Emirati designers show off talent at exhibition

Emirati designers show off talent at exhibition

From 21st century Persian rugs, to eclectic chairs and cabinets showcased at Downtown Design exhibition.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Fri 1 Nov 2013, 2:05 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:42 PM

What do you get if you give a household object to an Emirati designer and challenge him to come up with something creative? A useful little bookstand is what.

Self-titled ‘From Hanger to Stand’, UAE-born furniture designer Khalid Shafar accepted the challenge with open arms when he was given a wire hanger by Khaleej Times’ reporter on the penultimate day of the UAE’s first Downtown Design exhibition.

“Hold on to that, you’ll never know, hopefully it’ll be worth a lot of money in a few years...probably a lot more than a few years actually,” he joked.

From 21st century Persian rugs, to eclectic chairs and cabinets, and price tags ranging from Dh5,000 to Dh80,000, the four-day exhibition, which ends today, has brought together craftsmen and designers from all over the world.

But looking around the trade hall, there was a distinct lack of local talent on show.

As the exhibition’s only UAE representative, Shafar said events like Downtown Design were key for emerging designers, particularly for Middle Eastern ones, as it was their chance to showcase their work to buyers from cities like London and Milan.

“It’s interesting to be a part of this first edition... Furniture designers here are not so common. There are very few famous designers...we’re lacking a reputation, but we are trying to build on this,” he said.

Shafar said one of the main barriers facing designers here was the lack of a ‘Product Design’ major in the country’s educational institutions, but with more exposure through exhibitions, he is hopeful a course will be established within the next few years, a “move which will help position Dubai as a design industry”, he said.

Showcasing his personally crafted pieces, Octa Dress, Octa Side and Octa Lamp, Shafar said he took inspiration from two of his favourite design movements, and came up with the art deco-cum-Bauhaus style furniture.

“I love the contrast between the two and my local interpretation to the creation was through the material choice. I used old camel leather,” he said.

With Dubai already noted as one of the ‘big cities’ like New York, London and Paris, Shafar said it was time to start exporting local talent.

“We’ve imported so many great designers to the country so now it’s our turn to export things back. We need to put our work out there and show the world our potential.”

People always want unique and new collections, he said, so collaborating with upcoming designers from the Middle East will cater to this need and “bring in the fresh blood they are looking for”.


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