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81 Designs and Bokja Designs to present commemorative works at Abu Dhabi Art 2018

Abu Dhabi, UAE; October 2018:  UAE-based social enterprise 81 Designs, best-known for its embroidered artworks, will showcase commemorative pieces through a special collaboration with Bokja at the 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art.

Taking place from November 14-17, 2018 at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Art will highlight the Year of Zayed through its Community Projects. Participating for the first time in this section, 81 Designs and Bokja, both women-led organisations, will be presenting works that salute the greatness of women and Palestinian tradition, in honour of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The great Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was known as an advocate of equal rights and opportunities for women, a vision shared by the UAE based enterprise.

“Known to be a leader who valued and respected people regardless of nationality, status, religion and gender, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan advocated strongly for the rights of women. His wisdom in recognising the equal contribution of women to society  resonates with our endeavors toward the empowerment of women, our new project “Standing Tall” aims to celebrate and give tribute to women,” says Nadine Y Maalouf, co-founder of 81 Designs.

81 Designs women embroidering Standing Tall

The ‘Standing Tall’ project, by 81 Designs and Bokja, is made up of five sculptures of women adorned with 100 embroidered fragments on the wall. Each totem, made of stacked poufs upholstered with textiles gathered from around the world, represents a female attribute:  independence, empathy, compassion, nurturance, and strength.

Serving as a bridge between the arts of embroidery and poetry, ‘Standing Tall’ presents 100 fabric works around five female figurative sculptures depicting an inspirational poem written in Arabic by the Founding Father of the nation, which has the English title “Your love is ruling my heart”. Each hanging fabric is an intricately crafted scarf which was hand-embroidered with designs by refugee artists from 81 Designs.

Best-known to be purveyors of the ancient technique ‘Tatreez,’ each 81 Designs creation is handmade by a group of talented Palestinian women refugees from South Lebanon. 81 Design aims to give hope and a renewed sense of purpose to refugees and envisions employing as many skilled artisan refugees as possible.

‘Standing Tall’ by 81 Designs x Bokja

Bokja is a Lebanon-based surface fabrication studio well known for its quirky assemblage surfaces transformed into carefully curated objects, which range from furniture to one-off art pieces.  Bokja art pieces aim to edit and filter a chaotic amalgamation of designs, colours and cultures to craft meaningful messages relevant to today’s needs.

“It has been our team’s honour to work with and witness the astounding craftsmanship of the talented women of 81 Designs. It has been Bokja’s aim to amplify voices to be heard in today’s world by means of intriguing art pieces,” said Huda Baroudi of Bokja Designs. “Allowing these women from Palestine to ‘stand tall’ through their pieces has been an incredible experience.”

The individual sculptures will be available to buy for USD 8,000, while each scarf will be available for sale, starting at USD 600. Proceeds from the sale of these intricate pieces will help the growth of 81 Designs and will mean more talented artisan empowered by the organisation.

For more information, please visit the website:  http://81designsme.com or the 81 Designs’ booth located at the community section – Gallery S during the 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art.


About 81 Designs

81 Designs is a UAE-based social enterprise co-founded by Nesrine El-Tibi Maalouf and Nadine Y Maalouf in 2015. The social enterprise consists of a group of skilled Palestinian refugee women artisans living in South Lebanon recreating designs of established artists in the Middle East and North Africa region. 81 Designs, in collaboration with artists from the region, hopes to employ as many skilled artisan women refugees as possible and continue giving them hope and a renewed sense of purpose in life. 81 Designs is participating at the 10th edition of Abu Dhabi Art, taking place on 14-17 November 2018 at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The social enterprise will present its most recent project in collaboration with Bokja, a Lebanese-based surface fabrication studio.

About Bokja Designs

Bokja has consistently been a pioneer in reviving regional textile practices, redefining them in a contemporary voice. The Beirut-based surface fabrication studio crafts meaningful narratives through embroidery and textile to create personable objects, from furniture to artistic interventions. The agency’s main body of work is a series of one-of-a-kind reclaimed furniture objects, reupholstered using a wide array of textiles over time and assembled in unique arrangements. Bokja’s signature, a visually chaotic assembly of fabric pieces, encompasses several techniques from free-motion embroidery to painting. The subject matter ranges elements of nature to iconography from popular culture. Bokja’s work is a meditation of the changing cultural history of textile, how it can be created and collected, how it can travel and adapt, and how it can ultimately be shared and communicated.

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