AlUla, Saudi Arabia - Design Space AlUla exhibits recent design initiatives inspired by the materiality of AlUla at the Mediateca Santa Teresa, in the heart of Brera, the historical design district of Milan 14-21 April 2024.

The exhibition includes works from recent projects launched in the burgeoning design destination of AlUla, an ancient oasis city with ambitious masterplans across the creative industries and design sector.

The pieces on display include designs by leading artists and designers; Dr Zahrah Alghamdi, Cristian Mohaded, TAKK (Mireia Luzarraga and Alejandro Muino), and TECHNOCrafts and were featured in two new design initiatives in AlUla this year - Madrasat Addeera Editions and the AlUla Design Residency, respectively curated by Samer Yamani and Ali Ismail Karami.

The projects featured from Madrasaat Addeera Editions:

  • Al Gharameel: The Magical Pillars. Dr Zahrah Alghamdi, a Saudi Arabian artist, takes the rock pillars of Al Gharameel as the inspiration of her edition. Recreated in leather embroidered with chamomile flowers, the Magic Pillars celebrate the unique biodiversity surrounding these natural features.
  • AlWaha: A room divider by Cristian Mohaded, an artist and designer from Argentina. It celebrates the qualities of Al Khous – the craft of weaving palm fronds. The concept brings the essence of Al Khous into the realms of design and art, drawing inspiration from the undulating desert dunes and oases adorned with palm trees.
  • Duna: The Seating Dune is a piece by the Spanish duo TAKK that introduces a versatile seating system. Inspired by AlUla’s captivating desert, Duna’s form mirrors the undulations of sand without bounding the sitter to any predetermined positioning. The design features clay and naturally dyed fabrics, with colours that reflect the hues of AlUla’s mystical sunrise.
  • Alwadiya: The Living Pots by the Spanish design studio TECHNOCrafts is a self-sustaining system replicating the natural cycles of AlUla’s lush oasis. The pots are crafted using 3D-printed natural cellulose and PURE.TECH, an innovative decarbonisation material technology that absorbs CO2. They feature naturally dyed linen fabrics and biodegradable skins produced using AlUla’s own fruits and herbs.

The projects featured from AlUla Design Residency:

  • Peculiar Erosions:  A bench and series of chairs by the Paris-based artist Leo Orta. The creations blur the lines between sculpture and everyday objects. Using adobe, rebar, and straw, Orta was inspired from the mud-brick architecture of AlUla and the specific geology of the region; the forms recall basalt and sandstone erosion, created by wind and water. By combining geology, architecture, and design, Orta’s work bridges the gap between these disciplines.
  • From Debris:  A collection by Raw Materials, a design studio from western India. Inspired by historical local tools, the range consists of carved stones, lanterns, and metal pieces made from materials sourced in the oasis. The pieces reflect on the relationships between craft and labour in AlUla, reintroducing historic textures and offering a fresh perspective on their significance today.
  • Takki:  A modular platform by architectural designer Leen Ajlan from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Its surface serves as both a game board and a space for sharing, revisiting local pastimes and the tradition of gathering in recreational spaces. Ajlan aims to encourage people to rethink spaces for bonding and familiarity while also facilitating new forms of play.
  • Haus Dari:  A seating system by the French collective Hall Haus. It reinterprets traditional cushions, takayas, and diwans that are an integral part of AlUla’s social life. Hall Haus’ work provides a fresh perspective on these everyday objects, repurposing them in a way that offers a new outlook on AlUla’s collective identity.
  • Surface!: A flexible partition made of stainless steel by the Danish architecture studio Bahraini. The installation can be used as a system for interfacing different publics while acting as a screen, hoarding, or curtain. It operates as a mediator between materials, spaces, and topographies.

Nora Aldabal, Executive Director of Arts and Creative Industries at the Royal Commission for AlUla said, "The growth of our design program reflects the continued development of AlUla as a centre for design, traditional arts and innovation whilst celebrating the cultural heritage, vernacular materials and natural history of the locale. These pieces have specifically been chosen as not only do they exemplify the emerging design aesthetic in AlUla but also the continued inspiration and dialogue that our destination offers to a broad range of cultures and artistic disciplines.”

Designed by renowned architectural practice CLOUD and designer Sabine Marcelis CLOUD & Studio Sabine Marcelis, the exhibition space reflects AlUla as a nexus of culture, creativity, and storytelling. Designed around the concept of light, central cylinder recreates an ideal sun, providing illumination to the main room. The dotted pattern on the floor reinterprets a traditional motif found in the streets of AlUla Old Town, while the Haus Dari seating system at the centre of the exhibition invites visitors to enjoy moments of relaxation and conviviality.

