Emirati designer Khalid Shafar has created ‘Win, Victory and Love’, a site specific installation at Downtown Design, in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC).
The installation is a homage to the 45 Emirati soldiers who lost their lives during their mission in Yemen in September, a first in UAE’s military history.
“I took an emotional direction with this installation,” Shafar told DesignMENA. “I think as a designer it was the minimum that I could do, to commemorate these soldiers. I didn’t intend to create any sad emotions or remind people who lost their loved ones, but I also don’t think this is something we could ever forget.
“We don’t want to celebrate design and forget loss. Because these people were the ones who made us feel free and safe enough to celebrate design and launch such an event, so the least we can do is to bring them back to life to share the joy with us. The installation is a homage and a commemoration of these soldiers.”
In addition to paying homage to the soldiers, the installation also contributes to the documentation of their sacrifice being processed by the UAE government.
The design itself presents a total of 45 crafted wooden stools in American cherry and soft maple, derived from Shafar’s previous work called the Little Palm stool.
“I wanted to create a metaphor between my Little Palm Stools which are inspired by the palm tree and the soldiers. They both withstand a lot of harsh circumstances and overcome obstacles to survive including climate, water shortages among other things.
“But there is also a direct translation of the message with the use of the upholstery in a camouflage pattern that was taken from the original fabric used for the UAE military uniforms. This was a way of injecting the souls of the soldiers into the work.”
The name also contributes to the continuous symbolism that is embodied in the installation.
“Win, Victory and Love is obviously a salute to Sheikh Mohamed when he first introduced it at the Government Summit in 2013 but I was so fascinated by the meaning behind it. It is not just about the sign, it also relates to work ethics, success and our love for our nation and I believe that is exactly what those soldiers believed in and what they sacrificed their lives for,” Shafar explained.
He also added that his intention was not to touch upon politics but to create something that will allow people to keep their memories of bravery alive.
“There is nothing political here, this is just a homage to the people who protected us. I belong to this country- I am an Emirati. And it is clearly a local project, it is specific to the Emirates and if all my projects go all over the world, I would prefer this one to stay here. It’s for the people of the UAE,” he said.
“I did not intend to create sad emotions but I am happy with people’s reactions and their acceptance of my work because some might think it is better not to remember such tragedies but who will forget, and why should we forget?”