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Design Inspired by Islamic Tradition

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Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on the development of Islamic design, its reinterpretation, and impact in contemporary society.

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In this study day, leading experts will discuss key aspects in the development of design resulting from the reinterpretation and adaptation of Islamic tradition into contemporary approaches and forms. Design in the Islamic tradition was far from being a mere decorative tool. Its mathematical principles were one of the features that first spurred the craze for collecting Islamic art. This craze was particularly visible in Britain in the 19th century, propelled by personalities like Owen Jones or Sir Frederic Leighton. We will also discuss how design rooted in Islamic tradition continues to inspire contemporary practice among craftsmen and designers from the region.

The event is moderated by Mariam Rosser-Owen, Curator in the Middle East section of the Asian Department at V&A, and the speaker panel is formed by Melanie Gibson, Senior Editor at Gingko Library Art Series and Trustee at the Leighton House Museum, Kathryn Ferry, independent art historian, Naseer Yasna and Hedieh Wojgani, founders of Lazo Studios, and Rachel Dedman, Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East at V&A


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About Mariam Rosser-Owen

Dr Mariam Rosser-Owen is the curator responsible for the Arab world collections in the Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. With funding from an Art Fund New Collecting Award she has been researching and collecting contemporary craft from North Africa, and has curated the exhibition 'Contemporary Ceramic Art from the Middle East'.

About Rachel Dedman

Rachel Dedman is the Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East at the V&A, London. She is currently curating Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics, devoted to contemporary design inspired by Islamic tradition, at the V&A in September 2021. Before joining the museum in 2019 Rachel was an independent curator based in Beirut, Lebanon, and Ramallah, Palestine.

About Melanie Gibson

Dr Melanie Gibson is the Senior Editor of the Gingko Library Art Series and convenor for the Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art at SOAS, London University. Her research focuses on the ceramics and glass of the Islamic world and in the reception and use of Islamic pattern in 19th century British design. She is currently a Trustee of the Leighton House Museum, London, and is working on a book about the Arab Hall at this historic building.

About Hedieh Wojgani and Naseer Yasna

Naseer Yasna is a master artisan in woodwork, a designer and an educator. He was born in Panjshir, Afghanistan and raised in Iran. Naseer joined Turquoise Mountain as a master artisan and teacher. After several years, he went on to establish his own business in Kabul, employing a large number of young Afghan craftsmen and women, many of whom were his own students. Hedieh Wojgani is a trained architect, artist and a designer. Born in Iran and raised in Germany, she trained as an architect and fine artist at the Rhode Island School of Design. Subsequently, Hedieh worked at various architectural design firms in Boston, New York, and Berlin before moving to London to continue her studies at UCL. In 2010 she relocates in Kabul and joined Turquoise Mountain,since then she has been managing production workshops, providing them with design and technical input as well as training to help improve the quality of their craft

About Kathryn Ferry

Dr Kathryn Ferry is an independent historian specialising in architecture and design from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her PhD on Owen Jones explored the impact of his student sojourns in Egypt, Istanbul and the Alhambra on a career advocating Islamic design principles.

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Study days develop museum professionals, while encouraging knowledge exchange and active learning through presentations, participatory group activities and discussion

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