Emirati design pioneer Khalid Shafar shares how he seamlessly blends UAE culture and craftsmanship through his standout furniture pieces.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
I am an early riser. I usually wake up at 5am, start with my prayer and then head to do some sport. I will either join a very early sports class (at Barry’s) or go for a run on Kite beach and catch the sunrise. I’m a true sunrise lover! This routine changes a bit during the weekend, still waking up at the same time but I enjoy empty spaces that are always crowded during the week for reading a book and a fresh cup of coffee.
Talks us through your career.
The journey started in 2010, when I left my corporate position after eight years of progressive growth in Marketing & Communication. I went for further design study and exploration in London, UK followed by Nelson in New Zealand. After graduating from The American University in Dubai with both degrees; Business Management and Interior Design, I felt the need to continue my study and further widen my Furniture Design & Making knowledge. I launched my brand in 2010 and opened my studio in 2011 in Dubai where I am based and practicing today.
What inspired you to launch your own furniture brand?
It has always been my vision and career milestone to achieve. I always wanted to create and present to the world a reputable international Emirati design brand that defines our design aesthetics and sheds light on our culture through creative practices.
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Your pieces are inspired by the vibrancy of Dubai – tell us more.
The UAE in general and Dubai in specific were always rich sources of inspiration for me and a catalyst behind my creative practice. The cosmopolitan demography and the vibrant Emirati culture with its unique crafts accompanied by simple yet resilient materials have shaped the foundation for my practice and designs.
You’ve collaborated with key designers such as Campana Brothers, French Cabinet maker Moissonnier and more – tell us about the creative process.
Collaboration is a great playground for any designer yet it’s a very serious platform where two or more design philosophies come together in a common ground to present a creative work. You must be flexible, adaptable, and willing to accept in order to be able to collaborate. Personally, I believe the more differences among collaborators, the more extraordinary, unexpectedly creative work may be born.
Your pieces have an archival trade stamp. How do you explore old methodologies to create something new?
Emirati culture is in the deep roots of my designs whether it is obviously or subtly exposed. To repurpose materials of the past for today’s creation is a mandate for me as a designer.
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Your first collection was The Palm, which was first introduced in 2010, how has this evolved since then?
The collection was launched with three designs, LITTLE PALM stool, THE PALM coat stand, and THE PALM coffee tables. Today this collection is evolving and progressing continuously which made it the most iconic among my collections so far. The collection
grew to include FALLEN PALM bench, new side tables, new wall mirrors and an extended line of lighting including wall, floor, and table lamps.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Have a vision, focus on yourself, and most importantly be patient.
How has the UAE according to you become an important part of the design world?
The UAE has always been an incubator for many international design names and events
through the years. We have been importing internal designs for decades. Yet, today we are also exporting local Emirati design to the world through individuals and institutions.
This is The Summer Escape Issue – what are your travel plans this summer?
I have a friend’s wedding in Portugal this July that I am attending, and I anticipate that my summer plans will revolve around this occasion. There is a plan to stop by Istanbul and explore further cities in Türkiye, especially the costal part.
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