Located at the junction of the new and old sections of the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum, where Middle East art has been featured in the past, The Wind Portal is comprised of no fewer than 5,000 handcrafted paper windmills.
Dangling from a succession of strings, the windmills stretch to a soaring height of eight meters, creating a dramatic transition between remnants of medieval London and the contemporary museum.
“Our intervention focuses on the transition between two spaces, an inside and outside space, and acts as a walk-in installation where the proximity between the installation and the visitor creates a direct interaction,” says El Zein, whose dazzling project was commissioned by the 2013 London Design Festival.
“The sensory passage is enhanced with an integrated wind system, a play between sound, light, shade and the windmills blowing through.”
“They almost sound like running water – an unintended side effect perhaps, and they are at once beautifully playful and natural,” according to the Design Week curators, who gushed about the project on a list of highlights released to the press and public.
El Zein grew up eating croissants in Paris, she says, and eventually received a Masters in Interior Architecture from the Ecole Camando in Paris.
One year after opening the Najila El Zein Design Studio in Geitawi, the designer took a position as instructor at the American University of Beirut in the Architecture and Graphic Design Department last year.
And now she is stirring up a whirlwind at one of the world’s most prestigious design festivals.