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RIYADH: Luxury London department store Harrods held its much-awaited The Harrods Hive event in Riyadh this weekend — the networking hub aimed to connect industry experts with emerging talent and was held at Bujairi Terrace, Diriyah Gate.

The event focused on the concept of “Unpacking Luxury” and panel discussions featured the likes of Shahd Al-Shehail, the founder of the ethical luxury brand Abadia, and Basma Bouzo, co-founder of Saudi Design Week and CEO of the Saudi Design Festival. Interior architect and designer Nouf Al-Moneef and fashion entrepreneur and collector Rae Joseph also took part in discussions on stage.

For their part, Bouzo and Bahraini creative director Banan Yaquby, founder of Quby Creative Consultants, talked about fusing traditional craftsmanship with contemporary technologies.

 “I think in terms of traditional arts and crafts, it stems from storytelling.” Bouzo said.

“I think it’s at the heart of everything we do, so traditional crafts in particular tell a very specific story and it’s something that’s such a rarity. I believe that the desire to use crafts to tell that story is ingrained in our DNA … so having modern technology as something that assists you to take that story even further is something really beautiful to see,” she added.  

 Yaquby said that the word craftsmanship does not necessarily mean something is made by hand. 

“It’s always crucial to stand back and explain precisely what it is, as most people associate the word ‘craft’ with something that is handcrafted. However, it is the fact that there needs to be a backstory, or perhaps it involves someone who ought to be engaging in a traditional art or method that has been inherited from their family,” Yaquby said. 

Princess AlJoharah bint Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, founder and chairwoman of Atlal Almajd, Joseph, and Al-Shehail explored the definition of luxury in their panel talk. 

“Luxury, in my opinion, is much more than what the industry or consumers may perceive it to be — price or a brand name, for example. At the Abadia brand, luxury is defined by the customer experience, the storytelling, the craftsmanship, the handiwork, the feel of wearing something special, and the sense of uniqueness that comes from knowing it is not a mass-produced item,” Al-Shehail said. 

The third and final panel saw Zainab Abu Alsamh, general manager of MBC Studios, and Al-Moneef, the director of the Noor Riyadh festival, discuss the importance of engaging Saudi talent in creative industries. 

“Our goal with Noor Riyadh was to showcase local artists and skills, but in order to do so, we also needed to go worldwide. We are pleased to report that 38 of the more than 120 artists in our third edition, were Saudi artists.” Al-Moneef stated.