Saudi Design Week—Cities Exhibition at Harvey Nichols

43In a week where the world of design has overtaken the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of this whirlwind of inspiration can be found at the Cities exhibition which is presented incollaboration with Zoom Creative. Located at the Harvey Nichols department store, Cities and Zoom are proud to present the exhibition we have assembled which showcases 11 notable artists and designers, each one distinctive for producing unique representations of traditional pieces. What one always looks for in art and design is an artist who can take a traditional idea or object andrecreate it in a unique way. Exploring this reinterpretation of a conventional object provides the viewer with a way to experience it in an entirely new manner.

Thus, the viewer feels that the idea orobject is new again, awakening feelings of excitement and enjoyment and inspiration. Upon viewing the Cities exhibition, visitors will feel all of these and more. First is the work presented by Corinne Martin, a Lebanese artist born in France and raised and educated in the United States. Corinne has earned recognition with her paintings done in a pop art style which produce well known cultural touchstones with vivid colors and amazing textures. Currently residing in Lebanon, she is extremely involved in all aspects of the art world and is continuously expanding her interests and areas of expertise. As a sculptor, painter, curator, designer and popular blogger, Corinne combines beauty, fun and whimsy to fantastic means.

In addition to her Coca-Cola painting on display at the Cities exhibition, Corinne has also created Iphone cases and each design is a reproduction of one of her paintings. They are stylish and fun and a great way to show your love for a rising star in the art world. Next on the list is Fotis Gerakis, a Greek artist and graphic designer who has achieved great success in his varied career. Fotis first made a name for himself as an art director, winning 6 Emmy awards, 4 Telly awards and an International BDA award in the process. As a resident of the Middle East for the last 7 years, Fotis has focused on his art and incorporated the influences of differing cultures and styles into his artwork. Although his method of painting falls within the realm of Photorealism, the decisive positioning of figures and objects emphasizes the need for the viewer to interpret the symbols which are precisely placed in each piece. Taken all together, the realistic presentation and the included symbols present the viewer with a message to decipher. Fotis refers to his work as “Photorealistic Symbolism.” Regardless of your interpretation of his piece entitled “The Water Merchant”, the meanings and messages it evokes are never-ending. An additional significant contribution comes from Andrew Martin, the second largest furniture and fabric house in the United Kingdom. On display at the Cities exhibition is the Saudi Hirshorn chair, a leather swivel chair with the nation’s flag reproduced on the backside. This elegant piece is a clearreflection of the philosophy of Andrew Martin as it represents a combination of influences and a connection of cultures which result in a sophisticated, yet functional piece. Beautiful vases by SDA Decoration are also on display. SDA Decoration is a family-owned French company founded by Joe Sayegh in 1985. A former antiques dealer, he began by perfecting a line of luxury wood flooring. Co-owner Béatrice Gautiez gained years of experience at fashion houses such as Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Christina Lacroix, Révillon and Cerrutti and focuses on keeping thecompany involved in the latest design trends. SDA Decoration is known for its use of natural materials and textures. In keeping with this characteristic style, their vases on display in the Cities

exhibition are hand blown glass which has been poured over a teak wood base. No two pieces are the same and the process of laying the glass over the teak wood allows it to take the shape of the natural negative space creating an interesting juxtaposition of solid and transparent materials of varying textures. Another artist that will catch your eye is Laurence Jenkell, creator of the Candies. A self-taught artist living in the French Riviera for over 25 years, Laurence progressed through different art mediums before finally focusing on Plexiglas sculptures a few years ago. Within the Cities exhibition space are two of her sculptures of oversized wrapped candies made of Plexiglas. Although the sculptures appear uncomplicated, they succeed in stimulating the mind of the viewer. Typically, wrapped candy is a mass produced consumer product, but it’s also something we connect to our childhood. As children, candy was something special and desirable and mysterious. Opening a wrapped candy filled us with anticipation and joy. Presenting such a simple yet complex treat in such a large size awakens all of these childhood feelings and memories in the viewer. Evoking memories of outdated, yet fondly remembered technology is the work of Jeff Skierka. An American designer based on the west coast, Jeff has created “The Mixtape Table” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the audio cassette. Each coffee table is handmade of wood with a glass top and steel legs and is an exact replica of a cassette tape. An artistic piece such as this puts a focus on a specific time and technology and draws one’s mind back to that place. Any conversation held while sitting around such a table would surely focus on favorite musical memories and include laments for musical groups of days gone by. Another striking piece in the Cities exhibition was created by the Hawini group of Lebanon. Their piece depicts the famous Egyptian singer Oum Koulthoum and was created using 50,000 dice pieces. Part of the “Kahua” collection, this artwork is meant to induce a feeling of nostalgia for the past. The artists hope it puts in the mind of the viewers the sensory image of a time and place that no longer exists; the click of the backgammon tiles in the smoke-filled room of a busy coffee house while Oum Koulthoum’s music plays in the background and “old men put the world to rights.” Whatever memories one may have of the music of Oum Koulthoum, there is no denying that the Hawini group has created impressive and remarkable art. Refocusing the viewer firmly on the present day is the modern work of noted designers Bull & Stein. Established in 2000 by Cynthia Stein and Marcus Bull, Bull & Stein was soon joined by Brazilian artistand designer Lisa Pappon. Pappon is the creator of the distinctive ceramic apple sculptures which have become synonymous with Bull & Stein. On display in the Cities exhibition are sculptures of apples and pears of various sizes, colors and materials. Despite their stylized appearance, the symbolism of the fruit, in particular the apple remains quite obvious. Pappon chose the apple precisely because its symbolic meaning is recognizable around the globe. Consequently, by presenting the apple in varying fashions, Pappon plays with its meaning and what it represents within our world today.A very exciting addition to the Cities exhibition is the work of noted graphic designer and artist Rana Salam. Rana has long had her own design studio in London, and now has a space in Beirut as well. Rana’s studio is well-known for its focus on art direction, design and consultation and she has collaborated with many popular names such as Bokja Designs and Nada Debs. Rana Salam’s success comes in great part due to her thorough knowledge of Arab culture. She also takes inspiration from





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