At WEFT, we develop conceptual projects with strong narratives: we express ideas as artists, curate experiences as designers and execute projects as architects & engineers.
WEFT uses industrial elements to create a playful retail experience in their latest temporary popup design for an official merch collaboration between a local fast food joint BBT and Looney Tunes. The merch store is housed within a series of shipping containers that were “dropped” on the cantilevered rooftop edge of BBT’s new joint Hilltop located in Kuwait City. A total of four shipping containers were modified, painted signal red and fused together to create an open plan layout. The front-facing 40FT High Cube container is fitted with bold Hilltop signage sandwiched between two layers of translucent polycarbonate illuminating the rooftop and attracting passers-by from afar. The container placement also creates entry and exit pockets for customers and allows ample flow inside the popup. Meanwhile, three 20FT containers at the rear are dedicated to the product showcase - fitted in a symmetrical layout with four multilayer mesh displays, two garment conveyors and a central check-out/garment customization counter. The garment conveyors, typically utilized at dry cleaning stores, offer a playful retail experience - customers browse the merch by pressing a big red button which makes the garments rotate in a loop. Building further on the industrial narrative, the designers suspended a 3.6m long seamlessly welded mesh counter on yellow heavy-duty ratchet straps. The accent colour continues in electrical distribution, where bright yellow hose is utilized to disguise exposed wiring. Finally, an array of red crates fitted with graphic identification tags are utilized as a stock storage solution running across the bottom of the full 18m long display elevation. Container doors at each end are utilized to provide natural cross-ventilation within the popup whilst offering a french-balcony-like experience. On one side, the opening frames the views of Kuwait Towers and the Arabian Gulf, whilst on the other the visitors enjoy views of Kuwait City with landmarks such as Al Hamra Tower (SOM) and NBK Tower (Foster & Partners). The popup scheme was assembled in under 10 days using exclusively off-the-shelf materials readily available for immediate purchase in Kuwait. In addition to the popup, the studio designed a window display setup and various outdoors accessories - branded umbrellas, x-shaped umbrella holders, seating pillows made of red tarpaulin, seatpad storage and trash units. The new BBT branch Hilltop was designed by a Kuwait and Portugal based architecture company AAP.
WEFT uses arched brass displays and Kuwaiti desert sand to tell the life story of Sheikh Jaber Al Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah - a prominent member of Kuwait’s ruling family. The biographical exhibition scheme presented as a photographic essay draws inspiration from Sheikh Jaber’s drawings of his own birthplace - a traditional Kuwaiti mud house built around a large liwan with arched portals connecting to the living areas. At the exhibition, the contemporary arched displays take on a figurative role as gateways to the celebrated person’s life. Meanwhile, the perimeter of the central display is filled with Kuwait’s desert sand, standing as a metaphor to Sheikh Jaber’s childhood in the pre-oil economy times, when Kuwait was a vastly undeveloped desert. “Creating a contemporary space that is meant to resonate with someone’s life is a particularly challenging architectural brief. More so in a place like Kuwait, where a sense of culture and tradition is so firmly at play. We tried to remain sensible throughout the whole design process; we continuously questioned ourselves - how would Sheikh Jaber feel when he stepped into a space that attempts to be a form of representation of his life,” said Ricardas Blazukas, the Founder and Design Director at WEFT. The exhibition embodies an intimate ambiance achieved by a combination of subtle material tones, skillfully crafted brass details, thoughtful lighting placement, and is completed with Arabic Oud instrument sounds playing in the background.
