The striking FORMA, anchored as deeply in modernity as it is in cultural heritage, is a beautifully impactful modular lighting installation from Emirati designer, Khalid Shafar.

Created for the UAE-based NAKKASH Gallery, using traditional ‘agaal’s’ (black woven rope bands worn by men in many countries in the Middle East), FORMA is an experiential design that explores forms and shapes, with each illuminated Plexiglass sphere created to exist in the singular or multiple form. For its launch, FORMA was presented as a 5.1 metre installation consisting of 12 spherical shapes.

Designer, Khalid Shafar, talked to Made Journal about his inspirations behind the ‘magical fairytale’ experience of FORMA and what lays ahead in the the lead-up to his city’s second annual Dubai Design Week.

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Could you please introduce us to FORMA and describe the design piece for us?

Presented by NAKKASH Gallery and premiered at Design Days Dubai 2016, FORMA is an exploration of forms and shapes that result from connection and interconnection through a modular installation made of spherical-shape components. A further study of how a group of similar 2D shapes can create a three dimensional form by connecting and interconnecting all elements together. Fluidity and continuity through the form is key in the installation in maintaining the installation’s size and scale. Each component in FORMA is made of 29 connected and interconnected Agaals – the black woven rope band men in the Arab world wear to secure their head covers. These are linked together with wires and embedded with colored transparent Plexiglas circular cut-outs to reflect lights through. Each component is a singular illumination object and together is a whole illumination installation.

FORMA is made of 12 spherical shape components; each of 60cm diameter. The installation spans across 5.1 meters with variable heights and 348 Agaals, a signature material to KHALID SHAFAR, were used to make this unique installation creating a magical fairytale illumination experience.

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What was the inspiration behind your installation?

FORMA is an exploration of forms and shapes that result from connection and interconnection through a modular installation made of spherical-shape components. A further study of how a group of similar 2D shapes can create a 3 dimensional form by connecting and interconnecting all elements together.

The design was also a performance. Was incorporating an experiential element into your work – in the form of a staged dinner – an important element in your process?

The dinner was a real performance that I proposed to NAKKASH when we first discussed the presentation of FORMA. It was an invitation from the gallery to 15 of its VIP guests to attend such exclusive dinner under the installation and enjoy a thematic dining experience. I believe in the presentation of the work as for me it’s an integral part of the product experience. Having a culinary experience under FORMA along with the surrounding of the special editorial photographed by Emirati well known Saeed Khalifa had showcase FORMA in a live stage. It was the perfect setting for the installation to be premiered during Design Days Dubai this year.

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What is next in the calendar for Khalid Shafar?

There are few projects in the pipeline and couple of collaborations to announce. Yet, I believe the next edition of Dubai Design Week this Oct will be the platform to present some of my new work. Also as a founding member, during this DXBDW, it will be the second edition for DRAK to present new projects by new designers and new theme.

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Editorial photography by Saeed Khalifa

Khalid Shafar