Emirati designer Abdalla Almulla is defining his take on design wherein the broad outlines of function and form are articulated very early on in the design process, in order to better understand the user’s needs. An architecture graduate from the Woodbury University in San Diego, USA, Almulla founded his design firm MULA in 2018; where they have set the guidelines of their work through regulators such as technology, pattern and geometry in order to create design that is constantly evolving.
This year, Almulla presented two works that demonstrate the breadth of his creative language. In the heart of Dubai Design District he presented the 2019 Audi Innovation Hub. The pavilion consisted of a sweeping steel structure with embedded LED exoskeleton. Combined with gradient mesh, the adulating shell was inspired by the technology of Audi’s “e-tron”, as well as Almulla’s use of patterns and geometry in setting design guidelines.
Within Downtown Design, and as a fellow of Tashkeel’s Tanween Programme 2019, he presented an abstracted clock that took its multi-layered form from Almulla’s research into the dune phenomenon that he overlaid with his drone photography of the UAE’s desert landscape.
Binchy and Binchy
Jennie, the creative force behind Binchy and Binchy, the region’s leading design practice needs no introduction. Having won countless awards and wrote singularly refined architectural projects in the public and private realm, the studio has maintained constant presence in the Middle East’s power lists. At Downtown Design, they presented a collection of plinth, The Ten Tables, each representing one of their ongoing or completed projects that illustrate the studio’s philosophy that centers on delivering projects that are of their time and of their place.
Featuring a myriad of materials — from resin bonded paper and reinforced Kvadrat Maharam fabrics, to 3D printed bases that were moulded by the team in their workshop, to laser cut lava stone — each of the tables reflect the bespoke patterns, materials, forms and technologies used in Binchy and Binchy’s built work.
Each table combines at least one customised decorative element or material such as anti-reflective glass technology, bespoke patterns, decorative metalwork, resin and plaster relief.
The collection may take its origins from the studio’s architectural projects, but every piece stands tall as a modern masterpiece of collectible design.
Meshary Al Nassar
Revealing his first capsule collection at Downtown Design, Kuwaiti Interior Architect, Meshary Al Nassar, presented unique designs that were inspired by his grandfather’s home and a childhood dotted with memories of beautiful gardens. The collection carries AlNassar’s vision on a journey of form, function and a history of natural formations from the precious stones of Ocean Travertino from Rapolano Terme located within the Italian region of Tuscany.
The collection comprises of three stone sculptures named after their inspiration: Radici from the roots of plants that prolong above the earth and stand tall to blend into spaces; Tramonto inspired by the warm sun light setting on the horizon, and Ulivo, taking its shape from the tenderness of an olive tree to reflect on peace and abundance within nature. Al Nassar says, “Radici, Tramonto and Ulivo deliver more than just aesthetically pleasing pieces that light up a modern space. They tell a story of the journey that inspired these naturally fitting designs.”
The result is a family of imposing lighting sculptures that are carved from the ocean blue travertino and, standing at 2.80 meters tall, are emotionally provoking with delicate proportions contradicting their gravitas. Together, the trio present a well-considered and masterfully executed debut of a design star in the making.
Lighting designers Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth presented their latest collection of large-scale lighting sculptures, Totems Over Time. The collection comprises 10 ornate structures featuring the mastery of India’s coveted glassblowers and metalworkers.
Each design makes reference to ancient tribal symbols that carry social and sacred significance for indigenous cultures, such as bows and bison horns, feathered dresses, gemstones and elaborate wings. These age-old motifs are reimagined as symmetrical structures made up of geometric forms. Spiritual and mythological iconography features heavily in these pieces.
In addition to four totems, the collection also features six ornate light installations informed by necklaces and ancient talismans, which have a curved form that resembles a neckline.
Designed to look like they are made up of beads, the necklace lights boast vibrant gemstone shades of emerald, ruby, jade, sapphire, topaz, pearl and onyx.