Four female UAE-based designers have been handpicked for Tashkeel’s yearly design programme, which was launched in 2013. Eman Shafiq, Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami, Tasnim Tinawi and Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi stood out from a total of 58 applicants to become the Tanween 2021 participants. And the talented designers are set to take on a year-long, fully-funded professional training scheme in product design, led by local and international mentors.
The partakers will embark on a journey of research and experimentation to define a product concept inspired by the UAE, with the pandemic in mind. They have been tasked to design lasting sustainable solutions to urgent and unexpected global issues by “tapping into our collective empathy and taking inspiration from nature,” according to Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Tashkeel’s Deputy Director.
The designs will be developed into a prototype and after being manufactured in the UAE, the successful ones will get a launch pad at Dubai Design Week 2021. Tashkeel, the Dubai-based multidisciplinary art and design organisation that began providing professional training in product design in 2011, will be supporting the Tanween 2021 contestants in the research, development and production of projects. And in keeping with the design and science theme of the programme this year, the cohort will collaborate with UAE-based engineers and scientists to enhance their research capability, knowledge and understanding of ecological and problem-solving design.
Here’s what to know about the four bright minds joining the list of 26 other Tanween-backed designers, who have manufactured 39 limited-edition furniture and lighting pieces.
Pakistani architect Eman Shafiq focuses on the concept of UAE civic architecture, its transformation since the country’s union in 1971 and the consequent impact on urban culture. Possessing a multidisciplinary approach to design, the UAE-born and raised architect is interested in the processes of design and fabrication at various scales through digital and traditional means.
Since graduating from the American University of Sharjah in 2019, Shafiq has gained experience as an Architectural Research Assistant there, as part of the Architecture Production Team of the inaugural Sharjah Architecture Triennial. More recently, she joined X-Architects, a Dubai-based practice, as a Junior Architect.
Shafiq’s interests have expanded towards other design and research areas involved with Dubai’s cultural and urban development, under the common thematic umbrella of movement, focusing on the concept of inflection points for growth. Additionally, she recently established her own product design brand, the Eman Shafiq Design Studio, an exploratory interdisciplinary platform for design that so far focuses on jewellery design. She exhibited in the UAE Designer Exhibition at Dubai Design Week 2020 and Jameel Arts Centre.
During Tanween 2021, Shafiq will be addressing the environmental challenge of sustainable materials in construction and product manufacturing. She aims to continue her exploratory research with the guidance of industry professionals into the integration of the biological in architecture. Shafiq will be looking into traditional methods of sand-based construction in the Arabian Gulf and, in particular, identifying tangible applications for the use of bacteria to create a compressive load-bearing natural foundation material.
Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami
UAE-based architect and designer Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami’s work concentrates on a symbiosis between nature and design. The Egyptian national has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the American University of Sharjah and has completed design training programmes in Bologna and Venice. She has since collaborated with Italian-born companies for the execution of her award-winning installation titled “Layers” at EXPO 2020. Elmessalami has had her work exhibited in various places, including the UAE Designer Exhibition at Dubai Design Week 2020, Jameel Arts Centre, the 2020 RIBA Architecture Festival, the American University of Sharjah and Noon Art Gallery.
A designer of spaces, furniture and objects that aim to elevate the human experience by connecting them to their surroundings, either conceptually or physically, Elmessalami finds inspiration in the surroundings contexts. And this is reflected in her pieces at a material, formal and spatial scale.
For Tanween 2021, Elmessalami will be tackling the environmental challenge of creating a symbiosis between nature and design. Based on recent research and with the guidance of chemistry and biology experts, she aims to develop a plant-based leather alternative material for furniture and other products, using non-processed local dried plant pods. Additionally, the gifted participant will explore how these same pods could become a source of light without the use of electricity through the injection of bacteria or enzymes.
Tasnim Tinawi is a Dubai-based architectural designer working with Architecture + Other Things. She has also gained experience as an independent researcher at the Sharjah Architecture Triennial. Through furniture design, the Syrian further explores unique relationships between the human body, its movement and occupation in space.
Tinawi co-founded UT-R studio, which exhibited in ‘Plastic’ (Tashkeel, 2020), with Uthra Varghese in 2016 while studying at the American University of Sharjah. The research studio, which carries out work in Dubai and New York, investigates the multitudes in which design can elevate the relationship between cultural context and the built environment. UT-R studio, which integrates work across the disciplines of architecture, art, installation and product design, sheds light on the complexities of sociopolitical landscapes and reimagines possibilities through experimental processes.
As a Tanween 2021 accomplice, Tinawi will be concentrating on the environmental challenge of sustainable material using industrial waste and resin as a casting agent. The go-getter aims to work with sustainable materials (synthetic and organic waste) that are typically found in landfills and usually overlooked in order to potentially source an industrial waste material that can open up the possibility of its use in functional products.
Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi
Emirati Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi holds a Bachelor of Interior Design from Ajman University, College of Architecture, Design and Arts. While working as a freelance designer as a student, Al Balushi has worked on various residential projects including the Ajman Girls Centre in the emirate of Ajman.
During Tanween 2021, Al Balushi will expand her research in traditional and indigenous techniques and technologies routed to the UAE. Driven by scientific approach, these techniques will be used as inspiration to develop contemporary systems that solve a social/environmental problem, balancing aesthetics and functionality. The up-and-coming interior designer’s research will include renewable water tanks and sustainable public installations.