Designing The Middle East

Designing The Middle East, an exhibition opening in Soho next month, very nearly didn’t happen.

Last Homage To The Light Bulb,  Noam Dover and Michal CCederbaum.
Last Homage To The Light Bulb, Noam Dover and Michal CCederbaum.

Initially, there were plans to display the work of two Tel Aviv designers, Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum, alongside the work of designers from Lebanon. However, even in the context of presenting design from the two regions, the union was deemed too risky.

It’s a sobering reminder of the conflicts of the Middle East, and makes the exhibition even more of an interesting exploration into the inherent characteristics of Middle Eastern design.

Rope Bench, Yoav Reches
Rope Bench, Yoav Reches

19 Greek Street, the gallery hosting the show, says the exhibition ‘acts as a tribute to the passion, courage and love that exist alongside the terrible conflict that divides this area of the world.’

The show will now feature works from Dover and Cederbaum, alongside their long-term collaborator, the London based Israeli designer Yoav Reches.

Composition of Air by Yoav Reches
Composition of Air by Yoav Reches

The pieces are both beautiful and forward-thinking, using innovative styles and techniques to explore the idea of celebrating the process, as well as the final result in design. By focusing on the fabrication, the works examine the links between design, craft and production.

Cederbaum says,  ‘It’s about exploring the borders of the aesthetic – between the finished and the unfinished. The inbetweenness of prototypes.’

Among the pieces on display is the wonderfully scruffy fabric Tailormade Vases series. Created to look unfinished, their muted colours and topsy-turvy forms create a very craft-led but modern aesthetic.

Tailormade Vases, Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum
Tailormade Vases, Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum

Greek Street owner and creative director Marc Péridis, who curated the show, says,  ‘It’s a marriage of technology and craft  – the vases are like an expression of how 2D pieces can be transferred into a 3D form.

‘It’s the idea that it’s not completely finished – a story that remains to be told. It’s a characteristic quality of Middle Eastern design.’

Steel shelf Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum in collaboration with Yoav Reches
Steel shelf Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum in collaboration with Yoav Reches

Other pieces on display include the Saj Tables, referencing their Middle Eastern heritage in their material – the spun steel domes used for making pitta bread.

Saj Tables and  Steel shelf Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum
Saj Tables and Steel shelf Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum

Technology is at the fore in the gorgeously animatronic Scan and Scale vessels. Using a pebble as a starting point, the form was created using CAD and CNC technology, and the vessels adjust in size according to their contents.

Scan and Scale, Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum in collaboration with Yoav Reches
Scan and Scale, Noam Dover and Michal Cederbaum in collaboration with Yoav Reches

Designing the Middle East: Part 1 runs from 28 March – 31 May at 19 Greek Street, London W1D

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  • Nadia Sheltawy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    How can this exhibition possibly be an “interesting exploration into the inherent characteristics of Middle Eastern design” without any Arabic designers represented. It seems extremely arrogant to name and exhibition “Designing The Middle East” that has only Israeli designers. One would have expected this to include contributions from other designers so as to reflect the rich diversity of the region. It’s very hard not to draw a parallel here with Israel’s political position.

  • Marc Peridis November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hello Nadia!
    Thank you for your comment!
    As the curator of the exhibit, I am happy to inform you that the second part of this two-part exhibit will feature only arab-based designers.
    We agree teh exhibit should cover both sides and it was the original intention to gather designers from both cultures in this show (as you can read in the first paragraph of this article)
    Unfortunately, this was not possible as it became apparent that doing this could jeopardise the safety of our designers in their home countries.
    The reality they face is unfortunately a very sad one that few people will understand unless they have experienced it first hand.
    I welcome you to visit our website http://www.19greekstreet.com or visit our gallery for more information on the exhibit, the designers and how this all came about.
    I am also available to answer any questions or further comments if you write me on hello@19greekstreet.com
    Many thanks again!

    Marc Peridis – Owner, 19 Greek street

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