In the middle of the hot sand at Dubai’s city beach, multidisciplinary designer Aljoud Lootha’s artwork “Yaroof” somehow manages to look both alien and totally at one with its surroundings. The Emirati designer has been involved in multiple projects that interpret traditional Emirati craftsmanship, using it as an inspiration for contemporary pieces. It’s not an unusual way of working—plenty of the designs at the recent British Northern Design Festival were inspired by Newcastle’s industrial heritage—but the process is especially fascinating in Dubai, a city that can seem (at least to outsiders) as being almost without a past.
In “Yaroof,” Lootha has created an eye-catching geometric installation of three octagonal walls and a roof, made from nylon ropes that evoke the area’s fishing heritage. Traditional Yaroof fishing uses beach seine netting made of strong mesh, which is laid down near the shore, and fish are then caught inside the net when it is pulled ashore.
”What captivates me most is the process of Yaroof fishing. I remember seeing the fishermen on the shores in the late afternoons when I was a child in the rural areas. They would stay for hours pulling the nets down to the shore and it created a beautiful picture,” Lootha tells CH. “Yaroof” manages to capture the functionality of the mesh net that inspired it, but endows it with a graphic, slightly sci-fi beauty that’s underlined by its location next to Dubai’s imposing skyline.
Lootha was the first Emirati designer to have her work bought by an international gallery, with the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia) acquiring her Oru Lamp and Oru Chair, which she is currently in the process of developing for them. “Yaroof” can be seen during Dubai Design Week, and Lootha says of the design scene in the city: “’Exciting’ and ’emerging’ are two words that come to mind, and they go hand in hand. The design scene has been active for the past several years, but Dubai is cementing its position as a leading design capital internationally.“ And Lootha herself is very much a part of Dubai’s budding design identity.
Dubai Design Week is on now through 31 October.
Images courtesy of the artist