Marking the 50th anniversary of Pace, this exhibition designed and curated by creative studio WEFT celebrates architectural and engineering excellence in Kuwait throughout the history of the pioneering practice. The exhibition borrows iconic architectural elements of Kuwait's Pan-Arab Modernism era and goes beyond just their architectural properties to present them as the dramatic sculptural forms we recognise, whilst housing a vast archive offering insights into building and urban design practices employed during the country’s rapid development. From its beginnings in 1968 until the present day, Pace has worked on over 2,000 projects across 35 countries. With this vast body of work, the practice’s archive serves as key resource for understanding the influence of architecture and engineering in Kuwait and the wider region. WEFT, the creative studio behind the exhibition design and curatorial narrative, focused on the permanence of Kuwait's iconic architecture by showcasing the architectural elements transformed as contemporary sculptural displays housing half-century worth of Pace’s architectural content (old and new drawings, original photographs, film footage, physical models, illustrations and a range of other documents) within a 1,000m2 space located in a venue of Kuwait City’s largest urban park – Shaheed Park. The permanence and brutal form of the iconic Kuwait Fund Headquarters building (developed by TAC and Pace in the early 1970s) is introduced as a scaled down sectional pavilion to host original interviews with architects who have left their mark in Kuwait. The interviews provide the backdrop for the central narrative of the exhibition – the story of a city built ‘By People, For People’, paying tribute to the practitioners who helped to shape modern architecture in Kuwait and to build the nation. The rich tapestry of Pace’s architectural heritage is presented with a display of architectural models abstracting façade details and forms, shown alongside an exhibition of ‘Pan Arab Modernism’, where a fragment of the upcoming architectural publication of the same name is previewed. On an adjacent screen, rare video footage of Kuwait’s built environment can be seen. Pace’s current work is presented as a show of colourful illustrations by renowned artists reinterpreting some of Kuwait’s most interesting architecture. Finally, at the heart of the exhibition, is the extraordinary archive of this influential practice, celebrating 50 years of architecture and design excellence in Kuwait. The section is presented as an ongoing collection of projects, displaying Kuwait’s architecture of the past and the present placed together in contrast. The selected photographs, microfilms and drawings are only a small handful of the extensive Pace archive and are presented to create a journey through the changing architectural styles in Kuwait over the last 50 years. Categorised into separate thematic sections, the display shows moments of life in a developing city, whilst focusing in on individual residential, civic, commercial and infrastructure projects. The present, on the other hand, showcases a variety of recent projects, whilst providing a glimpse of the future additions to the skyline of Kuwait currently in design.
The Middle East Region has boomed in the last 50 years with an economy based on oil. This growth rate and the incredible wealth has made the unthinkable possible. Cities bloomed from the arid desert and the whole region became an incredible and alluring place, attracting people from all over the world. But this semi-utopian development approached its climax almost 10 years ago. The region had to re-imagine its future and create its own new, enticing identity. This process had to be planned and didn’t happen spontaneously under the leveling action of history, people and time. Dubai’s time scale is on steroids, and its future had to happen, now. Aside from the obvious business vocation, the new-unknown identity focused on tourism, fun and wonder. Now, events like Dubai Design Week aim to widen the city’s foundation spectrum and focus on art, design and architecture as active tools to make the city, a city. The Middle east region started as an inflated reality, balancing on the verge of becoming a theme park made of a collection of expensive capricious architectures. But now, the present time, it seems able to combine together its cultural, social and political input, creating a new city vision with a strong identity. If the region wants to strengthen and develop its future in the long term, it has to tie itself to a sustainable reality, not limiting its narration to just hyper bombastic urban scenographies. Aidah is a provocative representation of a process, a diagrammatic illustration of a portion of Middle Eastern history translated into architectural forms. Most of all, Aidah is a dream, a suggestion, an immaterial city that aims to investigate what makes a city a city. Our intention, is to use a temporary installation not as a self-referenced narcissistic display, but as a device that positively contributes to a debate about the future development of the Middle Eastern Metropolis. In Arabic culture Aidah means “one’s who returns”. We chose this name to build an a-temporal city where the cyclical idea of returning was present and celebrated. In a symbolic way, we want to highlight how the future of Dubai and the whole region cannot rely on temporary present conditions. With respect and humble admiration, the project homages Italo Calvino “Invisible cities” imagining an additional chapter to the famous book. This time, the emperor narrates the story of Dubai to Marco Polo. Words can beliberating, they can explore the concepts without any demand for reality. Starting the project by creating its story, allowed us to focus on the concept, giving great importance to the core idea that we then transformed into real spatial relationships and architectural forms. We really enjoyed turning the usual architecture-illustration relationship upside-down. By writing a story first and then creating an architecture about it we used architecture as a tool, as a form of three-dimensional representation, as a medium to express a narrative, which allowed the concept to retain its powerful role. The installation is made of 50 black balloons, 500m of black ropes and 50 foam bricks. These elements are combined together generating a floating landscape that belongs to and is in dialogue with the desert, the origin of everything. These flimsy structures evoke a sense of transient fragility and at the same time inform Aidah’s bold and distinctive character. The floating spheres are the foundational element of the city (ref. Dubai’s oil), but at the same time its Achilles heel. Much like the bubble of wealth created by the finite resource of oil, the city might burst or float away and it needs ballasts to anchor it firmly on the ground. The economic stability of the Middle east is granted by its foreign investments, that are here represented with black foam “London Bricks” we especially crafted for this installation. By building in the desert, Aidah also aims to question the idea of “land value”. The installation shows that the occupied square meters might have zero “land value” from a real estate point of view, but they generate a fascinating space, adding a qualitative, symbolic and artistic value to the deserted land.
