AlUla Design Award presented, new plans initiated at Paris Design Week - GulfToday

AlUla Design Award presented, new plans initiated at Paris Design Week

Naba Tea Tiffin by Ikkis, Gunjan Gupta.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Arts AlUla has announced the five winners of the AlUla Design Award (ADA) at Paris Design Week (PDW, Sept.7-16). The Award forms part of the development of design initiatives in AlUla, including the groundbreaking Madrasat Addeera Editions exhibited during PDW, the announcement of the upcoming inaugural Design Residency and opening of Design Space AlUla. The five winners are: Tawa by Shaddah Studio (Saudi, based in Saudi Arabia); Naba Tea Tiffin by Ikkis, Gunjan Gupta (Indian, based in India); AlUla Terrains: Dates Serving Set by Teeb (Lebanese and Saudi, based in Saudi Arabia); Incense Heritage Collection by Sarra Hafaiedh (Tunisian, based in Tunisia) and Oil Lantern by Imane Mellah (French, based in Paris).

ADA will commission some of the designs, providing assistance during the production process, and facilitate their promotion within AlUla and its network of regional and international activities. The exhibition in Paris, conceived by acclaimed designer Herve Sauvage, featured prototypes of all 10 finalists, at 21, Rue De Turenne, 75 004 Paris (Sept. 8 - 16). Nora Aldabal, Executive Director of Arts and Creative Industries Royal Commission for AlUla said that “the winners of the AlUla Design Award have brilliantly interpreted the landscape and heritage of AlUla through their designs. We are excited that the Award sits alongside several AlUla design initiatives including the trailblazing Madrasat Addeera Editions, also exhibiting in Paris; the first Design Residency which begins in October in AlUla; and the Design Space AlUla which opens in early 2024.”


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Madrasat Addeera in AlUla is dedicated to developing artisanal skills and craft programmes among the local population to support the growth of a sustainable, vibrant and authentically creative artisan and design industry. Madrasat Addeera Editions is one of the many initiatives instigated by Madrasat Addeera and the new enterprise exhibited its limited edition statement pieces for the first time. Four pieces were designed and produced by renowned Saudi and international designers and artisans, from more than eight countries. The designs reflected a fusion of local heritage and contemporary design, even as they demonstrated the potential of crafts. The pieces drew inspiration from local culture and narratives of AlUla, blending traditional crafts with modern innovative techniques and sustainable materials.

AlUla 1  AlUla —Terrains Dates Serving Set by Teeb.

 They were designed by renowned and award-winning designers including Dr Zahrah Alghamdi, Cristian Mohaded, TAKK (Mireia Luzarraga and Alejandro Muino) and TECHNOCrafts, curated with creative direction by Samer Yamani. The exhibition concluded on September 16 at Galerie Joseph, 66 Rue Charlot Paris. Building on the success of the AlUla Artist Residency launched in 2021 by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the French Agency for AlUla Development (Afalula), Arts AlUla has also announced the inaugural AlUla Design Residency.

It seeks to embark on an examination and experimentation of design methodologies and forge a relationship with parallel design initiatives spearheaded by Arts AlUla. A research-intensive residency across three months, the initiative will unfold within the pulsating environs of AlUla, aiming to pioneer a new phase of creative exploration in the region. The site, located in the north-west of Saudi Arabia, contains the exquisite sculpture of ancient Arabian tribes who made AlUla their capital; the monumental Nabataean tombs carved out of sandstone mountains and decorated with intricate symbols inspired by Italian, Egyptian and Greek cultures; and the mud-brick labyrinth to AlUla Old Town, decorated with the artwork of its inhabitants.

ADA is an Open Call that invites established and emerging designers to conceptualise and propose unique items for cultural retail. The award recognises design inspired by the heritage, landscape and artistic legacies of AlUla. Jury members of this year’s edition are Cyril Zammit - Design Advisor & Consultant, Cyril Zammit Design Consultancy; Robert Frith - Creative Director, King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, Ithra; Emily Marant - Design Consultant & Founder, Studio Marant and Raghad Hazzazi - Arts and Cultural Programming Lead, Royal Commission for AlUla. The six winners of the first edition were Reem Bashawri, Nour Shourbagy, Tarek ElKassouf, Mohamad Baalbaki x AlJoharah AlRasheed, Rukun x Harry Dobbs, and Niko Kapa.

In 2018, RCU renovated Madrasat Addeera - the first secondary school in AlUla - to develop artisan and craft programmes for local students. The school is part of RCU’s commitment to upskill local communities and support the development of a sustainable, creative and original artisan and design industry reflecting the unique cultural and natural identity of AlUla. A series of programmes across a range of traditional crafts have been developed both locally and in partnership with leading international organisations. Programmes cover five pillars: vocational development; design training; public art; community masterclasses and public programmes.

Afalula was founded in Paris in July 2018 following an intergovernmental agreement signed by France and Saudi Arabia in April of that year. It aims to support its Saudi partner, RCU, in the co-construction of the economic, touristic and cultural development of AlUla. The AlUla Artists Residency, launched in 2021 by RCU and Afalula, has evolved into a permanent, continuous programme as a global hub for creative minds. The Design Residency will begin in October with six designers whose work will be exhibited in February 2024, during the AlUla Arts Festival. Arts AlUla focuses on transferring the talents of the Saudi nation and the local AlUla community into providing meaningful, long-standing social and economic opportunities.

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