Studio visit: At work with Khalid Shafar
After circling around Dubai’s Al Aweer industrial area, we finally parked outside Emirati furniture designer, Khalid Shafar’s showroom: 45 minutes late.
The sandy coloured building with its sleek glass windows and branding, with plants and trees set outside, was very much a contrast to the dusty and peeling doors and walls of the remaining buildings in the area.
Greeting us inside, Shafar laughed off our excuse of getting lost. “It’s all part of the experience,” he said.
When asked why he had set up his office and workshop in this area, so far from other design showrooms and in the heart of Dubai’s industrial area, Khalid explained: “I like to take people by surprise. When people come to this area, their expectations go down. But then suddenly they find themselves in the middle of all these design objects.
“I think it is part of the brand- something you really need to find.”
Shafar’s showroom, KASA as well as his personal workshop and wood making space are all part of a plot owned by his family business who are in the construction business.
Shafar said that he really had to think about how he would arrange his production to fit with the rest of the company.
So firstly, we looked at KASA, a gallery-styled showroom showcasing Shafar’s latest collection Deco Haus. According to him, the interior of the showroom changes according to the collection. The current mood at KASA shows off dark walls with minimal decoration and Shafar’s curiously distict desk made up of a flat log of wood sourced from old pieces of wood from the family plot.
Other bits and pieces in the showroom have also been recycled and upcycled to resonate a chic yet industrial aesthetic which is an embodiment of Shafar’s furniture designs. These include metal pipes and lighting fixtures that have an Art Deco decorative style that Shafar also sourced from old family houses.
The soft Turkish music playing on the stereo also added to the soulful mood of the showroom, giving life to the pieces on display.
After spending some time at the showroom, Shafar led us on a sandy path that connects KASA to his workshop.
Due to the intense summer heat, we did not get to spend time at the wood workshop but visited Shafar’s personal workshop that he built, mirroring the studio style of KASA.
Inside Shafar has projects that he is currently working on for private clients and well as a desk and chair alongside pieces from his old collection with books and magazines neatly organised on shelves.
On the other side, is a small working station with materials arranged in boxes from marble slabs to textiles.
“I used to come here a lot as a child,” Shafar said, recounting his memories and attachment to the land. “That’s why when I decided to start by business- my memories here was a big part of why I picked this location.”