Al Khaleejia Complex is one of the most iconic architectural developments of Kuwait that withstood a time of over 40 years since its inception. Beautifully maintained building remains a true landmark of Kuwait. Located the heart of the business area of Kuwait City, it surrounds itself with key developments such as the NBK Tower (Foster and Partners), Al Hamra Tower (SOM) and Arraya Development (Fentress Architects) to name a few. WEFT prepared a concept proposal contemplating on the future of the existing development. Instead of remodelling the existing development, WEFT focuses on the idea of preservation of the existing architectural elements and proposes a creative retrofit to offer a new and modern identity. The extension takes an upwards direction and a new tower crown creates the opportunity for new rentable commercial area with offices, rooftop restaurant, cafe and event space. Meanwhile, the existing tower is adapted with a pattern of programmed lights that articulate the sculptural qualities of the existing facade.
Working with award-winning hospitality designers B3 Designers, WEFT took on a role of Design Manager and Creative Director representing Gastronomica and coordinating the delivery of their new Burger Boutique restaurant in Gate Mall, Kuwait. Burger Boutique is a designer restaurant concept taking a healthy approach to serving high-end globally influenced food items in an open kitchen. Burger Boutique has taken a green and natural approach to its identity from food to branding and design. Architectural natural materials take on a dominant role at Burger Boutique - creatively used raw concrete, live green wall, black metal and wood stand behind the core values of the restaurant. The takeaway packaging solutions made from 100% recycled paper also help define the sustainable approach. Photographs courtesy of Gastronomica / B3 Designers.
The series starts from a critique of the kitsch replication of Classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. Kuwait has struggled to develop a context-based design identity due to the copying of Greco-Roman decor. Desert Cast borrows the profiles that were used for extruded cornices and friezes for these homes, and morphs them, to produce and establish a Kuwaiti identity that is rooted in its migrant history, yet embraces its contemporary image. Desert Cast is an exploration of locally available materials and fabrication methods to reach a local ‘maker’ identity. Different Kuwaiti production methods were explored and reinvented. Gypsum-moulding, for example, is a method used to easily reproduce Classical Graeco-Roman architectural motifs, many of Kuwait’s decorated mansions and modest villas utilize this affordable technique. Although simple methodically, the end results are formally elaborate and considered “Oriental”. The objective was to align gypsum-moulding with sand-casting through the foam as a mediator to produce functional objects. The extruded profiles were cut in foam and used to cast complete metal objects by Alwafi Foundry master craftsmen. The objective is to shed light on the accessibility to master fabricators’ craft. These skills are used in a narrow practice, with limited perceived value, but by reading between the lines, can be used for much more. The Desert Cast installation visually narrates this story by showcasing functional objects at Jameel Arts Centre that are made through lost-foam casting.
’Monumental Shadow’ is a practical installation that aims to create an area of comfort for the public during hot sunny days in the harsh Middle East climate, at the same time encouraging people to collect around a focal point, creating new gathering and social spaces in the city. It can be adapted within squares and plazas, can act as a public transportation shelter, or even be used as an element of regeneration in deprived areas to create a practical yet social space. Design of shading devices is usually based on static horizontal elements even though the position of the Sun is constantly changing. A tracker processor installed within the vertical elements of ‘Monumental Shadow’ calculates the Sun’s position using time, date & geographical information and rotates the elements accordingly to cast the most optimal shadow at any time of day. The shelter can potentially be developed to be powered with renewable solar energy.
