Life Through LoofahNoor Taan
This project focuses on experimenting with natural indigenous material such as the Loofah “لوف“. With this exploration, the Loofah takes new shapes and functions which expands its uses and adds to its already sustainable applications. What if we could live out of a world of just Loofahs? How? By consuming it, building structures with it and taking care of our hygiene though it. I am looking to deliver an experience that conveys emotions for open ended interpretations of this specific Loofah material. My goal is to build a structure that will be inviting the audience to feel, creating new reactions and raising awareness through this exclusive exploration of the material that will reconnect us with our roots.
Welcome to the world of Loofah. This world enables you to experience the awakening of oneself being in touch with your inner child and senses and reconnecting you with your roots using this one natural indigenous material.
This seed is a tropical and subtropical vine from the cucumber family. Originally being a plant growing in warm climates, it is harvested when the fibers dry out. This organic product must be reaped at a youthful phase of advancement to be palatable, and requires 150 to 200 warm days to develop. Despite being natural, this product has an unexpectedly long lifetime. At its essence the Loofah is a fruit, eaten raw or cooked. It’s edible in its early stage of life, the moisture turns the plant into a velvety surface with a unique, somewhat sweet flavor when cooked.It also hides other surprises in terms of texture and shape. When dried, it is considered a sponge, hard and crisp in contrast to when wet. Its texture and shape is transformed when in contact with water. Its texture and lightness makes it easier to manipulate. It becomes heavy and dense when wet and filled with water. And when it is dry, it regains its shape and becomes hard and airy, it’s extremely light and translucent allowing light to pass through.
Holding its name from seventeenth century’s Arabic, لوف has been used as a method of cleansing and relaxation that became popular during the Victorian era, and then spread through the British Empire and Western Europe. This natural sustainable object that varies in shape, size and form is also very effective in scrubbing the dirt away from the human body. It is commonly utilized in washrooms and kitchens as well to scrub dirt from any surface. On top of being used as a washing tool and a food source, the Loofah has a symbolic use in the Hamam rituals. This ritual originally known as Turkish bath is a place of public bathing associated with the culture of the Ottoman Empire and more widely the Islamic world.
DIFFERENT USES AROUND THE WORLD
Loofahs are used in different ways in different countries around the world. In Paraguay, they are used to make furniture and build houses. In Vietnam, India and China, it is consumed as a popular vegetable. It is very abundant in Lebanon and can be bought from supermarkets, delis, and even from people on the streets. In other countries, the loofah is known to scrub the body when showering.
THE LOOFAH GIRL
I'm Noor Taan, a hybrid 25 y/o based in NYC. Fascinated by textures and found objects, I'm aspiring to lead a sustainable life while spreading awareness and sharing my design works. I've been studying the field of design for 7 years now and I recently graduated from Pratt Institute with a Masters in Industrial Design.
ART BASEL MIAMI 2019
I was given the opportunity to exhibit Loofah in a space. I was inspired to build an installation with the Rebirth concept. In my culture, Loofahs are used to exfoliate which is, in a way, experiencing a rebirth. I constructed a womb using 500 Loofah pieces representing a skin, a raw and secure space for pureness and innocence, states in which we are born before stepping foot into the outside world. I started noticing that viewers were getting extremely curious and wanted to interact with that Loofah installation. Through this first design and construction of the womb, my intention was to observe people’s first reactions to this material. It was interesting to see what it meant to the audience and how they were acting around it. The physical characteristics of it made people want to touch it automatically. Such an “experience-based” structure of the Loofah was conveying reflective, insightful and emotional meaning to the material. I thought to myself, the Loofah was used around the world for a million years so why are people so intrigued to react with it now? Is it because of the context in which it is placed, the different shape that it was given or the overall unexpected feel of seeing so many of them together? Connecting people to this material in a totally usual space definitely made them rethink and react but also the increasing awareness about this specific ecological and social object and of the importance of context in aesthetic judgments.
My final project is an exploration of what I call “Loofah Creations”, 5 products that were created based on the feedback reactions to this material. They are my final ideas of how to apply this material in industrial design products. Divided into two experiences: Full Body and Mind Soul experience one involves the overall body’s shape to bend in order to enter the pieces and enjoy the tightness; it is similar to the state you are born in and the Child Pose in yoga. The second is a visual sensory experience within the brain that translates these feelings to the body to engage in a social experience while being inside/outside. It gives you the ability to reach higher consciousness and intimate moments but also being able to share those moments and connect with other people's mind and soul.
A total of 1000 Loofahs combined together in order to build these Loofah Cocoon structures that fits between 10 to 15 people at once allowing them to touch, feel and connect with the material and each other as well as interact with the intimate piece itself. This project was built with so much love and passion especially during those hard times humanity is going through, we shall know better and start leaning towards natural materials in our daily life and consciously reunite with the planet.
Noor Taan is a multidisciplinary designer and artist with an eye for detail and a drill for quality. Currently based in New York City, she founded her own creative platform focusing on innovative socially responsible design. Inspired by her multicultural experiences, she lived in Beirut, London and Tokyo, she produces futuristic designs with a purpose. She’s passionate about combining, manipulating and repurposing eco-friendly material. Taan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Design and a Masters in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute. She tells stories with the objects she creates exploring new strategies to improve lives. To find out more about her projects, look her up online where she built a community of viewers that have the same interests and share creative content to inspire one another.