x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Local by Design on show at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Established to cultivate local crafts and untapped talents, the brand will have a majlis at the event.

An ottoman combining camel leather and Sadu weaving in the Local by Design majlis. Courtesy of Local by Design
An ottoman combining camel leather and Sadu weaving in the Local by Design majlis. Courtesy of Local by Design

Local by Design was established by the Dubai resident Rebecca McIlwraith to help develop local brands and products using untapped talents and materials that are readily available in the region.

The brand made its last outing during Design Days Dubai, where it was responsible for creating a majlis-style hospitality lounge made out of locally sourced materials such as sustainable camel leather from the Al Khaznah Tannery.

The majlis, which was designed by Mira Ghanem, was also home to tables made from repurposed dhow wood, light fixtures inspired by the traditional Emirati fishing nets, or gargour, and a curtain made from telli, a form of embroidery using coloured threads.

The set also used traditional Sadu and palm leaf weaves supplied by Sougha, the social enterprise initiated and owned by Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

Sougha was established to cultivate craft skills in the UAE, explains Leila Ben-Gacem, the leader of the initiative, and now works with more than 100 artisans across the country. "We find out what kind of materials and production techniques were used and then we design projects to uplift those crafts to today's modern world. We believe that heritage can only be sustained if it has an economic impact on the artisans involved.

"We try to bridge market gaps between local crafts skills and today's very competitive market. But also, to make it sustainable we coach artisans on the entrepreneurial side of things - pricing, costing, where to buy raw materials, the importance of evolving the product and innovating continuously to stay in the market and grow their business."

Having completed a successful turn at Design Days Dubai, the Local by Design majlis is now on show at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.