Object of desire Talented designers in the Arab world are exploring ways of harnessing their traditional iconography to create contemporary motifs and objects.
Egizia tea glass and plate
Just as a growing number of talented designers from the Arab world are exploring ways of harnessing their traditional iconography to create contemporary motifs and objects, a handful of western designers is also recognising its inherent beauty and great potential. Among them, the gifted and prolific Paola Navone talks of her "curiosity and fascination with the Arabic" - which she encapsulates in her Alibaba collection, designed for the Italian handcrafted-glass company, Egizia.
Her interpretation of the traditional tea glass - and the small plate that sits under it or can be used alongside it for sweets - is my favourite piece from the collection, with its subtly Arabesque-modern motif. Navone has named the pattern Shedir, (from the Arabic sadr), the traditional name of a star in the Cassiopeiae constellation. As with all of Egizia's glassware, the pattern is made of sterling silver, applied by an intricate process of manual silk-screening - an age-old technique brought right up to date by a team of highly skilled artisans at the 60-year-old Tuscany-based company.
The motif's three-dimensional quality is the result of several applications of the screen - which demands absolute precision - each one followed by a firing at 540°C, which vitrifies the silver. The glass-holder is silver-plated metal sheet that has been stencilled and pierced - its matt-satin finish hinting at a patina of age, its design hinting at mashrabiya. All I need now is someone to make me suitably perfect mint tea - oh, and some rosewater-infused sweets to accompany it.