CKDubai_vessels

Chen Chen and Kai Williams at Design Days Dubai

When Brooklyn design duo Chen Chen and Kai Williams — known for their eccentric experimentation with materials — headed to Brazil two years ago for a residency with the gallery Coletivo Amor de Madre, they learned an important lesson the hard way: Don’t show up in a far-flung country expecting to source all your fabrication supplies at the drop of a hat. Invited to join the same gallery last month for an interactive installation at Design Days Dubai, they brought from home many of the materials they needed to make their new Moonmilk vessels (above), which they constructed live in their show booth from pigmented quick-dry cement slowly dripped onto a substrate. They also left time before the show began to scout working-class areas where, says Chen, “instead of big box stores like Home Depot, you’ll see an entire neighborhood in which one shop only sells plastic and another shop is a carpenter inside this little storefront, where you can say ‘I need pieces of wood cut to this size,’ and he’ll cut it for you.” The rest of their eight-day trip was spent making — and exploring.
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Shelter: “I have photographed some beautiful shelters that are found on building sites all around Dubai.  They are the most beautiful examples of architecture, made from just found materials. I was inspired to make one myself in my apartment — I call it my office!”

Katrin Greiling, designer and photographer

Katrin Greiling’s work as a designer has taken her to the deserts of the UAE and further east still to the jungles of Indonesia. The Munich native’s designs often have Nordic bones, but they’re made by hand in small workshops thousands of miles away. Her work as a photographer — an intended hobby that has morphed into a career — is also in high demand. But what makes the mind of this multi-disciplinary, globetrotting creative tick?
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On a recent trip to Vienna, Otten quickly noticed a difference in the local custom — Austrian women weren't afraid to wear fur in public like their retribution–fearing Dutch counterparts. After she complimented an older lady on her coat in a cafe, the woman told her a tale about just how many furs any well-to-do Viennese woman will acquire in a lifetime: one upon graduation, one at her wedding, one later in adulthood, and if she's still alive after her husband dies, a final coat as a gift to herself. The story inspired Otten to do this series. "Most of them don’t even know I've taken their picture, because as a street photographer you can’t ask everyone," she says. "Sometimes you just shoot."

Urban Daily Life by Reineke Otten

When Reineke Otten visits a new city, it feels a bit like looking at Richard Scarry’s children’s books, their pages crammed with the minutiae of daily life. As a “streetologist,” her job is to scrutinize the often mundane details of places like Paris or Dubai, photographing dozens of window shades, doorbells, and flea market stalls until she’s put together a revealing portrait of the local culture. Though most of Otten’s clients pay her for her sleuthing skills, her new website Urban Daily Life offers the rest of us a glimpse into what it's like to see the world through a magnifying glass.
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