Mashrabiya screens are a common element in Middle Eastern architecture and yet few people outside the design world realize how much work goes into making them. In order to unveil the extraordinary care and patience that goes into each handcrafted screen, Beirut-based Carwan, the Middle East’s first popup art gallery, commissioned mischer’traxler to design the Mashrabiya Table.
The Vienna-based design studio mischer’traxler worked with an expert woodworker from Lebanon to transform the mashrabiya screen concept into an exceptional piece of furniture.
Every step of the project is carefully laid out so that the viewer can observe how 650 pieces of oak are lathed and sculpted and then merged in an incredibly intricate lattice.
As the sideboard table progresses, it becomes “increasingly more defined, detailed and fragile,” writes mischer’traxler. It also becomes three dimensional.
Frequently used to promote natural ventilation and combat solar gain in the harsh Middle Eastern region, mashrabiya screens have evolved in the last decade especially. Abu Dhabi’s Al Bahar towers even feature computer-controlled mashrabiya screens.
But no amount of technology can outshine the slow arts. Like slow cooking and slow building, these projects require the kind of singular devotion and respect for the craft and necessary materials that is impossible to achieve in factory design or architecture.
Visit Carwan online for a peek at some other spectacular Middle Eastern designs.