founder & product designer, KHALID SHAFAR

the best way to predict about a culture is to create it

Love And Lobby visited Khalid Shafar in the heart of the Industrial Dubai, where few tourists ventures, but where the future of the Emirates is very often incubating. His creative space shares the same roof with the family business space, focused on production and construction. This proximity allows him to prototype, change and to improve over a product design idea at fortunate speed. While in the production space smelled of freshly cut wood, in his creative premises the sophisticated perfume of amber and fine leather filled in the air, setting the ground for a calm, deep and luxurious feeling.

Surprisingly or not, behind this experience was a candle he created in order to give an olfactory experience to his brand. Today an Emirati highly appraised designer, he is focusing into creating everlasting objects with a cultural relevance that can speak about his birthplace, his traditions and his way into the future. He admits it was never easy, remembering the times where product design was associated to, well, carpentry. His education encompassed both business and product design at the best universities in UK and New Zealand. Internationally, Khalid worked with the Brazilian duo Campana Brothers on an installation for Abu Dhabi Art 2010. He collaborated with the historical French cabinetmaker Moissonnier, with the carpet industry leader Tai Ping, with the design brand Kartell on special limited edition releases and, recently, with Mobilier National for Louvre Abu Dhabi.

1.What would make your soul sing? What makes you happy?

I enjoy design a lot; I will always look at an object and try to understand the thinking behind it and when I discover a beautiful sense, that’s refreshing. Being in Istanbul makes my soul sing. Art is something I do collect and is enriching my inner world; family and friends are good for the soul.­

2.A childhood story that announced the creative person you are today

Boys are either dynamic, energetic, they go to football and are fascinated by car racing or they are the reflexive type, always drawing, exploring colors and textures, more analytical than talkative. I discovered myself in the second category. Magazines fascinated me and I was a good observer and a really quiet kid. The art classes in my school proved that I had a calling for the visual languages. In my teen years, I’ve done a gouache painting of an American actor, by studying his picture in a magazine. I still have both the picture and the portrait.

3.Best context ever for inspiration was:

Being in a very busy, crowded and lively place.

4.The project you loved most:

Do you ever ask a parent which kid is their favorite?

5.The project others loved most:

THE CABIN in 2015 & WOVEN YEAR created in partnership with Mobilier National forLouvre Abu Dhabi.

6.The best thing about Emirati creativity is:

The link to its culture. We are proud of our nation, it’s a very emotional connection.

7.Best statement of Emirati humor:

Our accent. There are words imported and adapted from other languages and their pronunciation is pretty funny.

8. Advice for international head hunters, related to Emirati creatives:

Headhunters should consider Emirati talents not because it’s a formula to enter the market, but because they are a potential creative pool that would add value to their company. We are not just a gateway into the market. When we see a company working with a foreign designer is not because they wanted to penetrate the designer’s market, it’s because the designer brings something valuable and full of character to the table.

9.Best place in Dubai:

Jumeira, where I live and Ras Al Khor industrial – I have been coming here since I was 10. My family business is here. It’s not a touristic destination, but is one of the forging places for the future of the Emirate.

10.Best Place in The Emirates:


11.Your opinion on money:

It’s not everything. It helps a lot, but it doesn’t bring happiness all the time.

12.Your opinion on spirituality:

Don’t over do it. It is good to be aware of your surroundings.

13.Most disturbing cliché about UAE

It has no culture, which is an ignorant statement.

14. Recommend a book for a young creative:

“It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be”, by Paul Arden.T