Wallpaper* Middle East Revealed celebrates the region's design talents

Installation view of 'Wallpaper* Middle East Revealed', presented in association with Dubai Design District (d3) at this year's London Design Festival.
(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

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.

Middle East Revealed

The exhibition brings together a dozen designers from seven Middle-Eastern countries in an overview of the region's culture

(Image credit: TBC)


The show includes Emirati designer and artist Latifa Saeed's 'Braided' chair and ottoman, featuring interlocked linen cushion tubes

(Image credit: TBC)

carving time vases

'Carving Times Vases', by Nada Debs. The designer’s woodworking sensibility and her appreciation for local crafts come to life with this series, which explores different carving stages through geometric patterns engraved on solid walnut

(Image credit: TBC)


Khalid Shafar's 'Illusion' series of seating exemplifies his skilled combination of contemporary geometric lines and ancient craftsmanship. His 'Illusion' armchair (centre) sums up the collection’s design language with an extreme geometry and sleek appearance

(Image credit: TBC)

familial, unfolding unity stool

From left: 'Baz #1', by Taher Asad-Bakhtiari; 'Familial' series, by Lamia Gargash; and 'Unfolding Unity Stool', by Aljoud Lootah

(Image credit: TBC)


Originally presented at the Venice Biennale in 2009, Gargash's 'Familial' series is a pictorial study of budget hotels in the country. The images feature empty interiors that explore the photographer’s relation with unfamiliar spaces

(Image credit: TBC)


Detail of 'Hallucinations', by Lebanese fashion designer Bashar Assaf, whose garments challenge the female body and its shapes through clever pattern-cutting, imaginative prints and expert use of materials

(Image credit: TBC)


Dubai-based designer Aljoud Lootah's 'Unfolding Unity Stool' echoes some of the traditional Arabic motifs that Lootah regularly explores in her fashion and art works

(Image credit: TBC)

false ceiling

'False Ceiling' (top), by design collective Caravan and 'Pebble' console, by Lebanese architect Fadi Sarieddine

(Image credit: TBC)

detail of false ceiling

Detail of 'False Ceiling', by creative collective Caravan (composed of designers Emanuela Corti, Muhammed Shameel, Ivan Parati). The installation piece is inspired by what the designers call a ‘roof above,’ signifying one’s fixed point throughout life, be it religion, skills or nationality. The suspended 18 sq m surface’s triangular design is created to convey an idea of a more flexible ‘roof’ through one’s life

(Image credit: TBC)


'Relax' tableware, by Tamer Nakisci, is a set of porcelain dishes and cups whose shapes follow a seemingly random path

(Image credit: TBC)


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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.