Host Lamp by Alya Al Eghfeli
2018. Table lamp.
Brass-plated stainless steel, resin and coffee grounds.
40 (L) x 16 (W) x 33 (H) cm.
Limited edition series of 10.
Alya Al Eghfeli believes that successful storytelling lies behind a strong design. She views design as a narrative and an opportunity to tell a story through her spaces and pieces. Currently exploring different aspects of interior and furniture design, her work is based on research and values craftsmanship, tradition and functionality. Alya aspires to add value to spaces and give back to society through design, while practicing what she is passionate about throughout the whole process.
“Their lavish hospitality had always made me uncomfortable, for I had known that as a result of it they would go hungry for days” Wilfred Thesiger 'Arabian Sands' (Longmans, Green & Co, London, 1959) In his book, Thesiger talks about his travels across the Arabian Desert and firsthand experience of the Bedouin spirit of generosity. Hospitality in this region stems back to those difficult days when human contact in the vast, desolate landscape was rare and thus cherished. Hosts would offer everything they had to guests as a sign of honor. Living in the desert has shaped the Bedouin character and instilled in them rituals around hospitality that continue to be respected and upheld today. The Emirati culture is deeply rooted within its people. It cannot be profoundly appreciated without interaction – experiencing its very essence through hospitality. One of the most prominent and widespread forms is the complex yet sophisticated etiquette of coffee. Served according to its many codes, it is the ultimate symbol of hospitality. An Emirati will never fail in offering a cup of coffee to welcome and honour their guests.
Host Lamp explores the cultural trait of hospitality as well as the art of making and serving Arabic coffee through a contemporary lighting fixture that captures the movement of the serving ritual. In an interactive journey, the fixture allows the user to control the light intensity by moving a slider in the same direction as coffee is poured, allowing them to indirectly be the host. Acts of hospitality and generosity may be small but they often have a large impact on both host and guest. One cup of coffee tells the guest that they are welcome, honoured and that the host is delighted to have them. This is what this fixture illustrates: How a single, slight movement from their side triggers a larger lighting effect, radiating warmth and illuminating a coffee resin hemisphere. This echoes the warmth that the guest experiences from an act of generosity.
The form of the lamp was derived from many live observations and documentation of the coffee ritual. Moreover, the coffee within the resin has been recycled from a traditional Emirati majlis that is full of guests every single day. The coffee residue left at the bottom of the pot has then been dried in the sun, sifted and mixed with the epoxy resin. Host is a blend of tradition and innovation, aligning it with the country’s quest for modernity yet keeping true to its values and roots. Fashioned from resin, brass-plated steel and coffee grounds, handcrafted in the UAE, it is intended to illuminate public and social spaces, bringing the intangible elements of Emirati culture into the lived world.