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 designed Pattie Pattie, a restaurant in Kuwait inspired by American fast food culture and mid-century architecture of California. This locally developed concept blends nostalgia with modernity to embody the West Coast lifestyle. The 90m2 restaurant was built on a 365m2 plot and designed to express playfulness and vibrancy through a playful approach to industrial elements, bold colors, and design-driven accessories such as Talk Tubes, Heatherwick’s Spun Chairs and a dedicated play area with swings. The building’s design was born from the limitations imposed by applicable regulations for the plot. The exterior space had no particular restrictions as long as the vertical structure was contained within the given building size. As a result, the design features a large cantilevered canopy cutting across the full width of the plot in a dynamic diagonal composition creating a visually stunning identity. Then, the plot was raised to frame the building and further enhance the scale of this relatively small restaurant. The building’s orientation facing north and the large canopy protect the building from the harsh sun and allow the use of jumbo panels of clear low-emissivity glass to create a vibrant restaurant interior filled with lots of natural daylight. The architectural aesthetic of Pattie Pattie embraces a hard-wearing industrial look and feel that is curated to deliver a fully cohesive and striking experience. The structural columns were intricately designed to achieve an elegant and slender look. Double columns fused together with a “zigzag” bracing were used in the high load-bearing corners of the building to carry the weight of a 7.5m cantilevered canopy. No services were placed behind the ceiling to achieve the thinnest possible canopy that cuts through the building from the outside towards the interior. The ducts were designed to embrace their presence, with oval ducts clad in brushed aluminum with laser-cut perforations replacing standard grills. The exterior seating area is clad in two types of granite, chosen for their hard-wearing and long-lasting properties, creating an aesthetic complementing the colorful and rigidly built architecture. During the project, WEFT also designed custom picnic tables and interior chairs, embracing the challenges of local furniture fabrication in Kuwait. The picnic tables were designed to be laser-cut from steel sheets, machine-bent, powder coated, and assembled in place with nuts and bolts, ensuring maximum precision and minimum waste.
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.
’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.