A new year is usually defined by new beginnings, new resolutions, a reset in perspectives – but how long do these really last? The global pandemic has prompted discourse around topics that, while they should already have been on our radar, had taken a back seat amid the chaos of our everyday lives. And as these discussions continue into the new year, there is hope yet that a new design culture is perhaps here to stay.
The challenges of previous years and the unknown of what is still to come have given rise to a renewed sense of responsibility in the design community, creating a culture of well-being, belonging and care. Over the course of the 20 months that I’ve been in this role, never before have I spoken to so many designers, architects and entrepreneurs who are taking it upon themselves to push forward a new way of navigating the worlds of design and architecture and, in turn, encourage social behaviours that are beneficial on a collective level.
In our January ‘New Culture’ issue, we speak to some of these practices and individuals to understand the different approaches to this topic and what the outcomes could look like.
In a fascinating interview with Ahmed Bukhash, we learn of the architect’s quest to define a new model for contemporary Emirati residential architecture that feels identifiable to a community whose urban landscape had become largely defined by a Western approach. Bukhash’s own home – featured in this issue, and which has taken 11 years to complete – aims to present just that.
“Most of the residential architecture which we have designed [in the UAE] is based on a precedence that is not applicable to our culture or our identity,” Bukhash says. “When dealing with formulating an identity that is both timeless and paves the way for future residential developments, questions of culture and religion are inseparable [as they are] fused into the very fabric of [how] we live. We wanted to create our own type of architectural vocabulary that is based on sacred principles related to Islamic culture.”
In other parts of the issue, we interview Argentine designer Cristian Mohaded, whose 15-year career in design has revolved around presenting a more inclusive and honest representation of the country’s design landscape. To Mohaded, real change in design and the world can only happen through collaboration and understanding – and that is what his first mega solo show, Territorio Híbrido, is really about. If you are lucky to be in Buenos Aires this year (the show is open until March 2022), be sure to stop by – and if not, you can still read all about in the coming pages.
To me, the voices in this month’s issue are very special in their outlook – be it the work of Limbo Accra, who are activating abandoned spaces across West Africa, or AB+AC Architects, who are encouraging an emotional approach to building.
There is always a lot we can learn from each other, so this year let’s continue to do that while building this new culture of value and care.
Read the full issue on ISSUU here.