Kuwait is a country that is bursting at the seams with artistic and creative talent. Shouldn’t there be a place where all those efforts are celebrated? Cue locally renowned contemporary artist Hamad Al-Saab, inceptor of a space allowing those works to be displayed for purchase and appreciation, whether they be big, small, frivolous or decorative. That space is ODA, nestled in the M2 level of Kipco tower right next to Poêle café.
It’s first important to note that ODA presents a clever play on words. An acronym for ‘objects, design and art’, the store’s name is also taken from the Turkish and Levantine term for “room”. And that is exactly what it is! Be it a large room, it’s still a room that invokes creative possibilities. When you walk into ODA, you’re greeted with a burst of color. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see vibrant accessories, knick-knacks, articles of clothing and even furniture pieces. It seems like this little store has EVERYTHING, and creator/curator Hamad Al-Saab verifies this. “I envisioned ODA to be a one stop gift shop that offers something for everybody, whether you’re looking for a gift to give to someone or a gift for yourself!” And it truly does. From sunglasses to apparel, to tables and floor cushions, the options at ODA are endless.
What’s also great about this concept is that, echoing Hamads’ ethos, the inventory at ODA arrives as an ode to support local designers. All merchandise available at the store has been created by local talents: from Hamad himself, to Samovar’s Abdulla Al Awadhi and Lulwa Al Radwan, and of course, original pieces by Abdullah Al Saab. “We want to encourage local talent and for people to buy originals made by locals. By locals, I mean anyone who is from here, even if they don’t hold the nationality. To me, if you were born in Kuwait, and you grew up in Kuwait, you’re a local. As a creative, you have something to contribute.” We noticed that pieces are also affordable, and are crafted with quality and originality in mind. Prices vary, but whatever you’re paying will always feel right based on what you’re getting.
But let’s discuss one of the store’s most entertaining qualities: the experience of browsing for a gift, and of course, the giftwrapping! At ODA, you’re guaranteed a helpful and interactive experience, where whoever is working in the store at the moment will inquire about your budget and scour the store with you, collecting a selection of items and options to create the perfect gift! No challenge is too big, or too small, and you’re guaranteed to walk out with a huge smile. Especially when carrying out the final product nestled in a gift basket and wrapped in an innovative bow and quite possibly topped with a sprig of lavender.
Though the store is seemingly small, it has a huge heart and even bigger dreams. Staged as a playground for all things design, ODA is run by the entire Al-Saab family! Hamad handles management, and the other five Al-Saab siblings play a role in inventory contribution whether it’s Abdullah stocking his merchandise, or sister Heba’s contributions by finding pieces to include in the store’s closet. “ODA is our family’s creation, and we’re extending it to the rest of Kuwait to take part in.” He says of the concept. “Each of us has a passion [in our family] because our parents always encouraged us having something to call our own that we could develop from.” And though the Al-Saab clan’s passions differ, this doesn’t keep them from joining forces to support their eldest brother [Hamad] in his.
ODA is Hamad’s first official concept, and arguably, his biggest dream thus far, achieved. “I always dreamed of having a store—this was my ‘retirement plan’ – to live on top of a store and stock it with things that I loved, and make friends with everyone who would come in.” This dream isn’t far-fetched to what he has made happen in present time. While he is far from retirement, the inception of ODA is surreal, coincidental and meant-to-be.
Hamad’s future plans for ODA are full of possibilities. “What I really want for this space is for it to expand,” he dishes. “But I want it to expand in a way that it would be two or three stories high, filled with creations and concepts by local designers!” Why is the local design aspect so important to him? “Look,” he starts off, gently pushing back his sleeves. “I always say it: in Kuwait, we have the largest number of individual creators in one country, compared to the rest of the region. And everyone is amazing, but people stay as individuals. They’ll collaborate, stay amicable, and then go back to being individuals. We need to come together more.” And what better way to come together by having local talents under one roof? “I just want to have a place where you can walk into feeling proud – proud of local design and our culture, and that we’ve done it ourselves. ODA is a small step towards that, and I really hope it will be an effective one.”
ODA is located on the M2 level of Kipco Tower in Kuwait City, and is open from Saturday-Thursday, 10am-9pm. Follow them on Instagram @oda_kuwait. Check out Hamad Al Saab’s individual works by visiting his website at www.hamadalsaab.com, and follow him on Instagram @hamad_alsaab.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser, @Yousefcam on Instagram.