Skip to main content
Design Products (MA)

Shaden Almutlaq | شادن المطلق

This ongoing body of work explores performative gender roles using the Agal, a headband worn by men in Saudi Arabia to keep their headscarf in place. As a symbolic performative object, meanings change in different communities. Wearing the Agal at a tilted angle or placing it on the floor/chair communicates different emotions, some communities dismiss it as a frivolous accessory, while in others women of certain tribes wore it as a status symbol. Navigating the maze of limited documentation and research surrounding the Agal, she was inspired by the oral history that led to a fertile playground for questioning ingrained gender associations of this artefact.

For progress updates and research outcomes, please check her Instagram page.

test test

Shaden Almutlaq is a designer based in London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 

Through her artistic practice of exploring materials and culture, she places an emphasis on the tangible aspects of design, where tactility and craftsmanship assume pivotal roles in her design and research process. As she navigates intuitively through various iterations, encompassing objects, spaces, and performances in her ongoing research project, she utilises symbolic cultural objects as vehicles to explore and question traditional narratives.

In her previous work, she found inspiration in college workshops and the prevalent issue of waste, coupled with a widespread apathy towards it. Her goal was to use fiber waste to create products that serve as catalysts for reimagining our relationship with waste, textiles, and our responsibility in shaping their lifecycles.

She is currently part of the Snap Inc. x RCA design lab, along with a select group of RCA students to explore and expand ethical and creative applications of augmented reality through Snap's new AR glasses (Spectacles).

Photo of all materials together
Photo of hose reel with silicone tubing wrapped in yarn, along with the yarn used
Masculinity by the meter
Tbar wrapped in colored yarn as heat mats used under pans
black yarn wrapped in silicone tubing to resemble agal
Traditional Agal and Shmagh
Traditional Agal and Shmagh