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VCUQatar Graduate Faculty and Students Present East-modernism at Design Days Dubai

March 15, 2012

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatars MFA.DESIGN. (Master of Fine Arts in Design Studies) faculty and students will present a curated exhibit of their new work titled East-modernism at Design Days Dubai from 18 to 21 March, 2012.

Strategically situated on the crossroads of the Gulf Region, the graduate program at VCUQatar is both inspired and informed by design culture of the Gulf. East-modernism is the MFA.DESIGN. department’s reflection on the state of this culture in transition. “‘East-modernism’ overlays the rich artistic heritage of the Middle East over the foundations of modern design as it utilizes traditions of local crafts, revived and reused in a new unusual context,” says Constantin Boym, director of MFA.DESIGN. at VCUQatar and curator of the exhibition. “East-modernism is a wink at Postmodernism, characterized by multiplicity of meaning, irony, and cultural criticism,” he adds.

The exhibit will include East-modern Furniture by Constantin and Laurene Boym which uses the Autoprogettazione concept, by the celebrated master of Modernism, Italian designer Enzo Mari, as the starting point. In 1974, Mari published a set of his design drawings, calling on consumers to make furniture on their own, and to customize it according to one’s personal cultural tastes. Working with local craftsmen and VCUQatar students, the Boyms overlay Mari’s designs with traditional craft motifs of the Gulf: henna decorations, patterns of brass tacks, sadu cushions – to achieve unexpected and provocative results.

Sadu Thread Cabinet by Thomas Modeen, assistant professor MFA.DESIGN., uses the rough wool thread usually used to make traditional Sadu fabrics or carpets as a ‘wrap-around’ surface in a cabinet, thereby using it as both enclosure and decorative texture. The interior of the cabinet can be accessed by parting the thread surface with one’s hands as the cabinet has no doors.

Middlefield is a foosball table by Paolo Cardini, assistant professor MFA.DESIGN, who updates this object of European origin with signifiers of the Gulf States, at the time when football becomes a source of Qatar’s national pride and a popular obsession. His Non-Renewable Oil Lamp – which does not allow for any refills – suggests the limits of natural resources and careful way of their use.

Vessel Revisions by Benjamin Jurgensen incorporate ubiquitous tissue boxes, framing them into sculptural compositions of molded paper pulp and wood, thus endowing familiar unassuming items with threatening and monumental presence.

The Shared Glass collection by VCUQatar graduate students Amin Matni, Alia Khairat, Imad Fadel, Rania Chamsine, Corby Elford, and Sameh Ibrahim was created in collaboration with young Italian designers at Fabrica– a cutting-edge design and research center in Italy. Students envision and produce hybrid objects that mix and match heterogeneous influences, shapes, and functions. This peculiar mixture, a fusion of East and West, a blending of Modernism and tradition, sets up a new precedent for global cultural enterprise.

The Middle East’s and South Asia’s first fair dedicated to collectible and limited edition design, Design Days Dubai will showcase exclusive high-end design pieces by 22 international and regional design galleries. The galleries, drawn from around the world, will present for the first time in Dubai the creative strides and investment opportunities offered by the purchase of high-end design, through an unmatched collection ranging from prototype work to 20th Century classics, with the collectibles ranging from €500 (approximately $655) to €300,000 (approximately $393,000).

Among the participating galleries are Coletivo Amor de Madre from Brazil and Croft from Seoul, South Korea, both participating in a design fair outside their home countries for the first time at Design Days Dubai. The fair, will also mark the premiere of La Galerie Nationale, the first of its kind design gallery that specializes in modern design, and an enchanting Dominic Harris piece showcased by Priveekollektie, which represents internationally recognized artists and designers. Also headlining the fair are design artists including Jedd Novatt, Guy de Rougemont (Galerie Diane de Polignac, Paris); Joseph Walsh (Nilufar, Milan); Frederik Molenschot (Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London/Paris); Christian Astuguvieille (Franziska Kessler, Zurich); Hans Kotter (Priveekollektie, Heusden); Charles Kalpakian (Galerie BSL, Paris) and Vito Selma (Nakkash Gallery, Dubai).

The fair will also feature ‘Bespoke Design,’ a platform to showcase the production-aspect of design, comprising works by French-design brand Moisonnier and PF Emirates, who will showcase iconic collector pieces by Cassina, Cappellini and Poltrona Frau. These masterpieces bear the signatures of influential designers such as Le Corbusier, Jean-Marie Massaud, Tom Dixon, Alessandro Mendini and Franco Albini, some of which are being featured exclusively for the first time in the Middle East.

Design Days Dubai has invited Tashkeel (Dubai); American University of Sharjah/College of Art, Architecture and Design; ECAL/University of Art and Design, Lausanne, Switzerland, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, to showcase the experimental work of their emerging designers. “Design Days Dubai thus opens doors for the UAE’s own design talent to meet and interact with international design experts and understand the newest trends,” explained Cyril Zammit, Fair director, Design Days Dubai.

Design Days Dubai will be held from March 18 to 21, 2012, at a specially designed venue by the base of Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, the flagship mega-development by Emaar Properties. The event is organised in partnership with the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), The Address Hotels + Resorts, and design patrons Audi and Van Cleef & Arpels. It also coincides with the contemporary art fair Art Dubai, and is an integral part of Art Week.

For more information on Design Days Dubai, visit www.designdaysdubai.ae, www.facebook.com/designdaysdubai or follow them on Twitter @designdaysdubai.

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