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On view


House of Artisans

Qasr al Hosn, Abu Dhabi (UAE)

The House of Artisans is located in the cultural heart of Abu Dhabi, right next to the Qasr Al Hosn, the city’s oldest and most famous building. The striking building has a woven facade reminiscent of traditional baskets. In collaboration with Tellart we designed the new permanent exhibition where you can now wander through a woven village full of stories. Three traditional weaving techniques form the basis of the exhibition: weaving with palm leaves, weaving wool, and creating patterns.

Abu Dhabi (UAE)
House of Artisans
1,100 m2
Concept, spatial design, graphic design, art direction
Mark de Jong (lead), Wendy Jansen, Femke Bijlsma, Alejandra Calderon, Berthe Mandaat, Osama Elcontar, Remco Swart
Projex UAE
Executive creative direction
Media design
Light design
Heinz Loopstra
Connected to nature

From the desert and the oases to the coast and the sea – back in the day, artisans used local natural materials to build houses, make fishing baskets and weave clothes. The exhibition shows the incredible resilience and ingenuity of the artisans and their balanced relationship with nature. As knowledge passes from generation to generation – these crafts connect people with their natural environment and to each other. The beauty of nature inspiring their creativity and aesthetics.

A woven village

The exhibition sees itself in an open space bounded by two long, curved walls. On one wall, large projected details of hands can be seen, in slow motion. They are an ode to the great tool that is the basis of all crafts: the hand. The other wall – ‘the universe of crafts’ – is covered with objects and materials from a variety of crafts that find themselves in the heart of the UAE. In the middle are five pavilions – they are woven from palm leaves according to ‘arish’ – a traditional construction technique.

Meeting the artisans

In the central pavilion, you will be the guest of three Emirati artisans who practice their craft on site. Here you can see up and close how they think with their hands and show their craftsmanship with their carefully chosen patterns. You will find three pavilions around this workshop. Here you can get acquainted with Sadu, Khoos, and Talli, the traditional Emirati weaving techniques. Further on, you will experience the hospitality of the Emirati and can participate in a traditional coffee ritual.

A new generation

The United Arab Emirates was founded only a few decades ago. It is a young country with an old culture. Although crafts worldwide are on the brink of extinction, here they are being revived. A new generation of artists and designers – often trained abroad, have a vital role to play – they are looking for a new, unique design language in which their heritage plays a role. This exhibition connects old and new, tradition and innovation. On the inside, woven structures create an intimate interior space in which the precious traditional crafts are protected – on the outside, we show how the new generation of artists and designers are inspired by their heritage.