Cloud and Sabine Marcelis create lounge that "gives you a feeling of what AlUla is like"


Dutch architecture studio Cloud and designer Sabine Marcelis have created scenography for a lounge promoting the design and culture of AlUla, Saudi Arabia, during Milan design week.

Located within a library in Milan’s Brera neighbourhood, the lounge’s main space has a massive seating area with a table at its centre created by French design studio Hall Haus. The studio also created ambient sounds that play constantly from speakers that were covered in fabric to blend into the earthy hues of the space.

Alula milanAlula milan
Cloud and designer Sabine Marcelis have created the scenography for the AlUla design space in Milan

Marcelis and life partner Paul Cournet, who runs architecture studio Cloud, topped the space with a massive overhead cylinder with a soft light that occasionally changes colour.

The form of the light was chosen to mimic those found in AlUla, which face downward to limit light pollution in the area, according to Marcelis.

Metal screen with couchMetal screen with couch
It includes furniture made in residency at AlUla

Alongside the sofa are a series of sculptural chairs by French designer Leo Orta and lamps by India-based Studio Raw Material, all of which were created during a design residency held at AlUla.

“We’ve tried to transform this space into something that does justice to the [residency] projects but also gives you a feeling of what AlUla is like,” Marcelis told Dezeen.

“What’s nice for the designers in residency was that they got into the local culture.”

Also included in the space was a massive steel screen created by Bahraini design studio Bahraini Danish. Outside, in the entry courtyard, Saudi Arabian designer Leen Ajlan created a series of wooden platforms with benches, based on the set-up of Saudi folk games.

At the back of the space was a selection of collectible design pieces, curated by Samer Yamani. Each piece utilised materials taken directly from AlUla, such as a couch dyed with local pigments and a lamp created with stacked and embroidered water pouches designed by Zahrah Alghamdi.

Collectible design from AlUlaCollectible design from AlUla
Samer Yamani curated a selection of pieces made with local materials from AlUla

Also in the curatorial section were planters made of 3D-printed bioplastics created with materials from fruit husks and designed by TechnoCrafts.

In the surrounding rooms leading off from the main lounge, tables with the raw materials used to created the pieces were displayed to shown as were infographics relating the material with the history of AlUla.

AlUla is a city in the Medina Province of Saudi Arabia, which is located near a series of rock dwellings and tombs that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Earlier this year the Design Space AlUla gallery opened in the city with an opening exhibition that presented 10 recent projects from the region.

Also under development in AlUla are a cave hotel by French architect Jean Nouvel and a Bedouin-inspired tent resort by French architecture studio AW2.

The photography is courtesy of Design Space AlUla 2024.

Design Space AlUla is open from 15 to 21 April at Mediateca Santa Teresa during Milan design week. See our Milan design week 2024 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.





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