The Art of Memoir

Many of us are used to experiencing artwork in a context that is very consistent and familiar, most of the time within the space of an art gallery. For “Memoir”, Designlab Experience had a vision to incorporate art installations into a temporary event scenography, challenging artists to work in very large spaces, and building new conversations with architecture.

Two collaborations with Recycle Group and Azuma Makoto were at the forefront of the creative endeavour. Memories and stories were translated into the scenography, inviting new ways of thinking and creating.  

Majlis Artwork in collaboration with Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetsov (Recycle Group)

The walls of the majlis area were adorned with large suspended artworks by Recycle Group, crafted out of thin plastic mesh. Depicting a continuous dialogue between past and present, the panels were inspired by the bride’s childhood memories and the everlasting poetry of her grandfather, HH Sheikh Zayed, in which he expressed his love for his wife.

The Recycle Group’s approach of examining contemporary culture through a quasi-archaeological lens was particularly well-suited to this project. Using their signature artistic techniques, the duo translated details given by the bride into sweeping narratives, introducing the translucent plastic mesh into an environment of contrasting textures.

Crafted and assembled onsite, the artworks truly became a part of the transformation of the space in which they would be installed. 

The artists welcomed the opportunity to create on a grand scale:

“This project is the right scale for us. It’s large and we like it. This was challenging in terms of time and location and logistical things. We are happy we succeeded in everything in time. It's great to see all this volume in the same place, that is rare."

Against the textured walls of Arab architectural features, the large-scale undulating canvases presented a series of dynamic 3-dimensional storytelling. Beams of light threaded through the layers of mashrabiya panels and mesh artworks, bringing memories and elements of nature to life.

When lit from the front, the crafted mesh was visible as a solid artwork. When lit from behind through the mashrabiya, the shaped motifs seemed to be suspended in midair, producing an ethereal, other-worldly impression.

With an intangible and poetic quality, the work is alive to the environment, the context and the viewer. The works were executed in the muted palette that characterises the desert, which was very much an inspiration to the artists. Textures of the artwork enhanced its aesthetic beauty as well as complemented the symmetrical architectural organisation of the majlis space.

 “We never did landscapes in this technology, so we used special technology to create the relief. It was something new, we developed this technology for this project. This enabled us to show the landscapes and the dunes, and you can really see the perspective. Very inspired by the desert. We also never made animals in the mesh. It was exciting. A big challenge.“

Floral Installations in collaboration with Azuma Makoto (AMKK)

Regarded as a modern master of botanical sculptures, Azuma Makoto designed a vast flowerscape for the “Memoir”. Botanical installations provided focal points within each of the three spaces, visually connecting the entire experience during moments of the bride’s and guests’ journey.

“Flowers, like anything, have a beauty of imperfection. Rather than being surrounded by something that is tightly packed, it should be rougher and more powerful, like a real strength. I think red is a very important colour for human emotions, like blood in the human body and the setting sun. An essential part of the human environment. The colour of life.” Azuma Makoto

Upon arrival, guests stepped into a world of blooming red. A path wound between hills of vibrant flowers, rising into a seven-metre high floral installation. Deeply-coloured walls and expansive mirrors heightened the effect of illusion, accentuating the vibrant tones and textures of the flowers.

Adding a softness and a vitality to the architecture surrounding them, the sculpted floral arrangements acted as a line for the eye, creating a suspension between man-made and natural elements.

“I thought that by layering them together, I could create an object of a flower, or a lump of life, as I had envisioned it. I wanted the music to go beyond the flowers, letting us hear the voices of the flowers and the same with the shape.”

The lush flower tapestry produced a surreal impression when juxtaposed with a desert-inspired setting in the majlis beyond.

Ice sculptures containing floral arrangements were positioned on each side of the long golden catwalk. Alluding to the notion of freezing beautiful moments, the sculptures preserved the floral bouquets as memories in time.

Viewed from multiple angles and as a succession along the catwalk, the glistening ice accentuated the delicacy of each flower. The transparency of the ice blocks with the reflections of the mirrors and lighting created a striking yet harmonious balance with the vastness of the surroundings.

 “Flowers will show unique expressions that they do not display in everyday life, by being placed under such a different environment,” said Azuma.

 “I think it was the first time in Dubai that flowers were placed inside ice cubes. The layout, the balance between ice and flowers, and the balance of the decorations, including the team that designed the ice cubes, were all very well coordinated and fit together beautifully.”

The identity of “Memoir” and its artistic collaborations was derived from a creative process of exploring how art and personal memoires create a deeply personal and impacting experience for both client and guests.

Curating large scale site-specific artworks in an environment where the art could engage into a profound dialogue with its surroundings, enabled art to become an integral part of life’s pivotal events.

 The worlds of art and architecture are in their very nature an expression of something deeply human. Perhaps, it's a feeling that comes when you experience something so grand.

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