Exceptional estate investments have brightened London’s last two decades. Like the dust of a comet tail, shiny developments sparkled rapidly across the city and sedimented in a constellation of new buildings. Their market-driven conception has resulted in “likable” (desirable) dwellings we may own one day. The market produced a new and soft aesthetic, capable of smoothing out every contrast of London’s diverse streetscape. Our eyes have been soaked in sugar. Our desires have been caressed and comforted. No trauma for the buyers, please. The uniformity and dullness of new London developments have resulted in ‘cookie-cutter’ buildings; a multitude of reassuring brick fabrics, or as Sir Peter Cook calls it: creations of the "biscuit boys” generation. The new vernacular style has been great for developers, efficient for designers, and advantageous for product sellers. The system worked, and in a way we all liked it - reluctantly we still do. Bricks married the traditional with a touch of modern trendiness, a blunder of contemporaneity that made us feel so special and ‘cool’. New, but not too much: a sterile aesthetic that anesthetized and coated our palate with a benevolent, unaffordable calmness. Bricks are beautiful. They represent London architecture and its history. Unfortunately they have now become a trademark product for standardized buildings. The ‘new vernacular’ is very much a product of a crumbling neoliberalist Britain. Vibrant areas, such as Shoreditch and Dalston, have been the showcase of these transformations. Shoreditch itself became a thing, an adjective, a keyword and a product to sell. #Shoreditch is a pendant light, an exposed brick wall, and solid wood flooring with an extra touch of concrete roughness. And maybe a cactus pot plant for good measure. However in London brick walls were a canvas for graffitis and artistic explorations, for rebellion and non-conformity. Bricks transformed under the thin layer of acrylic paint, altered by vivid colours and plastic-like qualities. Our artistic exploration celebrates this feature and pushes the alteration of the brick one step further. Our altered bricks absorbed the colours and transformed their materiality. The Artistic Research The London Brick series project was initially conceived as part of “Aidah”- an architectural installation built for Dubai Design Week 2017 in collaboration with London based architectural duo Boano Prišmontas. The collaborative team worked closely to reinterpret, twist and transform the iconic London Brick using different materials and manufacturing processes. Our research focused on disrupting the material qualities of the brick, investigating and experimenting with their porosity, elegance, brightness, vividness, elasticity, and colour, among others. We aimed to transcend the architectural and physical properties of the real brick in order to express its sculptural qualities. The idea of making a “series” comes from the premise that bricks are not meant to be stand-alone objects. Like atoms, like cells, like archetypes, they are repeated and joined together until they transform into something else, a new object of a bigger scale. Our research wanted to celebrate this generative and replicable quality, but at the same time give each brick the status of an art piece. The use of chemical materials, such as foam and resin, concurred to alter and deceive the user's expectations. Some bricks look like the real thing but they are actually very light squeezable objects. They are sculptures in disguise. The brick production was another interesting and challenging aspect of this research. We expressly crafted the bricks as if testing a recipe, adding chemical ingredients and tweaking different processes and techniques. We didn’t know what to expect and we believe this level of uncertainty added spontaneity and honesty to the whole process. Armed only with curiosity and enthusiasm, we ended up formulating a method, fixing the process, and generating a new kind of brick. The journey started with playing, testing and experimenting. Then bricks became sculptures, and finally, they returned to replicable objects, but with an altered use. No longer a brick, not yet a product, but still a design piece - sculptures in disguise.
Alternative conceptual schemes developed for 50 Years of Architecture in Kuwait Exhibition.
Ceramic Stools Collection - a reinterpretation of growth examining new and traditional materials and crafts, with DIY production. WEFT used modern glazes for striking colour, ceramic fibre insulation to build the kiln, and firing gas as the heat source. The lack of accuracy in temperature allowed for an opportunity to introduce moments of chance in the aesthetics of the final collection. As a finishing touch, soft poufs upholstered with colourful Kvadrat wool were created to lightly hold each stool and complement the collection. The collection was awarded a Runner-Up at Van Cleef & Arpels x Tashkeel Middle East Emergent Designer Prize 2017 and exhibited at Dubai Design Week 2017.
