Images courtesy of Tanagra
Saudi product and furniture designer Ayah Al Bitar is on our radar this Ramadan, the perfect time for sprucing up our homes with special Middle Eastern touches. The Dubai-based Founder and Creative Director of AYA The Art of Living is known for her unique pieces that feature handmade craftsmanship and combine tradition and modernity to create products that merge East and West. Her limited edition, thought-provoking designs “that emerge from the essence of creativity,” as the company’s website states, promote form and function. Al-Bitar, who launched the design house in 2015, also offers conceptual pieces relative to the region.
Through AYA The Art of Living, Al Bitar, a graduate from New York’s Parsons School of Design - The New School with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial and Product Design, focuses on breaking cultural boundaries. Inspired by topics to do with women’s rights in the Kingdom, the Saudi-raised creative, also armed with a certificate in Interior Design from University of the Arts London, wanted to create a model for how art and design can trigger social change.
“I design to solve problems; I design to create new problems; I design to acknowledge, and I design to communicate,” Al Bitar, a former student at the American International School of Riyadh, says on her website.
The Latest Collection
While Al Bitar’s first collection was an array of floor seating cushions, her latest one includes gorgeously crafted furniture and home accessories. “The “Voice of AYA” shines the light on two ancient nations that are renowned for their rich history, culture and know-how and mirror the designer’s “identity and soul.” Al-Bitar, who has attended expos like Dubai Design Days and Riyadh’s Saudi Design Week several times, as well as Salone Satellite- Salone Del Mobile Milano in 2015, was inspired by the Saudi Al Qatt women, known for the colourful and telling patterns they paint inside their homes.
She was also taken by female Palestinian embroiderers and the elaborate patterns with bold hues on their traditional dress. “I created a hybrid pattern that connects these authentic traditions into one identity for today’s global world,” Al Bitar, who also offers gift items, including customised takes, explains on the website. “An identity that reflects who I am, expressed through colour, pattern, material and craftsmanship. The “Voice of Aya” collection is my story, my voice.”
And the standout pieces from the collection are just the thing for taking your décor and serving solutions to the next level during the Holy Month. One of the must add to shopping cart items is the date or chocolate box, which also happens to make a fantastic table centerpiece. As the largest box available, it comes in a variety of patterns, with the touch of mother of pearl and the colourful marquetry and tin inlay being the stars. Made in walnut wood, the box comes with a plexi-glass base with moveable dividers.
Similarly useful items include the tea box and accessory boxes. The tray, hand-made with solid walnut and coloured marquetry, is another stunner. Available in a linear or checkered pattern, it is ideal for serving snacks and drinks. On the subject of drinks, the playful and dynamic set of coasters, featuring a mix and match of the collection’s six colours and intertwined patterns, can be found in a matte or a high gloss finish, and like the other items they are just as decorative as they are functional.
Furniture options include one-of-a-kind tables like the “Occasional Octagonal Table” that is sure to turn heads thanks to the vibrant mix of nostalgic colours and patterns. The unique piece is made of camel bone, walnut wood, tin, Italian dyed veneer and mother of pearl. Another piece made with the same materials is the “Majma’ Hadarat” coffee table. Highlighting techniques used in Damascus in the 1920s and the latest modern technologies, the piece merges Palestinian mastery at pattern with the Al Qatt motifs.
Shop the collection online or head to one of the Tanagra stores in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Riyadh or Jeddah.