In 2019, Dubai-based Tunisian artist El Seed had first landed an opportunity and the honor of designing the Tunisian pavilion for the Expo 2020 Dubai. Fast-track to the event taking place now, with the Tunisian pavilion standing tall in all its glory, the artist has made a claim that his work was stolen by the design company, and accused them of copyright infringement.
El Seed told Lovin Dubai that in regards to the final product of the design, he had no involvement in it. However, in 2020, El Seed’s role had officially ended with the design of the Tunisian pavilion due to the original company responsible for the design, Pico, being removed completely from the project as a whole.
After their removal from the project, El Seed was offered another opportunity to continue the design with Cepex, but rejected the offer, stating “My professional integrity couldn’t allow me to do so. I started with Pico, I finish with them. They then told me, “make a proposal with them (Cepex), we will kick out Pico and you then you can work with us only”. I said no. This was the end of the conversation.”
Once the Expo began on full force this year, El Seed’s friend notified him that the design of the Tunisian pavilion seemed strikingly similar to his work. The artist states that the company mixed his original concept proposal with another artist’s work, adding that a design made by him in 2015 was also used, and his work was used throughout many places in the pavilion. El Seed’s work is known for its incorporation of Arabic calligraphy, a style referred to as calligraffiti.
Cepex responded to these accusations, stating that they endowed the design to Dix Versions, and had no involvement in the actual artistic design of the pavilion. In response to the allegations made, Dix Versions stated they simply used various sources of inspiration in order to create an “artistic parody.” Cepex however, have stated they have opened up an internal investigation into this matter to end the accusations made against them in regards to plagiarism.
El Seed has not placed any blame towards Expo, and stated that the incompetence behind this matter is not in anyway representative of Tunisia, the country he hails from.