The series starts from a critique of the kitsch replication of Classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. Kuwait has struggled to develop a context-based design identity due to the copying of Greco-Roman decor. Desert Cast borrows the profiles that were used for extruded cornices and friezes for these homes, and morphs them, to produce and establish a Kuwaiti identity that is rooted in its migrant history, yet embraces its contemporary image. Desert Cast is an exploration of locally available materials and fabrication methods to reach a local ‘maker’ identity. Different Kuwaiti production methods were explored and reinvented. Gypsum-moulding, for example, is a method used to easily reproduce Classical Graeco-Roman architectural motifs, many of Kuwait’s decorated mansions and modest villas utilize this affordable technique. Although simple methodically, the end results are formally elaborate and considered “Oriental”. The objective was to align gypsum-moulding with sand-casting through the foam as a mediator to produce functional objects. The extruded profiles were cut in foam and used to cast complete metal objects by Alwafi Foundry master craftsmen. The objective is to shed light on the accessibility to master fabricators’ craft. These skills are used in a narrow practice, with limited perceived value, but by reading between the lines, can be used for much more. The Desert Cast installation visually narrates this story by showcasing functional objects in D3 that are made through lost-foam casting.
Ricardas Blazukas (WEFT) was commissioned to create a painting for a private client in Kuwait to become a centrepiece of a modern Diwaniya space. The artwork takes inspiration from a traditional Kuwaiti Sadu pattern, which is reinterpreted as a defragmented composition with an emphasis on vertical, horizontal and diagonal directions. Moments within the composition are created to suggest a rhythm of Arabic Calligraphy. Artwork dimensions: 4.8m x 1.5m
WEFT were commissioned to create an artwork for the heritage wall at the new Reebok store at The Avenues mall in Kuwait. The outcome is a beautiful typograpic artwork associating Reebok with Future of Kuwait represented in a modern and bold aesthetic. The artwork was inspired by an iconic Future Kuwait mural completed by Ricardas Blazukas in the heart of Kuwait City in 2016.
Over the course of time, art has always been closely linked to social context, appearing in many different forms with the majority being displayed in galleries and exhibitions. In this continuing evolution, and with the societal and technological developments, poster art was given the room to grow and stand out in terms of social engagement, availability, and impact. These are three things that Almakan wishes to embody in its promotion of the art scene, regardless of the undertaken changes. The 'X / O' posters are commissioned by Almakan and represent a development of WEFT founder's Ricardas Blazukas' artistic style since 'Geometry of Colour' exhibition at Almakan in 2015. The presented compositions are part of Ricardas' ongoing aesthetic experiments where circular shapes composed together become expressive geometries. This time he plays with scale, colour and repetition in search of the qualities of urban visual language. Total of 3 posters, limited editions of 100. Available for sale at Street Almakan, Kuwait City.
The collection is an experiment of chance in creation of geometry compositions. Sadu patterns are sophisticated works of art - woven geometric patterns and symbols reflect the traditional tribal lifestyles, the desert environment and the weavers’ creative self-expression. Typically, all Sadu patterns share similar shapes, colours and scale, which become almost indistinguishable from one another. The Chance Compositions are a result of a thorough breakdown and analysis of Sadu, recomposed in different colours and scales highlighting the hidden intricacies of Sadu patterns. The signed edition of poster artworks was commissioned by a newly developed Hilton Hotel at The Pearl in Qatar to be installed in 150 studio apartments.
The series starts from a critique of the kitsch replication of Classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. Kuwait has struggled to develop a context-based design identity due to the copying of Greco-Roman decor. Desert Cast borrows the profiles that were used for extruded cornices and friezes for these homes, and morphs them, to produce and establish a Kuwaiti identity that is rooted in its migrant history, yet embraces its contemporary image. Desert Cast is an exploration of locally available materials and fabrication methods to reach a local ‘maker’ identity. Different Kuwaiti production methods were explored and reinvented. Gypsum-moulding, for example, is a method used to easily reproduce Classical Graeco-Roman architectural motifs, many of Kuwait’s decorated mansions and modest villas utilize this affordable technique. Although simple methodically, the end results are formally elaborate and considered “Oriental”. The objective was to align gypsum-moulding with sand-casting through the foam as a mediator to produce functional objects. The extruded profiles were cut in foam and used to cast complete metal objects by Alwafi Foundry master craftsmen. The objective is to shed light on the accessibility to master fabricators’ craft. These skills are used in a narrow practice, with limited perceived value, but by reading between the lines, can be used for much more. The Desert Cast installation visually narrates this story by showcasing functional objects as part of Re-Use exhibition that are made through lost-foam casting.