Multidisciplinary, internationally educated and highly skilled, a new breed of Middle-Eastern creatives have built a thought-provoking narrative around the region’s cultural identity for an exhibition at this year's London Design Festival. Presented in association with Dubai Design District (d3), 'Wallpaper* Middle East Revealed' features interdisciplinary design curated from seven Middle-Eastern countries, bringing together a dozen creatives working across furniture design, fashion and photography.
Wallpaper* editor-at-large and the exhibition's curator Suzanne Trocme was drawn to the rapidly developing creative identity in the Middle East. Geopolitical shifts, growing media interest and a flourishing of design events in the region, she says, are actively advancing this development.
The show includes a multifaceted range of talent, whose work contributes to mapping the area's cultural identities. Although diverse in practice, the twelve designers share a chameleon-like ability to adapt to new disciplines (all of them have at some point changed their creative path). Dubai-based Khalid Shafar, for example, started his career in marketing and communication before his reincarnation as a designer. Beirut-born Nadine Kanso's design production, meanwhile, is divided between her Nadine K lifestyle line (including home accessories, apparel and artworks) and her jewellery brand Bil Arabi.
Similarly, these creatives to interpret their cultural symbols as sophisticated contemporary forms. Emirati photographer Lamya Gargash's works explore architecture and its ever-changing and renewing aspects, documenting abandoned spaces in both public and private buildings throughout the UAE. Aljoud Lootah's 'Unfolding Unity Stool', meanwhile, echoes some of the traditional Arabic motifs that she regularly explores in her fashion and art works.
These creatives look within their homeland for inspiration, reimagining local traditions and craftsmanship, and sharing this vision with a broad, international audience. In their work, it is possible to identify a desire to bridge the gap between Western and Arab identities.