Dubai: Designer profile: Born in Jordan, raised in Dubai and trained in London, textile designer, Azza Alsharif’s international life has inspired a beautifully ethereal woven collection that is at once inspired by Arabic culture and the region’s nomadic heritage, and a contemporary inclination toward minimalism.
Designing is my escape from reality. It is like entering an entire world of my own
Tell us a little about yourself – what attracted you to textile design and where did you study?
I am a Saudi-Jordanian hybrid, born in Jordan and raised in Dubai. I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, London, and then completed my master’s degree in Textile Environmental Design.
During my school days, I always focused on texture and detail within our natural environment. I was primarily inspired by the patterns and unconventional designs I saw in the world around me. This passion for design led me to pursue a foundation degree in Art and Design, in which I was introduced to the world of textile design, which opened up an endless realm of imagination, inspiration and motivation within me.
I then specialised further in textile design and developed my passion for the art of making.
How do you physically create your fabric designs? What materials and methods do you use?
I am usually inspired by my own environment, wherever I may be. I then choose my colour palette and search for the perfect material fit for my collection through this inspiration. I use my environment as my base and build upon it to create something diverse.
I am a weaver by specialisation. Weaving is a long but satisfying process – calculating the width and length of the warp, winding the fabric, dying it, setting up the arm loom and finally weaving it. It is a way of creating a beautiful relationship between every line and thread of fabric, transforming it into art.
This process to me is therapeutic, as creating and designing a piece from scratch creates a sense of accomplishment. Every piece I design is completed with a lot of attention, love and a lot of soul.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I have a love for colour and texture that cannot be described enough.
Whilst studying I made it a rule to explore as many different materials as possible, as they all have their own personalities and serve different purposes and styles. Therefore, I would describe my aesthetic as ‘traditionally unique.’ I would define this as a combination of Middle Eastern tradition, fused with modern distinctive artistry. This allows the traditional look and feel of my designs to be viewed from a completely different perspective.
As well as creating fabrics you also design clothing?
Yes, I have recently launched a capsule collection called ‘Kham,’ meaning raw fabric in Arabic. The region’s aesthetic and environment – from the desert all the way to old Jeddah’s architecture – inspired this collection.
The ‘Kham’ collection is predominantly made of neutral toned linens, a perfect material for the desert heat with a minimalistic aesthetic.
Finally, what does a typical day involve for you?
I have two full time jobs. I work for the Art Dubai Group during the day, and at night I work on my personal projects. Having said that, I find it hard to call either a ‘job,’ as doing what I love day in and day out does not seem quite like work to me.
I spend most of my weekends designing, developing and combining all my design elements together, a process I never get bored of. I then work closely with fabric manufacturers and suppliers to pick the best quality fabrics for my collection.
Designing is my escape from reality. It is like entering an entire world of my own and using material to portray and string together all my surroundings and inspiration into one final piece.
What inspires you at present?
The nomadic culture is my current inspiration; this region is a haven of culture, tradition and texture. My minimalistic design approach to such an inspiration stems from the simple nomadic life, where the bare minimum was available, yet so much was achieved.