Heavy metal

In a non-de­script work­shop in Dubai’s Ras Al Khor district, dis­used en­gines are re­born as lux­ury pieces of fur­ni­ture, thanks to the tal­ents of an am­bi­tious de­signer

Virtuozity - - HANDMADE -

Among the tired, dusty roads of Dubai’s Ras Al Khor district, there’s a work­shop that, on the sur­face ap­pears just like any other garage. The district, a hot­bed of make-do en­gi­neer­ing and mo­tor­ing pas­sion, is chock-full of lit­tle en­ter­prises that thrive on fix­ing up and im­prov­ing any­thing that runs on an en­gine. But none of them pro­duce the kinds of prod­ucts that this work­shop does—the man who builds here has the mar­ket en­tirely to him­self.

Petrol­heads the world over are ex­tremely fa­mil­iar with the idea of us­ing bits of car to make fur­ni­ture. In­deed, any car fan who’s watched Top Gear will have no­ticed the cof­fee ta­ble made of a glass pane, sit­ting atop a gleam­ing, re­claimed en­gine, or else

the re­stored seats, fit­ted into a two-piece sofa suite lay-out. And no doubt many fans will have looked at their TV screens with envy, ask­ing them­selves how they could get their hands on some­thing so un­abashedly mo­tor-minded.

In the past, your only op­tion would have been to fly to the UK or the US, lo­cate a spe­cial­ist and a com­mis­sion a piece at great ex­pense. How­ever, in Ras Al Khor, de­signer Sean More­nas is chang­ing that. He spe­cialises in tak­ing dis­used car parts, and up­cy­cling them into pieces of fur­ni­ture. Work­ing at a friend’s work­shop, his party piece is the en­gine-turned-cof­fee ta­ble – a cleaned-up Mercedes V12 with a pane of glass sit­ting on top. How­ever, there are plenty more strings to his bow.

“Cof­fee ta­bles are the main prod­uct. I’ve also done bot­tle hold­ers, I’ve done side ta­bles, I’ve done chairs, I’ve done the whole sofa seats. A gaming cus­tomer once wanted the whole con­cept of a car in his seat, with proper car seats. You can go be­yond en­gines and me­chan­i­cal things, car seats are quite pop­u­lar,” he says.

“I also do the cus­tom or­ders. Some­one might want an Audi V8, or they’ll want dif­fer­ent colours, and dif­fer­ent styles.”

More­nas ex­plains that the idea for this en­ter­prise came to him af­ter he re­alised that no-one in the Mid­dle East pro­duces prod­ucts like this. Then, last year, a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent ad­justed his view on what he should be do­ing with his life, and he de­cided that then was as good a time as any to put his plan into ac­tion.

“Ba­si­cally, it’s my hobby and my busi­ness. In Dubai we don’t have these things. You might have seen it on the in­ter­net, in the UK or the US or some­thing, but no­body does it here. So I thought I should do it. A lot of lo­cal peo­ple love cars, and stuff re­lated to cars, so it’s a good lit­tle thing to be do­ing. I used to work as a lo­gis­tics man­ager be­fore my bike ac­ci­dent. I was on bed-rest for six months, and af­ter that I started do­ing this,” he says.

“Af­ter the ac­ci­dent, I just thought that I needed to do some­thing else. I didn’t want to have to report to some­body else. I wanted to do my own thing, which I like to do. It was sort of about find­ing my free­dom of busi­ness.”

Hav­ing worked on the project for around a year, More­nas has made in­roads into the re­gion’s mo­tor­ing com­mu­ni­ties, show­cas­ing his prod­ucts as mo­tor­ing-fo­cused events. Petrol­heads have taken note, and he now en­joys a steady stream of or­ders, some ask­ing for sim­i­lar things that he has al­ready cre­ated, and some ask­ing for com­pletely cus­tom op­tions. Ei­ther way, More­nas is in the po­si­tion now where he needs to be con­stantly look­ing for old en­gines and car parts, so that he knows he has the raw ma­te­ri­als to up­cy­cle when an or­der comes in.

“It’s been go­ing for al­most one year, so I’m just start­ing. Now I’m in the mar­ket—peo­ple are see­ing it and notic­ing my prod­ucts,” he ex­plains.

“What I do is ba­si­cally I look for en­gines and dif­fer­ent things all of the time. I keep them ready be­cause I have a lot of or­ders com­ing in. Once I get the or­der, I start mak­ing it. But I don’t fin­ish them straight away be­cause clients re­quest dif­fer­ent colours, or dif­fer­ent styles – that kind of thing. So I wait for them to tell me what they want.”

It takes More­nas thee to four days to fin­ish a piece of work once it’s been or­dered. But if it the or­der is for some­thing cus­tom­made, if some­body wants some­thing spe­cial, it might take him a week. Ei­ther way, it’s a rea­son­ably quick turn­around. What’s more, More­nas’ prices aren’t any­where near what you’d have to pay for sim­i­lar prod­ucts in the UK or the Us—the pieces start at AED 1,500.

“It’s rea­son­able, I think. In the UK, these things are much more ex­pen­sive,” he says.

It ap­pears the mar­ket agrees, and More-

nas’ ven­ture is quickly gain­ing trac­tion, mean­ing he’s had to think about how to take it to the next level.

“Now I’m see­ing a lot of growth. With the mo­tor shows and things like that, there have been more or­ders com­ing in. A lot of peo­ple are look­ing at the prod­ucts, and then there’s word of mouth. Now, a lot of peo­ple are ask­ing me to ship to Saudi, or Qatar. I’ve got a lot of en­quiries, so I think the next step would be ship­ping abroad, and then get­ting the right part­ner who can dis­play my prod­ucts,” he says.

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