathroom accessories, featuring three monolithic contemporary sculptures, two sets of occasional tables and four sets of modern bathroom accessories to highlight the collection’s design prowess. The collection, which features Kelly Hoppen’s signature style, is crafted from high-quality liquid stone resin in the designer’s trademark monochromatic colour palette and is inspired by her experience of creating private homes and luxurious hotel spaces, as well as her love for organic shapes, textures and geometry. Focused on materiality and form, the bathroom pieces succeed in bringing a calm yet architectural value to any space.

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Organic forms Produced using 80% recycled materials, FORMED’s concrete basins and sinks unveil an industrial design to showcase the many facets of concrete in the most sumptuous manner. With 40 colour options that are combined with recycled sands and admixtures, the ranges bring together modern and vibrant products which can be customised for any space. FORMED’s products include contemporary sinks Koro, Nobu and Bron, which together offer a vast range of palettes and textures. Additionally, the Arlo pedestal basin exudes curves with its hourglass form – a piece that will take centre stage in any bathroom.

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Natural selections By introducing three new bathroom colours to its free-standing baths and basins collection, Victoria + Albert Baths showcases a wealth of bespoke palettes that match and harmonise with the tones and textures of their surroundings and were developed in collaboration with Wallpaper*. Wavelengths, Dune Retreat and Light Industrielle represent a trio of different moods that can each transform the bathroom into a warm and contemporary space for any design lover. While Wavelengths evokes a sense of calm and wellbeing that honours the tranquillity of water, Dune Retreat brings a warm, contemplative and escapist palette that references the shifting sands of the desert and the sun-baked earth. Meanwhile, Light Industrielle pays homage to contemporary architecture and classic industrial design with its minimalistic aesthetic, bringing together a natural yet modern collection. id

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Japandi style In this modern, coastal home located on Saadiyat Island, interior designer Natasha Sturko has blended Scandinavian and Asian influences

The Great Room features sofas, a leather bench and woven leather poufs, wooden joinery and an onyx centre table, all custom-designed by Natasha Sturko and fabricated in Dubai (City Palace Furniture & Cherwell Interiors). The oxidised metal lamp is from 101 Copenhagen, designed by Tommy Hyldahl (sourced from Designitch in Dubai). Painting from HKliving (sourced from The Bowery Company in Dubai). Console table behind the sofa is from Crate & Barrel. Hand knotted rug is from Hands, Dubai

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WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATELEE COCKS THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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Left: Ceramic accessories are by 101 Copenhagen, designed by Tommy Hyldahl (sourced from Designitch in Dubai). Side table by Ferm Living (sourced from Bowery Company in Dubai). Right: Dining cabinet by Indigo Living. Originally it was light oak with cane fronts and a brass base; but Sturko chose to customise it by staining it black and powder-coating the leg black. Vase by Designitch, Dubai. Painting by Crate & Barrel, Dubai

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f you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This quote by textile designer William Morris particularly resonates with Natasha Sturko’s design ethos. At the helm of Natasha Sturko Interiors, this creative mind – who has lived in five countries and visited over 50 – masters the art of mixing the raw and the refined, something that is reflected through her latest project. Situated near Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi, the 1,000-square metre, five-bedroom house is the second project that Sturko has worked on for these clients, an Emirati couple in their 30s who have a golden retriever fur baby named Pablo. “I had previously designed the interiors of the couple’s first

home when they were newlyweds,” remembers Sturko, who was immediately on board for this adventure. “They are such fun, always up for trying new things and taking risks with their style. They both have quite different aesthetics, however, so it can be a bit challenging to find a complementing balance. A residential design relationship is a lot like a marriage – a series of careful negotiations and compromises.” Featuring bold geometry accented by glass, stone and wood, the house is contemporary yet warm thanks to the earthy tones and natural materials – such as wood, stone and leather – that adorn the different areas. Mixing Scandinavian and Japanese references through the furniture lines and textures, this house is both an ode to a ‘less is more’ approach and a celebration of materiality.


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This page: Dining table customdesigned by Natasha Sturko featuring a Calcatta Oro marble top with a metal base (fabricated in Abu Dhabi by Ali & Sons Interiors). Dining chairs by Indigo Living: originally dark grey with gold leg, customised with tweed fabric, painted leg and caps. Art and accessories by Bowery Company, Crate & Barrel and Designitch Next page: (Left) TV unit joinery, ribbed white oak contrasted with black stained oak and metal shelving - custom-designed by Natasha Sturko and fabricated in Abu Dhabi (by Ali & Sons Interiors). Rug by Carpet Centre, Dubai. Accessories by Designitch, Dubai. (Right) Leather sofa by Crate & Barrel. Rug by FBMI. Side table by Ferm Living. Lamp by HAY THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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The first-floor family TV room offers a panorama of the lightfilled ground level, where the fireplace is the star of the show. The wall-mounted, cantilevered cabinet finished in oak veneer and the limestone concrete plaster top combine with the double-height wall chimney that’s characterised by its asymmetric gypsum structure, which was hand-finished with limestone plaster concrete. “The overall design pits a visual fragility – reminiscent of origami paper – against its raw and rustic stone-like materiality while evoking a sense of timelessness,” says Sturko. “It is not a commonly constructed feature in the UAE.” Equally fragile in appearance, the sculptural coffee table – with its inverted truncated pyramid design working against the delicate, faceted nature of the natural white onyx stone – was another challenging piece to create. “It was very stressful,” confesses Sturko. “Because of the design, it took longer than usual to fabricate and when they were finally packing it for delivery, one corner broke and needed repairing. Then during delivery, another edge broke… Overall, the table took

