The Abwab exhibition is Dubai Design Week’s key event for highlighting regional design talent from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and is the only initiative of its kind in these regions. This year, an editorial board selected the works on display. We highlight editorial board member, Rawan Kashkoush’s top selections.

The Abwab exhibition is Dubai Design Week’s key event for highlighting regional design talent from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and is the only initiative of its kind in these regions. This year, an editorial board selected the works on display. Below we highlight editorial board member, Rawan Kashkoush’s top selections:

1. Ali Shawwa - Gossipers Sculptures

An intermix of traditional and contemporary with contrasting colors, textures, and layers, Shawwa’s work, entitled ‘Gossipers Sculptures’ explores the role this type of oral communication has played in defining the evolution of the human race and its culture.

2. Anjali Srinivasan - Quiver Vessels

With experience working with traditional Indian craft artisans, Anjali heads the only artist-run hot glass studio in Dubai. Her submission for Abwab, ‘Quiver Vessels’, questions the notion of a self-contained object and introduces the reflection of the viewer in her art. These vessels which emphatically react to vibrations, collapse and return to shape with just a poke, fold and even a human breath.

3. Loci Architecture & Design – Sr.

Loci Architecture & Design is centered on the viewpoint that design inspiration and influence does not diffuse from the external to the internal, but organically stems from the geographic context of a region and its culture, tradition, and history. The focus of ‘Sr’ is the longstanding tradition of privacy in the Middle East. A semi-permeable membrane, enough to merely peer through to the other side, ‘Sr’ highlights the separation between public and private spheres. Consisting of desert sand within its multi-wall polycarbonate sheets, no two panels are identical. Sand’s unique physical properties ensure that each panel is completely unique.

4. Salim – (x)

An architect from American University of Beirut and Columbia University, Salim’s handmade soap comprises of a gift compartment created by the union of two separate modules. The modules, one male and one female, are crafted using specially designed drill bits. These modules fuse further into one another when exposed to warm water. Only when the soap reaches its final end is the gift presented.

5. Coalesce Design Studio - Ralli

Eye-catching, dramatic, and unique, the Ralli is a fusion of old and contemporary. The edgy frame minimalistic design is juxtaposed with a natural design depicted in its raw curves. Pieces of shisham wood are set in a rally-inspired pattern along the seat.

6. Siba Sahabi - Perspective Nr.1

Siba’s designs explore the idea that the influence of various cultures on each other leads to an entirely new form of expression. In ‘Perspective Nr. 1’, the architectural design remains static while a hidden light unit casts a dynamic web of shadows. Arabesque patterns along with linear perspectives that were developed during the Renaissance in Europe are merged to create a contemporary wall-mount, depicting a blend of European and Middle Eastern influences.

7. Soukaina Aziz El Idrissi - Chemistry’s Greatest Achievement

Soukana Aziz El Idrissi specializes in utilizing only plastic waste for his designs. He explores the life cycle of plastic from being an integral part of every moment of human society to being tossed into the junkyard. Idrissi reevaluates our meaning of ‘waste’ by transforming the material into a mise en abime, using the waste of waste, making plastic integral to his piece not only as a material, but also as a conceptual component to visually depict the effects of plastic on our bodies.

8. Hozan Zangana – Sufi Vase

Born and raised in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Hozan was always enchanted with the 7th century Kufic script and the history it spoke. Inspired by language, tradition, and rituals, elements that are intangible yet play a vital role in human culture, Hozan embodied the voluptuous curves and strands of the calligraphy in his sculptures. The Sufi Vase with five folds and the silhouette of the wide dress, shaped by arms and shoulders, a well-known motif in Middle Eastern architecture, was inspired by the Sufi dance, embodying the mystical forms that enchanted Hozan. This is the second appearance Hozan makes in Abwab, having designed the Iraqi pavilion of Abwab last year.

9. Hicham Lahlou – Big Black One

Hicham Lahlou’s steel light piece shines light onto Moroccan music. Crafted with raw material, it is an intersection of nafar, or trumpets traditional to the Gnawa music of the region, paying tribute to music, his culture, and art.

10. Mahmoud El Dallas – Cairotales

Cairotales, a modern chair with an urban look, sought inspiration from ancient Egyptian traditions of making seats. As a result, it embodies the ancient knowledge of comfort dressed in a contemporary design for the current youth of the city.

11. Yacob Sughair – Jacob 15

Yacob’s draws inspiration from the relations between people and their characters for his work. His submission, a table in the form of a Marie biscuit, a common childhood memory, explores the hidden links between humans, aiming to invoke a humorous nostalgia in all those who use it.

12. Dima Srouji – Hollow Forms

Dima’s work is an effort to protect the glass-blowing industry, an age-old tradition in Palestine, from the volatile political condition and the fragile nature of glass. By using technology to traverse the gap between the tradition and cultural aesthetic of glass-blowing and reaching a global standard and reactivating the industry. Hollow Forms, a collection blown in a village near Ramallah, was designed using digital tools but created using the ancient techniques.

13. Saffar - Kawther Alsaffar – Dual Bowls

After studying Kuwaiti sand casting with Alwafi craftsmen, Saffar discovered the potential for dual metal casting. Using simple decorative forms as a juxtaposition, Dual Bowls highlights the beauty that lies within the flaws that are a result of the imperfect process of sand casting by craftsmen.

14. Bahraini Danish – Shelves no.01

Bahraini Danish was born from three architects’, Batool Alshaikh, Maitham Almubarak, and Christian Vennerstrøm Jensen, desire to explore local opportunities to create art. For ‘Shelves no. 01’, leftover material from earlier projects were arbitrarily stacked up, creating a completely random structure. This lack of organization, except that which is absolutely necessary, depicts the freedom of interpretation and expression that results from minimal structure.