The 6 Middle East designers you should know about
This month the UAE focuses on the upcoming design talents of the Gulf region, with Dubai Design Week. So we thought it would be an opportune time to shed light on the product designers that we feel are well-worth keeping an eye on:
Salem Al Qassimi
Salem Al-Qassimi is a graphic designer and entrepreneur born and raised in Sharjah. Going down the academic route he received degrees in Multimedia Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. It was in the US where he took up the role of a teaching assistant and instructor to help him develop his thesis on 'Arabish' (a portmanteau of Arabic and English) culture in the UAE. Professionally, Al Qassimi went on to set up the Fikra Design Studio and will be curating the UAE pavilion at the Abwab exhibition during Dubai Design Week.
The term 'up-and-coming' might be a little ill-fitting for the Dubaian designer. Having exhibited his work across the UAE, Italy and the UK, Shafar has developed a strong reputation as one-to-watch. After ditching a promising marketing career, Shafar jumped into the deepend of design, by enrolling in courses first at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, then at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in New Zealand, before opening his own studio in Dubai in 2012.
Khalid’s approach to design encompasses his personal expression of form, movement, emotion, and in particular, ‘the tale’ of objects. Among his notable international collaborations, Khalid collaborated with the Brazilian duo Campana Brothers on an installation for Abu Dhabi Art 2010. He recently collaborated with the historical French cabinetmaker Moissonnier, with the carpet industry leader Tai Ping, and with the design brand Kartell on special limited edition releases.
This interior architect and product designer, was born and raised in Beirut, and since graduating in 2003 has worked as a conceptual designer for multiple firms in Beirut, Milan, Dubai, and Doha.
For Yasmine, design is about simple, bold, and straight-forward ideas with a touch of fantasy thrown in. His works try to incorporate fresh ideas on the canvas of culture and traditional aspects, using technology and methodology, perception and spaces.
Active in the field of installations, furniture and conceptual design, his projects and designs have won awards at several regional and international competitions in Paris, Milan and New York.
He looks to renowned architects, artists and fashion designers such as Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando, Anish Kappor, Yayoi Kusama, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto for inspiration and his latest projects are focus on working on integrating the Middle Eastern spirit in his product design, collaborating with craftsmen, using traditional carving and marquetry on rough materials like wood, metals and stones, seeking to spread the marriage between tradition and trend.
Mohamed Elshahed is a Cairo-based architect, independent researcher and writer. As the Curator for the British Museum’s Modern Egypt Project, he has an important role in transmitting how the region's design culture is viewed internationally. As well as teaching architectural history at the American University in Cairo, he is also preparing his book manuscript, Revolutionary Modernism? Architecture and the Politics of Transition in Egypt, 1936-1967, which focuses on architecture and urban planning in Egypt during the period of political transition around the 1952 coup d'état.
Elshahed has a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Master in Architecture Studies from MIT, and is currently, curating Cairo Now! City Incomplete for the Iconic City exhibition during Dubai Design Week.
Tarik Al Zaharna
Founder and Director of T.ZED Architects, Al Zaharna is a graduate of The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL) in London, and has a wide range of international work experience including working with Urban A&O in New York and Bolles+Wilson in Germany.
His professional practice across Europe, North America and the Middle East allowed him to further hone his abilities to practice architecture globally and to be invited as a critic internationally. T.ZED Architects is the second architecture and design practice founded by Tarik in Dubai. His mantra is that architecture is a craft that responds to program and context. With this philosophy, attention to detail has been consistent throughout his academic and professional career.
Now based in Dubai, Tarik has a passion for developing and architectural and design language in the Middle East, nurturing the humble beginnings of what could become a new and dynamic architectural movement. His experiences have allowed him to position himself as a young pioneer in the steadily growing design and architecture scene of the Middle East. He is also a Founding Member of Design Ras Al Khor (DRAK) – a homegrown international design initiative founded by pioneering regional designers.
During his recent 'Realization of Context' talks at both Pecha Kucha and Dubai X, he visually reiterated past events to identify that the UAE is now ready for dynamic, passionate and details-oriented architects.
The founder of the Dubai-based interactive design studio (inter | act architecture), Aldour specialises on combining architecture and engineering techniques to explore the interface between technological innovations and architectural space.
Having worked professionally in both fields, Aldour studio sheds light on the possibilities of engaging people with their physical surroundings through the creation and deployment of technologically driven responsive installations.
Aldour also has special interest in experimenting with new techniques of production and prototyping including 3D printing and CNC fabrication, and their application contemporary design. Recent works include interactive installations and 3D printed productions. Works were shown at a number of international exhibitions including Istanbul Design Week 2014, Design Days Dubai 2015, and the 2015 edition of Salone del Mobile at the Superstudio in Milan.
See all of these designer exhibiting at Dubai Design Week, October 24 to 29, DubaiDesignWeek.ae