Qatari designer Aisha Sowaidi’s stand at Design Days Dubai is called ‘Remembrance of a Majlis’.
One of her designs is a seating called ‘Takaya’- a cushion that khaleejis lean towards when sitting down on a traditional floor seating. The mattress continuously converts into a ‘takaya’ by passing through a wooden structure and from there, becomes a traditional floor mattress.
“This year I am very much inspired by the Khaleeji majlis and I tried to take core elements of the traditional seating and redesign them in a contemporary way. The mattress base goes through the wooden structure and creates the ‘takaya’, the part that people lean on while seated,” Sowaidi explains.
READ MORE: In pictures: Design Days Dubai 2017
Sowaidi has also created a mashrabiya screen with references from her childhood memories.
“The mashrabiya is inspired by the ornaments in traditional houses, usually older Khaleeji houses. These ornaments have a geometric shapes of stars and other Islamic patterns. I am very interested in looking back at childhood memories and seeing how they have been altered by time.
“I have this memory of climbing a wall with similar ornaments and that is why I used the image of a teddy bear. It is a representation of a childhood memory. I tried to make the teddy bears very geometric to touch base with the roots of the mashrabiya.”
Sowaidi’s inspiration is rooted in Khaleeji culture and identity and slowing down development to be able to observe and contribute to traditional elements becoming more contemporary.
“I always like looking at how our culture will develop in the future if was allowed the time to develop gracefully and not all at the same time. I always think of how we could hold on to our culture and make it more contemporary over time, instead of shifting suddenly to modern life and having to go back to traditional elements as they are today. I think there hasn’t been enough development through time. It is constantly shifting back and forth instead of reimagining itself and becoming more contemporary,” she explained.
“I am very inspired by Japanese culture and how they still hold on to their culture and traditions. But they have allowed it to develop over time and it became more contemporary. That is what I am trying to do with my designs.”
Last year, Sowaidi presented a collection called ‘midkhans’, objects used in the Gulf to perfume their clothes, houses, hair and body. She created a series of these objects, complete with a protective head to keep hair and clothes safe from the hot charcoal and to direct the smoke.
Other launches at Design Days Dubai includes a collection by father-and-son founders Wajih and Omar Nakkash of Nakkash Gallery, who presented their own-designed first collection, featuring table series and a bookcase.