Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 8 December 2019

Dubai student designers turn their eyes to cups and kursis

Students from the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation have designed a range of chairs and coffee cups that impress with their creativity and construction

Grounded and Suspended, two chairs by DIDI students at the Kursi exhibition in Mall of the Emirates.
Grounded and Suspended, two chairs by DIDI students at the Kursi exhibition in Mall of the Emirates.

One mesh-like seat stretches across a concrete boulder, inspired by a city’s commitment to its roots, even as another dome-like capsule syncs to your mobile, leaving you physically isolated yet digitally connected.

Kursi, an exhibition at Mall of the Emirates, displays almost a dozen prototypes of chairs designed by the students of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI).

Created as part of a collaboration between DIDI and furniture brand Vitra, the exhibition began as a challenge for students to explore alternative approaches to chair design – the word kursi is Arabic for chair. The resultant seats, some life-size, the others miniature, explore various themes ranging from progress and modernity to equality and redemption.

Sync-in chair by DIDI students at the Kursi exhibition in Mall of the Emirates 
Sync-in chair

vision as a modern city of the future”, according to the DIDI student. Nikhilesh Mohan’s Infinite Chair, meanwhile, can be modified and calibrates itself to its user’s need.

“It displays the agility and adaptability [we need] to cope with the constant vagaries and advances in the connected world we live in,” says Mohan.

Fellow student Sana Mohamed also explores the idea of versatile seating. But her multi-tiered iteration, called Equality – which can be flipped to be used as a lounge or desk chair – is meant to celebrate the oneness of different societal classes and communities.

Of the two large-scale seats, Homage Breuer looks to the 1920s, and repurposes Marcel Breuer’s iconic S32. The chair’s tubular steel frame is combined with a textile made with 1,276 reused aluminium can tabs by artisans in Colombia. The other, called Agricultural 3D Printing, plants its legs firmly in the future and highlights the disruptive new opportunities for design afforded by low-cost 3D printers.

Homage Breuer chair 
Homage Breuer chair

The range is notable for its multifaceted creativity and precise construction, and most styles can be made to order.

Also available to buy is a range of cups from Silsal Design House, which are a result of a studio project that DIDI students were tasked with last semester. The collaboration is meant to introduce students to the professional design process, and teach them what it takes to adapt a concept into a real-life product that people can use and enjoy.

Crockery may be a smaller canvas than chairs, but the originality and artisanship of the designs endure. The set of three Arabic cups provide simple, elegant solutions to a brief that’s rather complicated at first.

The Infinite chair by DIDI students at the Kursi exhibition in Mall of the Emirates 
Infinite chair

The project required students to “look for a pattern in the apparent chaos of the world around us by unlocking the phenomena and behaviour of complex systems” such that – bear with me – “simple elements interact in a way to produce a complex and seemingly intelligent behaviour.”

An example is a flock of birds forming intricate flight patterns without colliding into one another. In the same vein, self-taught artist and DIDI student Abdelrahman Al Hamadi’s cup is inspired by the rituals and habits of animals, particularly the queen bee’s reproductive cycle.

Rafif Alhassen, meanwhile, explores her fascination with ripples, and her design is a contemporary take on the depth and undulating lines of both deserts and oceans.

The third and youngest student, Humaira Aziz, 18, plays with the idea of light and shadow in architecture, abstract concepts that behave in precise ways.

Arabic coffee cups by Didi x Silsal 
Arabic coffee cups by Didi x Silsal

“The project was an opportunity to contribute to the local design community and the next generation of designers, artists and makers, while simultaneously embracing the emirate’s diversity and spirit of innovation,” says Silsal’s Samar Habayeb.

“The cups are a celebration of the unexpected beauty that can arise from collaboration, which is why the collection is called A Meeting of the Minds,” she adds. “They also explore the UAE’s heritage of coffee and all its traditions. Coffee is where friendships are forged, dreams shared and stories told.”

Kursi is free to attend at Mall of the Emirates today, after which the chairs can be viewed at the DIDI campus in D3. The set of Arabic coffee cups can be bought from www.silsal.com for Dh200

Updated: May 1, 2019 01:06 PM