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VCUarts Qatar Kicks Off Liwan’s Activation Week

April 27, 2022
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Participants at university workshop captures the 1950’s building’s designs through ‘tufting’

VCUarts Qatar recently held a workshop in conjunction with the opening of Liwan Design Studios and Labs, in Msheireb. Assistant Professor and Head of Materials Library Yasmeen Suleiman, and Assistant Materials Curator Abdul Rahman Anwar led the workshop.  

The workshop was on the technique of ‘Tufting’. The Materials Library recently acquired ‘tufting guns’, and the team felt the opening of Liwan would be a great opportunity to share the resource with the public. Machine tufting, unlike hand-tufting, is a relatively faster and simpler process that gives participants the satisfaction of seeing their works come to life, almost instantly.

“VCUarts Qatar’s Materials Library has a formal collaboration with Liwan Design Studios and Labs, and this workshop was the first demonstration of this collaboration,” Yasmeen said. “Since this workshop would be part of the activation week, we drew inspiration from the elements and details around Liwan, which was originally the first girls school in Qatar, dating back to the 1950’s. We wanted the tufting designs to capture the historic significance of the building. Hence, we took cues from the faded painted flowers on the floors, and the patterns on the main doors and windows.” 

The workshop was attended by members of the public as well as VCUarts Qatar students and alumni. Participants collectively worked on creating tufted patterns that had been traced on to fabric stretched out on wooden frames. The team from our Materials Library took the frames back to the University to complete them. The finished pieces will eventually be gifted to Liwan to be displayed in their spaces.  

Located in the Mushaireb neighborhood that houses Msheireb Downtown Doha, Liwan offers a unique creative space that supports and connects Qatar’s burgeoning creative community. The building itself is typical of Doha’s beautiful mid-century designs. Built in the 1950s, it housed the first all-girls school, Banat Al-Doha, later renamed as Um Almo’ mneen.

When Qatar Museums chose to convert the school into Liwan Design Studios and Labs, the renovators decided to stay true to the original architecture of the school, and thereby preserve the school’s historic and physical place in Qatar’s expanding urban landscape.

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