Dubai:  A self-described observer, Talin Hazbar is driven by a passion and curiosity for architecture and design. We talk to the Dubai-based designer and alumni of the Tashkeel Design Programme about drawing inspiration from natural landscapes and designing her stunning marble and stone modular light installation, LITHIC, which is informed by local folklore.


Tell us a little bit about your background – how did you originally get into design, what did you study, etc?

I have received a BA in architecture from the American University of Sharjah. My work revolves around questioning structures and materials. I am keen on experimenting with materials to test their behaviors, challenge their properties and recall built structures. I chose “solidifying sand” as the basis of my thesis. Then I decided to use sand as a medium for my work and explorations in the quest of discovering sand’s potential at constructing architecture.

How would you describe your work and what influences your style?

I introduce other elements and materials through my voyage of understanding structures. My works draw inspiration from natural landscapes. These landscapes are associated with power, infinity, urban expansion, sense of belonging and vastness.

Time becomes a tangible element in my structures, as the main aspect of the created structures usually is freezing a moment in time. The structures place the viewer as an observer yet as an appreciator of the space formation.


What was your project for the Tashkeel Design Programme and why?

“LITHIC” is made of a modular lighting unit where you can create your own formation and story. It works as a story telling structure. The units can be adjusted based on what you like to carry from the story and you can build your own also.

Lithic is inspired by the mountains, specifically the mountains of Khor fakkan. The piece stems from a folk tale that originates from villages around the mountain chains between Khor Fakan and Fujairah.

The folk tale is called “kahf al daba” or “The creature’s cave”. It is about a mythical creature that occupies a cave in one of the mountains and keeps the villagers away. According to the tale, the creature takes different forms or is a hybrid of a few animals. For example, bird-like wings with a dog’s features, or a wolf or other creatures. Nothing is solid on that front. Nobody was able to find out. According to the tale, the creature used to sit on the top of the mountain and throw stones at whoever tried to come close to the cave. The villagers tried so hard to get inside that cave but their attempts always failed. However, like most folk tales, the villagers once managed to overcome the creature and the story of the cave creature became a tale that generations heard over and over.

I have decided to translate the “kahf al daba” folktale into a modular system light installation. The choice of light as a function and the stone as a material came to highlight some aspects from the folk tale, such as the creature’s effect on the location (the interior of the cave and the exterior; the villagers’ curiosity and the beauty of the caves as organic spaces hidden within rigid landscapes).

I tried to relate to it as an individual by keeping in mind the viewer as part of the narrative. After all, it’s part of our culture to make sure that the story circulates and passes on to others, even though the story might have a different interpretation from each individual. It’s as the Lithic piece concept, where you own the piece and start relate to it differently – it’s a unit that will have different set ups for each individual.


What does a typical day at work involve for you? Are you home or studio based?

I work as a full time architect and I work on my research on sand and landscapes, through installations, sculpture. These two fields do relate to each other and enrich each other, so I try to bridge between these two practices.

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to creating and expanding my body of work in order to widen my understanding of structures and materials. Materials, manufacturers and crafts are very important for us to move forward as designers and I’m curious to see on what I will be working on next. I always try to question what we have around us and try to challenge the material’s behavior.

Which other local designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

Everything around me inspires me to work and just keep designing. I am interested in projects and research that are undertaken with passion and focus on process and experiments, be it from a well-known designer or a young one.




All photographs by Ekta Saran (Wild Beast Media)