One For The Table
November saw Downtown Design take place – an important platform for the region’s trade professionals to
discover global designs. At the show, the frst
edition of the ‘Italian Way Product Design
Award’ in the UAE was launched as a way
of bringing together Eastern and Western
culture in the form of product design.
The competition called for established and
budding designers to design an object that
would work for the dining requirements of
a typical Arab home, all the while accenting
Italian craftsmanship as well.
The designs were judged by a panel of
experts and the winners – dynamic duo Felix
Trunk from Germany and Jozef Hendricks
from Holland – scooped the honours. They
were awarded a trophy designed exclusively
by Ana Magarida D’Castro, founder of BIA
Their design, a table, drew inspiration from
the UAE’s desert landscape. Oasis Living
caught up with the creative pair for a chat
on their winning project.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DESIGN
Felix: I studied product design in London
and have since worked with several luxury
brands such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton.
Now though, I’m a creative director for an
international design agency in Dubai, and
have been for the past four years. I work
on a wide range of projects for many luxury
brands here as well, basically designing
anything from retail spaces to furniture,
products, and packaging.
Jozef: I have a background in engineering
and a fascination with lights. For the past
eight years, I’ve been the creative director of Studio HID in Abu Dhabi – designing,
managing, and building custom designs with
a focus on chandeliers and large interactive
light installations. Currently, I’m working on
an interactive solar powered light installation
to set in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Park. It’s called
‘Tree of Light’.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN
Felix: I guess it really started very early.
From building sandcastles and playing with
Lego, having a curious mind and questioning
how things worked and why they were there
- we just understood later that that was
called design and we could make that our
Jozef: Playing with ideas and objects is still
what we do now, just with bigger tools and of
course in a more refned and grown-up way.
HOW DID YOU COME TO HEAR OF THE
ITALIAN WAY PRODUCT DESIGN AWARD?
Felix: A friend of Jozef’s told him about the
competition and since we’ve always wanted
to work together on a project, we decided to
take advantage of the opportunity.
Jozef: The brief sounded interesting and
our team-up worked out well thanks to our
understanding of each other coupled with
our different skill sets.
HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET? WAS
IT THROUGH A DESIGNING EVENT?
Jozef: No, actually we met playing frisbee
in Safa Park three years ago!
TELL US ABOUT THE THOUGHT
PROCESS BEHIND YOUR DESIGN – HOW
DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT?
Felix: As both the Arabic and the Italian
cultures cherish hospitality and feature
an extensive culture around food, our aim
was to choose an object that brings people
together to share stories and focus on
commonalities rather than differences.
ozef: In the search for cultural context
Felix recalled the Arabic saying used when
welcoming guests into the home, "ahlan
wa sahlan" which directly translates to
“welcome to my dune”. We chose to literally
translate this into the shape of our design.
Felix: Dunes are shaped purely by natural
forces and are in constant motion, never
standing still and constantly changing.
We would like to take a snapshot of this
and freeze it in time. The general idea
then is to design a system rather than
the shape directly. We propose to 3D scan
actual dunes by using ﬂying drones with
LADAR scanners. The resulting 3D point
cloud information will then be turned into
the surface of the table. This could be
customised for any client who could pick a
place of signifcance to them or could pick
dune shapes of personal preference.
Jozef: To enhance the concept of connecting
Italian and Emirati cultures, we decided
to use one traditional material from each
country. Italy’s famed marble for the base
juxtaposed with warm brass from the
UAE for the oval plates. The plates have
controlled geometric shapes, contrasting
the organic lines of the dunes, and feature
ftted impressions on the bottom that
make them sit naturally on the peaks.
While researching, we also came across
a number of interesting fndings such as
the importance of seating arrangement
for guests. And the number seven is also
of signifcance in Islam such as there are
seven verses in the frst surah in the Qur’an
and during the rituals of Hajj, pilgrims walk
around the Kaa’ba seven times. Therefore,
we wanted to express this by positioning
seven dishes ﬂoating on the surface.
WHAT MAKES YOUR DESIGN
Felix: We discussed the idea extensively
with Emirati friends, who told us about
the usual seating arrangements and the
traditional rituals around local food culture.
This is something we wanted to respect
and reﬂect in every decision we took.
Jozef: So, we went ahead and prototyped
the general height dimensions and layout
by sitting on the ﬂoor and using plates
on stacks of books. This was done to
test the ergonomics of taking the food
from the centre while not obstructing
the line of sight between the guests. We
also found raising the base platform will
improve the overall ergonomics while not
compromising on any aspect of the ritual.
DID YOU CONSIDER MAKING
ANY OTHER DESIGN FOR THE
Jozef: Yes, of course. We explored a whole
range of conceptual spaces and objects,
then weighed up the benefts of each and
concluded that we should risk submitting
the biggest and costliest one as we found
it the most innovative as well as the one
which answered the brief in the most direct
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WINNING
Felix: It feels fantastic for several reasons
really. For one, we are really looking
forward to making the table and turning
our vision to reality using tools and
processes that we’ve wanted to work with
for a very long time. And it's especially
encouraging to work on more speculative
projects and more self-initiated work that
resonates with people.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES HAS THIS
ACHIEVEMENT OPENED FOR YOU?
Jozef: It has opened new doors and
connected us to more like-minded people.
We are especially looking forward to
displaying the table next year at Downtown
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
Felix: I want to continue to work for
big brands as well as for myself. I also
plan on starting a furniture and lighting
project which mixes ancient ways of
manufacturing and contemporary
design as I enjoy using opposing, almost
contradictory, approaches of computational
design and very analog traditional
manufacturing techniques that are on the
verge of dying out.
Jozef: We would like to continue to work
together on more conceptual projects
of this magnitude as this was a very
interesting combination of skills and
thought processes. Personally though, I’m
always looking for new and exciting design
challenges that will take interactive and
sustainable design to the next level.
Enjoy A Mini Golf On Ice At Dubai I
02 June, 2019