desMena & friends

desMena Design Magazine celebrates 1st anniversary


desMena team & friends gather in Dubai; image and information by desMena
Editors, authors and friends gathered in Dubai to celebrate the first anniversary of desMena – the design magazine for the Mena region.

Completing one year of design-blogging Titi Shahkouei, Reza Rashi and Stephan Luecke shared some thoughts on the fun and difficulties tracking outstanding design in mid-recession. Since May 2009 the team of Dubai-based architects has sent over 1000 emails to trace design- and architecture projects from the Mena region. The result is a collection of over 70 articles published under the desMena label that gives an insight in contemporary design and architecture designed for the Middle East and North Africa.
desMena was launched as the first online design magazine focussing on the Mena region trying to fill a void in the region’s media where press releases tend to celebrate the developer and forget about the architects and designers. The website is an attempt to start a public discussion on the region’s architecture and design.

Some projects particularly in Dubai and other emerging cities at the Gulf have been heavily criticised for their lack of architectural quality and for ignoring local, technical, environmental and social requirements and conditions. Instead of pointing fingers at the negative examples and indulging in the global bashing of the regions architecture desMena searches for the projects and designs that are worth discussing. As in any other place in this world not every project is a masterpiece and not every design is a Pritzker Prize Laureate’s brainchild. Obviously the region is not immune against the Bilbao-effect and the commercialization of celebrity architecture.

What is missing is a public discussion on architecture. Design consciousness does not grow overnight. With the fast forward development experienced in some areas of the Mena region there is a backlog demand of understanding what design and architecture can provide. Surely the lack of transparency does not necessarily help to grow this understanding. With projects being secretly developed, designed and the final plan launched often without public participation, with no open design competitions on key projects it does not really surprise that some designs face problems when confronted with their end-users. But as good as public participation might be, as desirable it might be to engage public opinion and real demand in the design process – it is also of vital importance to culturally educate people. Without understanding design and architecture including its complexity and responsibility a more democratic approach cannot be really beneficial. The necessary knowledge will have to come through various channels. Transparency is one key. Another is the public discourse. Exhibitions and publications will help people to understand design. New Media such as the weblog can engage people and is therefore an important part of a developing culture.

With a Dubai based team desMena provides information on contemporary design from within a region deeply rooted in culture and history. The magazine tries to reveal who’s behind the projects that stand out, that represent design excellence and careful consideration of location and environment. The intention is to look at the design process rather than the product. Therefore design is presented in model, sketch, plan and section as well as in progress, on site and completed. The information is shared for discussion on the first Mena design blog. Providing rather a collection of modern design than a news website the team also looks back in recent history and showcases excellent examples of contemporary work from the end of the 20th century as well as the latest regional developments.

3 comments to desMena & friends

  • Ali Zamani

    happy birthday “desmena”
    Personally desmena is one of my favorite design’s website and I do appreciate the time and effort which Stephan spends on that.great job.
    hope the best and good luck

  • Arun Bhardwaj

    all the best guys !

  • Zeinab Mansi

    Many thanksssssssssssssssssss…..for all these great informations……..

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