Years of Culture



Sustainability in Doha - In conversation with multidisciplinary designer Rabab Abdulla


As part of our interview series focusing on Sustainability in Doha, Years of Culture speaks with versatile designer Rabab Abdulla on working in the field of sustainability in Qatar.
Qatari designer Rabab Abdulla stands behind her work station with materials for creating bio plastics.
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Material researcher, fashion and bio-plastic product designer Rabab Abdulla creates items inspired by the culture and heritage of her native Doha. She completed her BFA and in fashion and interior design at VCU in Doha, before undertaking her Masters in design. 

Her design involves critical thinking, innovation and solutions that spark conversations and inform narratives, through which perspectives are exchanged and shifted. 

“During my masters," Rabab explains, "I did intensive research on ADHD in fashion and how fashion can be a means to empower people with ADHD in Qatar. I explored ways to understand human behaviour, physical interaction, tactile experiences and sensations and how clothing is designed to facilitate these behaviours and help you to be comfortable in who you are and what your identity is.”

Battoulah Bioplastic is a collection of wearable and structured face coverings created from bioplastics, borrowing patterns from Qatari architecture. "The Battoulah has been worn across the Arab region and also other parts of the world - it has a very strong history,"  Rabab explains. “Many of the projects I work on stem from my personal experiences here in Qatar - observations within a neighbourhood or understanding what are the future national goals of Qatar that need design or where design could come as a means to solve the need.”

Each Battoulah has a story behind it, relating to personal experiences, reflecting on face coverings of the past, present and future; and the women behind it.  First of its kind in the world, the series is a combination of traditional making and current fabrication techniques.

“Since I’ve been working with brands, we waste a lot of primary resources and don’t repurpose them…Sustainability has become a major topic with major questions we ask of individuals but also from the designer's point of view." - Rabab Abdulla

With special thanks to VCUARTSQATAR, National Museum of Qatar, QBIC Fablab and Fabric Academy.