Lina Ghalib, 25, Product Designer
Selected as part of Tashkeel’s Tanween Design Programme 2020, Lina created Yereed, a sustainable bench made from the mid-ribs of the palm tree. A completely eco-friendly product, the bench is made from discarded palm leaf branches that are shed seasonally. "Yereed, for me, represents a strong symbol of the history of UAE turned into a modern resource," says Lina, an Egyptian product and furniture designer, who lives in Dubai. The palm ribs, called Yereed in Arabic, were traditionally used to make roofs, walls and windows of homes called areesh in the UAE.
Lina’s creation is an example of how nature’s waste can be re-used to create an innovative and valuable product. "I spent months studying the material. The remarkable part was when the material started speaking for itself, so, you will find natural colour variations in the bench. The darker it is, the longer it has been shed from the tree," tells Lina. The young designer used a thousand palm ribs to make one bench in six to eight weeks.
The elegant design of the bench is also a tribute to Lina’s Egyptian roots as she took inspiration from the Pharaonic culture. The palm, incidentally, was used to make furniture in Egypt too. "I have always been fascinated by ancient Egyptians and their innovations. They are the forerunners of so many products such as ink and papyrus. Yereed is truly a blend of both Egyptian and Emirati cultures," she says.
To make the product structurally strong, Lina punctured the ply palm wood and inserted shining golden brass rods. To give it a luxurious finish she fitted it with a camel leather cushion seat. The limited edition bench was retailed at Dubai Design Week 2020 in November last year and is available for purchase through Tashkeel.
Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, Lina graduated with a degree in interior architecture from the American University of Sharjah in 2017. She currently works with Aljoud Lootah Design Studio in Dubai as a senior product designer. Living in the Middle East, she says, has made her tolerant towards other cultures and countries and curious to know more about them. "But, it is important to be original, which is why I believe in taking notes from history while designing."
Being part of the rigorous nine-month long Tanween programme helped Lina enhance her creativity by marrying tradition and culture with a modern solution. It led her to shape a new interior decor possibility. "The need of the hour is to make sustainable products affordable and appealing because looking at the pace at which climate change is changing the environment, in a few years we might all be forced to buy eco-friendly," says Lina.
Nada Abu Shaqra, 28, Interior architect and furniture designer
Nada, a Palestinian, raised in the UAE, is the brain behind Hisn – a metallic regal chair made with sustainable materials. Delving into the Emirati culture of pottery, Nada, used terracotta tiles attached to copper-plated rods to create a semi-circular chair that can be adjusted to fit the form of the person who sits on it.
"To make Hisn I used sustainable products that are also affordable, to create a luxurious contemporary chair inspired by the region it is made in," says Nada, who designed the chair as part of the Tanween programme, 2020.
Before conceptualising Hisn, Nada visited several historical places in the UAE including the Fujairah Fort and the Heart of Sharjah. "My design sensibilities were greatly stirred as I envisioned the memories and stories of people who inhabited these historical landmarks. The nostalgia and emotions I discovered in the arches and niches of such vernacular architecture led me to create the unique shape of Hisn, which means fort in Arabic," she says.
The warm colours and varied textures of the fort’s mud walls played muse to Nada’s creativity. Metal rods in the windows of traditional Emirati houses were symbolised in the copper plated rods used in Hisn. Taking it a notch up, Nada made her unconventional chair interactive. While the height of the chair and the rods surrounding it, give the user a sense of privacy, the metal rods can be adjusted as per each person’s moods or preference. "I created Hisn keeping in mind hotel lobbies and urban public spaces where people, sometimes, have to wait for long. The modular nature allows users to touch, feel, play and interact with the furniture. Depending on your need, you can close the rods around the body or open them out," explains Nada.
An alumnus of American University of Sharjah’s College of Architecture, Arts and Design, Nada runs Feeling Spaces, an interior architecture firm in Dubai. The co-existence of past and present aesthetics flowing together define her signature style. Right from childhood, she says, she was greatly attracted to fabric catalogues and wood samples found at her home, thanks to her father’s furniture manufacturing firm in the UAE. "I have always been drawn towards motifs, ornaments and painting techniques of historical architecture," she reveals.
Winner of WTD magazine’s 10/100/1000 Stool Competition, Nada has exhibited at Dubai Design Days 2014, at Sikka Art Fair 2015 and 2019. In 2018, her art installation project, ‘For Abu Dhabi’ was selected by the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities-Abu Dhabi to be fabricated and assembled in different neighbourhoods around the capital. "In future too, I plan to integrate nuances from historical architecture to create contemporary, sustainable products," says Nada.
Ranim Orouk, 29, Architect and Artist
An architect by day and an artist and designer by night, is how Ranim Orouk describes herself. Winner of the Van Cleef and Arpels Middle East Emergent Designer Prize 2016, Ranim is known for her signature sustainable sculpture installations. She uses digital software to create innovative forms that are converted into installations using eco-friendly digital fabrication methods such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Her Jellyfish light fixture, inspired by UAE’s beaches and nature, made using 3D printing technology won her the Van Cleef prize that is organised in collaboration with Tashkeel.
The annual prize aims to nurture emerging talent across the GCC and create global awareness by highlighting the region’s best designs. "Sustainability can be practised not only by using such products but by also incorporating eco-friendly production processes," says Ranim. "With 3D printing, a green technology, there is least amount of product wastage and diesel emissions."
Unlike traditional sculptures, where the creation process involves the subtractive method discarding the excess, 3D printing follows the additive style where layers are added to build an installation. Additionally, the layers of resin and plastic can be re-used in such a technology.
To design the jellyfish installation, aptly named Glow, Ranim took inspiration from real life – from the illuminative nature of these sea creatures at night. This light installation has a dual purpose of being a chandelier and, when flipped, a floor lamp. She put together a cluster of five lamps to showcase how jellyfishes move together in smacks in the sea.
Raised in the UAE, Ranim, a Syrian, holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the American University of Sharjah. "I have always been greatly influenced by geometry and nature, so, in my work you will find a harmony of these two aspects," she says.
Growing up in Dubai, the sea has been a significant part of Ranim’s life. "Sea creatures mesmerise me and they frequently feature in my designs," points out Ranim, who works as an architect in OBMI Architecture, Dubai. It is then not surprising that, when she was commissioned to create exclusive artworks by the Abu Dhabi Music and Art Foundation (ADMAF), in 2018, for their art collection, she crafted oyster lights and called them Pearl Luminescence, paying homage to the pearl divers of the UAE. They were again created using 3D printing.
For yet another ADMAF installation she used MDF (medium density fibreboard) a type of recycled wood to make an Oryx installation titled The Revival. "The efforts of the UAE government and the Rulers to rebreed the endangered oryx became my inspiration for this art installation. It consists of seven heads of the oryx emerging from the sand symbolising their rebirth," she explains.
Born in a family of interior designers, architects and geologists, Ranim says that today she is carrying on her family legacy by designing innovative art inspired products. "Being an architect, I am always thinking of form, structure and materials. The artist in me lends me to give poetic expressions to my designs." A firm believer in sustainability, the award-winning architect, feels it’s important to experiment with new materials to discover best sustainable options. "As the young generation, we have the responsibility to make sustainability trend and I am doing my bit," says Ranim.