Fusing aspects of intangible Emirati heritage into contemporary design objects and using the space or the immediate environment within which she is working to tell a story, Alya AlEghfeli's interiors, installations and products always begin with a narrative.

“I believe that a strong design lies behind successful storytelling,” says AlEghfeli. “It makes the design more meaningful and allows people to connect and relate with it, elevating the whole experience. I would describe my designs as minimal and contemporary with a subtle, underlying influence of the Emirati culture."

The designer's use of minimalist lines in her interior accessories that are reminiscent of natural forms but also recalling architecture create sleek and smooth results, whilst paying tribute to the importance of good craftsmanship. Having studied interior design at Zayed University in Dubai and shortly after enrolled on a furniture design course at Central Saint Martins in London. she has been exploring multiple fields of design through freelancing, commissions and collaborations.

She considers research into varying techniques as well as literary and poetic research, an integral part of her practice and whilst inspired by her extensive travel and readings.

With 'Host', a table lamp designed for Tashkeel's Tanween 2018 programme unveiled at Downtown Design, AlEghfeli took inspiration from the hospitality of Emirati culture and in particular, the tradition of serving coffee to guests. The lamp’s brightness is controlled by a handle that traverses the top of the arc shape of the lamp, mimicking the movement of pouring coffee from a pot.

“I explore the Emirati culture in a subtle way; through this lamp, I wanted to portray the importance of hospitality and generosity. One cup of coffee tells the guest that they are welcome, and this is what this fixture illustrates in the single and slight movement, the lighting will radiate warmth.”

The light also shines onto a sphere made from resin-infused with the remnants of real coffee from a working majlis in Dubai. The effect is simple but it echoes the warmth that the guest experiences from an act of generosity. In a secondary piece in this series, she created 'Host Vessel'; a smaller piece made from resin and brass that follows the same aesthetic.

“When I’m working on any project, I always start with extensively researching the topic and doing lots of readings, and this process in itself is also very inspiring. However, my biggest challenge as a designer would be creating designs which fit our modern lives today without losing the Emirati identity.”