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Domestic Affairs

From March 24 to May 15, 2016

Exhibit Opening

March 24, 2016 at 6:30pm


Direction: Saskia van Stein (Bureau Europa)
Curation, Editorial: Giovanni Innella and Agata Jaworska
Curatorial, Editorial contributors: Simone Muscolino and Aisha Al-Sowaidi


Featuring works by artists and designers from Doha and abroad


The Garage Gallery at Doha Fire Station – Artist in Residence


Identity: Design Displacement Group
Exhibition Design: Alberto Iacovoni
Production: Ina Hollmann
Local support: VCUarts Qatar Communications & External Relations 

Initiated by Bureau Europa and curated by Giovanni Innella and Agata Jaworska, this third edition of Domestic Affairs is in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) and the Doha Fire Station – Artist in Residence.

Domestic Affairs is a travelling exhibition, which explores the house as an interface to our social, economic and political lives. 

Featuring work by Atelier NL, Auger-Loizeau, Laura Cornet, Edit Dekyndt, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, DUS architects, Ward Goes, Ina Hollmann, Jesse Howards, International Academy of Arts Palestine (Mamon Ashreteh) & Disarming Design Team, Elisa van Joolen, Chris Kabel, Noortje de Keijzer, Heleen Klopper, Karel Martens for Maharam, Christien Meindertsma for t.e., Metahaven, MisoSoupDesign, Ahmad Nassar for Disarming Design from Palestine, Simone C. Niquille, Ruben Pater, Martina Petrelli, Katja Petterson, Pinar&Viola, Liane Polinder, Helmut Smits, Philippe Starck for Alessi, Studio Droog, Studio Swine, TD, Thomas Vailly and Stefania Vulpi.

The Doha edition includes a selection of works by VCUarts Qatar students from the Art Foundation and MFA programs, curated by the faculty of the two departments: Ryan Browning, Marco Bruno, Rachel Cohn, Nathan Ross Davis, Alberto Iacovoni, Jesse Payne and Dr. Thomas Modeen

Featuring work by Fatima Al-Kuwari, Lolwa Al-Solaiti, Al Maha Al-Thani, Maryam Al-Thani, Sheikha Al-Tani, Sara Mashhadi, Aljazi Al-Thani, Sara Al-Muftah, Asma Hasan, Rouda Al-Khoori, Kaltham Al-Kuwari, Muneera Al-Obaidan, Latifa Alkuwari, Hend Al-Kuwari, Yeon Hwang, Zeina Sleiman, Noof Al-Heidous, Imelda Jurasova, Jessica Hamman, Sara Al-Fadaaq, Fessal El-Eglah, Manar Abdulla, Dania Alqwasmi, Diego Sanchez, Habeeb Buftaim, Mark Bermejo, Mona Al-Sulaiti, Sameh Ibrahim, Yara Al-Muftah, Noof Al-Obaidli, Ameena Al-Sheeb, Maryam Al-Malki, Maryam Al Homaid, Othman Khunji, Yasmeen Suleiman, Aisha Al-Suwaidi, Barbara Charrue, Ezra Kazem and Levi Hammett.

Download the Domestic Affairs Newspaper to know more here

The opening reception of the Domestic Affairs exhibition in Doha on March 2016
The opening reception of the Domestic Affairs exhibition in Doha, ©Markus Elblaus, VCUarts Qatar

Director statement

Saskia van Stein, Director, Bureau Europa Platform for architecture and design


We live in an era of societal super-acceleration. The constant increase in the speed of change manifests itself in our everyday life, in how we work, relates socially and live.

On the one side, we find ourselves caught in a restless dream – some sort of Orwellian state of mind, where we are immersed in an endless sequence of interiors, where fear of never having enough privacy is given, and a hyper mediated ‘total experience’ lures us into escapism. On the other side, these same technological conditions and devices that are encompassing us serve the purpose of opening up a field of boundless possibilities.

Design in the 21st century is characterised by such paradoxes. Democratisation and horizontalisation of power structures change relationships between the citizen, the corporation and the government. As our demographic and monetary situation and the structure of the political and financial landscape asks for a fundamental reorientation, our society tries to reorganise itself.

