UAE social enterprise 81 Designs and Lebanese designer Nada Debs will unveil a new collaborative collection at Abu Dhabi Art, the annual art fair (November 17 to 21, 2021) held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office which will take place at Manarat Al Saadiyat.
The collection titled, ‘On Belonging’ is a culmination of a six-month project inspired by Palestinian artist Nabil Anani’s ‘In Pursuit of Utopia’ which is a picturesque portrayal of his imagined homeland envisioned as one immaculate landscape, without division or disruptions. Reimagined by Nada Debs and her brand ethos that follow the ‘handmade and heartmade’ tagline, this collection features seven Crafted Pebble chairs and Straw lamps, created by pushing the boundaries of craft, geography, art and community for a deeper sense of connection and compassion tied to homeland and history. As an ode to the Golden Jubilee of the UAE, the seven pieces represent the seven emirates, while the craft revives a sense of belonging connected to the culture of Lebanon and the art pays homage to the land of Palestine.
Nadine Maalouf, Co-Founder of 81 Designs says: “Our mission is to narrate the artistic tale of old traditions. Our collaborations allow us to empower the refugee artisans we employ by providing them with sustainable jobs. Our collaboration with Nada Debs reflects a strong sense of community and the fusion between craft and design.” Despite the challenges faced by the team of artisans within the 81 Designs workshop located in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon, this collaboration was possible due to the resilience of the women behind the work and is a testament of their commitment to tradition and craft.
As a true craft-custodian and educator, Nada Debs’ vision for new-materialism comes to life through the design process and creative collaboration which weaves emotion into furniture and design by adding depth to traditional Palestinian cross-stitching. “My work is about identity, restoring and elevating traditional craft and instilling a sense of belonging. By revisiting roots and working with refugee artisans, this project was an infusion of identities and a heartfelt dialogue conveyed via craft, relaying messages of hope and freedom, dignity and identity,” says Nada Debs.
For the Co-Founders of 81 Designs, this project is a reflection of their passion to bring together artists and artisans, creators and designers, to weave together design, craft, art and culture by revolutionizing the use of traditional embroidery such as Tatreez and cross-stitching. Nada Debs says: “I wanted to revive the sense of belonging which is universal and intrinsic to all human beings, and this collection taps into that sense of identity, purpose, longing and belonging.”
The ‘On Belonging’ collection will be available for purchase at Abu Dhabi Art 2021 (November 17-21)