Crafts DialogueExclusive design collections merging local and international crafts


Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi) –
an affiliate of NAMA Women
Advancement Establishment (NAMA) – Sharjah, UAE

Craft Dialogue aimed to create four limited-edition collections marrying the centuries-old Emirati crafts of Talli (intricate handwoven braids), Safeefah (palm-frond weaves), and pottery, with delicate Italian Murano glass, and fine Spanish leather in a way that each collection represents a cultural and artistic dialogue aiming to introduce these crafts in an innovative context and standards.

It was launched November 2018 in Italy, in the presence of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA, Founder and Royal Patron of Irthi, H.H Shikha Hind Majed AlQassimi and Samer Yamani creative Director.

The collaborations

Ten designers from the UAE, Italy and Spain have been working to present the first of its kinds collections to life under ‘Crafts Dialogue’ project. Matteo Silverio and Fatima Al Zaabi collaborated to create Murano-Clay collection from Italian Murano glass and Emirati clay, while Ghaya Bin Mesmar and Mermelada Estudio’s designers delicately combined Talli and Safeefah. Pepa Reverter and Abdallah Al Mulla have masterfully incorporated Emirati Safeefah and clay; and finally, Adrian Salvador Candela and Shaikha bin Dhaher combined their artistic sensibilities for a collection, which will see Spanish leather adorned with intricate Talli weaves. All Talli and Safeefah elements of the collections were contributed by the female artisans of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme, while the Murano glass was produced in Murano -Italy and the leather was produced in Valencia – Spain.

Social engagement

Crafts Dialogue represents a new milestone in Irthi’s efforts to make traditional crafts relevant to present-day products and offering Emirati artisans new avenues of expression. Through this project, local and international designers met with the Emirati women artisans who are part of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme in Dibba Al Hisn, and familiarized themselves with the center’s vocational training courses, and its leading projects and initiatives, geared towards preserving and modernizing traditional handicrafts, by incorporating them into fashion and contemporary designs and products.

The Designers