Highlights from the fifth annual Saudi Design Week

Art of heritage pieces. (Supplied)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Highlights from the fifth annual Saudi Design Week

  • Saudi design week showcased a variety of different designers and artists

DUBAI: Saudi Design Week wrapped up last week and offered visitors a wealth of innovative creations. We picked out some of our favorites just in case you missed the show.

1. DESERT DESIGNS
The theme of Saudi Design Week this year was “Sustainability in Design.” While each exhibitor interpreted that concept in their own way, Desert Designs was already a natural fit. The Khobar-based company creates upcycled homeware and —  for Design Week —  focused on using “heritage and heirloom pieces,” including a wooden door that the designers transformed into a glass-topped coffee table.

2. ABADIA
The Saudi Arabian luxury fashion brand uses traditional techniques including embroidery and sadu to create its womenswear, in keeping with its mission to “celebrate culture and preserve craftsmanship” in contemporary design. It’s feminine take on the farwa —  originally an oversized coat worn by desert nomads in the winter, adapted by Abadia for “the contemporary global woman,” is its most celebrated garment.

3. ZMZMYA
This beautifully crafted take on the traditional Khaleeji zamzamiah water canteen comes from Jeddah-based Efreez Studio. The designers claim that this version, handmade from red clay, is a healthy option, being free of the “harmful lead and chemicals found in the majority of plastic water bottles.” Each piece, the studio claims, is unique, thanks to the handcrafted top section, and the fact that this “mix of functional art and hydration” is made on a potter’s wheel and corked means it fits well with the sustainability theme of Design Week.

4. RADHWA KABLI
A Design Week veteran, Kabli —  an “interior architect” —  creates furniture with a twist. Sometimes literally. The main concept behind her “Kappa” collection, she has said, is “to present the beauty of geometric design by creating harmony and illusion of movement.”


5. OLD CASTLE DESIGN
Old Castle founder Amal bint Bandar Alsudairy combines her love of art, antiques and design in her contemporary homeware and furniture pieces. Her design is predominantly based, she says, on “modern arabesque.” Alsudairy is currently studying for a master’s degree in architectural design.

6. ART OF HERITAGE
Riyadh-based Art of Heritage displayed handmade pottery and gifts from its non-profit organization Yadawy, so all the pieces are created by Saudi Arabian women with physical disabilities, all are unique, and all are stamped and signed by their makers, some of whom are now able to make a living from their art.

7. NOURA BOUZO
Bouzo is one of the co-founders of Saudi Design Week, and interpreted the ‘sustainability’ theme to mean “sustaining our heritage” as well as using sustainable materials. As such, her eye-catching miniatures are recreations of historical Islamic art painted on reclaimed wood and recycled material.

8. NOTA NOTA
It might look like a fancy food blender or juicer, but Nota Nota is actually a machine that allows users to design their own perfume. Created by Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Abdullah Bahabri, Nota Nota comes with its own app (of course it does), which enables users to share their fragrant (or not) recipes with others. Earlier this summer, talking about his creation to Kawa News, Bahabri said, “In Arabia, perfume has been part of the culture for centuries. The famous scent codes are built on oudh, particularly. And nowadays French perfumery is also very common in Saudi, people do love to wear both French perfume and scents that come from the region.”

9. KHASHBA
Ranin Kurdi and Sufanah Dairi create handmade wooden art that draws inspiration from their Arabic and Islamic heritage, with influences including calligraphy, particularly Kufic design. Their machine-free craftsmanship results in striking pieces of art that rely heavily on history while retaining a modern touch.

 


Screen Savers: The best TV shows of 2018

The best TV shows of 2018. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Screen Savers: The best TV shows of 2018

  • Lineup of some of the best shows of 2018
  • From psycho killers to stellar spin-offs

DUBAI: From psycho killers to stellar spin-offs via dark comedy and romantic drama, here are the programs that we wasted the most work hours discussing this year. Warning: There will be spoilers.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Season Two)
After a first season that stayed fairly true to Margaret Atwood’s source novel, the dystopian drama took the theocratic Republic of Gilead into uncharted — and even bleaker, harder-to-watch — territory in its second season. Not everyone was on board (“The attempts to add more color and detail … ultimately register as brief pauses from the main event rather than necessary, interconnected sidebars,” wrote Vulture’s Jen Chaney), but, for us, season two more than justified its existence with its knuckle-whitening tension and of-the-moment examination of social issues.

Killing Eve
An unexpected, and hard-to-categorize, hit, “Killing Eve” mixed smart storytelling, thrilling action set-pieces and comedy (both dark and silly) to great effect, further boosting the reputation of showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Jodie Comer was a revelation as the paradoxically deadly-but-vulnerable assassin Villanelle, and Sandra Oh portrayed MI5 officer Eve Polanski’s confused love-hate obsession with her brilliantly.

