Design Diary

A personal review of design creations.

Arbela Collection – Design with Kurdish roots

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Hozan Zangana returns to his homeland to bring an exquisite design collection inspired by over 7,000 years of rich history. He is the main feature of the very first Erbil Design Exhibition next month.


I first met Hozan Zangana in 2015 when I invited him to do a live performance during Design Days Dubai. A year later, I asked him to co-curate the Iraqi Pavilion with Rand Abdul Jabar for the second edition of Dubai Design Week.

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Born in 1983 in Kirkuk, Hozanfled his country and applied for asylum in The Netherlands. There he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and Design Academy Eindhoven. After his graduation he was awarded a grant for Talent Development Creative Industries. This allowed him to realise his first collection of abstract objects inspired by the original 7th century Kufic script titled ‘Shaping from Intuition’, which he went on to show in Dubai, Milan and New York. 

Daneh   : Inspired by the previous edition of Daneh in wood, this elegant onyx double-edged dish in earth tone colours can hold fruits such as dates or olives, while leaving a separate space for the pips and stones. Size: ∅302 x 75 mm. Craftsman: Gianni Bertozzi. Photography: Erik & Petra Hesmerg    On the right:  a relief, from the palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. ca. 883-859 B.C.), depicts a king, probably Ashurnasirpal himself, and an attendant.

Daneh: Inspired by the previous edition of Daneh in wood, this elegant onyx double-edged dish in earth tone colours can hold fruits such as dates or olives, while leaving a separate space for the pips and stones. Size: ∅302 x 75 mm. Craftsman: Gianni Bertozzi. Photography: Erik & Petra Hesmerg

On the right: a relief, from the palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. ca. 883-859 B.C.), depicts a king, probably Ashurnasirpal himself, and an attendant.

It was back in 2012, while visiting Erbil (Kurdistan, Iraq) for the first time since he had fled his home as a teenager, Hozan got struck by the lack of proper spaces designated to art and design. The region is in a state of war, as it has been so often throughout history, but the absence of regard for his cherished cultural identity just felt wrong. 

Kaxis    (paper in Kurdish) is a paper holder (anodised aluminum or brass). This object is inspired by the particular shape of gathered fabric created by the oversized trousers worn by men and women. Size: 78 x 90 x 35 mm. Craftsman: Jeroen Baijens. Photography: Erich & Petra Hesmerg    On the right: Sharwal. Two men and a woman in Hark-ı Kurdish costume, near the borders of Persia, Iraq and Turkey. The man on the left wears the pešmerga type of costume, the other the ša- lšepik type. The woman wears the unusual high headdress.

Kaxis (paper in Kurdish) is a paper holder (anodised aluminum or brass). This object is inspired by the particular shape of gathered fabric created by the oversized trousers worn by men and women. Size: 78 x 90 x 35 mm. Craftsman: Jeroen Baijens. Photography: Erich & Petra Hesmerg

On the right: Sharwal. Two men and a woman in Hark-ı Kurdish costume, near the borders of Persia, Iraq and Turkey. The man on the left wears the pešmerga type of costume, the other the ša- lšepik type. The woman wears the unusual high headdress.

Already as a child, growing up in Erbil, Hozan nurtured a dream to one day become a representative of his native culture. A native culture that, for too long, has been suppressed, its spoken language forbidden in schools, its visual language all but erased. 

 

For Hozan, a well-nourished sense of culture is arguably the single most important basic need to restore humanity. Hence when in 2017 he returned to Erbil – Hawler to locals – to reconnect with his origins, he came armed with a plan. The Arbela collection was conceived to reflect Zangana’s method of heritage based design back to his own people and culture, and to transfer his knowledge to a new generation of Middle Eastern artists. 

Faranjy   : inspired by the traditional vest worn by men during festivities. This coffee table is made out of wooden plates and sprayed with a bronze and platinum finish. Size: 1440 x 550 x 820 mm. Craftsman: Twan Horizon (HNS-Paint). Photography Erich and Petra Smerg.

Faranjy: inspired by the traditional vest worn by men during festivities. This coffee table is made out of wooden plates and sprayed with a bronze and platinum finish. Size: 1440 x 550 x 820 mm. Craftsman: Twan Horizon (HNS-Paint). Photography Erich and Petra Smerg.

Inspired by the ancient Citadel of Erbil, once called Arbela (from the Assyric Arba-Ila – ‘four gods’, referring to the four gates to the original citadel – the objects in this collection carry with them the memory of a cultural history that goes back 7,000 years. From ancient construction techniques to the gesture of a woman in mourning, in all their condensed references, artisanal excellence and deafening silence they gently welcome the future. 

Teyrebaz is inspired by ancient depictions of a hawk, signifying the hunter, part of the MET’s permanent collection. The principle of this side table is similar to object Hunebench and made of wood covered in a red car paint coating. Size: 800 x 500 x 200 mm. Craftsman: Rutger Graas. Photography: Erich & Petra Smerg.

Teyrebaz is inspired by ancient depictions of a hawk, signifying the hunter, part of the MET’s permanent collection. The principle of this side table is similar to object Hunebench and made of wood covered in a red car paint coating. Size: 800 x 500 x 200 mm. Craftsman: Rutger Graas. Photography: Erich & Petra Smerg.

Hozan’s plan with his Arbela collection, for which he got the support of the Ministry of Culture of Kurdistan, included the design and realisation of the first design exhibition in Erbil. The exhibition shows a series of abstract objects designed by him and executed in collaboration with various craftsmen and specialists in The Netherlands – where the artist currently lives and works – and in Kurdistan Iraq, Italy and the United Kingdom. Materials used range from walnut wood, patinated bronze and anodized aluminum to linen textiles and dried cloves. 

