Experiments Lab is a local-based industrial design project that was started in 2009 by three freshly-graduated Kuwaiti architects: Dalal Alhashash, Fatma Alobaid, and Khawla Alhussaini.
The project explores the concept of having a parallel, as opposed to sequential, process of design and manufacturing, through the development of design products and customized spatial solutions. The designers take the local know how and resources as an essential part of their design approach. They build quality networks from multiple workshops in Kuwait industrial areas to produce contextual design solutions.
In addition to partnering with local craftsmen, the partners also explore the use of available modern fabrication technologies in creating their designs.
The project is developed in a 3-phases annual cycle; Experiment,1, Experiment.2, and Experiment.3, as well as a free-floating Experiment.4. Each phase follows the same design methodology while experimenting with various different functional, spatial and social aspects.
Experiment 1 reverts to the first examination of this project; the design of the handbag. The experiment explores means to mold and manipulate traditional industrial and construction materials to create an intimate-scale object such as the handbag. The experiment celebrates the structure and the materials used in making the handbag as an aesthetic element instead of merely a functional one. It avoids using “decoration” and invites the user of the bag to fully understand how the bag was made and the characteristics of its materials.
Each annual Experiment 1 collection follows a well-defined theme that is influenced by a material, a technique, or a form. Nick Remsen, wrote this about the project in an article posted on Vogue.com “Experiment One is the brainchild of three women—all architects by day—that offers visually arresting and entirely unique handbags. Our favorite detail? Scorch marks left along the edges of laser-cut hexagonal shapes in tech-grade felts—they impart a visceral, unpolished impression”.
Experiment 2 pushes the boundaries of scale set in Experiment1 and ventures into the design of prototype furniture pieces. Each annual collection of Experiment 2 offers unique locally-made furniture pieces that follow the specific theme set for the year. In extension to the design approach set in the first experiment, the 2nd experiment celebrates the structure and the materials used in making each table, chair, and lamp as an aesthetic element instead of merely a functional one while introducing new aspects such as mobility and adjustability. Each annual collection will include various pieces and that fit together as well as function independently. It aims to meet the needs of individuals seeking unique furniture pieces to create a clear aesthetic identity to their living space.
Experiment 3 introduces the social dimension to the project. Unlike the first two experiments which are developed in a relatively inward-looking approach, Experiment 3 is an extrovert process. In this experiment the public are invited to be part of the design process through design lab workshops and public installations. It aims to raise awareness on the value of localizing the design and manufacture processes and taking ownership over one’s built environment.
Experiment 4 is a free floating project that corresponds to commissions presented by clients. It builds on the spatial and functional needs set by the clients and the urban context of where the project is set.