Khalid Shafar’s furniture has been exhibited all over the world and it is one of few truly homegrown brands. From Dubai, this designer has high hopes for the future
As one of only a handful of professional internationally established Emirati furniture designers, Khalid Shafar is a rare talent. Whether it is his palm-frond benches or his 2013 collection comprising of pieces such as Hence The Trap, a sliding bookshelf housed within wire mesh, Shafar’s work is both homegrown in the UAE and finished with exemplary quality. As such, he manages to fuse the delicate culture of his nation with the international standards of quality design.
‘I always believe in the story of my designs and a country’s culture is also full of stories of the past, present and future so I incorporate them both into my work,’ he says. ‘Although today’s furnishing trends sometimes force designers to follow certain styles, for me my background, culture and heritage remain a very rich source of inspiration.’
Although he obtained a business management degree and a fine arts interior design degree from the American University in Dubai, designing furniture was a passion he had always harboured. He was later advised to do a full cabinet making and woodworking course and chose an institution in Nelson, New Zealand.
Although geographically far from home, Shafar says people had a very positive perception of the UAE. ‘In all the places I have lived and visited people have a good opinion of my country. We have many successful industries and local brands and we have also started to take good steps in art, design and culture, establishing many platforms here and abroad. It is now our role as creative people to communicate this further and to be ambassadors in the international market,’ he says.
It is now our role as creative people to be ambassadors in the international market
Having now represented the UAE in exhibitions in Tokyo, China, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Lebanon and across the Gulf, Shafar is very proud to have taken steps towards realising this goal. Thanks to his hard work he has also been represented in international publications such as Wallpaper*, GQ Japan and Elle and says he hopes to continue to expand his sphere of influence.
‘I want to be a reference point of design for the UAE and the region and I want my name to be among the top when it comes to design from this part of the world.’
Closer to home Shafar says the industry is still very much in its infancy but he expects it to keep growing and become more established. ‘I believe we are still at the beginning of the road but we are looking at achieving milestones towards our vision for design in the region. This year we will witness the second edition of Design Days Dubai – the only fair dedicated to design in the region and we will also see the opening of new design galleries in the region showcasing products designed and produced locally.’
Dubai is the ideal location for the expansion of the design industry as well as the other creative industries as it successfully develops its role as an international hub for people from all over the world. Tourists and business travellers come from the West and from within the region too, and the level of infrastructure means that people tend to focus on the emirate as a showcase platform to the rest of the world. In terms of design, whether it is interiors or exteriors, Dubai is an emirate with huge diversity and there’s no doubt that it will be attracting innovation for many years to come.