Irthi Brings Together 10 Emirati Italian and Spanish Designers to Realise ‘Crafts Dialogue’ Projec
Intercultural artistic discourse will find expression in four heritage-inspired luxury collections
Sharjah, 9 January 2019
In its pursuit to dissolve geographical boundaries and merge artistic expressions from both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi) – an affiliate of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) – has announced that ten skilled artists and designers from the UAE, Italy and Spain will bring to life the first phase of its ‘Crafts Dialogue’ project.
The project, which is being implemented in collaboration with Barcelona-based ‘Creative Dialogue’, features four designers from the UAE, five from Spain, and one from Italy.
Fatima Al Zaabi, Ghaya bin Mesmar, Abdallah Al Mulla and Shaikha Bin Dhaher are the contributing UAE designers, who will work with Laura Blasco, Juanmi Juárez, and Alex Estévez from Barcelona-based design studio Mermelada Estudio; Pepa Reverter from Barcelona; Adrian Salvador from Valencia; and Matteo Silverio from Venice.
‘Crafts Dialogue’ was launched earlier in November this year in Italy, in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA, Founder and Royal Patron of Irthi, to create four limited-edition collections marrying the centuries-old Emirati crafts of Talli (intricate handwoven braids), Safeefah (palm-frond weaves), and pottery, with delicate Italian Murano glass, and fine Spanish leather.
The Talli and Safeefah elements of the collections will be contributed by the female artisans of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme.
Four distinct capsule collections celebrating unity in diversity
Each collection represents a cultural and artistic dialogue between Emirati and European crafts, aiming to introduce crafts from UAE, Spain and Italy in an innovative context following international standards.
Matteo Silverio and Fatima Al Zaabi will collaborate to create products from Italian Murano glass and Emirati clay, while Ghaya Bin Mesmar and Mermelada Estudio’s designers will delicately combine Talli and Safeefah.
Pepa Reverter and Abdallah Al Mulla will masterfully incorporate Emirati Safeefah and clay for the third collection in a way never seen before; and finally, Adrian Salvador Candela and Shaikha bin Dhaher will combine their artistic sensibilities for their collection, which will see Spanish leather adorned with intricate Talli weaves.
Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA said: “Establishing intercultural dialogue, and reinterpreting local arts and crafts for the world by offering new, innovative perspectives through intermingling artistic talents from different backgrounds, is what project Crafts Dialogue seeks to achieve. Crafts Dialogue represents a new milestone in Irthi’s efforts to make traditional crafts relevant to present-day products and offering Emirati artisans new avenues of expression. Through this project, we have also enabled contemporary Emirati and European designers to learn, collaborate and create on one vibrant platform.”
“The Crafts Dialogue team is preparing for a production visit as early as February next year, and we are aiming for an official international launch by September 2019,” BinKaram added.
The artists got together in Sharjah recently to kick-start the project, where they explored local clay factories, the Mleiha Archaeology Center and Sharjah Art Foundation for inspiration. The designers and project team had an initial design brainstorming session led by the curator and creative director of the Crafts Dialogue project, Samer Al Yamani, Founder and Creative Director of Creative Dialogue; in the presence of Sheikha Hind bint Majed Al Qassimi, Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council, Nada Al Lawati, Executive Board Member of NAMA, and Farah Nasri, designer at the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council.
The designers also met with the Emirati women artisans who are part of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme in Dibba Al Hisn, and familiarised themselves with the centre’s vocational training courses, and its leading projects and initiatives, geared towards preserving and modernising traditional handicrafts, by incorporating them into fashion and contemporary designs and products.