JEDDAH: An iconic table shared by Gulf Cooperation Council leaders at a recent summit was designed by a Saudi artist.
Lulwah Al-Hammoud produced the drawings for the item of furniture that took center stage at the meeting of GCC member states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar, along with representatives of Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq.
She told Arab News of her pride and thrill at seeing the table being used by the organization’s leaders. Its design was inspired by the changes taking place in Saudi Arabia and her commission brief had been, “we are entering a new era, but we are not forgetting about our traditions.”
After accepting the design challenge, Al-Hammoud was initially nervous because she was not a furniture designer, however it turned out to be “a very beautiful experience.” And her background in Islamic contemporary art and calligraphy helped.
The round table is made of wood and in its center are triangles of different color tones of wood that rotate outwards with lines made of copper, a metal, she noted, not often used in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Hammoud pointed out that she opted for triangles in her design because the shape was common in traditional Saudi architecture.
She said: “The triangle can also be modern and universal, but at the same time I wanted to capture growth and the act of evolving.”
The idea behind the design was to create something that represented, “the vision of Saudi Arabia while staying true to our roots,” she added.
One of the challenges for Al-Hammoud was to create a round table that could seat different numbers of people.
“It can be odd or even, so the design had to be smart. It took me a while to figure out how to do that. With guidance, I was able to work it out.
“I am really happy, because for a table like that they could have easily gone to the best furniture designers in the world, but they chose to believe in a local talent.”
Al-Hammoud has nine solo exhibitions to her name, with some of her artworks displayed at The British Museum, the Jeju National Museum in South Korea, the Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in the Netherlands, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The UAE-based Barjeel Art Foundation has described Al-Hammoud as a pioneer in Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art movement.
She said: “I take art very seriously; I feel like it is a very important tool for education. It’s a window to tell people about who we are, it gives the true story of a certain civilization.”
She fell in love with Islamic art while conducting research on the topic and was fascinated by the philosophies and sciences behind each shape.
“My art has always had spiritual elements; it doesn’t talk about the moments I live in or the space I occupy. I speak about a higher dimension, spirituality, my place in the bigger scheme of things, and my connection to God,” she added.