REEMA ABU HASSAN
A M Qattan Foundation
Finding a balance between perfection and imperfection, between the analogue and the digital.
Creative self in three words
Poetic. Conceptual. Minimal.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
It was around my fifth year of architecture school when I took my first ceramics class. It was more of an experimental studio-based class, and I realized that there’s a lot of creativity that can go into architecture but also into ceramics and pottery.
Being put in that exciting space and atmosphere at the school gave me confidence that I did have a creative side. I told myself: “I do want to go more towards this than just the traditional kind of construction-based architecture. I do like the kind of conceptual, theoretical, creative side of everything.”
What recent project did give you a creative spark?
Every year in the MFA in Design department we traveled somewhere for a field study. But this year, the whole department stayed in Doha and came to Clay Encounters. The project we were working on combined ceramics and stone.
What did you like the most of this project?
I was always at the stone factory coordinating between the students and the makers of this project, which involves handmade ceramic that we made at the studio but with a more industrial manufactured object. It was very collaborative, and we discussed conceptual ideas that we typically have in Academia. It was merging together those two parts of my life.
What do you believe you can achieve in Doha professionally that you can’t anywhere else in the world?
Being a creative in Doha is very unique. There are many opportunities and a lot of growth within the design industry. People are pushing for design and more design-based work. It’s the right time to be here for a designer to engage with the evolving design team.
Any recommendation about alumna or alumnus from Doha to follow?
Reem Al-Thani is one of the most inspirational designers that I have met in Doha. We connected because we are both creatives, female entrepreneurs and we keep community at the heart of what we do. She was one of the first creatives I met at Clay Encounters back in 2018, and we held our first collaborative project together in 2019.
How Doha influence your work?
Your context always influences your design. I draw lots of things inspired by the colors of the nature or specific parts of the culture in Qatar. A part of my research is around rituals, I draw from rituals from my culture, my background but also from the context that I’m in. I believe that the environment you’re in 100% dictates what you design and how you look at the things that you are designing.
Do you think you have also an influence on the culture here?
I hope we have influenced the culture has somehow where we’ve raised awareness and revived a craft that was traditionally a part of this region and its heritage, but was slowly fading away.
And how Clay Encounters studio has an impact on Doha?
I like to think that we’ve had an impact at Clay Encounters on how we have promoted craft. You see lots of other places now starting to pop up. People are getting interested in setting up little home studios.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Clay Encounters has become a community-based space, and I wanted to set up a studio around a community of artists and designers but also people that aren’t. Thankfully the success of the studio now is because of this community-based structure. There is a friendly and positive atmosphere.
How do you define success for yourself?
It’s not just surviving or making a profit or having a successful business. I’m interested to expand the studio into the design world and field.
Can you tell us more about that?
For me, success is having more collaborative projects with other designers working on the more conceptual design-based projects. It’s starting to happen as we exhibited at Maison & Objet in Paris and at the London craft week. We have more experimental, research-based, collaborative and community-based projects at the studio.
What are you doing differently to get there?
I pushing outside of the realms of what a traditional pottery studio does and bringing in my own sensibilities within architecture design theory, research and combining those two together. Once I find a rhythm and establish a way of doing that successfully, that’s how I will consider to be successful.
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Reema Abu Hassan
Reema Abu Hassan is a Palestinian Canadian architect and designer based in Qatar. She has practiced as an architect at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in both their Dubai and Rotterdam offices. She is currently a faculty member in the MFA in design program and the Interior Design Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. She is also the founding director of the Clay Encounters Ceramics Design Studio.
Drawing from her background in architecture, digital fabrication, theory, design and ceramics, she has developed a hybridity to her work that fosters the power of interdisciplinarity. Through Clay Encounters and her role as an educator at VCU, she has positioned collaboration, participation and teaching as core components to the way in which she practices and conducts research. Her current work integrates digital tools into the analogue processes of traditional modes of making within crafts and specifically within ceramics.
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