ABWAB: Narratives of the Middle Eastern Communities

Dubai Design Week presented ABWAB for the forth-consecutive year, the annual remodeled exhibition and architectural installation is dedicated to creating a platform for design from the region.

The exhibition this year took the form of a large- scale temporal structure, made up of five individual pavilions composed of natural materials including fallen twigs and timber coated in recycled paper pulp, designed by architecture firm Architecture + Other Things.

Each of the 5 pavilions presented the narratives of a community from the Middle East and commissioned designers have produced design experiences for cultural exchange under the theme ‘Between the Lines’

Kuwait Pavilion – Desert Cast

The three designers Jassim Al Nashmi, Kawther Al Saffar and Ricardas Blazukas were invited to represent Kuwait City in ABWAB, the centerpiece exhibition of the festival and respond to the theme of storytelling. 

Desert Cast aimed to contribute to the development of the Gulf region’s design identity. The project seeks to achieve this by hybridizing between past and present, local and borrowed. 

The team decided to dig into the history of Kuwait’s design identity and tell a story about using the past to create contemporary product designs. 46 custom designed products that were sand-cast in a foundry in Kuwait, were presented in the Kuwait City Pavilion accompanied by 5 screens showing the 5 stages of the fabrication process. 

Beirut Pavilion – Beirut Fillers

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Designers Tamara Barrage & David Habchy in collaboration with Dr. Raffi Tchakerian on digital fabrication & sounds materialization focused on the specific context of the busy cosmopolitan urban lifestyles in Beirut. Designers explained that the city residents punctuate their conversations with fillers, sometimes to look for a word while switching languages, to sharpen a thought, or to react to daily stimuli.

In linguistics, a filler is a sound or word spoken in a conversation by one participant to signal to others a pause or a transition By extending the presence of fillers outside the space and time usually assigned to them, this project intends to magnify their echo to our ears, eyes and touch. The outcomes mold this oral archive into volumetric objects. On the one hand, through the editing of recorded conversations; on the other, by crafting tactile objects which texture is generated by the frequency and volume of their sounds.  The installation invites the audience to explore these words in a constructed sensorial environment. 

Eastern Provinces of KSA – The sound of the eastern province

This immersive installation by Lina Saleh, Ahaad Alamoudi and Sana Abdulwahed honored the traditions of Pearl diving, known to have contributed heavily to the economy of the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The installation is a collaboration between three designers, , each interpreting in different ways the traditional song of El Yamal, a traditional song used by pearl divers whilst at sea to help them release energy and gain strength through their tasks. 

The song represents a variety of emotional states that the Bahar go through, Edited by Ahaad Alamoudi to convey a sense of meditative state and reflect the gentle movement of the sea, Once in the space, they are greeted with 100 pieces of slow and soft moving silicone vessels designed by Lina Saleh, to represent a physical form of the song El Yamal, they move rhythmically to the song. each piece is designed with the same circular shape, using the same mould, however each piece is completely individual to represent the struggle of the pearl divers, representing how much control they could have in their journey and how much control they couldn’t have. 

Amman Pavilion – Duwar

Hashem Joucka and Basel Naouri work offered a glimpse into the multi-faceted city of Amman by sourcing soundscapes from various streets in the city to capture the dynamic narratives of its diverse residents and communicate nuances of the city’s urban fabric. Duwar fuses impressions of people and place through a series of vignettes.

Through the intricate use of intangible media of sound and light, photographic stills are displayed in sequence to form a circular succession of visuals transporting visitors on multiple journeys. The visuals are treated with new techniques developed by experimenting with digital fabrication, and are synchronized with layers of spatial sound to craft a unique experiential environment, heighted by the auditory sense.

Dubai Pavilion – Thulathi: Threefold

Designed by Saeed Al Madani and Hind Bind Demaithan and supported by Tashkeel, the Dubai Pavilion brings past, present and future together through investigations of sound, image, and video sourced from archival vaults and personal recordings. 

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