Together, they form a dynamic duo shaping the creative landscape in the region and pushing the boundaries of conception through their shared passion for modernity and avant-garde art and fashion. The Moroccan Amine Amharech and Saudi royal Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz are two visionaries whose contributions extend far beyond the realms of creativity and entrepreneurship. We celebrate their interwoven artistic threads as we unravel their captivating narratives. Amine, an architect, artist, and art curator, and Deena, a trailblazing fashion icon, come together on our cover to present their unique and innovative lenses of conceptualisation through which they see the world.
Amine and Deena’s paths first crossed during their youth, “I remember seeing Deena at family events in Morocco from a very young age, as our families were somehow connected,” Amine recalls. However, it was during the bustling Fashion Weeks in Paris that their artistic souls truly connected. “Deena was the first Saudi woman to be seen as the Ambassador of Modernity. Her taste in fashion quickly captivated the hearts of both European and American fashion enthusiasts! She became the Arab icon of fashion,” Amine expresses. At the same time Amine himself, a young Moroccan architect, ventured into the avant-garde world of art, fashion and design through his work with a fashion group of concept stores called L’Eclaireur, bringing the avant-garde of art, fashion and design to Paris and the world.
Common artistic threads
Amine and Deena share a dedication to modernity and avant-garde expression. Amine affirms, “Our common artistic threads are definitely modernity and the avant-garde! Edginess, new horizons and new aesthetics too! Also, the way architecture, art, and fashion converge into one creative entity!” At the heart of their artistic journeys lies a shared pursuit of cutting-edge concepts, exploration of new horizons, and the cultivation of innovative aesthetics. “I think that is the reason we connected so quickly—a mutual appreciation for great style, design, and aesthetics,” Deena adds.
Arab heritage: A source of inspiration
Hailing from Morocco and Saudi Arabia, Amine and Deena draw deep inspiration from their Arab heritage, viewing it as the ultimate source of creativity. Amine passionately explains, “Personally, I found that every creative concept already existed within Arab culture, from minimalism to extravagance! From the purity of the dunes to the intricacy of Arab calligraphy… there are so many examples and so many influences that inspired my journey in art, especially.” “The Arab influence opened my eyes to new perspectives of creativity!” he adds. Deena says, “I have been inspired since birth! But truly, my mother was always and still is my great inspiration. My cultural background of course plays a significant role in my style; it’s inevitable!” This heritage has not only inspired their artistic perspectives but also served as a lens through which they view the world.
“A key moment for me is whenever I am approached by a young person that I have influenced in any way!” Deena proudly shares. “It’s truly an honour to think that I have, even if only in a small way, impacted a new generation of young creatives,” she continues. Whereas for Amine, several moments have been transformative in his journey, “There are a few key moments that changed the game for me! Meeting with Zaha Hadid, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović… they made me realise certain things and changed my perspective!” he fondly recalls.
Avant-garde fashion: A cultural dialogue
As fashion icons, they define avant-garde fashion as a dynamic cultural dialogue. Amine appreciates how Arab identity remains robust whilst still embracing diverse influences from around the world: “I love how we, as Arabs, keep our identity strong but welcome other cultures at the same time. It’s the artistic dialogue that makes us stronger! That makes our culture stronger and allows us to be open to future possibilities! It’s all about ‘dialogue’!” For Deena, “Avant-garde is a word that strangely isn’t as clearly defined in the Arab world as it is in the West! As was my experience as a retailer, when a client loves a piece, it truly has nothing to do with what category the piece is or with what designer. They simply are drawn to a great item, whether it’s considered classic or avant-garde, which is truly liberating from a retail perspective.” She explains.
Cultivating innovation: The art of conceptualisation
Amine’s background in ‘Sensorial Architecture’ is the cornerstone of his innovation-focused approach. “My thesis program at SCI-Arc Los Angeles University was on ‘Sensorial Architecture’!” he explains. “There is no art or architectural project that I start without first exploring and experimenting by coming up with new ideas and concepts! Innovation is the leitmotif of all my work! I always try to push the boundaries to do what has not yet been done, and I reflect on how we can rethink or reconsider ideas! Rescale, reshape, redraw, and refuel!” he expresses. Deena shares the same beliefs in her creative endeavours.
Challenging norms: The power of concept
In their artistic journeys, Amine and Deena have realised the power that conceptualisation holds, which allows them to break free from conventional norms. Deena may have experienced that many times in her career, but she shares, “I think I was never as challenged in that way as much as I was when I was an editor! Having to consider how the rest of the world views the Arab nation and what steps to take to correct those notions and share the true narrative.” Amine explains, “We can conceptualise everything, and that’s the power of this ‘exercise’! Sometimes you have to break everything down (not only traditional forms) to engage a new pattern of complexity and learning!”
To Amine, “‘concept’ is a very complex word! A concept is defined and materialised through different aspects and canals, it is the merging of different ideas into one!”, whereas to Deena, “a concept is an idea that is the basis for anything”.
Future visions: Shaping Arab culture
Amine and Deena both advocate for the growth of educational institutions: art schools, architecture schools, theatres, and creative ateliers in the Arab world. “All of our museums and art foundations, are amazing but it’s still not enough! We need more art schools, more architecture schools! We need more theatres, more art spaces, more ballet schools! More creative ateliers of all forms!” Amine emphasises. These are the pillars of nurturing the next generation of creators who will challenge norms and elevate Arab culture on a global level.
Amine and Deena are working on upcoming projects that align with their vision. A cultural 360-degree initiative involving art, design, and fashion is underway for Deena, while in 2024, Amine will be the art curator of “ARMORS”, an exquisite fusion of art and fashion. “My curation will highlight different human-sized sculptures as well as creations from some of the biggest names in the fashion industry!” Amine says. “The second project which is coming very soon is an Art Scenography for the Opéra de Genève, for Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s next ballet called Ihsan(e)! It’s going to be a big statement for us as Arabs!” He shares excitedly.
These two visionaries of modernity and innovation continue to redefine the creative landscape, paving the way for a future where Arab culture takes its place on the global stage.