Doha, Qatar: Step into a world where design transcends function and becomes art at the “Masterpieces of Furniture Design” exhibition open until December 9 at the M7 Building in Msheireb Downtown Doha.

This exhibition, a collaboration between M7 and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, is the first of its kind in Qatar and the entire Middle East.

Featuring a collection of over 50 iconic objects, this exhibit takes you through the history of modern furniture over the past 200 years. Each piece showcases the evolution of design principles, shedding light on the intricate relationship between art and functionality.

The exhibit is thoughtfully curated into seven thematic principles that define excellence in design. From “Innovating Crafts and Technologies” to “Designing Sustainability” and “Learning from Nature,” these principles illuminate the multifaceted nature of design’s influence on our daily lives. Others include: “Comfort Zones,” “The Social Question,” “Less is More,” and “Dialogues between Art and Design.”

The exhibition features more than 50 iconic objects from Vitra Design Museum’s collection.

M7 Director, Maha Ghanim Al Sulaiti told The Peninsula: “It’s part of our mandate to focus on design in general, we started with fashion, but we’re very excited to introduce furniture design and I think we’re also wanting to encourage our designers to focus on interior design and furniture design disciplines.

“Vitra Design Museum is a great partner, they have the biggest collection design in the world, and I think the public will really be receptive to it because they are gonna see iconic pieces that they recognised but maybe don’t know the history behind it and this gives them a new perspective and to really understand the design principles and evolution.”

Vitra Design Museum Director and Curator of the exhibition, Dr. Mateo Kries, emphasised the broader significance of design, he explained that design is not just about practicality; it’s about creating connections between us and objects, about beauty in everyday life.

“There is a practical function of design, design can make our lives more comfortable, more beautiful, but there’s also other functions of design. For example, design can also make a statement, it can create a relation between us and an object, and I think if we’re thinking of our own environment, we all have objects that we like, that we love, and often it’s not because of the practicality, it’s because we like the form, we like the beauty maybe, and so I think it’s also an exhibition about beauty in the everyday life,” Dr. Kries told The Peninsula.

"Masterpieces of Furniture Design" showcases the work of influential designers such as Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Zaha Hadid, and Virgil Abloh. It delves into various styles, from Art Nouveau and Bauhaus to Postmodernism, offering a glimpse into the impact of the digital era on furniture. Original pieces on display include the iconic Panton Chair, Eileen Gray's E 1027 Side Table, and the Mesa table designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrick Schumacher.

Meanwhile, presenting sponsor Al Mana Maples will host two satellite exhibitions later this year at Doha Design District: "The Miniatures Exhibition," featuring 100 1:6 miniature replicas of classical seats, and "The Original Comes from Vitra," a global project showcasing Vitra's bestselling products.

M7 complements the main exhibition with a pop-up titled "Crafting Spaces," which showcases ten bespoke pieces of furniture created by seven talented Qatar-based designers. These pieces blend function and aesthetics with rich narratives inspired by heritage, culture, and geography.

Moreover, the exhibition comes alive with a vibrant schedule of public programmes for both adults and children, running from September until December. Highlights include a curatorial talk with Dr. Mateo Kries, interactive workshops on home styling and spotting original designs, discussions with local furniture designers, and a nostalgia-inducing networking event, "Memphis Design Back to the 80s." Younger visitors can participate in engaging arts and crafts workshops, such as "Vitra Playhouse" and "100% Cardboard."

M7's annual Zwara programme will also run alongside "Masterpieces of Furniture Design." This initiative encourages designers to create prototype furniture pieces inspired by the exhibition. The programme includes tours, design and production periods, a week-long residency, and skills development, culminating in a pop-up exhibition at M7 to showcase the finished designs.

Residents and students in the country can access the “Masterpieces of Furniture Design” exhibition free of charge; on the other hand, non-citizens and non-resident students are subject to a fee of QR25 and QR13, respectively, for entry. To book a ticket, visit the Qatar Museums’ website.

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