The aura Design Competition, in association with Saudi Design Week, has annouced the winning de- sign and the three finalists. The winning design will be produced by aura and exhibited at Saudi De- sign Week 2015.

The winning designer is Noura AlKharashi. Her design will be publicized in the next few months as the production starts with aura. The two runners up, who also caught the judges attention, are Zainab Al-Sultan and Noor AlSaggaf.

Oasis Magazine interviews aura and the judges of the competition: Dr. Wafa Al Rushaid, CEO Raffles Design Institute, Riyadh; Badeeh Abla, Creative Director NoBrand Agency; and Noura Bouzo Co- Founder and Creative Director Oasis Magazine and Saudi Design Week.

What makes aura’s design competition unique in your view??
Aura: The competition is unique because it gives an equal chance for every Saudi based designer, whether young or old, to actually see their design become a real product. We think the competition will be able to showcase the ever growing design talent in Saudi Arabia.

Badeeh: Competitions that engage the Saudi youth with design is always a plus. What makes the Aura design competition unique is first the opportunity to work with Aura by itself is a great inspiring experience. This furniture house has design and developed eye capturing furniture pieces throughout the years, in addition to their iconic line of Dallas, which is a contemporary touch on Saudi culture that we all love.

Wafa: The uniqueness of aura’s design competition comes from both the timing and location being at the beginning of an exciting new move toward design and art in the GCC.
Noura: The aura design competition comes at a pivotal time in the design scene of the region.

What’s unique about it is that it gives Saudi-based designers the opportunity to work with aura and learn first-hand how to get their designs from sketch to an actual product that can be marketed commercially.

As a judge – what do you look for in a design?
Aura: It is important that the design is unique yet practical and commercial, a real challenge! I like seeing designs, which blend Saudi’s rich heritage with modern textures and colours. Of course we will work with the winning designer, Noura Alkharashi, to fine tune her design before manufacturing, to ensure every detail is to the highest level of quality, which our customers have come to expect from aura.

Badeeh: As a judge, I look for a cultural blend whether in texture or shape of the furniture piece. The most important thing is for the designer to consider usability in the design, because the design has to be sellable. Having had a look at Aura’s col-lections is a plus.

Wafa: Innovation, practicality, functionality, creativity and finally, appearance.

Noura: The design has to be creative, innovative, and functional. It has to reflect the identity of the designer or the designer’s culture seen from their own perspective.

What do you think of the design scene in Saudi Arabia? ?
Aura: The design scene here is really developing and there is no reason to think that it will not continue and be internationally recognized as a center of creativity. We at aura, are keen to help nurture local design talent and creativity, in a way that provides the required support to take those skills to a wider marketplace.

Badeeh: The design scene is growing slowly but surely, it needs all of our continuous nurturing and support. I hope personally to see this growing in
all fields of design, architecture and interiors. It is sometimes a pity to see all these foreign architecture in town, when Saudi Arabia has the most beautiful mud style houses, which can be evolved with a contemporary twist into subtle elegant modern buildings.

Wafa: “Design is in” – to say the least.

Noura:The design scene in Saudi Arabia is still relatively in its early stages. To see a more meaningful design scene grow, we need to invest more in design education. This is thankfully happening with initiatives such as Saudi Design Week, Raffles Design Institute, and competitions such as this one where design students can be mentored properly. We’re taking steps in the right direction but we still need more design education and the right platforms to encourage and highlight it.