Updates from Tanween Programme 2016 -2017

Meet the Designer, Hatem Hatem

What was it about Tashkeel’s design programme, Tanween, that interested you?

I was attracted to the balance of the opportunity and breadth of the programme: the chance to investigate ways to harness the surrounding environment as a resource, the development of regionally relevant products, and the direct platform to exhibit the final products at a major international design fair. I also believe the structure of the programme - the environment it nurtures and the time-frame it offers-is conducive to speculative research and extensive design exploration.

What materials and concepts have you explored and discovered whilst on the programme?

My project started by surveying and exploring natural systems indigenous to the UAE. I focussed on the wealth of environmental inspiration found in the country’s seas. Through digital and material means, scientific methods and technological advancements, the project synthesises processes found in the natural environment, using seawater as a resource to build synthetic limestone.

Who are you collaborating with on your project and what is the nature of the collaboration?

I consulted the Bio_Reclaim research team at The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) for the technical development of the calcification process. I also worked closely with local metal fabricators to design and make the metal wireframe structures.

How have the labs and mentoring sessions influenced your process?

Through the guests invited to the labs, I gained important exposure to expertise drawn from myriad backgrounds. The breadth of opinions and constructive feedback we received throughout the process were hugely educational. I was equipped with the knowledge to tackle all aspects of the design, production, marketing and selling of a product.

What have your challenges been so far?

As the calcification process is a relatively new field, sourcing materials and developing methods required extensive research. It is especially difficult to find regionally-based experts in this area, meaning the development of my final product demanded a lot of research, work and refinement.

What do you hope to take away from this experience?

In my design practice, I am always striving to improve collective abilities to harness nature and the surrounding context for sustainable ends. I’ve also gained vast knowledge in understanding all the aspects involved in the design, production and selling of a product.