QMIN Magazine

Cities At Design Days Dubai 2016

“Orientalism Reinterpreted”


Cities Boutique, the region’s leading art, design and lifestyle store, is pleased to be participating for the second time in Design Days Dubai which takes place from in Dubai Design District (d3), March 14-18, 2016. Now in its fifth year, Design Days Dubai is an annual event which presents limited edition furniture and design objects gathered from some of the leading international designers and galleries from all across the world. It also provides a source of knowledge and education about the design sector through a series of workshops, installations, and live performances.

The Cities’ exhibit at Design Days Dubai will focus on the theme of “Orientalism Reinterpreted.” The term “Orientalism” is often used to refer to depictions and imitations of aspects of Middle Eastern, South Asian, African and East Asian cultures. Typically, these depictions and imitations of the characteristics of Eastern cultures are carried out by people from the West, and over time, the term has come to denote a patronizing, clichéd and subtly prejudiced interpretation. Historically, this negative interpretation has appeared in countless designs and artworks which tend to generalize and exaggerate, resulting in an erroneous understanding of our culture and people. As time has passed, the word “orientalism” has faded from active usage as uncertainty surrounds its meaning. The Cities’ exhibit theme was conceived to reclaim ownership of this term and cast it in a more positive light. The display at Design Days Dubai shares designs which play upon these clichéd items and creations which were once considered accurate characterizations of Eastern cultures when defined by outsiders. Instead, Cities’ reinterprets these depictions; presenting designs which allude to these previous creations and their recognizable tropes, and subvert them, offering a different perspective on what “orientalism” is and how it should be defined.Alma de Luce, Enxoval, cabinet, Corian, Palissandro wood, Swarovski crystals, gold leaf, 100cm (W) x 50,5cm (D) x 171cm (H), 2014, photo courtesy of Alma de Luce (1) (1)

Working within the culture, the regional designers representing Cities offer their own depictions of the characteristics, styles, shapes and forms that historically have fallen under the term Orientalism. Each designer participating in the exhibit has chosen a recognizable design, structure, or motif that has been traditionally associated with Eastern cultures and has offered a reinterpretation of the creation which shares not only the cultural aspects and traditions inherent to the object, but also challenges these conventional perspectives by pushing the boundaries and offering conceptualized art and design. The result is a collection of design that is at times satirical and bold, and in other instances quietly shares a forgotten story. But above all, it is design that defines us as a culture; it is honest, true, and spoken from the heart.Alma de Luce, Enxoval, cabinet, Corian, Palissandro wood, Swarovski crystals, gold leaf, 100cm (W) x 50,5cm (D) x 171cm (H), 2014, photo courtesy of Alma de Luce (1)Alma de Luce

As such, the Cities’ display draws on the known and recognizable root, and portrays the assimilation of outside influences to result in creations that are cohesive, narrative, and forward-thinking as they break with the erroneous characterizations of the past and accurately share a modern definition of Orientalism.

Highlights of the Cities’ display include new designs by Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays which were created specifically for Cities and this theme, as well as the art installation “L’Ouvert et L’Horizon,” from Lebanese group Hawini, and the Enxoval cabinet from Portuguese creators Alma de Luce. Cities is pleased to be participating again in this prestigious event and share with Dubai this exceptional exhibition created to explore the ideas of “Orientalism Reinterpreted.”

 HawiniHawini, “L’Ouvert et L’Horizon,” installation art, circles, steel gun metal finish, silk thread, 200cm x 160cm, 2012, photo courtesy of Hawini

About Hazem K. Aljesr

Hazem K. Aljesr spent his earlier years in Lebanon, where he was born, and Saudi Arabia where he was brought up. Starting his career at Tom Dixon Design studios in London, which is a design and manufacturing company of lighting and furniture, Hazem gained extensive knowledge in the world of high-end design. After this experience, he returned to the Middle East in 2006, and opened his very own branding, web and design firm, Zoom Creative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 2008, under the umbrella of Zoom Creative, Hazem launched Cities Design and Lifestyle Store, in Centria Mall, Riyadh.

Cities has been a great success in introducing the country to the latest in modern and avant-garde home accessories and designs from around the world. With the hopes of presenting distinctive, International art and designs to the crowd of Dubai, Hazem has created the same authentic establishment that was launched in Saudi. He hopes to later expand Cities further in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and eventually to various parts of Europe.