These local designers and brands are turning the world into a Pinterest board, while shifting Saudi’s aesthetic and functional consciousness.
As creatives descended in Riyadh for Saudi Design Week, we saw breakthrough talents and design practitioners rise to the occasion with showcases that marry contemporary design with a unique play on local identity.
The SIKKA Collection by Dahr Design Studio
Dahr Design Studio has been making a name for itself not just in Saudi Arabia but in the region. Speaking to its creative director, AlBara Saimaldahar, we can see the appeal. Their latest collection, SIKKA, breathes new life to forgotten materials—wood and items from the Hejazi railways, no less. Dahr has turned them into contemporary pieces that can definitely spark a conversation.
“Sikka takes our passion for sourcing local materials, designing and transforming them into meaningful experiences of unique and well thought products. In 1951, King Abdulaziz had established the country’s first railway line to transport crude oil with the assistance of ARAMCO. The wood railways served under the heat of the Arabian sun for decades before it got replaced by concrete. 70 years later, we now find ourselves seduced by the impressions and character left on the wood surfaces by its history. And that’s what you see here, each product is delicately designed and manufactured, it’s comfortable, it’s more than a piece of wood, it’ll stand the test of time—as it had in the past.”
Torba Studio is a fashion brand based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Designing womenswear, menswear and accessory collections. The name of the brand ‘Torba’ is an Arabic word that means sand.
Torba Studio takes its inspiration from the mystery and philosophy of the unknown, spirit and the afterlife. And that’s where the brand’s slogan, ‘See beyond what you can touch’ comes from. They create pieces that play on the brand’s love of thought-provoking ideas and graphics. Torba Studio’s goal is to develop the fashion industry in the region, to reach global markets and to provide jobs in the design field because passion is a way of happiness.
Maalb.Koun by Akwan
Inspired by a personal experience with her son’s relationship to Arabic language, Saudi design Lujain Abulfaraj together with Emirati designer Sara Al Arif, co-created Akwan. A project that brings the Arabic language closer to children through play.
Maalb.Koun, is one of the project’s playgrounds, which debuted at Saudi Design Week. A few thousand miles away, Maalb.Dhad, its sibling showcased at Dubai Design Week. The “fun”ctional installation has brought in quite the attention, with Maalb.Koun receiving support from the Delegation of the European Union in Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly enough, the playground’s purpose has evolved, it has become a movement and a way of raising awareness in our contemporary relationship with the language. Likewise, the design also promotes engagement between adults, creating a sphere to discuss, congregate, and activate the playground as a social space.
Lebeed by Muse Rawan x Moath AlOfi
Lebeed is an interesting example of how multidisciplinary practitioners can come together to create something authentic and original. This jewelry collection is inpired by unique rock formations, inscriptions, and heritage in Saudi Arabia.
Moath Alofi is a Madinah-based artist, researcher, and explorer. Currently, he is the Head of Cultural Programs at the Madinah Development Authority, manager of the Madinah Arts Center, founder of Al-Mthba studio, and the co-founder of Erth Team, a production group for safari trips, aerial and travel photography.
Rawan is a Saudi designer, product developer, and 3D jewelry program trainer. She is the founder of Muse Rawan, a jewelry house adapted from Islamic architecture, civilizations, and monuments. Rawan is especially interested in supporting graduates from the design sector either in collaboration or instruction.