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six months until final delivery, without including my design time.” Sturko was also conscious of integrating natural elements into the design of this new home. Carefully chosen to improve air quality, the indoor plants bring freshness inside and provide a visual connection with nature. Sturko also chose sustainable materials such as FSCcertified veneers/timber, limestone concrete and low-VOC coatings, plus efficient low-voltage LED lighting, as well as natural fabrics and furnishings sourced from ethically responsible manufacturers. “One of our core studio values is ‘bespoke sustainability’ and wherever possible to support local,” says Sturko. “With the exception of a few decorative pieces, 90% of the project was custom-designed with construction and fabrication by UAE contractors, local workshops and craftsmen. The remaining 10% was sourced through local suppliers.” Exemplifying the Japandi style while honouring the location in which it sits, this home is an invitation to feel peace and balance through every element and at every moment. id


architecture interiors

Sofas, cushions, oak side and centre tables - all custom-designed by Natasha Sturko and fabricated in Dubai (by City Palace Furniture). Rug by Carpet Centre, Dubai THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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interiors

In Chile, this duplex apartment with interior spaces by Estudio Paula Gutiérrez is a feast for the eyes, thanks to both the bold décor and the exceptional views

Gio Ponti armchairs. Georges Smith sofa. Painting by Alejandro Corujeira. Niobe table in marble by Zanotti. Blue head sculpture by Benjamin Lira

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The art


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of living

WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRISTÓBAL VALDÉS THE CRAFTSMANSHIP ISSUE

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interiors

Hervé Van der Straeten bronze lamp. Damien Hirst artworks

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n the high-end residential area of Lo Barnechea in Santiago, Mirador Santa Anita is a compound of luxury apartments surrounded by a park of 3.5 hectares and designed by architect Jorge Figueroa, who imagined a staggered-level design, allowing each unit to have its own private entrance and large terraces. It is within this residential complex that Estudio Paula Gutiérrez was tasked with transforming the interiors of a duplex apartment. “As soon as the owner reached out to us, we knew we had to create a story that would reflect her aesthetic needs, combined with a cosmopolitan lifestyle,” remembers Paula Gutiérrez, who sits at the helm of her eponymous studio. “At the same time, we decided to shape a delicate interior design that would highlight the exceptional views of the Andes Mountains.” The makeover consisted of reorganising the spaces (500 square metres inside and 400 square metres outside) followed by curating an impressive art collection aligned with the homeowner’s taste. The first floor is home to the public areas,

an office, the main terrace and the main bedroom, while three suites, a gym, a family room and two smaller terraces occupy the second level. “The owner had already moved in with her previous furniture, so the new decoration was done step by step over time,” says Gutiérrez. “It was a challenge to keep the storytelling and colour palette until the end, and to fit [in] every new idea as a layer of the same script. After three and a half years, quarantines included, the spaces were transformed, with only a few pieces from the original decoration. I still feel the process hasn’t fully finished yet. It’s the kind of work that never really ends!” The colours were inspired by the homeowner’s cerulean blue head sculpture by Benjamin Lira that is in the living room, and by the travertine flooring of the entrance and the terrace. From there, Gutiérrez decided to use natural tones and shades of blue-green. “The greige and grey walls in the hallway, living room, dining area and main bedroom are in a stucco technique by Chilean artist Exequiel Fontecilla,” describes Gutiérrez. “These neutral hues were chosen to create contrasts and emphasise the art collection.”

Left: Ceramic pieces by Andrea Arrivillaga. Right: Eugenio Aguirre table and photographs from the series ‘Atmosferas’ by Nicolas Sanchez

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interiors

Left: Porta Romana sconce. Rubelli and Pierre Frey curtains. Right: Robert Indiana rug. Porta Romana sconce. Flexform armchair. Next page: The use of textures creates a warm atmosphere

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Left page: Photograph by Massimo Listri. Russell sofa in velvet by Minotti. Moroccan rug. Wooden piece of furniture by Estudio Paula Gutierrez. Top: Kettal furniture. Fernando Casasempere sculpture

