Expo 2020 Dubai's Menasa – Emirati Design Platform puts a spotlight on traditional craft

It includes 40 local and international designers whose works will be presented at the World Expo

Expo 2020 Dubai has launched the Menasa – Emirati Design Platform as part of its Design and Crafts Programme. Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai
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Expo 2020 Dubai has launched the Menasa – Emirati Design Platform as part of its Design and Crafts Programme. It features more than 40 local and international designers who will present their works as part of a curated collection at the event, which takes place from October to March.

The programme will comprise seven design collaborations between designers as part of its Craft Stories section. Designers and artisans, hailing from 11 countries such as Spain, Lebanon, Brazil and India, will explore traditional Emirati crafts and traditions, while adding contemporary elements to present them in a new way.

The platform will also feature a Designer of the Week, showcasing a total of 24 artists and concepts from the UAE.

‘East to West’ is a Tashkeel collaboration with Hamza Al Omari and will be shown at Expo 2020 Dubai's Menasa - Emirati Design Platform. Photo: Tashkeel

Expo 2020 Dubai’s Design and Crafts Programme is overseen by design and crafts director Samer Yamani, who has also curated the Menasa platform. Yamani is the founder of Creative Dialogue, a consultancy and creative agency out of Barcelona.

He explains Menasa’s aim is to present Emirati culture through its long-standing traditions, rooted in the use of natural materials and local methods. “Crafts have a special, innate power to communicate a local culture, a nation and its identity. Giving this power a poetic approach, we used Emirati crafts as a communication tool and merged it with design, new technologies and materials to convey more local stories and to intensify the experience for our visitors through our exclusive design collections."

Expo 2020 Dubai is an ideal opportunity for the world to see how the UAE craft and design sector continues to grow and diversify
Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Tashkeel’s deputy director

Locally, the platform has collaborated with Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts, Alia Bin Omair, Ammar Kalo, Bil Arabi, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Khalid Shafar, and Tashkeel, all in the UAE. Its list of international brands include BD Barcelona Design from Spain, Estudio Campana from Brazil, Iwan Maktabi and Nicolas Jebran from Lebanon, and Klove Studio from India.

Among the designs that will be on display is an incense holder, East to West, by Hamza Al Omari. It features a delicate, minimalist design that comes in rose gold, stainless steel and electric blue.

Born in 1990, the Jordanian-Canadian designer won the Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East Emergent Designer Prize in 2017. His involvement with Menasa comes through Tashkeel, of which he is alumni of the organisation’s Tanween design programme from 2017.

Tashkeel is currently working with Expo 2020 Dubai for its Menasa platform, as well as other projects. The organisation, whose main art centre is located in Nad Al Sheba, has been promoting local design through its programming for years, training 26 designers and prototyping 39 products in the span of 10 years.

“Over the last decade, our commitment to embedding Emirati craft and identity within a contemporary UAE design aesthetic has grown,” Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Tashkeel’s deputy director, said.

Speaking on the Expo 2020 Dubai partnership, she said the World Expo event is “an ideal opportunity for the world to see how the UAE craft and design sector continues to grow and diversify, using a contemporary voice and a distinctive design vernacular infused by the customs and traditions of this country”.

Menasa – Emirati Design Platform will also include screenings of documentaries from the UAE that delve into the country’s craft traditions – from palm frond-weaving, talli embroidery and sadu or Bedouin weaving, to the design of gargour or fish traps.

More information available at expo2020dubai.com

Updated: September 09, 2021, 1:30 PM