The mergence of embroidery and sculpture is no easy feat to achieve. One is soft and the other is hard and so how do you marry the two? Sisters Nisreen and Nermeen AbuDail founded the Naqsh Collective in 2010 in Amman, Jordan and effectively did just that. Their unique pieces of furniture and home accessories are inspired by both contemporary and traditional Arabic aesthetics. “We combine cutting edge designs with a modern twist and an architectural feel of it completes the whole inspiration,” says Nisreen, an architect inspired by the minimalist styles of contemporary life. Her sister Nermeen is a trained graphic designer. “Nisreen is an architect and I am a graphic designer so we somehow complement each other when we make one piece,” says Nermeen. “Like you see her lines and you see my chaotic world of shapes that come together and form something.”
Since the collective’s inception the vision of Nermeen and Nisreen was always to create something representative of their heritage. They experimented in Islamic patterns and calligraphy, but it was ultimately embroidery that spoke to them. “It’s the most expressive element that we’ve worked with,” adds Nermeen. While the specific patternings of the embroidery that they replicate in their designs reflects that of Palestine, both are quick say that the style they are recreating is from the greater Levant region. “Embroidery itself moved around and even in this region you see references from India and Pakistan and patterns and motifs that crossed over into Palestine and then moved to Jordan and Syria,” adds Nermeen. Through their work the Naqsh Collective replicates Arabian embroidery and in so doing showcases their heritage within a contemporary context: that of contemporary furniture.
Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail. Photography by Richard Hall
At the Amman Design Week 2016 and this year's Design Days Dubai, Naqsh showed the Wihdeh Collection. Inspired by the language of embroidery, in these stunning low table units created from stone and marble and enhanced with brass, groups of stitches, which Naqsh refers to as ‘units’, appear in beautiful, glistening formations. They reflect the spirit of unity shedding light on the beauty of Arabic culture. “We use materials from our land such as local basalt to create art pieces of tables to stay there telling the stories of our heritage for generations to come,” adds Nermeen.
“Whenever I tell people we are going to Dubai I tell them we are taking a piece of Jordan with us to Dubai,” says Nisreen. Referring to the Basalt that they regularly use, Nisreen says, “It’s a Jordanian stone that’s very rare all over the world and we have it in really great quantities in our country. It was very common in the Roman period; they build their amphitheaters with Basalt as well as columns so it has great value in our culture. So whenever we speak about what we are bringing to Dubai Design Days we say we are bringing with us a piece of home.”
And a piece of home is something Naqsh brings with them wherever they go. This month, the collective also heads to Milan Design Week where they will exhibit their tables in basalt and Botticino marble. These strong and irregularly cut slabs of stone showcase once again intricate and delicate patternings reflecting once again upon the power of the embroidery from their homeland.
For more information visit naqshcollective.com