Since Syrian designer Ranim Orouk scooped the top spot of Van Cleef & Arpels’ 2016 edition of The Middle East Emergent Designer Prize, DesignFix caught up with the winner and her three talented competitors.
DesignFix: Every year the Van Cleef & Arpels award for the best emerging designer in the Middle East, in association with Tashkeel and Design Days Dubai, is hotly anticipated. We’ve known you, runner-up Michael Rice, Marta Krivosheek and Anjali Srinivasan, were contenders for the title for several weeks. How did it feel to finally be announced as this year’s winner?
Ranim Orouk: I am so thankful and honoured that my work was selected for this year’s Middle East Emergent Designer Prize. Many factors helped me win; however, I believe that the relationship between form and function that I implemented was a key aspect. The ability to translate the conceptual idea into a tangible product was also very essential.
DesignFix: Your winning design, a light inspired by an effervescent school of jellyfish, combined the traditional production technique of glassblowing with advanced digital forms of fabrication such as 3D printing. The prize will put your light into production as well as send you to Paris to visit L’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels. How will you use the prize to grow your career as a designer?
Ranim: As I’ve been designing jewellery for a while now, I will use the chance to attend a workshop at L’ÉCOLE Van Cleef & Arpels as an opportunity to pursue my passion for jewellery making.
DesignFix: What made you enter for the Prize with a different medium to jewellery design?
Ranim: I loved the idea of getting my design fabricated, and that really inspired me. I am also an architect at Perkins + Will, so whether I am designing a building, jewellery or a chandelier, it’s about the process and the experience that enrich the creative thinking of the design.
DesignFix: What was the experience of the Van Cleef & Arpels competition process like?
Ranim: The process was overwhelming but also very enriching as I was able to discover new routes of design and making along the way.
DesignFix: Michael, you came second in the Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East Emergent Designer Prize with your sculptural ceramic bowl inspired by DNA helix and sand ripples.
Michael Rice: I am completely elated to be runner-up for the Middle East Emergent Designer Prize; it’s a real honour. As a designer, artist and ceramicist I am always creating and exhibiting new ideas and sculptural forms, so the prospect of seeing one of them displayed at Design Days Dubai is incredible.
DesignFix: Marta, as one of the four finalists, how did you take on the award’s theme of nature?
Marta Krivosheek: In the design brief, I liked the theme of Natural Inspiration. The question in my mind was simple: “What is the origin of form?” The 21st century offers many inventions and innovations underpinned by the natural world, so I decided to test my design skills for the Award. Being shortlisted gave me a huge flow of motivation and confidence that my evolving design approach is being recognised. Design, ultimately, is about an ability to work through constraints. To creatively work with them, we need to understand the tools and processes, and nature provides us with lots of examples that can be adopted, refined or improved upon. I will continue to learn and understand more about nature’s ingenuity and implement the knowledge in my future designs.
DesignFix: Anjali, you’ve been noted as one of Swarovski’s Designers of the Future for your innovative work with glass. What was your experience with the Van Cleef & Arpels award like?
Anjali Srinivasan: What struck me about the Middle East Emergent Designer Prize is its interest in fostering creative talent of this region, not just by recognition, but by making it possible for the designer to forge new work. As a creative practitioner, we value that a lot – the possibility and opportunity to make something new a reality – and I think that’s special. My work engages with participatory relationships and explores objects that are not static or enclosed in a pedestal – I tend to seek a more active role from my design process.