Fabrication: Alwafi Foundry
Video: Mohamad Chehimi
Organizer: Abwab, Dubai Design Week 2018
Location: d3, Dubai Design District, Dubai, UAE
Dubai Design Week
The three designers Ricardas Blazukas, Jassim AlNashmi and Kawther AlSaffar and were invited by Dubai Design Week to participate in the week-long design festival from the 12th to the 17th of November. The trio was invited to represent Kuwait City in Abwab, the centrepiece exhibition of the festival and respond to the theme of storytelling. The Abwab exhibition hosts pavilions for 4 more cities; Amman, Beirut, Dubai, and Eastern Saudi Arabia.
The team decided to dig into the history of Kuwait’s design identity and tell a story about using the past to create contemporary product designs. 46 custom designed products, that were sand-cast in a foundry in Kuwait, are being presented in the Kuwait City Pavilion accompanied by 5 screens showing the 5 stages of the fabrication process.
The series starts from a critique of the kitsch replication of Classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. Kuwait has struggled to develop a context-based design identity due to the copying of Greco-Roman decor. Desert Cast borrows the profiles that were used for extruded cornices and friezes for these homes, and morphs them, to produce and establish a Kuwaiti identity that is rooted in its migrant history, yet embraces its contemporary image.
Desert Cast is an exploration of locally available materials and fabrication methods to reach a local ‘maker’ identity. Different Kuwaiti production methods were explored and reinvented. Gypsum-moulding, for example, is a method used to easily reproduce Classical Graeco-Roman architectural motifs, many of Kuwait’s decorated mansions and modest villas utilize this affordable technique. Although simple methodically, the end results are formally elaborate and considered “Oriental”.
The objective was to align gypsum-moulding with sand-casting through foam as a mediator to produce functional objects. The extruded profiles were cut in foam and used to cast complete metal objects by Alwafi Foundry master craftsmen. The objective is to shed light on the accessibility to master fabricators’ craft. These skills are used in a narrow practice, with limited perceived value, but by reading between the lines, can be used for much more. The Desert Cast installation visually narrates this story by showcasing functional objects in D3 that are made through lost-foam- casting.