21st century thobes depicting nostalgia and missed experiences  in Palestine on show at Abu Dhabi Art

A collaboration between 81 Designs and Naqsh Collective

Abu Dhabi, UAE; November 5, 2020: UAE social enterprise 81 Designs collaborates with Jordanian design studio Naqsh Collective to create A Thobe Story, a line of Palestinian thobes embodying a deeply rooted heritage, which will be presented at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Art in November.

The traditional thobes have been modernized to depict traditions that move through time — transforming them from being a national attire in Arab countries into a new visual language. The rich Arabian culture is evident from the intricacy of the work, volume of details in each design, to the transformation. Each of the ten art pieces is hand-embroidered by Palestinian refugee women employed by 81 Designs and reflects Naqsh Collective’s stories of missing experiences in Palestinian cities: Jaffa, Acre, and Gaza.

“The synergy between 81 Designs and Naqsh Collective is rooted from our ideal to preserve tradition through the time-honored embroidery technique Tatreez. Through our collaboration, we aim to showcase the artisanal talents, while providing a platform for regional artists and designers to showcase their art in a different medium,” said Nadine Y. Maalouf, Co-founder of 81 Designs.

The Jordanian sisters behind Naqsh Collective integrate the beauty of their Palestinian heritage into minimal contemporary aesthetic, producing works that translate traditions through shapes, meanings, and compositions. “Our attempt in creating a Palestinian thobe is to imagine living our missing experiences of our beloved Palestine like jumping off Akka’s cliff and going on a fishing trip by Jaffa’s Port, and more. The thobes will connect with grandmothers and can be passed on from generation to generation,” says Nermeen Abudail, Naqsh Collective co-founder.

Producing works with brass, industrial marble and solid wood with aesthetics of embroidery, Naqsh Collective wanted to allow the presence of cultural elements in non-traditional presentations. One of the sisters and co-founder, Nisreen Abudail said: “We wanted the thobes to emanate the same cultural feel and reflect the same story as our brass work. The women from 81 Designs that we work with elevate the quality of local craftsmanship because of their hard work and stories shared during the process.”

Nisreen El Tibi Maalouf, co-founder of 81 Designs and the enterprise’s COO said: “This project has faced several challenges due to the COVID pandemic and the current economic and political crisis in Lebanon. We are grateful for the extraordinary commitment Naqsh Collective has shown to bring this project to life.”

The art pieces will be available at USD 10,000 each and curated at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Art, which will be held virtually from November 16 to 26. For more information, please contact @81DesignsME on Facebook / Instagram / its official website 81designsme.com.

About 81 Designs

81 Designs is a UAE-based social enterprise that brings both art and humanity together. In 2015, Nesrine El Tibi Maalouf and Nadine Y Maalouf founded 81 Designs with a group of refugee artisan women living in Ain El-Hilweh Camp in South Lebanon. The enterprise’s mission is to showcase their artisanal talents, restore hope in building their future, and preserve and modernize the ancient embroidery technique Tatreez. By providing employment opportunities, 81 Designs empowers and improves social and living conditions of these skilled refugee women. Our collaborations can be viewed on both our social media channels @81DesignsME on Facebook and Instagram and official website 81designsme.com.

About Naqsh Collective

Through delicate finishing and fine machine production ebbing with ingenuity, Nisreen and Nermeen Abu Dail founded Naqsh Collective in Amman, Jordan in 2010.  Naqsh instantly became a conceptual framework reflected in the unique pieces of art and their intricate collaboration with design. A harmonious union between the oriental and the modern, Naqsh integrates aspects of art, architecture and heritage through minimalism that brushes on sophistication. It is a union that fits perfectly into the pace of modern life, to be enjoyed for its shapes, meanings and compositions. The two sisters find inspiration from the contemporary simplicity and the traditional arabic aesthetic, combined together with high quality local craftsmanship.