AlUla Design Award winners take modern twist on ancient history

Creators playfully channel character of Saudi region for chairs, oil lanterns and serving sets

The winners were revealed in a ceremony at Paris Design Week on Thursday. Photo: Arts AlUla
Powered by automated translation

The five winners of the second AlUla Design Award have been announced.

The prize supports retail goods inspired by the landscape and heritage of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla region.

Here are the top picks announced by Arts AlUla at Paris Design Week on Thursday.


Tawa by Shaddah Studio. Photo: Arts AlUla

The winning projects include Tawa by the Saudi Arabia-based Shaddah Studio. The work was conceived as an ideal observing chair from which to enjoy AlUla’s landscape, particularly how the horizon meets the sky. Tawa can also be refashioned as a rug. The work uses a black powder-coated steel frame, a water-resistant backing and a cotton rope.

Naba Tea Tiffin

Naba Tea Tiffin by Ikkis. Photo: Arts AlUla

Naba Tea Tiffin by Indian designer Gunjan Gupta and her studio Ikkis is inspired by Hegra’s position on the Hajj route. It comprises copper lids coated in terracotta powder, paying homage to the architectural elements of the ancient city. The set blends design elements from the lota container in India and beak spouts found in Nabataean pottery. It is made up of two sizes of jugs, for tea and milk, as well as sugar and biscuit bowls.

AlUla Terrains: Dates Serving Set

AlUla Terrains: Dates Serving Set by Teeb. Photo: Arts AlUla

AlUla Terrains: Dates Serving Set by the Saudi design company Teeb takes its cues from Harrat Khaybar's lush palm fields. The stackable set is made from stone and has a bottom container in which to store dates, whereas the upper part is designed for dips. The top cover is a receptacle to discard seeds.

Incense Heritage Collection

Incense Heritage Collection by Sarra Hafaiedh. Photo: Arts AlUla

Incense Heritage Collection by Tunisian designer Sarra Hafaiedh fuses contemporary production techniques with ancient designs. The wood grains and clean lines of the incense holder pay homage to Hegra’s rocks and its engraved symbols.

Oil Lantern

Oil Lantern by Imane Mellah. Photo: Arts AlUla

Finally, Oil Lantern by French architect Imane Mellah is a new twist to the Byzantine oil lamp found in Hegra. While the traditional aspects of the lamp were retained, it has been refined for modern use. Made out of ceramic, the lamp features a mesh placed in the centre, emphasising its handle.

Turning ideas into reality

The five winners were selected from a pool of 10 finalists. Prototypes of the shortlisted projects are being showcased in a Paris exhibition. It was conceived by Herve Sauvage, a set designer who has worked for several luxury brands, including Diesel, Hermes, Dior and Givenchy. Taking place at the Rue De Turenne, it is running until September 16.

The AlUla Design Award will also be commissioning some of the winning designs, supporting their production process and promoting them within events under the AlUla umbrella, both regionally and internationally.

"The winners of the AlUla Design Award have brilliantly interpreted the landscape and heritage of AlUla through their designs,” Nora Aldabal, executive director of Arts and Creative Industries Royal Commission for AlUla, said.

Each of the designs takes inspiration from AlUla's unique natural landscape and cultural heritage. Photo: Royal Commission for AlUla

The award is one of several initiatives aiming to make AlUla a regional design hub, including the launch of the area’s first arts and design centre Madrasat Addeera, which was formerly an old girls’ school. A show related to the centre, Madrasat Addeera Editions, is also being exhibited during Paris Design Week, which concludes on September 16.

AlUla also recently revealed the Design Residency, which begins in October, as well as Design Space AlUla, which is slated to open early next year.

“These initiatives exemplify AlUla's commitment to pushing the boundaries of design in dynamic and innovative ways whilst fostering creativity and cross-cultural connections,” Aldabal said. “We look forward to nurturing these ambitious initiatives which are making AlUla a design hub in the region, engaging local and international design communities alike."

Updated: September 08, 2023, 10:23 AM