Marina Mrdjen-Petrovic talks to Salman Jawed, Co-Founder of Karachi-based Colasce Studio about the importance of collaboration and how to elevate his country’s creative industry to an international level.
Understanding that today’s design challenges often require a blend of expertise and experience, Coalesce brings five young professionals to the table, including designers, architects, artists and craftsmen. Building upon Pakistan’s rich culture and local craftsmanship, Coalesce Design Studio was established in 2008 in Karachi and showcases work across the country and internationally.
We caught up with the studio’s founder Salman Jawed at this year’s Design Days Dubai, where Coalesce showcased its collaborative work under the theme of ‘Hiraeth’, which he describes as a yearning for the past that never should be forgotten. The work of the designers were all a variation on lattoo, a traditional wooden spinning top, which is a familiar childhood object in Pakistan.
Jawed explains: “We worked on each piece together since each designer has different memories and associations with the lattoo. We explored different forms, textures, colours and materials and brought them together. Using metals and reflective surfaces as part of the concept, some of the objects reflect the other lattoos around them with the forms overlapping. Most important is the arrangement and how the users interact with each form.”
This is the second year that Jawed and his team have exhibited at the fair and Dubai audiences also saw their collaborative work during the city’s Design Week last October. At that time, Jawed was the curator of the Pakistani pavilion. Naming it Daalaan, Jawad created a reinterpreted courtyard, a place where children and adults interact, capturing glimpses and moments of games in action. Through Daalaan, viewers had a chance to feel the energy that Pakistan’s games contain.
Jawed’s portfolio is diverse, ranging from residential to commercial, including retail design, interior design and architectural projects.
“We have been striving to set up a cohesive studio that looks at design from all aspects. The lines between mission and environment have blurred as times have changed and businesses have evolved allowing greater opportunities for clients to make deeper more meaningful connections with consumers,” says Jawed.
“With a team of five partners with different design backgrounds, we are able to help them achieve that. We understand that today’s design challenges need a blend of expertise and experience. Our motivation is to take design to a new level and put Pakistani design on the map.
“We have a team dedicated to each and they often overlap,” he says. “We have a collective team which enables us to work and develop brands together, working on the graphic, interior/architecture and product design as one team, which is something unique that we offer.”
Jawed explains that the retail industry is currently booming in his home country.
He says: “With the influx of so many foreign brands, the local ones have had to raise their standards of design and construction. The market has evolved at a really high pace and there is a need for local brands to compete with international ones. That has given us the opportunity to work with both. We are working on franchise food and beverage outlets as well as fine dining restaurants.”
His other projects include Collectible’s, a luxury watch showroom and Chop Chop Wok, a new noodle bar. Coalesce, which means ‘amalgamatie’, worked on all aspects of design, including graphics, interior and furniture.
Believing that a great product is one which makes a strong and lasting connection with its users, Jawed explains that his country still has some way to go in fulfilling this demand.
He says: “The product design industry in Pakistan is still at a very early stage. With the influx of so many mass-produced products from other cheaper markets, we are flooded with designs that are knock-offs of original designs. However, new designers are changing this trend. Our first exhibition at Design Days Dubai gave us a great platform and an entry to a bigger market and we got an overwhelming response. Since then we had the opportunity to exhibit at different design fairs and galleries across the globe.”
Jawed recalls his student days at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, where he met his future partners and started to work commercially on a freelance basis.
“This is where I got hands-on experience in construction details and techniques,” says Jawed. “It was also a very good learning experience for me to translate my ideas into a built form. I would usually team up with other freelancers and my first project was with Bilal Kapadia, my partner, who was also a student at that time. We designed a studio for a renowned fashion designer, which later turned into an artist commune.
“So far our designs have been very well received and the response has been overwhelming. We would like to take it to a bigger and better level and we believe that we have a lot to offer to the design community. Since Pakistan is famous for its craftsmanship, we have a strong foundation to build upon and, in the coming years, there will be more and more designers showing at Design Days Dubai from this region.”