UAE social enterprise 81 Designs collaborates with Jordanian design studio Naqsh Collective to create A Thobe Story, a line of Palestinian thobes embodying a deeply rooted heritage, which will be presented at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Art in November.
The traditional thobes have been modernized to depict traditions that move through time — transforming them from being a national attire in Arab countries into a new visual language. The rich Arabian culture is evident from the intricacy of the work, the volume of details in each design, to the transformation. Each of the ten art pieces is hand-embroidered by Palestinian refugee women employed by 81 Designs and reflects Naqsh Collective’s stories of missing experiences in Palestinian cities: Jaffa, Acre, and Gaza.
“The synergy between 81 Designs and Naqsh Collective is rooted from our ideal to preserve tradition through the time-honoured embroidery technique Tatreez. Through our collaboration, we aim to showcase the artisanal talents, while providing a platform for regional artists and designers to showcase their art in a different medium,” said Nadine Y. Maalouf, Co-founder of 81 Designs.
The Jordanian sisters behind Naqsh Collective integrate the beauty of their Palestinian heritage into minimal contemporary aesthetic, producing works that translate traditions through shapes, meanings, and compositions. “Our attempt in creating a Palestinian thobe is to imagine living our missing experiences of our beloved Palestine like jumping off Akka’s cliff and going on a fishing trip by Jaffa’s Port, and more. The thobes will connect with grandmothers and can be passed on from generation to generation,” says Nermeen Abudail, Naqsh Collective co-founder.
Producing works with brass, industrial marble and solid wood with aesthetics of embroidery, Naqsh Collective wanted to allow the presence of cultural elements in non-traditional presentations. One of the sisters and co-founder, Nisreen Abudail said: “We wanted the thobes to emanate the same cultural feel and reflect the same story as our brass work. The women from 81 Designs that we work with elevate the quality of local craftsmanship because of their hard work and stories shared during the process.”
Nisreen El Tibi Maalouf, co-founder of 81 Designs and the enterprise’s COO said: “This project has faced several challenges due to the COVID pandemic and the current economic and political crisis in Lebanon. We are grateful for the extraordinary commitment Naqsh Collective has shown to bring this project to life.”
The art pieces will be available at USD 10,000 each and curated at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Art, which will be held virtually from November 16 to 26. For more information, please contact @81DesignsME on Facebook / Instagram / its official website 81designsme.com.