Erbil Design Exhibition will open on March 4th at the Saad Abdullah Palace Conference Hall. On March 5th, the Erbil International Design & Heritage Symposium will gather national and international speakers will provide a lecture about Erbil’s history, archaeology and transition to modern times. 

Paradis Barbares by Christian Lacroix Maison

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The 2019 Spring Summer Collection of Christian Lacroix Maison is an invitation to a mysterious, esoteric and phantasmagorical world. From soft colours to strange animals, stationary to delicate porcelain, let’s embark to a land with “no straight lines in nature”.


To present the collection, Christian Lacroix Maison used the troglodyte villas of Jacques Couëlle above Grasse (France). “Paradis Barbares” fits perfectly well into the private rooms designed by Garouste and Bonetti. 

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The collection brings us to a mysterious imaginary world. The journey will stop at “Bois Paradis”, a two-tone panorama depicts an original garden with fairytale fauna; “l’Eden”, a print with leaves and a Japanese wallpaper; “Bosquet”, a woven wool rug that will lead us to “Cueillette” and its berries laid out on velvety cotton, symbol of the nature’s generosity.

Don’t be lazy because the next steps of our trip will guide us to “Les Messagers”, woven butterflies then off to “les Rosales”, a jacquard embroidered with hydrangeas and wild roses sewn with gold thread.

“Les Centaurées” is a unique wallpaper with shimmering metal-stamped thistles, followed by “le Pas des Anges” preceding “l’Aveu”, a woven Persian mashrabiya before a paved “Pietra Dura” alleyways, another beautiful rug leading to “l’Entrelacs” wall hanging.

Finally the voyage ends after the discovery of “Herbariae”, a wallpaper covered with a bouquet of narcissus, lotuses and poppies.

Herbariae is also the name of a fine porcelain collections produced by Vista Alegre for Christian Lacroix Maison. The neo-classical freshness is inspired by poppy, narcissus, lotus flower, dahlia and thistle and is presented in either a black and white duo and also a soft pink and yellow combination.

The full Spring/Summer collection is also a feast for a beautiful range of stationary featuring an imaginary world where mysterious animals and phantasmagorical flora are living in harmony.

Pictures by Philippe Garcia.

The ‘Ocean’ pendant light

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Taiwan is not only the world’s leader in plastic production, it embraces, supports and creates products from traditional crafts.


I like projects that support local craftsmanship and traditions. Here is Kamaro’an whose name originates from Pangcah, an indigenous language in Taiwan, meaning ‘the place to live’.

Launched during Taiwan Designers’Week in 2015, directed by Ben Chiu, Kamaro’an was awarded ‘Rising Asian Talent’ by Maison & Objet in 2017.

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The brand is inspired by Taiwanese indigenous culture, using natural materials and employing indigenous weavers. They devoted to provide culturally-related employments in Hualien to welcome youths to come home. Kamaro’an has also opened a space in the capital last year. Located in Huashan 1914 Creative Park, it showcases their creations with various materials such as banana fabrics, betel nut, driftwood and more.

The ‘Riyar’ pendant light (or ocean in the Pangcah language) is part of the Umbrella Sedge Series. The sedge takes 4 to 6 months to harvest and it grows in crystal-clear water. By separating the skin from the inner fibers, craftsman Sumi Dongi avoids mildew problems, and makes the mats more delicate in nature.

The next step is the weaving of the umbrella sedge on structural metal frames to create lightings with a contemporary shape. This enables the craft to produce in a small but scaled system.

Each Riyar pendant light looks unique in every angle. Dimensions: 58 x 58 x 60 (cm). 

Between Escher & Nendo

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The master of optical illusion meets one of the leading contemporary design studios at the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne) for an incredible unique exhibition:  Escher X nendo | Between Two Worlds.


One is the master of hypnotic works, the other one is acclaimed for the design aesthetics brought to the contemporary design world, both are geniuses using their brains to create either a hypothetic or a very real world. NGV’s ambitious exhibition showcases more than 150 of Escher’s woodcuts and sketches and commissioned Oki Sato and his team to produce large-scale rooms and installations to celebrate the Dutch’s master.

The famous works like the Drawing Hands; Day & Night; Relativity are of course present in Melbourne while the Japanese studio worked on immersive spaces focusing on the illusion of perspective. The complex drawings are opposed to pure, so Nendo-like, lines and spaces.

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The House in perspective space displays Escher’s works in a simple manner. But looking closer, the rods merge together and form a house.

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In the Gathered House’s circular space, the works of the Dutch master surround a centre piece constructed from thousands of miniature house motifs.

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In the Zooming House, a corridor between two rooms recalls Escher’s obsession with illusion. The pathway shrinks from four-metre to a tiny 55 centimetres.

‘Escher’s logical, math-based ideas and interests have inspired nendo’s work process and served as a base for the creation of this exhibition design and new collection of works. The different installations vary in scale and in spatial impact, enabling the visitor to experience Escher’s world in a very physical way. It’s as if they are walking inside Escher’s mind, but seeing the exhibition through their own eyes,’ said Oki Sato, Chief Designer and Founder, nendo. 

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Escher X nendo | Between Two Worlds will be on display from 2 December 2018 – 7 April 2019 at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia. 

Pictures courtesy of Sean Fennessy and Akihiro Yoshida.