The Tanween by Tashkeel 2021 programme will showcase the work of four regional designers at this year's Downtown Editions, including Eman Shafiq, Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami, Tasnim Tinawi and Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi.

2021 marks a special edition of the Tanween design programme, one that will seek to address fundamental challenges facing the world today. The cohort is collaborating with engineers and scientists also living and working in the UAE as part of their journey of research and experimentation, training and mentoring that aims to result in an innovative, functional design outcome addressing a current challenge facing society or the environment.

The four designers have undertaken the year-long training programme of research and experimentation in product design, led by local and international mentors to define a product concept inspired by the UAE.

Since its inception, the programme has trained 26 designers and manufactured 39 limited-edition furniture and lighting pieces – this year marks the eighth edition of Tanween with:

Eman Shafiq, a Pakistani architect, born and raised in the UAE whose focus lies in the concept of UAE civic architecture and its transformation since the country’s union in 1971 and the consequent impact on urban culture. Possessing a multidisciplinary approach to design, Eman is interested in the processes of design and fabrication at various scales through digital and traditional means.

UAE-based Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami, an Egyptian architect and designer whose work focuses on a symbiosis between nature and design, based on recent research and with the guidance of chemistry and biology experts, aim to develop a plant-based leather alternative material for furniture and other products, using non-processed local dried plant pods.

Addressing the environmental challenge of sustainable material using industrial waste and resin as a casting agent, Dubai-based Syrian architectural designer Tasnim Tinawi aims to work with sustainable materials (synthetic and organic waste) that are typically found in landfills and usually overlooked in order to potentially source an industrial waste material that can open up the possibility of its use in functional products.

Emirati interior designer Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi will expand her research in traditional and indigenous techniques and technologies routed to the UAE. Driven by scientific approach, these techniques will be used as inspiration to develop contemporary systems that solve a social/environmental problem, balancing aesthetics and functionality.

The ideas will be developed into prototypes manufactured in the UAE, and unveiled at Downtown Editions 2021, taking place November 8-12.