Shabi animation

The Challenge

Creating a graphical identity for the presence of the UAE in the Venice Biennial, the largest & most prestigious architecture biennial in the world.

A brand that could connect the contemporary identity of the Biennial with the heritage based theme of the exhibition, the traditional Emirati Sha’bi house.

Providing the identity and design for the National Pavilion of the UAE at the Venice Biennale, October 2015 - June 2016.

Overall the NPUAE is about endorsing the UAE’s contemporary art scene on an international platform and to support the nation’s diverse and developing cultural scene.

The Outcome

A very contemporary brand that connects the three main elements of graphic design, architecture and UAE heritage, in a dynamic and functional concept.

Designing a brand that could also be very well applied within the unique physical space in Venice.

The Impact

Formulating a moment of pride for the UAE on the international stage, where something that could easily be another cultural barrier instead became a timeless design marker.


the process

We began with 2 parallel phases of research:
1. Looking into the Biennale in general.
2. Finding out everything we could about Shaabi houses.

The 2015/16 UAE National Pavilion was aimed at highlighting the case of the Emirati Shaabi House (Emirati folk house). Most know the UAE for the skyscrapers and Sim City like speed of their rise, but the Shaabi house has over the years proven to be a perfect example of an architecture that is an expression of local culture and a specific lifestyle, modified by its inhabitants.

The contents of the exhibition needed to be conceptualized through a series of scales, from the larger regional scale, through the intermediate scale of the city and the neighborhood, down to the individual house. 

Spatially the pavilion was built on the idea of a grid, following the modular design of Sha’abi houses.