Faysal Tabbarah wears many hats. As an associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah, Tabbarah also leads Architecture + Other Things, an experimental architecture and design studio founded in Sharjah in 2015 with partner Nada Taryam.

In his work, Tabbarah explores the potential of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) environmental techniques to drive innovative building solutions, focusing particularly on contextual modes of production and material systems.

Working on a number of independent projects, the architectural studio was chosen in 2019 as part of a collaboration between Expo 2020 and Art Jameel, presenting Water in the Green alongside Nahel by design team Faissal El-Malak and Alia Bin Omair. Collectively dubbed the Signature Fountains, 37 fountains were reproduced in total throughout the public spaces of Expo 2020. Water in the Green combines robust materials with plants that highlight Expo 2020’s aim to be the most sustainable World Expo in history.

More recently, Tabbarah worked with Danish-firm Kvadrat on ‘A Softly Winded Chair’, which was presented at Downtown Design 2021 during Dubai Design Week. The chair dramatically contrasts its underlying chaotic structure, formed from found tree branches, with the precise engineering of the pliable knitted textiles that wrap around this. In doing so, it offers a thought-provoking blurring of natural and synthetic materials.

A Softly Winded Chair consists of a bundle of fallen branches sourced from around the UAE which have subsequently been clad in the Apparel textile from Kvadrat Febrik. Each branch has been digitally scanned and analysed to ensure that it is suitable for its load-bearing function – it is otherwise left untouched. The flexible knitted textiles hold the seat in shape while still allowing the contours of the branches to appear in all their natural variability.