Riyadh's Rukun Gallery Is KSA's Newest Art And Design Destination
Rukun Gallery wants you to see how materials are manipulated and hopefully, “transform our preconceived notions of the way they behave.” Sounds ambitious? Don’t let your doubt get the best of you just yet. The gallery, a venture of KSA’s art aficionado Princess Noura Bint Saud AlSaud displays handpicked contemporary and unique creations from and by artists and designers around the world, along with pieces from the gallery’s own design studio Kun. The 26 year-old Art and Contemporary Design graduate has always a museum and gallery hopper, and it has influenced her design style and later, fed her enthusiasm for relating to different cultures and putting that to work in her pieces.
Prior to opening, Rukun participated at the Alkhozamah Art of Design exhibition to launch the gallery and display selected works from the region, and also won Third Place in the Bandar AlJbreen award. But the gallery has already had their share of hurdles. Its opening was delayed to ensure the space’s specific atmosphere: clean and spacious, but just as inviting- a statement to AlSaud’s dedication to the gallery’s identity.
Rukun focuses on “nurturing personal experiences” for its visitors, displaying pieces that have history to encourage an interactive space where creativity can be discussed. While Kun ensures it creates functional design pieces, deeply rooted in tradition. The gallery officially opened to the public earlier this summer in July at Nujood Center, a central location and easily accessible.
Social and environmental aspects of CSR are issues that AlSaud is enthusiastic about too. With both featured designs and original pieces, Rukun wishes to “find a message that the piece can deliver to take it with them to whomever decides to purchase it.” Kun studio pieces have Islamic influences integrated with contemporary design, and even a commentary on social networking- a sign that they’re in tune to the indications of today’s social behavior. They’ve let history and how it’s “been transformed to fit modern life” reflect in their “Social Majlis.”
At the same time repurposing and reclaiming is a theme as well, a concept not widely utilized in the Middle East. How do they plan to market these global trends to its unfamiliar audience? By showing people the results from reclaiming furniture, and most importantly, educating them of its advantages- not just transforming old pieces to something newer, but also reduce wastage and help the environment. With any theme they want to convey, casual subtlety is their style, although they do have plans for more exhibitions catering to specific issues.
In terms of the gallery’s visuals, Rukun worked with local branding company Bold Creative Boutique to establish their identity. The art hub and space avoided the corporate look and wanted to emphasize on culture, prompting the Arabic typography with some creative license– which the agency boutique was able to combine and convey by creating their own typeface. They’re not the only company Rukun has collaborated with.
The gallery has also partnered with transportation startup Careem Saudi in a bid to ensure accessibility for its visitors, even offering free rides on the opening day and a discount code in the works for future visitors. They will also be importing finds from around the world, including from Lebanese designer Iyad Naja.
Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.