CLOUD & Studio Sabine Marcelis said, “AlUla is a magical place on many levels. From its long history, to its most recent transformations, the city has inspired many to create and dream. Design Space AlUla in Milan is the opportunity to unveil to the public the latest design initiatives developed in the city by designers who have been collaborating over the past months with local crafts. For this exhibition, we wanted to create a stage, not only to show a selection of finished products, but also to showcase the process behind them.” 

Design Space AlUla was launched as a physical and conceptual permanent gallery in AlUla as part of this year's AlUla Arts Festival in February 2024. The space invites the global creative community to discover the inspiration, creative process, and outcomes of the latest design initiatives developed in AlUla, Saudi Arabia and is the umbrella under which design projects will be lead.   

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About Madrasat Addeera and Madrasat Addeeraa Editions

In 2018, the Royal Commission for AlUla renovated Madrasat Addeera - previously the first secondary school in AlUla - to develop artisan and traditional arts programmes for local students. The school is part of RCU’s commitment to upskill local communities and support the development of a sustainable, creative and original artisan and design industry that reflects the unique cultural and natural identity of AlUla.

A series of programmes across a range of traditional arts have been developed both locally and in partnership with leading international organisations. Programmes cover five key pillars: Vocational development; design training; public art; community masterclasses; public programmes.

Madrasat Addeera Editions is one of the many initiatives instigated by Madrasat Addeera, the first arts and design centre in AlUla which was set up as a school to protect and promote traditional crafts and to help support sustainable local economies.  The designs for Madrasat Addeera Editions are the result of the creative dialogue between the local design community in AlUla and a range of renowned Saudi and international designers and artisans.  Under the artistic direction of Samer Yamani, the designs reflect a fusion of local heritage and contemporary design, whilst demonstrating the vast potential of crafts.  The designs draw inspiration from the rich local culture and narratives of AlUla, blending traditional crafts with modern innovative techniques and sustainable materials. 

AlUla Design Residency

The exhibition also includes prototypes from the inaugural AlUla Design Residency. The Residency is a five-month programme in AlUla that brings together designers and experts on-site to work across multiple disciplines such as infrastructure development and architectural design, exploring public realm interventions and urban furniture, sustainability and local building materials. Under the curation of Ali Ismail Karimi, the five design practices engaged in the first edition of the residency are Leen Ajlan from Saudi Arabia, bahraini – danish from Bahrain and Denmark, Hall Haus from France, Studio Leo Orta from France, and Studio Raw Material from India.


  • Mediateca Santa Teresa, via della Moscova, 28, 20121 Milan
  • Press Previews: Sunday 14 April: 2pm – 5pm and Monday 15 April: 9.30am – 2pm
  • Official Opening (by invitation only): Sunday 14 April: 5pm – 8pm
  • Public Days: Monday 15 April: 2pm – 8pm.   Tues 16 – Sun 21 April: 10am – 8pm

About AlUla

Located 1,100km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years, covering the periods when the Lihyan, Dadan, and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.

The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and consists of more than 100 well-preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement. Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.

About AlUla Design Residency

The Design Residency was curated by Ali Ismail Karimi with Osione Itegboje as Assistant Curator.  The Residency provides a platform for regional and international creatives to explore and experiment in dialogue with AlUla’s unique heritage.  Pieces created for the recent exhibitions Unguessed Kinships and The Shadow Over Everything will be exhibited in Milan for the first time outside AlUla, revealing the outcomes of the 2024 program. 

About Design Space AlUla

Design Space AlUla combines a gallery, archive and workshop in a dynamic new centre for design in the region. Located in the heart of the AlJadidah Arts District, Design Space AlUla interrogates design practices from around the world through the prism of AlUla’s cultural and natural landscapes. It aims to fuel creative thought and expression through a dynamic programme of collaboration and exchange, situating the creative practices of Northwest Arabia in the international design ecosystem. A living compendium of AlUla’s design journey, from master planning to graphic design, and product design to architecture, this is a space for designers and design enthusiasts to learn, dream, investigate, collaborate, experiment, make and share.

About Sabine Marcelis

Sabine Marcelis is an artist and designer who runs her practice from the harbour of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. After graduating from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in 2011, Marcelis began working within the fields of product, installation and spatial design with a strong focus on materiality. Her work is characterised by pure forms which highlight material properties. Notable exhibitions include solo shows at the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and Vitra Design Museum. She has created Art installations for Fendi, Dior and Art d'Egypte among others and has been honoured by several global design awards including Elle Deco Designer of the Year 2023 and Wallpaper Designer of the Year 2020.

For more information please visit  @sabine_marcelis


CLOUD is a multidisciplinary practice founded by Paul Cournet and based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. CLOUD focuses on architecture, research and design, with a particular interest in the development of new materials and craftsmanship. CLOUD Team: Dominika Kopiarova, Dora Jerbic Oliveira, Edward Zammit, Mariagiulia Pistonese, Paul Cournet

For more information please visit:  @cloudotcom

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Nachwa Alolwani