KASA by Khalid Shafar
A beautiful novelty in the field of Design Art is attributable to Emirati creator Khalid Shafar, one of the leading designers of the moment in the Middle East.
With wall shelf The Trap, he invites us to a real immersion in his childhood memories. Inspired by the fish traps, which adorned the beaches of the old fishermen villages of Dubai, and whose aesthetics as well as their function fascinated him, The Trap takes up the principle of the single entry for catching fish.
The result is a mobile piece with a sensitive and poetic design where the fine toreutic cover made of steel wire echoes the massive structure of the ash shelf.
In an interview with Selina Denman for thenational.ae, Shafar said “My pieces are not traditional, classical, Emirati heritage ones. They still have those original stories but they fit in any interior space. They don’t only fit in the Emirati house; they fit in any house, in any culture. I want them to appeal to everyone. If I see that a piece will fit anywhere, for me it’s a success,”
For Shafar, it’s all about telling stories. Hence The Trap, one of the other standout pieces from the 2013 collection, which is inspired by the contraptions used by local fishermen. A sliding bookshelf is housed within a dome-shaped “trap” made of interwoven wire mesh and can only be accessed when it is pulled out through an opening in the side of the dome.
Fallen Palm is a bench inspired by the ubiquitous palm tree, with a seat made from goat’s hair that has been sourced from a local tannery. In keeping with Shafar’s seeming obsession with multi-functionality, the bench features two hidden drawers, and its wooden protrusions can be used to stack magazines. The Lazy Folds daybed and sofa is made using a pure cotton stuffing that was a standard feature in old Emirati homes, and the Flip lounge chair has a back that can be flipped around depending on whether you want to sit normally or in the traditional, cross-legged style. The collection is tied together by the repeated use of ash wood and the colour black.
The pieces were unveiled in late November, to coincide with the opening of KASA, Shafar’s new showroom in Dubai’s Ras Al Khor district. A little slice of calm in the heart of one of Dubai’s oldest industrial estates, KASA, with its stripped back concrete floors and ceilings and minimal decorative features, is cool, no-nonsense and quintessentially Shafar. It’s something of an anomaly in a neighborhood filled with grubby warehouses, dusty roads and tooting lorries, but Shafar has high hopes for his chosen location.
“I have an attachment to the area because my family’s construction business is located here so I’ve been coming here since I was a child. And my workshop is here, so for me it makes sense to produce, design and display in the same place.” Says Shafar to thenational.ae
Khalid was inspired again by an old-school cotton stuffing technique that he witnessed as a child in Bur Dubai while shopping with his mother, natural cotton upholstery, to create this multifunctional piece “The Lazy folds”. Lazy folds in fact a giant mattress that can transform into a two-seater sofa when folded seven times.
The Flip chair was conceived to foster the action of sitting cross-legged entitled – a position where the lower legs are folded towards the body, crossing each other at the ankle or calf, with both ankles on the floor, and sometimes with the feet tucked under the knees or thighs. The design is currently a prototype fabricated from ash wood and upholstered in cotton, celebrating and pushing the ubiquitous activity of sitting.
While Shafar is eager to imagine a time when Ras Al Khor is a thriving design hub, he accepts that there is still not enough design being produced in the UAE. His standing as one of the first – if not the only – professional, full-time Emirati furniture designers is testament to this.
While there is local talent to be found, a lack of educational opportunities, along with certain cultural issues, are obstacles for local furniture designers, he says.
The designer will also be present at Design Days Dubai from March 18 to 21 on the Carwan Gallery stand (Beirut). He will also be in charge of the scenography for the Tai Ping et Moissonnier stands. Finally, he will be one of the event’s four designers presented by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
Selina Denman, thenational.ae