While clay might not be the first material that comes to mind for a suite of contemporary furnishings, the ancient substance proved just the medium for Barcelona designer Pepa Reverter and Dubai architect Abdalla Almulla’s first collaboration. Unveiled during the 2019 London Design Fair, their eight-piece Sharjah Totems collection — a series of 35-to-70-centimetre-wide terracotta- and umber-toned vessels — functions as outdoor seating, tabletops and more.
Lids and bands with accents of plum and tangerine made from safeefah (woven palm fronds) transform the earthen forms into individual perches — perfect for roosting while checking email — as well as surfaces for working or dining. Alternatively, as many as four pieces can be stacked to create towering columns and, ultimately, a whole landscape of large-scale, hand-formed pottery.
The totems were made with the help of craftswomen from across the United Arab Emirates through the Crafts Dialogue project, a teaming of the Sharjah-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and Barcelona design agency Creative Dialogue. The initiative seeks not only to empower women across the Emirates, but also to preserve the country’s rich craft heritage through partnerships with contemporary Spanish and Italian designers. The result is a meaningful group effort that, by mixing cultures and adapting traditional techniques, embodies this cooperative spirit.
The Sharja Totems, by Barcelona designer Pepa Reverter and Dubai architect Abdalla Almulla, embody a collaborative spirit.