Welcome to the ‘New Era’ – identity’s latest issue, highlighting emerging talents from the Middle East as well as fresh approaches to design, novel perspectives and renewed hopes for our industry in light of the many challenges facing the region and the rest of the world.
There is no doubt that we are seeing the emergence of a new energy that is also prevalent in the way designers are beginning to approach their work and the built environment. We are seeing greater empathy and understanding of different needs – but also a greater appreciation for the importance of beauty and art and how they can transform our spaces while still remaining conscious of environmental impact.
Our cover story this month highlights a new generation of designers, architects and artists who are paving the way for the regional design industry – whether by utilising new technologies, reinterpreting cultural heritage or developing sustainable materials for architectural use.
“Architecture in the region and the UAE [specifically] has seen a positive shift towards design that responds to its context in terms of its environment and culture,” said Nuhayr Zein, one of the Dubai-based architects gracing this month’s cover. “I feel that [this has], in turn, raised awareness about the importance of context-specific architecture, causing a shift towards designers and non-designers wanting to build more responsibly.
“In the future, I hope to see and contribute to more action-oriented material research that would reduce industrial waste in the region. I believe that our world is constantly evolving and so should our materials,” she adds.
“The GCC region – particularly the UAE and, most recently, Saudi Arabia – has witnessed a remarkable evolution within the design and architectural realms. As a whole, the region carries a mature and sophisticated design approach as well as a fearlessness towards doing things differently,” Hasan and Husain Roomi from H2R Design add. “As a home-grown design firm, we are extremely proud to be part of this journey [and] we hope that the region continues to champion smaller firms that bring a fresh perspective and skills to the fold.”
Our cover story was photographed at the newly opened Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre (which I advise everyone to visit!). I would like to give special thanks to their team as well as to Peter Jackson and the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
Elsewhere in the issue, we interview Cherine Magrabi Tayeb, the founder and chairwoman of non-profit design platform House of Today, which is committed to nurturing young Lebanese designers and students and widening their opportunities and career growth within the field. With the huge number of challenges facing Lebanese designers today, and in the aftermath of the tragic Beirut Blast last year, Tayeb believes now is the time for us to step up to propel each other forward. She further notes that now, more than ever, design has found its prominence in the world.
“I think that designers have finally found that they have a place in the cultural sphere, and I think playing a role in that makes it super important. They are part of something that the world is looking at, and all of that makes a difference.”