Najla El Zein’s artworks explore the relationship between form, use, and space. El Zein’s approach is rooted in her personal observations and experiences as she stresses the importance of the expression through the creation of objects. “Designs have been a way for me to dissect and analyze every emotion, every thought, every impression, putting a form to it, test it, touch it, get closer to it. Physically making it to be experienced the way I had experienced it,” she states.
Born in Beirut in 1983, El Zein moved to Paris at the age of two where she studied at the École Camondo, receiving a BA in Product Design and a MA in Interior Architecture and Spatial Design. Upon graduation, she worked in the Netherlands before relocating to Beirut in 2011. Her first solo exhibition, Transition (2019) marked the debut of three bodies of work that acted as varied embodiments of El Zein’s personal journey: Distortion, Fragmented Pillar, and Seduction. The communicative power of these series conveys not just the complexity, but also the fundamental importance of human connection by exploring themes such as the unconscious, sensuality, femininity and desire.
To coincide with the World Cup 2022, El Zein was invited by Qatar Museum to intervene in two public spaces in Doha. “Us, Her, Him” at Flag Plaza, is a monumental setting of sculptural benches totalling over 1.000 feet in length. Reflecting on human interaction and connection, the benches illustrate various modes of interaction: acquaintance, friendship, love, introversion, confidence, familiarity, fluidity and obstruction. “Her, Him” an installation for the National Museum of Qatar Roundabout, sits in contemplation of Jean Nouvel’s Desert Rose building. Hand-carved from Lebanese limestone during two and a half years of production, the installation is an abstract reflection on human interactions, which conveys the complexity and fundamental importance of human connections. Her work has been exhibited at numerous public institutions, including recently at the Dallas Museum of Art’s exhibition Women + Design: New Works (2018-19). El Zein’s pieces have been acquired for the permanent collections of museums such as the Dallas Museum of Art, TX and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
She lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.