Geometric Arabesque

    Aljoud Lootah is crafting a brand around a unique aesthetic inspired by Emirati craft and elements.

    Photographer – Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio

    Today fashion design is extremely popular in the region and the industry is starting to take shape. Why did you choose to work in industrial/ product design?

    I come from a graphic design background and in 2013 I enrolled in a product design programme as part of the Tashkeel Dubai Culture initiative. I had a change of heart and felt that product design was my true calling. There was something very fascinating about creating three dimensional objects while combining form and function.

    Tell us your thought process behind designing a product… what inspires you?

    I’m mostly inspired by my surroundings, and the elements of Emirati culture. These elements, especially stemming from traditional craft, have so many details and are aesthetically appealing due to their colours or patterns.

    Who is your product for?

    My products are currently limited-editions only. My buyers vary from collectors, to museum buyers to individuals who have a complete understanding of the value of design.

    How do you balance the very technical/ masculine parts of your product, and yet bring out such elements of softness in your designs?

    I believe it comes very naturally to me. I think geometry is the basis of most of my work, and through it, I am able to combine that technical/masculine and feminine aesthetics.

    Tell us about your niche products – the ones displayed internationally, namely the Oru Series.

    The National Gallery of Victoria in Melboune, Australia, had recently acquired two of my products; the Oru Lamp and Chair, part of my Oru Series which was launched in 2015. The pieces were inspired by the art of Origami.

    You have designed some objects for governmental organizations – can you tell us about your associations there.

    I often work with organizations to develop bespoke corporate gifts for them. These gifts are tailor-made to the requirements of the clients, and often consist of objects that combine design with functionality. These include bookends, clocks, notebooks, for example.

    You worked on several projects in your career so far – what was your most challenging and one that made you feel most satisfied?

    I believe that all of the projects I’ve worked on were challenging in their own way. Every step is a learning process for me and each has a special place in my heart.

    In your collaborations with various kinds of clients; how do you overcome disagreements (if any) in your creative process? How do you make sure your signature is maintained in all your designs while at the same time making sure the client gets what they want?

    I wouldn’t call them disagreements, sometimes clients would request minor changes to the original design, and if I think it would be feasible without dramatically changing the initial concept, I would do it. We always come to an agreement and work on what would best serve the design itself.
    Tell us about learning and growing your business in the region. What makes it special and what are the obstacles you faced – how did you overcome them?
    Its not easy to set up a business. There are a myriad of challenges and aspects that one should consider before setting up. I think one of the most challenging elements in my design processes is sourcing the right materials locally, and producing limited edition designs at factories that are used to mass production.

    You have frequently been part of the Dubai Design Days. Can you  tell us about your experience with this event?

    I’ve been a part of Design Days Dubai in 2013, 2015 and 2016. The first year was part of the Dubai Culture booth where I debuted the Unfolding Unity Stool. In 2015 I launched the Oru Series and in 2016 I launched the Double Square collection.
    I think that it is an excellent platform as it gives me the opportunity to showcase my designs amongst international galleries and designers while exposing my work to various design enthusiasts.

    Who is your mentor in the industry?

    None.

    What’s a normal day for you?

    I wake up around 7, get ready and start working around 8 or 8:30am. I start by replying to emails, and I often schedule my meetings or factory visits early in the morning. I usually work throughout the day, and try to squeeze in an hour at least 3 times a week for a Crossfit session. If the workload is a lot and I’m approaching deadlines, I would work during the evening as well.

    How do you maintain a healthy balance between your personal and professional life? Most women try hard to do that and you seem so calm.

    I don’t think my social and professional life are balanced at all! I feel that my professional life is taking over! I’m very work-oriented.

    What would your advice be to young designers?

    I would encourage them to pursue their dreams, with an open mind. To be steady, well-ordered and authentic in their work.

    Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

    I would like to see the design studio expanding, to take on more projects and have a stronger international presence.

    What social causes do you care about? You have donated proceeds from sales of your products to certain charities…

    A few years ago, we donated a few items that were sold off in an auction and the proceeds went to charity. That campaign took place in Twitter where people managed to bid online and receive the items a few weeks later.

    How have you used the Burqa in your desings?

    I’ve only used the Burqa in one of my designs which was a collaboration with Repetto Paris. I’ve created a set of ballerinas with a Burqa as a main design element to celebrate Repetto’s 60th anniversary. The ballerinas were displayed as part of an ongoing exhibition in Dubai and in Paris.

    @aljoudlootah

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