The dark anteroom allows the artwork by Javier Toro Blum to stand out, while the hallway’s walls in different colours are adorned with big paintings and a bronze lighting fixture by Hervé Van der Straeten. On the floor, ceramic pieces by Andrea Arrivillaga complete the gallery feel. The Russell sofa in green velvet by Minotti, the Louisa coffee table by Molteni &C, bookshelves by Estudio Paula Gutiérrez, a photograph by Massimo Listri and the Moroccan rug give a sophisticated yet warm look to the office area. In the big terrace, which features a landscape design made in collaboration with Macarena Calvo from Calvo y Elgueta, the Kettal furniture in a

palette of pink, grey and terracotta (including the Basket chairs by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel, and the Mesh, Roll and Band collections by Patricia Urquiola) reinforce the visual connection with the sublime surrounding landscape. The last space of the apartment to be remodelled was the living room, which is furnished with D.154.2 chairs by Gio Ponti and Minotti, as well as George Smith sofas, and features soft tones. “The homeowner was a bit reluctant to keep the pale grey rug we customised,” Gutiérrez shares. “She decided she would serve Champagne and white wine only there, so if one glass fell on the rug it wouldn’t be that bad! The first day, just

after putting everything in place, with our first toast, a glass fell on the rug. … We cleaned it… ipso facto… no traces left. [And] after a big laugh, she relaxed and decided to enjoy the decoration, whatever happens!” Filled with treasures by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Victor Vasarely, Jesús Soto, Roberto Matta and Robert Indiana – to name only a few – this home also invites dwellers to enjoy the exterior panorama. “As the apartment is immersed in such fantastic views, I studied the volumes and furniture placement to create a fluid movement, a natural progression between in and out,” Gutiérrez concludes. id

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Joyce armchair Flexform Available at flexform.it

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library

A story of place Sante Fe Modern: Contemporary Design in the High Desert surveys the architecture and interiors of Santa Fe, focusing on contemporary and modernist designs that reveal the layers of a city known for marching to the beat of its own drum WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA

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n 1974, as a twenty-five-year-old contemporary art dealer in Dallas, Texas, I came to Santa Fe to scope out its art community,” begins contemporary art gallerist Laura Carpenter in the foreword of the new architectural tome, Santa Fe Modern, published by Phaidon. She continues: “One of the first people I met was the abstract landscape painter Forrest Moses, who invited me to his house. Standing

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in his home/studio, I noted the diverse mix of adobe architecture, modern furniture, objects and art, and I was smitten. Forrest’s realm was an exquisite combination of American Indian, Asian, flea market, modern and contemporary styles. I knew then that Santa Fe was where I wanted to live and work.” Coming from the success of their bestselling Texas Made/Texas Modern and Marfa Modern

books, design author Helen Thompson and photographer Casey Dunn have now embarked on curating the first visual survey of its kind that reveals the modernist and contemporary architecture and interiors of Santa Fe, the fourth-largest city in New Mexico. The desert oasis, with its dramatic mountain landscape, endless views, clear light, pueblo-style adobe architecture and vibrant indigenous cultures, has long drawn a community of creative spirits to its grounds. In the last few decades, the city’s status had strengthened into a hub for contemporary art, design, photography and architecture, with a robust proliferation of modernist homes shaping the architectural landscape of the city and its relationship to the surrounding landscape. Santa Fe Modern showcases a collection of 20 stunning residences that reveals a paradigm shift for the city and describes how architectural ideas – both new and ancient – have redefined the city and its culture. The homes range from sleek and sophisticated to quirky and deeply personal spaces, from architects including the likes of Lake|Flato, Lawrence Speck, Specht Architects, Studio DuBois, Trey Jordan and Ralph Ridgeway. Providing confident examples of great architecture that is particular to a desert landscape and climate, the architects featured in the book draw from the architectural heritage of New Mexico, using long-established materials such as adobe


library

and wood in combination with steel and glass to create bold, abstracted forms. The projects featured in the publication pay homage to the elemental integrity of old building traditions, while simultaneously evoking the rigorous expressions of modernist architecture. Each home is presented with in-depth descriptions of architectural details, materials and designs, while intimately capturing the way the owners live in their houses, and considering how the houses themselves function as settings for contemporary art. In the foreword by Carpenter, the gallerist also contextualises Santa Fe in the art world and examines the impact that significant architects and artists such as John Gaw Meem, Mardsen Hartley, Stuart Davis and Georgia O’Keeffe have had on Sante Fe’s creative and artistic legacy. Above all, and in addition to being a stunning collection of architectural projects of the high desert, Santa Fe Modern demonstrates the synergistic relationship between art, architecture and the land.

Clockwise from top left: Living room by Seth Anderson. Bedroom by Robert Zachary. Dining area by William R. Buckley, featuring Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s Cloud Prototype No. 2

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Italian studio Bartoli Design’s Sen-to chair was created to overcome constraints. The seat plays with detailed textures and solid features to create a design that is visually light and equally as comfortable. The highlight is undoubtedly the handwoven rope technique that uses graphic design in a minimal way, matching the metal lacquered frame and a range of different colours. It can also be used for both indoor and outdoor settings.

Sen-to by Bartoli Design 74


Exclusive paintings, sculptures, photography and timepieces from award-winning international artists.

Painting by Faisal Abdulqader

Photograph by Yousif Alharmoodi

Sculpture by Armin Shahhosseini


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