Boxing ring installation by Lebanese studio at Dubai Design Week doesn't pull any punches

The 'ring of life', by Beirut brand Bokja, asks visitors: 'What anguish drives your anger?'

The interactive installation 'Let's Talk About the Weather' resembles a boxing ring and is made using recycled materials. Photo: Bokja
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A boxing ring is the last thing one would expect to find at a festival dedicated to all things design. However, for those attending Dubai Design Week at D3, that's exactly what awaits.

The six metre by six metre "ring" even comes with a central punching bag.

The interactive installation arrives courtesy of Bokja, a Beirut-born design studio that has carved a niche for itself by crafting narratives through embroidery and textile.

Here, The National speaks to founders Maria Hibri and Huda Baroudi about what they call the “ring of life”, also known as Let’s Talk About the Weather, which is on display in the city until Sunday.

What is the concept behind 'Let’s Talk About the Weather'?

Conceived as a boxing ring with a central punching bag and cushions, the installation welcomes anyone to enter the “ring of life” and confront their most urgent issues, be it natural catastrophes and climate change or private heartbreak and frustrations. To personalise the experience, participants will receive strips of ribbon to write down topics of their choice, both personal and universal. The only question to answer is this: “What anguish drives your anger?”

Why a boxing ring?

The installation is not a metaphor of heavy resignation, but rather a triumphant call to action: let’s express our anger, let’s do something about it, let’s use our power. Ribbons will be tied to the punching bag, loading it with visitors’ most heartfelt emotions and creating one more paragraph in the human story, written from the lines of our present pain.

Can you shed some light on the design itself?

The installation was produced in its entirety in Bokja’s Basta atelier in Beirut. In line with the brand’s sustainability commitment, it is constructed from waterproof shader, a reclaimed canvas fabric used to shelter goods such as fruits and vegetables during long truck journeys, as well as silk remnants reborn from the atelier floor. Akin to human skin, shader functions as protection, but also as a record of passing time and weathered journeys. The punching bag, too, is made of assembled remnant silks and embroideries, and features a motif of the three wise monkeys.

How does this installation sit alongside your other works?

Inspired in part by the brand’s Tree of Life installation during Milan Design Week 2014 — which was an invitation to answer: “What makes you happy?” and hang it from a tree in keeping with wishing traditions of yore — Let’s Talk About the Weather travels further on the emotional spectrum.

The installation is a mirror held up to our faces, hence the use of the three monkeys — universal symbols of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

They are reminders of our urgent reality: failing to open our eyes and ears to injustices done to humans and other species, as well as the Earth at large. We’re inviting people to stop and engage in a conversation about some of the most pressing issues of today, to talk about what triggers them, to air their opinions and even to agree to disagree.

Let’s Talk About the Weather is on display at Dubai Design District as part of Dubai Design Week until Sunday, following which the installation will move to Doha’s Downtown Msheireb district to coincide with the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022

Updated: November 08, 2022, 2:13 PM