9 October 2018
For Saudi Design Week 2018, the British Council KSA has partnered with the annual festival and are supporting five UK-based designers to participate in activities in both Riyadh and Eastern Province. This partnership forms a part of the Culture and Sport Programme. We caught up with one of the five participating designers Ella Doranto find out more about her practice.
Please tell us about your work. What is the primary issue or challenge you’re exploring at the moment?
As a designer, if I am not busy creating new patterns and designs for my homewares brand or commercial clients, I am researching and educating myself about the circular economy and what I can do to highlight circular models to inspire the younger generations and begin to implement them in my own practice. The Great Recovery Project set up by the RSA in has lots of information that you can access and read about here.
I am currently working on a project that will complete in an exhibition next year at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) based in the North of England. From ‘Sheep to Seat & Fleece to Floor’ it’s my homage to local products, suppliers and processes, & my exhibition will shine a light on the importance of the circular economy in reducing waste and sustaining livelihoods and traditions. The exhibition will provide immersive insights into the processes a sheep fleece undergoes to create my design Water Lake into a jacquard woven fabric for furniture and furnishings. I am collaborating with chair designer Julian Mayor here in the UK to create the ‘chair’ and many regional manufacturers and makers to bring this all to life. I will be touching on this project in my talk on the 6th October.
Why are you interested in going to Saudi Arabia/ why does the Saudi design scene interest you?
I am very excited to have the opportunity to witness with my own eyes, the design-culture of Saudi Arabia. I would love to collaborate with a fellow designer in Saudi on an interior design project or on the House of Hairs that has been briefly discussed in our last meeting at the RSA with the British Council. I have extensive experience in printed and woven textiles, and it would be wonderful to collaborate cross culturally on this, particularly because of my work I am developing for The Yorkshire Sculpture Park working with the wool from the sheep that graze there.
What are you hoping to explore or discover on your trip?
The possible introductions and contacts I am looking to make in Saudi Arabia are:
Design Enterprises’ in relation to the Art and Design Museums of Saudi Arabia such as the National Museum, or an opportunity to meet with the General Cultural Authority.
My experience working under commission for Tate Enterprises for well over a fifteen year period, amongst other art institutions in the UK, has given me first class experience in this field of art and design as a commercial venture, creating products to fund the Galleries. I have designed and created many award winning product collections, you can see some of my projects here and here.
I welcome any opportunities to meet with Design Centres or Universities such as the EFFAT college of architecture and design. I was involved in the Circular Transitions (focus on fashion and textiles) and the circular economy work with the RSA. I attended a residency that focused on finding solutions for our bulky waste here in the UK & this led to the film the Survivor sofa story. I will share some of what I have learnt from this, for sustainable and timeless design in my talk.
I would be very interested to meet Interior Design practises & Architects - I have in depth knowledge of printed & woven textile techniques. My homewares company here in the UK sells my wallpapers and homewares direct to consumers, and B to B.
I would love to be commissioned or to collaborate with a fellow Saudi Designer on new patterns, looking at cross pollination of our modern cultures in the UK and Saudi Arabia.
What is your workshop going to focus on?
‘Exploring folding and making in 3D with Ella Doran using recycled materials’ This workshop will focus on the art of paper folding, participants shall learn various folding techniques and make some three-dimensional geometric forms using a variety of different paper materials, including wallpaper samples from my collections. Participants will be able to take their creations away with them in a special paper bag that they will have made during the workshop.
What do you hope to gain from the trip?
A first hand understanding of the design world and culture of Saudi Arabia. To see if there could be a market for my Homewares business in the Middle East in particular with my Textiles and wallpapers.
To establish new links for teaching sustainable, & circular design methods.
To share my my own textile practise and the entrepreneurial experience I have gained as a woman running my own design business.
To create new opportunities for new commissions and collaborations.
I am also interested to know what recycling models are in place in Saudi Arabia, particularly around textiles waste?
Why are international opportunities important for your work/practice?
To grow my understanding of design and business in the Middle East.
To grow my Brand and establish links and new business.
To inspire the new generation of Designers and Entrepreneurs to share their creative ideas and ingenuity.
To knowledge share on best design practises and creativity.