A swift stop in London with Wallpaper* magazine by Khalid Shafar
I was at Boston International Airport waiting to board my next flight back home to Dubai when I received the email – an invitation to be part of a design exhibition in London and to participate in a panel discussion. I was wondering if I read it right – as we were just ten days away from London Design Festival and yes indeed, my sight was correct.
Although I was very excited to receive this excellent opportunity to expose my work again via another international platform, I was worried if I would be able to make it or not. I had two days only in Dubai before I flew again to a summer break with my family for two weeks. In the end, I made it and it was worth every single challenge to get there.
Middle East Revealed was the exhibition title and true to its name, the exhibition was a celebration of Middle East contemporary design – of every aspect. It was a collaborative exhibition organised and supported by both Dubai Design District (d3) and one of my favourite design and lifestyle publications Wallpaper*.
A mixture of design disciplines were on the menu for all visitors. Artists such as Nadine Kanso, Nada Debs, Lamya Gharghash, Salem Al Qassimi...
So, what would someone in London expect to see in a Middle East design exhibition? Will it be the clichéd perception of Middle East design; orientalism, ethnicity, classics, luxuries, glam and glow? I am sure those who have that view were very disappointed, as this was a contemporary design event to the fullest. A mixture of design disciplines were on the menu, for all visitors. Designers and artists such as Nadine Kanso, Nada Debs, Lamya Gharghash, Salem Al Qassimi, along with new names emerging to the design scene such as Latifa Saeed and Bashar Assaf were among some of the celebrated creatives on show.
Oh! And I forgot to include myself! Yes I was part of this true design festivity showcasing some of what I believe becoming iconic to the Khalid Shafar brand.
Curated by Wallpaper* editor-at-large Suzanne Trocme, the mix was a true representation of what the publication stands for
On display were my 'Illusion Arm & Dine' chairs along with one of my limited edition 'Talli Collection' rugs designed for Tai Ping last year. A mixture of design, art, fashion, architecture and media were on show from a carefully curated and gender-balanced designers and artists.
Curated by Wallpaper* editor-at-large Suzanne Trocme, the mix was a true representation of what the publication stands for, and also what the Dubai Design District mix of tenants will be from and what the Middle East creative community has to offer. Many of the works on show have bridged the gaps between Western and Arab identities and reflect a new contemporary perspective for design from the Middle East.
Complementing the exhibition was a panel discussion moderated by the curator addressing several key issues and areas around the growth of the design industry in the Middle East. Especially in Dubai, where the city is putting a major importance on design to support it's leadership vision of transforming it into a design hub, both in the region and as another design capital internationally. This exhibition turned out to be a milestone for spreading Middle Eastern design to the international scene and exposing many works for the first time in a key design festival. As this chapter was opened and concluded in London last month, the hope to continue the journey with other chapters to come somewhere else in the near future is in the wait for action. So, keep an eye for more updates...