Najla El Zein


The Wind Portal installation by Najla El Zein comprises an eight-metre-high gateway made of paper windmills that were each folded by hand and attached to upright plastic tubes with custom-made 3D-printed clips. Born in Beirut in 1983 and raised in Paris, Najla graduated with a Master Degree in Interior Architecture and Product Design from Ecole Camondo in 2007. Her first project consisted in creating several scenographies for the Salon International de l’Alimentaire (SIAL) in Paris Nord Villepinte and Palais des Congrès de Paris in 2006 and 2008. During this period, in collaboration with other designers in Paris, Najla investigated other fields and mediums of creativity including experimental cinema, ceramic design, motion and sound design. In 2008, Najla moved north to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In Rotterdam, she was involved in diverse projects: from film designs, illustrations, scenographies, interior architecture, urban concepts and product design. Her work was exhibited and published at the International Architecture Biennale of Rotterdam, Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, The Why Factory. Her work focuses on mixing different mediums in order to create a multi-faceted environment for her projects. Najla is now based in Beirut and got selected by Starch to create in the boutique a ‘scenography’ installation for this coming Autumn-Winter 10/11 season.



The Wind Portal is a walk-through installation that represents a transition space from an inside to an outside area. It defines an exaggeration of a specific sensorial moment that each one of us experiences throughout our daily lives. Wind, and sound, are the elements that makes us understand our environmental context. Through The Wind Portal installation, shaped as a monumental gate of 8 meters high and composed of thousands of paper windmills that spin thanks to an integrated wind system, the aim was to make our visitors feel, hear and be aware of the action of transitioning through two spaces. Its architectural shape works as an illusion effect which, according to the angle you are positioned from, one would perceive the gate as being closed. As soon as you approach it, the gate seems to open up.



The installation blends in different technologies and materials such as hand-folded paper windmills, hand sculpted wooden joints, 3d printed clips, and a complex wind and light computerized system.
Different flows of wind are programmed resulting into different speeds, sounds and feelings. The light, which seems to play with the wind flow, gives us an impression of a breathing piece. Indeed, the gate breathes in and out, where wind is its main source of life.





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