UAE-based designer and architect Ammar Kalo exhibited a collection of stools and flat-pack furniture at the 2018 Salone Satellite, which showcases the best of young design talent across the globe, and runs concurrently with Salone del Mobile Milano.
A large number of designers and design schools apply to Salone Satellite annually, however only a small number are accepted each year. The application process begins over the summer, while the final selections are announced later in the year, in November.
Commenting on his presence at Salone Satellite, Kalo said that the platform grants a “great opportunity for young designers to showcase their work on a large platform” and enables designers to accomplish various goals such as establishing a brand or connecting with potential clients and manufacturers.
Kalo, however, added that he hopes to see more designers from the Middle East exhibiting their works.
“Salone Satellite isn’t for everyone and participating designers have to be fully ready for it before taking on this endeavor. Having said that, it would be great having more designers from the Middle East. Usually the show is mostly packed with European , Asian, and North American designers, and increasing the exhibition’s diversity will bring forth more unique and varied design visions and points of views,” he said.
Alongside, Kalo, there were only two other independent Middle East-based designers, including Amman-based Rula Yaghmour who showcased a project called Kutleh that aims to develop a new material using discarded parts from marble and stone quarries. Students from a design school in Morocco also displayed their works this year.
Kalo exhibited a strong body of work that showcased his process of developing products which study and implement the relationship between technology and traditional craft, such as with his Stratum chair, which received the Silver A’Design award during the 2015 Milan Design Week. In 2016, the chair became part of the permanent collection of the Copper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, alongside the N-bowl.
Presented at Salone Satellite this year, was the stool version of the Stratum chair, called Strati, which uses the same elements of production and form, inspired by mid-century Modern furniture and Scandinavian design as well as Art Deco. Aesthetically, the stool encompasses an organic formal language, avoiding sharp corners and focusing on sinuous curves. Created from Baltic Birch plywood sheets, the stool offers natural textures to further accentuate the organic form of the product.
Other stools on show were the Macaron Seats, first showcased during Dubai Design Week in 2016, and created in collaboration with waste management company, Bee’ah. The stools are made using recycled materials such as wood chips and crumb rubber. The seats are created by pressing a two-part mold onto a pre-made wood frame.
Kalo also exhibited his latest collection called Leafling that is created from a system of hardwood panels that are connected together using only a friction fit metal key which allows for the creation of various types of furniture, such as end tables and stools. These ‘keys’ have tendrils that follow the wood grain direction and help in achieving a stronger joint. The end result is a piece of flat-pack furniture that is easily assembled but still in keeping with Kalo’s design process and style.
Sliced Stool is another piece of flat-pack furniture that Kalo showcased at his stand, featuring tubular legs which punch through a stained plywood seat. Its form is accentuated by a literal ‘slice’ that shows its interior and joins with the surface of the seat.
Lastly, Kalo exhibited the Multi-Tier Shelf, featuring Maple shelves that rest on vertical slanting legs without any hardware connections. Pinned to the top-most shelf with custom-made brass pins, this allows for the legs to fold down for-pack shipping. The shelves also have inset camel leather collars that hug the legs to prevent them from sliding down.
Kalo is currently the director of CAAD Labs at the American University of Sharjah as well as an assistant professor. He also runs his own practice KALO, for which he designs all his products from inception to hand-finishing.