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MENASA Emirati Design Platform presents “crafts in dialogue with innovative processes and materials” at Expo 2020 Dubai

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A woman danced next to crafts at Expo 2020 Dubai

Dezeen promotion: Emirati crafts and designs that marry “innovative processes” with materials are exhibited at an ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai programme called MENASA-Emirati Design Platform.

Currently on show at Expo 2020 Dubai until March 2022, MENASA aims to showcase the diversity of the Emirati craft scene through curated collections of craft and design from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and international designers.

A photograph of a rug on the wall
The 10:1 Ratio rug fuses the patterns of the hand movements of women and men wearing Emirati Crafts

“Our collaborations in the realm of contemporary design present an opportunity to excavate and investigate the expressive essence of Emirati crafts in profound new ways, and to boldly explore untrodden avenues of creative and cultural dialogue,” said Hayat Shamsuddin, senior vice president of arts and culture at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The platform showcases the exclusive work of 40 designers through several themed collections. Named The Craft Stories Collections, the uniting thread throughout is the focus on innovations in contemporary design and material use.

Red beadwork Chris Schwagga, Sheikha and Afra Bin Dhaher
Wire sculptures designed by Sheikha and Afra Bin Dhaher and Chris Schwagga are on show at the exhibition

Among the featured designers is Belgian artist and architect Edouard Cabay. Cabay collaborated with Iwan Maktabi Lab, a Middle East innovator in weaving design and production, and Abu Dhabi crafts institution House of Artisans to create a collection of rugs called 10:1 Ratio.

When designing the rug collection, Cabay drew on the practice employed by men who weave fishing nets and women who practice Sadu, a traditional form of Bedouin weaving. He then programmed a robotic arm to mimic the hand movements of weavers, in a process that merges traditional weaving with digital design.

“We often try to oppose the hand and the machine,” Cabay explained. “I don’t think the discourse needs to be like that; we don’t need to see a separation between one and the other.”

Flowing design installation at Menasa, Dubai
Flowing Crafts is a 13-metre window display that merges 3D printing with local crafts, designed by Car-melo Zapulla and Rami Al Ali

In the window display of the exhibition space, an installation called Flowing Crafts can be seen. Designed by architect Carmello Zappulla and fashion designer Rami Al Ali, in collaboration with Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts, the 13-metre-long flowing sculptural form blends cutting-edge 3D-printing technology with traditional Emirati crafts and materials.

To create the installation, Zappulla used 3D-printing technology to create a series of undulating lines that evokes the power of both natural forces and technological innovation.

Al Ali then wrapped the futuristic 3D-printed form in the wool of Sadu, the intricate, golden patterns of Talli embroidery, local natural palm fibres, and threads used in traditional fishing nets.

Three baskets and a woman dancing
The work of international designers such as the Brazilian Campana brothers is also on show

Elsewhere, the work of Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana demonstrates how crafts can be used to strengthen communities.

For their three handwoven baskets, the Campana brothers used traditional weaving techniques, natural fibres, and dyes. Their designs were informed by the cactus plants of the desert and arid regions of their homeland Brazil. The baskets were woven in the Philippines by artisans working with a local fair-trade crafts organisation.

The interior of Menasa exhibtion with a selection of crafts on show
Menasa aims to highlight the contribution of Emirati craft to the global design scene

Through the different collections, MENASA wants to highlight the importance of Emirati artisans and their role as a living testimony to the social, cultural, and geographical realms of the UAE.

MENASA – Emirati Design Platform is one of the numerous exhibitions at Dubai Expo 2020, which is the latest World Expo. It is open daily until October to 31 March 2022.

Expo 2020 Dubai is open to the public from 1 October to 31 March 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.


Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Expo 2020 Dubai as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.

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