Tashkeel's Tanween programme tasks UAE designers with tackling world issues

Now in its eighth year, the programme highlights the role of innovative design in society

Eman Shafiq, Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami, Tasnim Tinawi and Khawla Al Balushi have been selected for Tashkeel's Tanween 2021 programme. Photo by Jalal Abuthina
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Tashkeel has selected four UAE designers for its year-long design programme Tanween, which supports the research, development and production of projects that respond to global issues.

The Dubai multidisciplinary art and design organisation received 58 applications for this year’s programme, from which it selected four female creatives: Eman Shafiq, Nuhayr Zein Elmessalami, Tasnim Tinawi and Khawla Mohammed Al Balushi.

Over the next year, the designers will delve into research and experimentation to create a product concept and, eventually, a prototype. They will be working with engineers and scientists in the UAE to help formulate their ideas of problem-solving design, with a particular focus on sustainable answers to critical issues.

The successful prototypes will then be manufactured and exhibited at Dubai Design Week 2021.

Shafiq is a Pakistani architect who focuses on UAE civic architecture and its evolution since 1971, when the country was formed. A graduate of the American University of Sharjah, Shafiq will explore the use of sustainable materials in construction and product manufacturing for Tanween.

Elmessalami, who is from Egypt, is also an architect and designer, with work that examines the symbiosis between nature and design. Her research for Tanween will take this interest forward, and she will be working with chemistry and biology experts to develop plant-based leather alternatives using local dried plant pods. These will then be used in making furniture and other products.

Syrian architectural designer Tinawi's experiments with sustainable material will be through industrial waste. A co-founder of research studio UT-R, Tinawi was also a researcher at the Sharjah Architecture Triennial. For Tanween, she will study materials typically found in landfills and consider their potential for use in more functional products.

The past year of the pandemic has underscored the essential role of design thinking in addressing pressing and unforeseen global issues and finding sustainable solutions

Emirati designer Al Balushi is a graduate of Ajman University. Her research is more rooted in the traditional and indigenous technologies originating from or existing in the UAE. Using a scientific approach, Al Balushi hopes to develop a contemporary system that balances functionality and aesthetics while remaining sustainable. Her research will look into renewable water tanks and sustainable public installations.

Deputy director of Tashkeel, Lisa Bell-Lechgar, emphasised the role of design in tackling today’s issues. “The past year of the pandemic has underscored the essential role of design thinking in addressing pressing and unforeseen global issues and finding sustainable solutions that not only benefit us now but have a positive impact on the future,” she said.

“So for the eighth edition of the Tanween design programme, we decided to task our participants with designing solutions by tapping into our collective empathy and taking inspiration from nature.”

Established in 2013, Tanween has since trained 26 designers and produced 39 furniture and lighting pieces.