Routes to Roots blends artisanal products with avant-garde projects

Unveiled at the Milan Design Week this year, the project, a collaboration between the Ithra Cultural Center and Isola, is an exhibition that delves into how the physical size of an entity doesn’t always determine its environmental impact and highlights the significance of scale in design.

The Routes to Roots exhibit honors those dedicated to preserving our heritage and the planet, encouraging visitors to appreciate the unique beauty of each displayed piece. By harnessing the wisdom passed down from our ancestors and combining it with innovative craftsmanship, emerging talents from various regions rejuvenate the design scene, seamlessly connecting tradition and innovation.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, known as Ithra — which translates to “enrichment” in Arabic — was established as a key component of Saudi Aramco’s vision to create a far-reaching initiative for the public. As the premier cultural and creative hub in the Kingdom, Ithra promotes talent development and facilitates cross-cultural interactions.

King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture – Ithra, Dhahran

Since its inception in 2018, the Center‘s foundational elements include culture, creativity, community, art, and knowledge. Leveraging these core pillars and visionary platforms, Ithra consistently hosts stimulating workshops, performances, and events that inspire attendees.

We explored their exhibit at the year’s most awaited design event in Milan; here are the highlights from our visit.

Mistral collection by Studio Bazazo

Drawing inspiration from the captivating summer mists of the Mediterranean, the Mistral collection captures a blend of graceful shapes that conjure feelings of joy and majesty. Crafted from solid blocks of Travertino Rosso, the collection features curved forms supported by cylindrical columns. Studio Bazazo demonstrates a commitment to flawless connections, exploring the limits of this porous stone by enabling it to hover around the linear openings formed at the center of each piece.

Mistral collection by Studio Bazazo _ Routes to Roots _ Milan Design Week 2024
Mistral collection by Studio Bazazo, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Shell Homage

An award-winning, biodegradable composite material made from discarded egg and various nut shells. Shell Homage serves as a sustainable alternative to oil-based plastics and can be utilized in a variety of applications including interior design, lighting, furniture, home accessories, consumables, 3D printing, fashion, and jewelry design.

The versatile materials created through Shell Homage resemble marble, natural stones, rubber, or glass, yet are crafted from waste egg and nut shells. The properties of the material can be tailored to specific needs, offering surfaces that range from rough to smooth and finishes that vary from opaque to translucent and transparent.

Shell Homage, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Pilgrim bottle

The focus on water conservation reintroduces ancient systems that elevate traditional artisan techniques. Within this framework, the Pilgrim project serves to highlight the significance of raw materials and, in a way, the journey they partake in with us. It embodies both conservation and exploration simultaneously.

Pilgrim _ Routes to Roots _ Milan Design Week 2024
Pilgrim, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Mina Abouzahra Collection

At Routes to Roots, a collection of contemporary rugs designed by Mina Abouzahra was showcased. Designed in the Netherlands and handmade in Morocco, these rugs are available made to order. Founded by Dutch-Moroccan designer Mina Abouzahra, the design studio is built on the principles of collaboration, merging the vibrant realms of Moroccan craftsmanship with Dutch design. It celebrates and preserves cultural heritage while empowering female artisans and their communities through fair business practices.

Mina Abouzahra Rugs Collection, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Ornamental by Lameice Abu Aker

Lameice is a multimilitary designer interested in the intersection between art and design. She aims to create contemporary designed pieces through working with local artisans located in different villages and cities in the Palestinian Territories.

Ornamental by Lameice Abu Aker _ Routes to Roots _ Milan Design Week 2024
Ornamental by Lameice Abu Aker, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Iwan Pavillion

The “Iwan” pavilion is inspired by the traditional Islamic Iwan and the abstract shapes of the Muqarnas. This innovative structure blends classical Islamic design elements with modern architectural techniques. A 3D-printed version of the original Iwan installation, originally made entirely from aluminum sheets, was featured. Both the Iwan and Routes to Roots displays emphasize an eco-conscious design philosophy, integrating biomaterials, natural resources, and waste from household and industrial sources. They seamlessly combine traditional techniques with innovation to create contemporary design pieces.

Iwan pavillion _ Routes to Roots _ Milan Design Week 2024
Iwan pavillion, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Dahr Studio

Dahr presented Qaws, named after the Arabic word for ‘arch,’ drawing inspiration from the Transverse Arch found in traditional Islamic architecture. Constructed from upcycled, laminated wood off-cuts sourced from Jeddah’s woodworking factories, each piece features a unique tonal range that narrates its distinct story. Qaws serves multiple functions as a stool, a high table, and a coffee table. Dahr’s designs maintain a cohesive aesthetic, with meticulous attention to the curves and clean lines of the furniture, inspired by the geometric shapes characteristic of the region.

Qaws by Dahr Studio _ Routes to Roots _ Milan Design Week 2024
Qaws by Dahr Studio, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

Medaillon by Booabbood

Drawing inspiration from the timeless elegance of Arab jewelry, these lighting fixtures turn symmetrical metal structures into a captivating play of light and shadow, infusing a contemporary flair into traditional designs.

Medaillon by Booabbod studio, Routes to Roots, Milan Design Week 2024

See more about Isola Design Festival 2024, here are our highlights from the event.


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