Droog al Arab
Recently in Dubai, Droog presented the outcome of their first Lab project, Droog al Arab, an online platform for collaborative creation and development envisioned by Jurgen Bey and Saskia van Drimmelen.
Droog al Arab: an online hub for collaborative content creation and development has been envisioned by Jurgen Bey and Saskia van Drimmelen. On this platform, the leading designers can invite emerging designers, makers and other collaborators to contribute ideas and skills.
The platform features a time bank — a place where time contributions are collected and traded, and a library — a place for supportive material that anyone can add to. Proposals enter a catalogue that can be viewed by potential developers for realization. The platform brings together design, production and consumption, and can pop up anywhere in the world as an alternative pop up mall. Inspired by a closely knit family business model with new notions of hierarchy, this platform is about community thinking and its vast potential.
The initiative was presented in Dubai recently accompanied by a discussion panel with Renny Ramakers (Droog), Jurgen Bey (Studio Makkink & Bey), Saskia van Drimmelen (Painted), Rami Farook (traffic, LOCAL) and Agata Jaworska (Droog). Saskia van Drimmelen who is leading the project with Jurgen Bey, tells us more about the initiative.
Tell us about the project which you presented in Dubai. How does it work and what is the goal?
In Dubai we presented the outcome of the Droog al Arab project, that has been developed in the period from our first visit to Dubai in May 2009 until May 2010.
Out of many brainstorm sessions together with the invited designers, a virtual product development platform has emerged. It is both a design tool and a place where designers, producers and buyers can meet and interact. It is even possible to pay by offering your own skills and knowledge instead of money. We started out with a blank canvas, an empty virtual world. Because of this emptiness everything is possible here.
As a design tool we used photoshop collages composed from elements of all the pictures we took on our first visit to Dubai: a very open and playful way to let ideas grow. We visited the most diverse areas of the city and interviewed people living in Dubai from different layers of the population. The virtual platform has a family structure where every designer can invite people to collaborate on a certain idea, that's how the family grows.
Hopefully the concept of the platform will be working online, so designers from the Emirates and elsewhere in the world could also take part in the design process.
What sparked you and Jurgen to design this platform?
We were inspired by all the different people we met in Dubai, who together gave shape to this city. Spending a night in the open air in the desert surrounding Dubai for me has been important to realise that every element of this city arose from here and has been manmade and mandreamt, like an empty canvas. The story of Barbapappa has been a starting point for the family model and the belief that everything is possible.
Droog invited Jurgen and I for this pilot of Droog Lab in Dubai. It was never on my list of places I would like to visit and after everything that has been in the news about Dubai, it was hard to be unprejudiced. After the first impression by its amazing skylines, we were even more smitten by the different people we met on the human level and their stories and skills.
Main image: The Droog al Arab design team, led by Jurgen Bey and Saskia van Drimmelen on location, photography: Omran Al Owais
Images 1-3: Droog al Arab panel discussion moderated by Mishaal Al Gergawi, photography: Traffic, Dubai
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