Such a process has an impact on the domestic context and the way we live in it. Our homes have become the gateway to our world: they are the place where we can be reached by information, the place from which we engage in debates with local and remote interlocutors, and ultimately the place where we make our ethical and practical decisions about the way we live. These aspects ultimately impact the task, the agenda, and the sphere of the design discipline.

In the exhibition Domestic Affairs, we strive to understand the paradox of these conditions and their social, economic and political impact through the lens of the interior. The selected designers find meaning in their works beyond the mere commodity. Their practices should be understood as cultural signifiers of change: the use of local resources and cultural narratives, a notion of context that empowers communities or the establishment of parameters for open source design tools. Blurring the boundary of the interior and its relation to society, Domestic Affairs manifests these changes as they are captured through the goods and services that reach into, and extend out from, the walls of our homes.

Domestic Affairs explores the house as an interface to our social, economic, and political lives and has done so first in Cologne, Germany, and second in Shenzhen, China. This third iteration in Doha, Qatar, with contributions from local designers and design students of VCUarts Qatar furthers our shared investigation on how the house can be understood as an interface that reflects our local and global context.

Saskia van Stein, Director, Bureau Europa Platform for architecture and design in discussion with Khalifa Al-Obaidli, Director of Fire Station-Artist in Residence at the opening reception of the 'Domestic Affairs' exhibition
Saskia van Stein in discussion with HE Mrs. Yvette van Eechoud, Netherlands Ambassador in Qatar (at her left) and Khalifa Al-Obaidli, Director of Fire Station - Artist in Residence (at her right), ©Markus Elblaus, VCUarts Qatar

Your home is so smart that it knows what you want, need and like. It is so intelligent that it recommends you what you like and deliberately make the best decisions for you. Your home is so hospitable that it turned you from being a landlord to being a guest.

Curator statement

Giovanni Innella and Agata Jaworska, Institute of Relevant Studies

The house is a home to paradox

Domestic Affairs explores the house as an interface to our social, economic and political lives. Our home is not just the place where we live; it is a place where we encounter friends and strangers, where we exchange goods and services, where we engage and influence political systems, and where we participate in the global community.

The house is a home to a paradox. It houses the simultaneous desire to share private matters in the public realm and to seek privacy in public. While we install wifi-blocking technology, we invite unknown guests to rent one of our rooms for a night or two.

In our struggle to balance privacy and popularity, trust and distrust, engagement and retreat, the house becomes a filter for our societal relations, manifesting the attitude we have towards our local and global neighbours and political and economic systems. More than bricks and mortar, a financial asset, or a set of appliances and technologies, home is a state of mind.

Curator statement - Contributor in Doha

Aisha Al-Sowaidi, Curator, Fire Station Artist in Residence

When does a house turn into a home? We become familiar with surrounding objects in the house through time. When we reach a certain level of familiarity with the surroundings, our feelings towards a space shift from the unfamiliar to the familiar; therefore turning the house into a home.

Qatar is undergoing constant change. Living in this experience of transition from old to new as such a fast pace is amazingly overwhelming. The Fire Station building is one of the oldest iconic buildings in Qatar. It served as a civil defence building for over 30 years, but unlike many old buildings that got demolished, this building was repurposed to be an artist residency by Qatar Museums after the civil defence have moved into their new location.

This public building has a sense of home, a remembrance of the past. Hosting the Domestic Affairs exhibition in this location reinforces the paradox of home. When we become more familiar with public spaces, and less familiar with our own houses due to constant change, home becomes the place we are most familiar with.

Curator statement - Contributor in Doha

Simone Muscolino, Director, Art Foundation, VCUarts Qatar

I arrived in Doha in 2010 to teach Time Based Media to freshmen at VCUarts Qatar. It was my first in the Middle East and I didn’t know what to expect. During one of the first classes, in an effort to get to know my students, I asked them what kind of music they were listening to. One of the most modest and shy female students took her time and then said: “I don’t know who my favorite singer is, but I like Lady Gaga very much.”

