It was an extraordinary sight, seeing people line up to get into a handmade rug exhibition at Domotex. This was indeed the case during the strictly guestlist-only opening of ‘The 4 Seasons by Lila Valadan’, with the organisers having to turn visitors away at the door. Valadan’s show went much further than an elaborate stand design or breakout installation—it was a conceptual exhibition that would not have looked out of place in a museum. Read the full exhibition review in COVER 58—out now!
The first room was dedicated to minimalism, both in rug design and as a manifestation of Sufi beliefs and traditions. One then moved on to geometry, which in ancient Persia was harnessed to measure the proportions of the heavenly sphere to achieve balance and harmony on earth. In Persian mythology, the garden symbolises paradise, and the next room of the exhibition was built up around a traditional water feature and flanked by cypress trees. It was the site of the Floral collection of rugs, referencing a mystical garden with traditional and contemporary elements. The fourth and final ‘season’ represented the undiscovered, invisible and unknown. In semidarkness and among projections of horsemen from Persian manuscript illumination, Valadan’s Untitled weavings epitomised the dichotomy between chaos and structure.
Words do not do justice to Valadan’s exhibition, which was designed with all the senses in mind and was truly something out of the ordinary. ‘The response was amazing. We estimate that we had over 1,000 visitors and we got so much positive feedback,’ says Shayan Naziri of Lila Valadan. ‘But we were mostly happy about the intensity of people’s reactions. The exhibition really touched people emotionally and we had many people in tears.’ There is also no denying that the endeavour was hugely successful from a branding standpoint. ‘I think the exhibition was a great example of how experience and commerce can go hand in hand,’ says Naziri. ‘And how we can increase commerce through creating unique experiences.’ From listening to their fellow Domotex exhibitors, it is clear that the exhibition has made other companies want to sit down and rethink their displays. Will we see a host of mini exhibitions at Domotex 2021? Lila Valadan’s ‘The 4 Seasons’ will be difficult to trump.