When powerful people brush global warming under the fake news carpet, it becomes critical that we address the state of the planet more vociferously.
When I was given the opportunity to curate a show, called State of Earth, at AR Gallery at the Dubai Design District, I saw it as a perfect platform to bring the focus on our collective concerns; design became a tool for activism. Selecting designers to be part of the show was an organic, intuitive process. Each designer is someone I have long admired, but specifically, this group is known to explore nature, landscape and artisanal culture in their own distinct way.
TERRA / CECILIA SETTERDAHL
While she is coveted for her beautiful rugs and cushions, Setterdahl is first an artist. With an eye for shapes, proportions and colour ways, she first imagines her soft furnishings as canvasses that are then adapted to the understanding of weavers.
Setterdahl views the topography as a curious intersection of lines and planes. The resulting piece focuses on swirling ridges and cresting line movements. Split across two levels, Terra touches on ecological displacement, a direct result of climate change.
In 2016, Rice, a Dubai-based Irish ceramic and glass artist, was named the International Academy of Ceramics Unesco representative for the UAE. Concerned with form, sacred geometry and gestalt principals, he works with procedures such as Raku, smoke and saggar firing.
Inspired by nature’s pattern, the Voronoi diagram, Strata explores regions, planes and distance in various scales. Embodying a distinct diagram, each tile is rendered an organic, crackled effect through traditional Rraku techniques.
Szonyi began her career studying fine art, architecture and furniture design at Moholy-nagy University of Art & Design in Budapest. Relocating to Dubai, she established her award-winning eponymous design consultancy.
Copper lends lightness to this collection, which explores balance as a basis of our ecosystem. Symmetrical and playing with gravity, the peaceful spirit of Equil is disrupted by a misbalanced tray to denote the imperfection caused by human activity.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER/NADINE KANSO
Be it calligraphy-inspired precious jewellery or gritty artworks depicting contemporary Middle Eastern life, Kanso’s creative message remains consistent: ‘Celebrate Your Heritage’. Here, she applies the concept of ‘heritage’ to the planet.
Kanso chose to work with her trademark ‘Evil Eye’ design to bring to the books those who turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse of the planet. Applying the design to parametric tessellation, the result is a screen design with a spiritual subtext.
ZEA TABLE LAMP/HAMZA OMARI
Omari was raised in Jordan and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada. He currently works as the Industrial Designer at the Dubai-based studio LOCI Architecture + Design.
For State of Earth, he presents Zea, a table lamp developed through Tashkeel’s Tanween project. In a light tunnel, Sand, the most abundant of regional resources becomes a measure of passing time and its interaction with humanity.
The India-based collaborative design studio is known for creating immersive experiences led by progressive design and innovation in production technology.
MELT seeks to redress the imbalance between nature and rampant industrialisation. The history of the industrial revolution is reflected in a series of levers and gears. The mechanised beast is countered by lightness of Swarovski crystals composed in the form of a stoic glacier. Utopian dream? Balance? Or an eventual takeover?
Since 2005, Hybridart has worked in the field of contemporary visual art. Bringing Hungarian and international contemporary art and design closer to the wider public, the project continually ventures beyond classical creative expression.
Led by the Hungarian contemporary artist, Gergő Kovach, an international team of art students created horse-head statues from 4,000 recycled aluminium cans. Eternal Rotation points at disposable consumerism, questioning our current lifestyle choices and its impact on the ecosystem.
Don’t miss it!
State of Earth runs until January 15 at Dubai Design District. Entry is free.