Swedish Wood challenged the Middle East’s future top designers

On December 10, the winners of the “Swedish wood meets Arabia” competition were announced. The competition was an initiative by Swedish Wood in collaboration with AUD, The American University in Dubai. The participants had to design a piece of furniture or interior detail in Swedish pine or spruce that at the same time said something about Arabian culture and design.

“We work with a long-term perspective to broaden and develop Sweden’s exports of sawn timber products to the Middle East and North Africa. The competition is a way of inspiring young designers and informing and teaching them about how our woods can be used for furniture and carpentry products”, says Jan Söderlind, International Director at Swedish Wood.

The competition ran from September to December and was aimed at architecture, art and design students. Five of 42 competing groups reached the final, where Mariah Sobh and Syeda Salwa Hassan impressed the judges with their entry “The Hybrid” – a coffee table that turns into a picture when folded up. Sobh and Hassan’s intention is to challenge limitations and create art that is more than merely an expression of aesthetics.

Their prize is a study trip to Sweden organised by Swedish Wood.

“The competition challenged the participants’ creativity, their technical expertise and their ability to present their idea and their product. Another important aim was to understand other cultures, which has enriched our students. This is something that will benefit them in their professional life”, says Annamaria Lambri, Professor of Interior Design at AUD and competition coordinator. 

Charlotte Dedye Apelgren, Communications Manager at Swedish Wood, took part in the judging and says that the project has been valuable.

“We have given the Middle East’s future designers and architects experience of working with Swedish pine and spruce that they can use in their future careers.”

The judging panel also comprised Erik Belfrage, Project Coordinator at Swedish Wood, Nabyl Chenaf, Dean of the School of Architecture, Art and Design at AUD, and Farida Kamber Al Awadhi, President of APID, the Association of Professional Interior Designers. 

Facts about Swedish exports to the Middle East and North Africa
Approximately 20% of the sawn timber products made in Sweden are exported to the Middle East and North Africa, equivalent to 3 million cubic metres of sawn timber products annually. Almost a third of the sawn timber products imported by the Middle East come from Sweden.

For further information:

Jan Söderlind, International Director

+46 (0)70-211 04 22


Press contact:
Charlotte Apelgren, Director Interior and Design

+46 (0)70-661 7881

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