Arab Design Now Exhibition: A Celebration Of Tradition And Innovation

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Oussama Abbassi |The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: As visitors step into the Arab Design Now exhibition at Msheireb's M7 gallery, they embark on a journey that gradually transitions from the ancient to the contemporary.

The exhibition running from February 24 to August 5, 2024, brings together the works of over 74 designers from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, presenting a captivating fusion of traditional craftsmanship and modern innovation.

Abdel Majid, an Eritrean guide at the exhibition, elaborates on the exhibition's mission: "The way is to preserve the traditions and the traditional craftsmanship, which is almost forgotten now. By trying to incorporate it into our new modern lifestyle, more people would pay attention to it and that would help in the preservation process of the craftsmanship."

The entrance and first floor are dedicated to works that showcase traditional methods, while progressively introducing pieces that incorporate modern machinery.

This arrangement allows visitors to appreciate the evolution of Arab designs and the ways in which artists are adapting to new technologies while maintaining their cultural roots.

Here are some of the Arab Design Now pieces showcased at the exhibition:

Sites – New Sites, 2023, by Studio Anne Holtrop

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by Bahrain-based Studio Anne Holtrop's "Sites – New Sites, 2023," an art work created in Qatar.

Made from cast resin placed upon traces of natural and man-made landscapes in Qatar, visitors can twist and turn the pieces to create new combinations of landscapes that don't exist in reality, resulting in a playful and thought-provoking experience.

As Above, so below 2023, by Nahla Tabba

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Transitioning to the next piece, Jordanian designer Nahla Tabba's "As Above, so below 2023" presents a decayed fabric artwork that records the passage of time through mud, sun, and trees.

The artwork captures time through a three-part process: burying the textile in soil, marking shaded areas under a plum tree, and embroidering with naturally dyed threads.

This innovative co-creation process with a plum tree highlights the relationship between nature, time, and the creative process.

Sharing the Earth (Spatial Interiorities), 2023, by Salima Najee

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Moving on, visitors encounter Moroccan architect Salima Najee's "Sharing the Earth (Spatial Interiorities), 2023," a small-scale pavilion that explores traditional raw earth building techniques.

The pavilion features two structures made from raw earth, bamboo, and palm trees, with trellises and skylights that filter light and provide natural ventilation.

Najee's work highlights the sustainability and environmental benefits of this centuries-old African construction method, emphasizing the importance of preserving and learning from traditional practices.

The architect advocates for a strategic vision that acknowledges ancestral wisdom and promotes architecture for the common good, favoring time-tested, eco-friendly building approaches in regions faced with water stress and scarce resources.

Palm Fiber Carpet by Abdulrahman Al-Muftah

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Another piece of artwork is the young Qatari artist Abdulrahman Al-Muftah's tribute to traditional sadhu weavers in Qatar through his captivating installation named“Palm Fiber Carpet.”

The piece features an unfinished central portion, symbolizing the artist's youth, continuous learning, and room for growth and improvement.

This thought-provoking work not only showcases the artist's talent but also highlights the importance of preserving and celebrating traditional craftsmanship.

Egyptian sculptures

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

As visitors continue their journey, they are captivated by mesmerizing installations depicting Egyptian mythologies and celestial beings.

The carved sculptures of 'Nahiro Bench,' Nubia,' Hathor,' and 'Gros Guillaume Stool' showcase ancient Egyptian gods various artifacts, and their mythical linkage to culture and way of life in ancient Egypt.

Metamorphosis, 2023, Amine Asselman

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Ascending to the upper levels, visitors discover a range of furniture and architectural designs that seamlessly blend traditional aesthetics with modern manufacturing techniques.

Moroccan artist Amine Asselman's "Metamorphosis, 2023" stands out as an innovative approach to preserving the threatened art of Zalij, a traditional hand-crafted mosaic tilework technique.

Developed through his doctoral thesis, Asselman's mathematical method generates an infinite number of geometric figures based on a single rhythm, effectively perpetuating this endangered craft.

The exhibition features Asselman's hand-cut ceramic tessarae glazed with resin, resulting in mosaics that possess an organic quality despite their arithmetic composition.

Asselman's work demonstrates the potential for traditional art forms to evolve and thrive, ensuring the survival of cultural heritage for future generations.

Sculptural Console by Hamza Kadiri

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Right next to it, Hamza Kadiri, a Moroccan artist, creates stunning wooden sculptures and furniture pieces by combining traditional knowledge with the Japanese Shou-Sugi-Ban technique.

This process involves hand-carving solid ash wood, charring the surface layer, and finishing with beeswax, resulting in surreal, blackened pieces with bold curves and textured surfaces that highlight the wood's natural beauty.

The Sculptural Console piece is entirely hand-carved by Kadiri in a process that unites two opposite forces, one seemingly destructive, the other restorative, the wood is first exposed to sudden bursts of flame, then brushed smooth as it cools.

The Green Bridal Chest by Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

The crown jewel of the exhibition, "The Green Bridal Chest," created by the sister duo Nisreen Abudail and Nermeen Abudail, is a masterful combination of traditional Palestinian embroidery of flora and fauna crafted from brass and polished green marble.

Created in honor of the designers' niece, the intricate geometric patterns and inscriptions pay homage to the region's rich cultural heritage while incorporating modern engraving elements.

Brickbooks by Mohammad Sharaf

Photo by Oussama Abbassi / The Peninsula

Concluding the exhibition, Kuwaiti artist Mohammad Sharaf's "Brickbooks" serve as a form of contemporary archaeology, preserving the images and stories of forgotten places in Kuwait over the past 20 years.

His work raises important questions about the value of preserving cultural heritage in the face of rapid modernization.

The Arab Design Now Exhibition is a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of Arab craftsmanship and the innovative spirit of contemporary designers.

By showcasing the fusion of traditional methods and modern techniques, the exhibition promotes the preservation of ancient traditions in the modern world, ensuring that the rich cultural heritage of the Arab world continues to thrive for generations to come.


The Peninsula

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