Meet the men leading the region’s design charge from Downtown Design
The recent advent of design talent across the Middle East has made it one of the most creative regions in the world.
With the heavy emphasis on contemporary adaptations of classic Arab design, there is a wave of young and creative designers who are starting to push boundaries. Esquire picks out the main contenders exhibiting in Dubai at this month’s Downtown Design.
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Khalid Shafar - Interior Designer
As one of the pioneers of modern UAE design, Shafar’s work has really come to define what it means to view Arab heritage through a modern aesthetic.
Having opened his design studio in 2011, the humour and obvious cultural references in his furniture design have made his style not only highly respected but instantly recognisable.
His recurring use of design inspired by the date palm has seen him have installations in both the UAE and in London, as well as collaborations with Italian design brand Kartell on especially limited edition pieces.
Ammar Al Attar - Photographer
A photographer and mixed media artist, the Ajman-based Al Attar prides himself on being completely self-taught.
Choosing to focus on his Emirati culture, Al Attar’s work attempts to document and translate aspects of Emirati ritual, material culture, and geographic orientation that are increasingly illusive in a globalised society.
His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions within the UAE and Gulf; has been recognized with an A.i.R residency and various prizes, and is held in prestigious public and private collections throughout the Middle East.
Ahmad Bazazo - Architect
Growing up as part of the post-war generation that watched Beirut boom, the war-scarred streets heavily influenced Bazazo’s work to convert dilapidated buildings into creative projects.
The Lebanese architect, recently set up “Studio A” by Ahmad Bazazo, as a multidisciplinary design practice which focuses on creating unique spaces and pieces that are inspired by that tricky east-meets-west notion.
Bazazo tries to challenge traditional design by applying modern materials and techniques and creating bespoke pieces that reject fast-paced design, by focusing instead on the spaces that they encompass.
Fadi Sarieddine - Architect
If there was any evidence that a person’s environment shapes who they are, it is in the work of Fadi Sarieddine.
The Lebanese architect lived through the war, where he witnessed a football stadium become a refugee camp, a chair used to reserve parking a spot and a tire defying its original purpose to become a road block.
Now, his personal history, coupled with knowledge of design dictates a transformative and multi-purpose aspect to many of his products, while always remaining practical.
Omar Nakkash - Interior designer
With his father, Wajih, having founded the regionally influential Nakkash Gallery, it’s fair to say that Nakkash the younger was never likely to be short of design inspiration growing up.
An art enthusiast from an early age, he would go on to study at both Parsons in New York and in Milan, before combining his skills with his father’s experience, and his sister’s (also in the field) creativity to essentially become the region’s first family of design.
Tarik Al Zaharna - Architect
Having a clear design philosophy is all part of an architect’s calling card. For Al Zaharna of T.Zed Architects, that calling card is to create spaces and products that have a focus on sustainability, local culture, ecology, and personal wellbeing.
His latest project KOA, in Dubai’s sustainable Al Barari area, is a shining example of the city’s future development.
Downtown Design, November 14 to 17, Dubai Design District, Dubai. Part of Dubai Design Week