Abwab pavilions "empower design" from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia

Movie: Abwab creative director Rawan Kashkoush describes how pavilions showcased the "differences and nuances" of design from the United Arab Emirates and surrounding countries, in this movie produced by Dezeen for Dubai Design Week.

Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015

Abwab consisted of a series of six pavilions showcasing work by designers from Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

United Arab Emirates Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
United Arab Emirates pavilion

"Designers have come together with the craftspeople in their local neighbourhoods and the collaborations have produced some beautiful designs," explains Kashkoush in the movie, which was filmed at Dubai Design Week.

Pakistan Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Pakistan pavilion

Abwab means "doors" in Arabic. Kashkoush says the idea was to create a platform to highlight the diversity of design talent in the region.

United Arab Emirates Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
sLight shifts installation by Ammar Kalo and Jake Newsum at the United Arab Emirates Abwab pavilion

"It's not just access into the cultures that come from each of these countries," she explains.

"It's also the culture being taken outside into the rest of the world to really set apart the differences and nuances between each of these countries, which are often perceived as an area or a region."

Jordan Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Jordan pavilion

Each of the pavilions represented traditional games or the element of play from the countries' respective cultures.

Jordan Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Jordan pavilion

Jordan created an interactive pavilion featuring a series of swings surrounded by delicate white textiles.

Tunisia Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Tunisia pavilion

The designers of the Tunisia pavilion invented a large three-dimensional puzzle made from hundreds of oval wooden modules.

Pakistan Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Pakistan pavilion

Pakistan recreated a traditional courtyard for playing games, with hand-printed silk and organza screens representing different games suspended above.

Saudi Arabia Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Saudi Arabia pavilion

The Saudi Arabia pavilion featured a giant version of a traditional game called Um Tse', with items of furniture and lighting used as playing pieces.

Kuwait Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Kuwait pavilion

The designers of the Kuwait pavilion produced a pictorial representation of a research document about games in their culture.

United Arab Emirates Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
sLight shifts installation by Ammar Kalo and Jake Newsum at the United Arab Emirates Abwab pavilion

The United Arab Emirates pavilion featured four separate works, from intricate woven screens to an audio-visual installation commenting on the popularity of people taking selfies on mobile phones.

Abwab pavilions at Dubai Design Week 2015
Abwab pavilions designed by LOCI Architecture + Design

Each of the countries was given a standard exterior shell to work with, which was designed by United Arab Emirates-based studio LOCI Architecture + Design.

Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Panel of polycarbonate filled with sand

"The pavilions are clad with multi wall polycarbonate panels that are filled with sand," explains Hamza Omari, the industrial designer at the firm who led the project. "Sand is inherently an insulating material, so this was used as an intelligent skin, which limits thermal transfer."

Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Abwab pavilion at night

Omari says it took over 14 hours to fill all the polycarbonate panels with sand, each of which features a unique pattern.

Abwab pavilion at Dubai Design Week 2015
Abwab pavilion at night

"During the day you have the light filtering through the sand into the internal spaces," Omari says. "At night you have the complete opposite where the pavilions give a warm glow as the light filters through the sand onto the outdoor spaces."

Hamza Omari of LOCI Architecture + Design
Hamza Omari of LOCI Architecture + Design

Kashkoush believes that providing such a platform for designers in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia can help to boost the design industry in the region so that young designers do not feel the need to leave for Europe or America to pursue a career in design.


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"Abwab acts as an industry motivator," she says. "What we're trying to do is create opportunities for designers that often end up leaving the Middle East, to create a space that empowers design in the UAE and the rest of the neighbourhood."

Abwab creative director Rawan Kashkoush
Abwab creative director Rawan Kashkoush