No stranger to regular readers, Abdulla Al Awadi guest-curated 2016’s issue of The Design Edition, and we felt there could be no better time than now to catch up with him and his news of the past twelve months. An architect teaching at Kuwait University, he lives and breathes design in its many forms. As an artist he’s had solo shows at the country’s major galleries, and he’s participated with group shows too.
He’s involved himself in the world of theatre alongside Kuwait’s leading contemporary playwright, and been invited to curate exhibitions for the same designers and artists he once aspired to call his peers. In 2014 he played a key role at the Venice Biennale through his participation at the Kuwait Pavilion, and last year as a guest artist at an international pavilion. Also representing Kuwait and himself at Design Days Dubai, he is currently working with Samovar Carpets, the country’s leading carpet salon, and creating modern expressions of traditional rugs. He’s one of Kuwait’s hottest tickets in the world of design.
Last time we were with you, we talked about your collaboration with Samovar Carpets. What’s the update from here? How’s it going?
The collaboration is still going strong, and we have produced several new pieces this year. It’s been an exciting experience, and the collaboration is giving me a new and interesting way to express my points of view through art.
Where has your work been shown over the past 12 months? And what did you show?
During the year I was nominated for Emerging Designer of the year by Harper’s Bazaar Arabia Interiors for my carpet – but I didn’t win!
I was also chosen as one of “the makers” in a new book, and as part of this I displayed a carpet and a special necklace made for the show which accompanied the book launch. I also participated in the exhibition of “Abolish Article 153” with one of my necklaces. When the new Bikar Gallery opened here in Kuwait, I was part of a group show with a digital print illustrating the choices a girl has in her life.
What have been your personal design highlights of the past 12 months? What have you seen that inspired you? Who have you seen that’s doing good work?
This year has been a tough one teaching at Kuwait University as the number of students has doubled and I was given year one, so the amount of work and concentration has been immense. As usual, the response I got from my students was pleasantly surprising – not only did these young architectsin-the-making meet all the design challenges I set them, but some of them surpassed them and ensured to me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that I have played my small part in the future of my country. I am very thankful for that.
I just came back from the Venice Biennale and was blown away with the ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ by Damien Hirst. Regardless of whether one likes the aesthetic of the end result of the project, there is no way that one is not impressed with the idea and the dedication of the artist and his team to pull it through in that scale.