In Dubai, the Iraqi designer explores a design based on the Fata Morgana phenomenon, creating public seating that invites people to connect from a safe distance
Dubai Design Week commissioned Iraqi-born designer Hozan Zangana to create an outdoors installation for the Arab Emirate’s design district. Titled ‘Fata Morgana’, the installation was conceived by long-term collaborator, Luuk Disveld of Generous Studio, and produced in Amsterdam by Joseph Crickett of WoodCast Designs.
The name of the project was inspired by the optical effect that commonly occurs in the desert or at sea, a visual mirage appearing on the horizon and traditionally thought to be linked to witchcraft. Zangana’s design recreates this effect with shiny copper and rammed earth, using a modern equivalent of the ancient Atuba building technique and sand inspired by locally available materials. ‘For the viewer, the installation might resemble something of a Fata Morgana, with the universal human curiosity we hope to invite people to closer inspect and discover it for themselves, and come together to experience a space designed for reflection and interaction,’ says Zangana.
Based in the Netherlands, Zangana works intuitively (‘Shaping from Intuition’ also being the title of an early collection he created), his shapes are often abstract and inspired by language, tradition and rituals.
For this project, Zangana asked himself: ‘How can we (re)connect culture, history and people in a public space?’ The multi-purpose installation responds to is based on a modular system and features a circle of seven pillars, each representing an Emirate, with different elements designed for public seating. A central plinth anchors the space, and a structure that, according to Zangana, ‘highlights the cultural context of the installation. The intersections between the elements demand a blend of cultural meetings and line of sights, becoming an opportunity for conversation between strangers.’
Each pillar in the installation features a layered design, with each layer representing materials from a specific Emirate. The choice of materials and manufacturing methods and materials was based on a ‘responsible and sustainable design approach, in which the production process is a key to its visual appearance.’
The Covid-19 pandemic was on Zangana’s mind while designing the installation, which was created with social-distancing in mind. ‘Our installation provides a safe public space where people can sit down and facing each other at a safe distance,’ he observes. ‘We hope this will inspire them to start connecting with each other.’