Dezeen Magazine

VCUarts Qatar and Atelier La Juntana present a light installation informed by virga clouds

Dezeen School Shows: students and faculty members from VCUarts Qatar present a light installation called Virga, which was built in collaboration with design studio Atelier La Juntana and is featured as Dezeen's latest school show.

The group project was informed by virga clouds and is made up of a collection of lights that form a collaborative installation, which explores the intersection of steam bending and digital fabrication.

Each project was designed by a student or faculty member from the VCUarts Qatar MFA in Design program before the group travelled to Spain to produce the project during a wood-bending workshop with Atelier La Juntana.

VCUarts Qatar

Institution: VCUarts Qatar
Organisation: Atelier La Juntana
Designers: Rab McClure, Marco Bruno, Giovanni Innella, Stella Colaleo, Reema Abu Hassan, Ayah Elnour, Gabrielle Tesfaye, Somaia Dorzadeh, Sidra Sohail, Steffi Braganza, Tasnim Rahimah, Tharwa Dalansi, Adriane de Souza, Destarte Prieto, Hind Al Saad, Mashael Almusleh, Moom Thahinah, Naima Almajdobah, Sara Alafifi
Workshop leaders and material research: Daniel Gutiérrez Adán, Armor Gutiérrez Rivas and Nertos Gutiérrez Rivas
Collaborators: xLab: Levi Hammet, Mohammad Suleiman and Hiathem El-Hammali – light source design, coding, interaction design, kinetic design; Sayuri Kurotsu – fabric construction and tailoring; Applelec – light source components and fabrication; Campovisible – photography; and Qatar Foundation

School statement:

"Faculty and students from VCUarts Qatar, working in collaboration with Atelier La Juntana, designed and fabricated a collection of glowing sculptural forms made from steam-bent wood, 3D-printed connectors, LED lights and tailored fabric.

"Designed for disassembly and portability, the collection will be exhibited next in the VCUarts Qatar Gallery in Doha, suspended from motorised pulleys and equipped with laser range finders to create an interactive, kinetic installation, subtly shifting and rearranging – rising and falling, dimming and growing brighter in response to the passage of time and the presence and movement of gallery visitors."


Photograph of people making the installation with wood
The participants hammered wood shims into the mould then pinned the steamed ash strips against the curve. Top image: Virga, produced by students and faculty from the VCUarts Qatar MFA in collaboration with Atelier La Juntana

Virga light installation

"Inspired by virga cloud formations – clouds found in hot climates, characterised by trailing streaks of rain that evaporate before reaching the ground – the project invites free association, fosters reverie, and inspires imaginative speculation.

"Each cloud form was designed by a separate student or faculty member from the VCUarts Qatar MFA in Design program, in preparation for the eight-day wood-bending workshop at Atelier La Juntana, a teaching and fabrication facility on the north coast of Spain.

Photograph of people making the installation with wood
The students and faculty members assembled the lamp frames, using 3D-printed connectors and steam-bent ash components

"During the workshop, thin, paired strips of wood, cut from locally sourced ash trees, were trimmed to size, sanded, soaked overnight in water, heated for several hours in a steam chamber, and then bent into digitally-fabricated moulds.

"When assembled, the bent-wood curves create a family of related but distinct forms, each lit by a custom-fabricated LED light source, made-to-order by UK lighting and signage firm Applelec.

"Each individually tailored fabric diffuser obscures the light source and scatters the light, resulting in the collection of softly glowing cloud forms.

Photograph of an assembled frame as part of the light installation
An assembled frame designed by Rab McClure

"Exploring the steam bending process to push the boundaries of the material in pursuit of expressive geometry has been challenging but very rewarding.

"The project is part of the MFA-on-the-GO Field Study initiative, a distinctive feature of the VCUarts Qatar graduate program. Each year students and faculty travel together to conduct embedded workshops with expert artists, designers, fabricators and industry partners, producing tangible artefacts that are collectively exhibited afterward.

Photograph of an assembled frame as part of the light installation
The detail of a frame designed by Hind Al Saad

"In recent years the MFA program has worked with glassblowers in England, with felt makers in the Netherlands, with metalworkers in Morocco and with ceramicists and computational designers in Italy.

"Field Study projects have been showcased most recently in Venice, during the 2021 Venice Biennale, and in the Rossana Orlandi Gallery, Milan, during Milan Design Week."

Photograph of an assembled frame as part of the light installation
An assembled frame with a fabric diffuser designed by Sidra Sohail

To view more about VCUarts Qatar, visit its website.

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and VCUarts Qatar. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.

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