Khalid Shafar is often considered the poster boy for Emirati design. As a pioneer, he embarked on his design journey back in 2010, after having worked in the corporate world for seven years. Despite his achievements, he remains unassuming towards the fact that he’s widely regarded as the first Emirati product designer to have pursued a career in the industry, as well as having collaborated with international brands. “Dubai is a very fast-paced city, things are constantly evolving, so it will take time for people to properly define ‘an established designer’,” he says. “Even if they call me a leader among the local designers, I’m a very young leader, and there is a lot to be learnt.”
Shafar stresses on that fact that while the populace has embraced a more modern lifestyle in terms of habitats, travelling and choice of automobiles, it doesn’t mean that their identities have been altered. “With design, we’re trying to create a balance between the past, the present and the future by integrating some elements from the heritage of the UAE – tradition and crafts – into our contemporary pieces,” he says. “We’ve a cosmopolitan market here and we need to cater to different tastes, and not impose our tradition on everyone. It could be done through crafts, but interpreted in a contemporary form, or by designing old things using new materials.”
Read the full interview in the May issue of Commercial Interior Design.