The luxurious Italian design house Fendi has begun a global project that has seen independent artists work alongside some of its top crafters, aiming to create pieces of art using leftover materials from the classic label's workshops.
Entitled Fatto a Mano, which translates as "made by hand", the environmentally friendly and fashion-forward project has visited a number of cities - Aspen, Osaka, Seoul, New York, London, Hong Kong, Rome, and Paris among them - and made its only Middle Eastern stops, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, last week.
It is a project, said the young Emirati artist Meera Huraiz, who was chosen for the Middle Eastern collaboration, the likes of which she has never experienced before. "It's like bringing my studio to the public," she said, during a short break from her live appearance at Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall. "This has been like bringing my work space into the public domain, and I've never done something like this. Usually you, as the artist, make art as a solitary practice." A graduate of the visual arts course at Zayed University in Dubai, the chatty 22-year-old was joined by a Fendi craftsman for a series of what Fendi termed "live performances".
"I have been the creative director [of this particular part of the project] but I have had someone [Lettelier] to help me technically." The task of coming up with the ideas, she added, had on occasion proved to be more difficult than the actual execution. Combining lambskin leather, courtesy of Fendi, with the materials Huraiz typically works with, such as traditional Emirati fabrics, the artist, one day into beginning her design, had no idea what the final outcome would be - although it was one she insisted she was looking forward to.
"I'm treating this piece more like a laboratory experiment. I'm not certain what the result will be," she added. The young artist, who is represented by the XVA Gallery in Dubai, and who has had her work displayed in Italy and New York, believes it was her vision of art that made her attractive to Fendi.
"This event has taken place to promote Fendi's Selleria collection, and I think the reason they like my work is that it uses traditional and old materials but then reinvents them. That's the connection between myself and Fendi. As for the theme... Well, there hasn't been anything in particular, but the project is called Fatto a Mano so everything has been handcrafted and three-dimensional." She might admire the techniques of the past, but she's far from nostalgic: "This project is specifically for the future," she said. "It has a futuristic vision."
And with that, Huraiz makes her way back to her small, makeshift studio, where curious shoppers mill about watching the young woman hammering fastidiously at a piece of caramel-coloured leather.
To view a video of Meera Huraiz making the Fendi bag, visit www.thenational.ae/multimedia.
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