Growing up, Aljoud was constantly fascinated with her father’s photography. Born and raised in Dubai, Aljoud was always inspired every time her father showed her new photographs he took. It sparked an interest in her to appreciate all things design-related and to eventually pursue a career in design.
Aljoud was always interested in design, whether it be graphic design, shapes and colors, or 3D design figurations. She graduated with a degree in graphic design from the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, and worked as a freelance designer for a few years shortly after graduation.
One of the biggest reasons why Aljoud pursued a career as a product designer was when she joined a product design program by Tashkeel and Dubai Culture. For those unfamiliar, Tashkeel is an initiative launched in 2008 by Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum, which provides training, exhibitions, and acts as a platform for aspiring creatives in the UAE.
In 2012, Aljoud enrolled in the product design program and her life was changed forever. “I absolutely enjoyed the whole process of merging 2D and 3D together, and was fascinated by product design, so I decided to pursue this as a career.” As part of the program, she was asked to display a product during Design Days Dubai 2013, the Middle East’s leading design fair based in Downtown Dubai.
Her first design that she worked on for the Design Days Dubai 2013 was the “Unfolding Unity” stool, which is inspired by geometric patterns that have been simplified, highlighting the intertwined segments that represent infinity. The stool consists of geometric segments and straight edges, which has an arabesque view to it from the top.
Aljoud quickly realized that design is one of her passions, and decided to pursue product design full time. She took one year off to focus on branding her freelancing venture and planning its launch into the world. The first collection she produced was the Oru series, which debuted in Design Days Dubai 2015.
The Oru series is inspired by an ancient Japanese art of origami forms, and the name “Oru” originates from the Japanese word “to fold”. Aljoud was fascinated by the way objects could be completely transformed by a simple “folding”. The collection celebrates the ancient culture by giving it a simplistic and modern form. Comprised of four pieces—a chair, table lamp, decorative mirror, and cabinet—the series took off and gained international attention in Cosmopolitan Magazine Germany, Trends Magazine Portugal, Elle Magazine Thailand, Casa Vogue Brazil, and many more notable mentions.
Aljoud is inspired by her surroundings, and the constant contrast between modernity and traditional culture that has a sweeping effect across the UAE. One of her biggest inspirations is traditional UAE architecture – specifically the wooden doors in Al Ain Palace, the residence of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former UAE president. That inspired her to create the Tebr vase and tableware collection – a celebration of the historic architecture of the UAE. She wants to bring these details alive through her modern designs and in a way that can be reinterpreted to fit a contemporary lifestyle.
“We have so many stories to tell to the future generations, and I am trying to do that through my designs,” she said.
One of Aljoud’s collections that celebrates UAE history and culture is the “AlAreesh” collection. The collection is inspired by palm frond shelters and houses that were built by homeowners, called “areesh” to protect their families from the sun during the gruelling summer months. The dried palm fronds were placed as poles, and linked together by rope to provide shelter and protection from the sun and wind.
The furniture pieces explore a modern take on traditional “areesh” houses, and it includes a room divider, a coffee table, a stool, and table lamp. The collection was showcased in Dubai Design Week 2017, and has paved the way for other collections that explore more than furniture pieces.
Aljoud also creates designs for daily use, such as planners, and jewelry pieces. In celebration of the UAE National Day, and in collaboration with Samra Jewelry, she created a collection that showcases her perspective of the UAE. The collection fuses geometric designs with traditional handicrafts, showcasing a constellation of connecting lines, emphasizing the interconnected UAE today.
Towards the beginning of 2016, Aljoud officially launched her eponymous studio, Aljoud Lootah Design Studio. She decided to take a further step into pursuing product design as a career and leased a studio space in Dubai Design District. After 7 months of finalizing the space, the humble team of two moved in in September 2016. Aljoud is proud to now have three employees and two interns, forming a bigger team ready to work on new designs.
Aljoud’s biggest challenge in terms of running a studio is production and finding the right local suppliers and manufacturers, as they are limited in Dubai. She is constantly looking into international suppliers that can provide more design production options.
Aljoud has a special place in her heart for all of the designs she’s worked on and helped create—from the Oru series, to her most recent collections. “There’s always a story behind them, and there is always something about each product that makes it special,” she said.
One of her favorite designs from her most recent collection is the Takya stool, and how playful and light it is. “I feel that a lot of people around us can connect to it, and believe that it can easily adapt to a variety of settings due to its aesthetic and form,” she said.
Aljoud has faced many challenges along the way, with opening her own studio, designing collections, and persevering to make her passion a career. One of the biggest lessons that she learned throughout her creative journey is to never give up, and to never let go of the energy and desire to create, because it’s contagious.
When we asked for her advice to other aspiring designers, she said that it’s important to take time off. “It’s ok to take a break every once in a while. It’s ok to feel the pressure and decide to take a day off, without the feeling of guilt,” she said.
Her biggest advice to up-and-coming designers is to work with passion, as it will shine through your designs.
A version of this article was featured in Khaleejesque’s September 2019 issue.
Words: Ghadeer Alaradi
Images: Aljoud Lootah Design