For millennia, much of the Arabian Peninsula’s social and cultural memories have been formed by the psycho-temporal landscape of poetry. In the case of Memoir, an immersive wedding experience ignited by the love of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for his wife.
Setting the Scene
As with all Designlab Experience projects, the root begins with conversations that form the mood and style evolving into a narrative driven foundation that is able to hold as well as respond to these intimate conversations, taking them to another dimension of design-led memory making.
The team which includes architects, designers, strategists, engineers, fabricators and artists, approached the celebration of this important life transition as an ode to the shared memories of the bride and her late grandfather as well as memories and adventures throughout early life leading to this special moment.
In collaboration with a number of international and local artists, the memories were transposed as scenes or acts with the bride as the central character moving along a golden pathway. Following the tradition of legendary tales and paintings, this resulted in a theatrical triptych composition of space and cinematic moments. Alongside longtime collaborator Stefan Lubrino, the scenography of the three spaces - a grand entrance, a domed dining area and a nostalgic majlis - were ‘activated’ by the movement of the bride across the golden spine anchoring the guest’s journey and offering an ethereal, dreamy sensation.
ACT I: Grand Entrance
The Memoir entrance is a portal through which guests are instantly transported to a transept-like hall as they step in to be met with the sounds of a live grand piano. An original score by award-winning composer Jean Marie Riachi, rearranges Moonlight Sonata, a tribute to the first piano piece learned in the bride’s childhood. This fantastical hall is submerged with an all-immersive Azuma Makoto floral masterpiece sculpted with twenty eight types of red and yellow botanicals, the largest arrangement reaching seven meters high.
Far ahead, a full moon appears to rise above a domed marquee which holds the wedding cake. Around the marquee, the bride’s parade cuts through a symmetrical composition of a twenty-eight ensemble of violinists seemingly floating above platforms of water. This dreamy view is enhanced with ceiling high mirrors, reflecting the water below and creating a sense of infinity; a metaphor for everlasting love and serenity.
This pathway of this grand entrance hall crosses over a perpendicular and longer path leading guests to two following wings;
ACT II: The Eternal Feast
Concealed to the left of the grand entrance is the dining space with a colossal custom fabricated wooden dome cut in perfect half, each hovering above a regal assembly of semi-circular tables facing one another. The half-parted dome beams light through circular and square-like oculuses, an architectural feature historically popular in ecclesiastical spaces; built to accommodate the sense of community, faith and gathering. The dome echoes the bride’s memories of stargazing from underneath a glass dome as a young girl. The sensation of wonder, hope and ambition were heightened here in the form of a screen installation depicting a waterfall that seems to descend from the dome’s edges.
Creative contributions to this space include a tableware set by Hind Al Qassimi who appropriated some lines from HH Sheikh Zayed’s poems to the napkins and tableware.
غيركم يا زين انا من لي
منتقنك م الغزر دآنة
The intimate lines relay a message of devotion, loyalty and love that are transposed to the culinary experience, enriching the dinner and inspiring memories of the precious pearl, a symbol of unique wealth and heritage.
ACT III: Nostalgic Majlis
The Majlis or ‘seating room’ is an essential part of any Arab home, serving as a space for relaxation, hosting and exchange of information.
Memoir’s Majlis, similar to the dining hall, was designed to reflect symmetry. The space contained two performance stages to the left and right of a central kosha, the bride’s seat, both dedicated to headliner artists. The decor and architectural motifs in this space are drawn from an image taken of the bride as a young child as she sits on a sofa with her groom to be. Minimalist decor is custom to traditional seating spaces, in this experience cinematic elements such as screens depicting moving sand, and choreographed lighting design crafted by the fashion lighting expert Ignace D’Haese, maintained the integrity and roots of desert culture and life. The lighting incorporated not only a seminar of chandeliers which descended upon the bride’s procession towards her kosha, but also backlit mashrabiyas (traditional wooden carved window conceleares) which emanated a sunrise as the bride’s procession proceeded.
Cinematic elements such as screens depicting moving sand, and choreographed lighting design maintained the integrity and roots of desert culture and life.
Equestrian themed sculptural relief panels, which sat around the main stages, were created by the Recycle Group. The pieces weaved in poetic verses from HH Sheikh Zayed’s describing his wife’s beauty, strength and elevated love.
مشغوب منك ومشغلني
يالسولعي يا أريش العين
ما حد انا غيرك فتني
في الخود يا سيد المزايين …
حبكم وسط الحشا سادي
لو جبل ما اتحمله كله …
Galloping horses along with the verses on these soft glazed relief panels gave the illusion of movement across the background of the stages to celebrate the traditional notion that a blessed marriage is one carried through a lineage of loyalty, strength, beauty and tenderness across generations.
Ice sculptures containing floral arrangements by Azuma Makoto were arranged on each side of the reflective catwalk.