What was a pre-1970s household within the Emirates like?
Federal unification of the seven Emirates took place in 1971, shortly following a termination of the Trucial States alliance and an end of a British protectorate over the region. This does not indicate, however, that the history of the Emirates began a mere 42 years ago. The individual states have been interacting with one another, as well as surrounding areas like Iran, India and Zanzibar long before national unification, and an exchange of products, materials and aspects of culture was continuously taking place.
Objects: Designed, Used, Studied is an investigation of domestic objects that found their way into Emirati homes prior to 1971. Some were locally made, using home-grown materials; others were imported. Some were fabricated in large quantities for mass distribution; others were custom-designed and hand-made for individual clients.
Questions that will guide this exploration will address what raw materials were available for local manufacturers to work with, what fabrication techniques they used, and what design decisions they made while working on particular objects. The investigation will also attempt to trace a trade network that the Emirates had during the 1950s and 60s, and inquire into the design and manufacture processes that went into some of the imported items.
There are personal stories that live alongside many of the surviving objects from decades preceding the 1970s. With little formal documentation of domestic goods during this period, oral accounts and personal anecdotes may prove to be the most informative in an attempt to construct a larger narrative of the times. Meeting people who remember those decades and hold some of those objects in their personal possession will become imperative to the development of my research.
The outcomes of this exploration will then serve as a resource to help identify which of those objects and/or fabrication methods are still relevant in today’s community within the Emirates, and how they can be re-appropriated in new and befitting ways.