Her answer presented surprising visual contradictions. At that moment, I suddenly understood that I was in front of the first generation completely exposed to the internet, and its globalised cultures and subcultures. With this realization I began to allow my students to guide my understanding of this articulated and fascinating culture. It has become clear during my experience here, that the world wide web and social media interactions have become relevant windows to frame the complex local domestic landscape of Qatar. Doha is an urban system in which solid local tradition and the peculiar internationality of the social environment intersect each other even while they remain separated in their own physical spaces.

We are glad to host this exhibition and to contribute with student work from the Art Foundation and the MFA programs. These two distinctive programs represent the beginning and the end of a creative journey we offer at VCUarts Qatar. Multidisciplinary in nature, both programs expose students to a wide variety of methods, tools, research strategies and forms of critical thinking. Courses aim to develop self-driven, active learners who are positioned as primary researchers, makers and thinkers. Considering the specifics of the context in which we operate, these students are privileged observers. They represent the tradition, they embody the present and propose the future. As such, they are called to produce unique translations that define the evolution of the local domestic identity.
Artwork by Simone C. Niquille at the Domestic Affairs exhibition at The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
Simone C. Niquille, 'Realface Glamouflage', 2013, ©Omer Mohammad, VCUarts Qatar
Artwork by Maryam Al-Homaid and Levi Hammett at the Domestic Affairs exhibition at The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
Maryam Al-Homaid and Levi Hammett, 'Occupation', 2015, ©Omer Mohammad, VCUarts Qatar


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Giovanni Innella studied Industrial Design at the Politecnico of Torino (Italy), Conceptual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and obtained a PhD in Design Critique from Northumbria University (UK). In his career, Giovanni exhibited at the International Design Biennale of Saint-Etienne and the Fuorisalone of Milan among other venues. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Stedelijk Museum of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands).

Currently Giovanni is based in Tokyo where he runs his own practice and occupies the position of an Assistant Professor at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

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Agata Jaworska is a designer, curator and writer based in Amsterdam.

Recent exhibitions include: In No Particular Order (Stimuleringsfonds), Sense Nonsense (Van Abbemuseum), Phenomenal (Museo Madre, Napoli), Coming Soon: Real Imaginary Futures (Bureau Europa), Dialetheia (Sandberg Design Department) and Underbelly (Sandberg Design Department).

Agata is active in design education at Sandberg Instituut, Design Academy Eindhoven, Royal College of Art (London), ArtEZ Institute of the Arts (Arnhem), Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam) and Cornell University (New York).

With Giovanni Innella she initiated Institute of Relevant Studies, a studio for curation, research and design. Permanently in a state of beta, IoRS develops new models for business and culture as a form of design and expression.

With co-founder of Droog, Renny Ramakers, Agata curated the Droog Lab series of projects Here, There, Everywhere from 2009–2012 and was co-editor of the recently published book on the series.

Agata graduated from IM Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven (2008, cum laude) with Made in Transit, a concept that was awarded Best Invention by TIME Magazine and was exhibited at MoMA (New York).

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Aisha Al-Sowaidi is a multidisciplinary designer. Her designs are an expression of a local designer towards the fast developing Qatar. Her work incorporates old experiences and behaviors with contemporary design in objects used within the house to maintain the feeling of being home. Her work also brings the modern city closer to the home through the use of materials inspired by the city. Her designs deal with memory, nostalgia, and traces of time.

Simone Muscolino


Simone Muscolino is the Director of the Art Foundation Department at VCUarts Qatar. He is a multidisciplinary designer and video maker with a research practice concerned with interaction design and time-based media. Simone’s works and installations have been exhibited at venues such as the Venice Biennale, Milano Triennale, Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Beijing Biennale of Architecture, and Doha Fire Station.

Public Programming

March 24, 2016 ― 6 to 7 PM

Panel discussion with Saskia van Stein, Director, Bureau Europa and Curators

March 24, 2016 ― 7 to 8 PM

Opening reception with Saskia van Stein, Director, Bureau Europa and Curators


Domestic Affairs: A timelapse video of the opening reception in Doha

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