State-of-the-Art: When Ancient Weaving Meets Digital Technology

Iwan Maktabi’s latest collection builds on craftsmanship, innovation and sustainability – wrapping all the right ingredients into one cutting-edge masterpiece.

Ten to One is the latest collaboration between Beirut’s Iwan Maktabi and Barcelona-based artist Edouard Cabay. The unique collection couples traditional Bedouin-style weaving – a method still practiced by Emirati women today – with advanced robotic capabilities for a pioneering approach to carpet design and handiwork. The rugs debuted for the first time at the 2020 Dubai Expo for MENASA, an Emirati Design Platform.

Edouard Cabay using the robotic arm to mimic the weaving pattern. Credits Moez Ashor, Nurai Gali, Manana. Courtesy from MENASA Emirati Design Platform – Expo 2020 Dubai

The collection consists of one major statement piece, Sadu over Fishnet, and 24 other limited editions. Each tapestry is hand-knotted in Nepal by Sarawagi Rugs and employs ancient weaving techniques involving a repetitive, mindful process – resembling a peaceful state of meditation. The collection is an homage to Al-Sadu, an ancient Bedouin tribe from the desert.

The repetitive movements of this rug making makes the art of automation possible. Once the carpet is knotted, a 6-axis robotic arm uses algorithm-based motions to mimic the Sadu weave. The final result is a rug that features hand-made craftsmanship with vast opportunities to scale production. 

Mapping the movement of the Sadu’ weavers' hands. Credits Moez Ashor, Nurai Gali, Manana. Courtesy from MENASA Emirati Design Platform – Expo 2020 Dubai

We are delighted to access a new way of looking at carpets and carpet design through the eyes of an artist like Edouard Cabay,” says Mohamed Maktabi, co-founder of the Lebanese rug studio. “He translates fleeting movements into well-drawn designs using cutting edge technology,” Maktabi explains.

This innovative and environmentally-conscious collection is made with ECONYL® regenerated nylon, a yarn that can be recycled, recreated and remoulded again and again. With ECONYL®, any leftover cutoffs can be transformed into brand-new materials to minimize production waste. “The focus on ECONYL® regenerated nylon reinforces our commitment to sustainability,” adds Maktabi, “which we have been championing for almost a decade.

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Final piece. Credits Moez Ashor, Nurai Gali, Manana. Courtesy from MENASA Emirati Design Platform – Expo 2020 Dubai