Al Hayba (Season Two)
Director Samer Al-Barkawi’s drama about the arms-smuggling Sheikh El Jabal clan in a village on the Lebanon-Syria border was one of the big hits of Ramadan 2017, so expectations were high for this year’s follow-up (a prequel to the first season). The complex plot kept audiences gripped; Syrian actor Taim Hassan drew plaudits for his reprisal as the head of the clan; and Nicole Saba proved a solid replacement for season one star Nadine Njeim. A bit of social-media controversy (in which — shocker! — people online seemed to confuse fiction and fact) only made this more of a must-see.

Better Call Saul (Season Four)
Remarkably, this spinoff from what is widely regarded as one of the peaks of “peak TV” — “Breaking Bad” — looks like it may actually come close to eclipsing the dizzy heights reached by its parent show. Bob Odenkirk’s portrayal of Jimmy McGill’s transformation into the morally bankrupt Saul Goodman continues to dazzle, and the emotional back-and-forth between Jimmy and his girlfriend Kim (the excellent Rhea Seehorn) is the show’s dark heart. This season, too, had a payoff as brutal as anything “Breaking Bad” produced.

Atlanta (Season Two)
With his alter-ego Childish Gambino’s “This is America” and the sophomore season of this hip-hop comedy, Donald Glover proved himself one of 2018’s most powerful social commentators. Funny, frightening and thought-provoking, “Atlanta” built on its surprising, weird debut season to tackle heavy topics with surreal and subtle humor.

Bodyguard
Show creator Jed Mercurio had already proven with “Line of Duty” that he has a knack for gripping, jeopardy-heavy thrillers with jaw-dropping cliffhangers (and a penchant for killing off lead characters), so the success of “Bodyguard” — described by The Guardian as “a modern take on a hero’s fable” — wasn’t a huge surprise. Keeley Hawes was superb as ambitious home secretary Julia Montague and Richard Madden played her police protection officer David Budd with a compelling blend of hard-edged heroism and morally compromised frustration.

Tareeq
Nadine Njeim switched from “Al Hayba” to another Ramadan hit, this romantic drama also starring Syrian actor Abed Fahd as lovers Ameera and Jaber respectively. The moving story saw Jaber struggling to come to terms with the loss of his family in a car crash and unexpectedly falling for Ameera, a poor young law student. More than just a simple love story, “Tareeq” tackled themes of loss, class prejudice, and sacrifice.

The Americans (Season Six)
It’s pretty rare for a well-loved TV show to wrap up with a satisfactory climax (remember “Lost”?), but “The Americans” — a downbeat, tense tale of Russian deep-cover agents in Reagan-era America — did it brilliantly, continuing the hugely engaging spy-thriller plot while equally successfully presenting an intense examination of a couple caught between loyalties to their homeland, their kids, their new home, and each other. All topped off with a powerful, slow-burn of a tragedy as parents and kids are separated, not always by choice.

Barry
Another show based around the life of an assassin that, like “Killing Eve,” covers comedy and drama by keeping the best bits of both genres to the fore. Bill Hader once again proved his acting chops (often by pretending to be unable to act) as the titular hitman trying to escape his violent life and begin anew. Henry Winkler was typically superb as his acting coach, and each episode had belly laughs and gut-wrenching violence aplenty.

Sacred Games
This tense, dense Indian thriller won critical acclaim for its thoughtful storyline and stellar performances from the whole cast. Saif Ali Khan was superb as cynical police officer Sartaj Singh, promised (via an anonymous tip-off) the opportunity to finally capture the powerful underworld boss Ganesh Gaitonde (the outstanding Nawazuddin Siddiqui), only to find himself caught up in a wide-ranging conspiracy that goes way beyond Mumbai’s gangland.

Homecoming
Julia Roberts made her small-screen debut in this compelling psychological thriller, adapted from the popular podcast about social worker Heidi Bergman helping a soldier adapt to life after deployment, and directed by “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail. The time-hopping story was shot unusually (but successfully) by Esmail, with Bergman’s future life as a waitress presented in vertical frame. This apparent gimmick paid off beautifully in a scene where she suddenly regains her memory of her time as a social worker, and the screen expands to full-width.

Tango
The talented quartet of Levantine actors Bassel Khayyat, Bassem Moughnieh, Daniella Rahme and Dana Mardini, directed by Rami Hanna, made this one of 2018’s must-see Arabic dramas. Married couples Sami and Farah and Omar and Lina are long-term friends, sharing a passion for tango dancing. When Farah is killed in a car accident that leaves Omar in a coma, it becomes clear the two were having an affair. What follows is an emotionally fraught depiction of how their spouses deal with the fallout.

Babylon Berlin
Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, this German crime drama, set in 1929 Berlin, was hugely ambitious, but successfully so. Volker Bruch excelled as Inspector Gereon Rath — the emotionally and mentally damaged self-medicating war veteran sent to Berlin to investigate an extortion racket and stumbling on a bigger conspiracy — but was regularly overshadowed by scene-stealing Peter Kurth as the morally ambiguous, often revolting Detective Chief Inspector Bruno Wolter.