Installed at the entrance to the Radisson Blu Hotel in Riyhadh, the looping abstract artwork expresses the notion of infinity. Here art merges with architecture, interior design, and landscape.
Art is everywhere at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Residences, a luxury establishment in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter. When Omrania was commissioned to handle the hotel’s architectural design, it was clear that the project would incorporate numerous works by Saudi and Middle Eastern artists and artisans. Ultimately Omrania was also invited to contribute a special work of art that graces the hotel’s main entrance.
“Mashlah” is a freestanding cast bronze sculpture designed by Omrania. Suspended above a black granite plinth, the artwork is based on the mathematical and spiritual notion of infinity. The sculpture’s textured and patterned metal surface follows the form of a Möbius Strip, or endless loop.
“Mashlah” installed at the entrance of Radisson Blu Hotel, DQ, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photos © Nadia Kos.
Its specific reference point is the embroidered fabric trim of the mashslah, the traditional men’s cloak that is also known as mishlah or bisht. This flowing garment has been associated with Arabia for many centuries. As such, it was seen as an appropriate metaphor for the warm welcome that guests experience as they arrive from outside or inside the Kingdom. Metaphorically, the work signifies the timeless dignity of local culture.
Omrania Project Manager, Meshal Al-Buthie, was invited to discuss the artwork in a video interview with AlEkhbariyah, aired by the Saudi Broadcasting Authority.
The design of “Mashlah” evokes the finely worked textile details of a high-quality mashlah, but on a larger-than-life scale that complements the architecture and landscape. In this prominent sculpture, the geometrically embellished surface becomes a three-dimensional form.
Omrania’s team brought a collaborative approach to the design and production of “Mashlah.” Working through creative and technical challenges, the team developed the artwork over a series of workshops.
Design and fabrication views of “Mashlah” artwork designed by Omrania. Photos © Omrania
Using advanced 3D visualization and modeling software, the team refined the sculpture’s form. The digitally modeled form was cast in plaster, which then allowed for the creation of a hollow plaster mold. Finally, molten bronze was poured into the mold, where it hardened into the finished work. Its natural patina evokes the shimmer of golden threads. At once traditional in theme yet contemporary in expression, the work pays homage to centuries of fine craftsmanship. Above all, it underlines the continuing importance of culture.
Such a work meshes well with the building’s overall design — an example of sustainable and contextual design in harmony with its environment.