Tatler Homes Malaysia
Rug designer Omar Khan invites us into his enchanting new home studio
Serene yet sensational, rug designer Omar Khan’s new home studio is an inspiring space showcasing his personality and unique work
The spaces which rug designer and all round aesthete, Omar Khan, inhabits are always visual feasts. He populates them with grand gestures and quirky details, while imbuing them with a refinement that is uniquely his own and makes every new space familiar yet somehow fresh. His new home studio is no different and located in the beautifully rejuvenated Stories of Taman Tunku. Stories of Taman Tunku is an apartment crescent set in a lush cul-de-sac in well-heeled Bukit Tunku. Since the 70’s, these walk up apartments were always prized for their natural setting, desirable address and accessibility to the city centre. As with older apartments, they featured larger rooms and expansive balconies but had fallen into genteel disrepair over the years until its developer, Selangor Properties, brought aboard architects extraordinaire, Studio Bikin, to refresh it.
The designer, who is an old soul at heart, felt drawn to this space: “I decided to move here because I am nostalgic that way. My memories of these Selangor property developments are of neighbourhood communities, and for some reason, it always seemed to be a certain type of creative commune as well.” For his new space, Khan admits he didn’t do much other than decorate because of Studio’s Bikin’s clever modifications. “The new layout opens up the space and lets all the light in - so from living to dining to balcony, you get a loft like feel. All I did really was paint the apartment, go through my collection of curiosities and find places for them,” he enthuses Despite the relative ease of this, moving in amid Malaysia’s series of lockdowns required precision planning, a process the designer remains philosophical about. “It was about embracing progress not perfection. I had been planning this move for a year in advance and hired the right project manager, Darren Yap from Iconz design,” he explains. Since Khan was consolidating his life from 2 separate apartments, all the items were catalogued prior and mapped out so he knew where exactly each item would sit in the new space: “When the time came to move, we were so well organised that I could direct the move remotely. Only the essential people needed to be there when executing their functions. The movers came on a separate day from the painters as did the ceiling specialist. I really credit Darren’s commitment for keeping me and the people I work with safe.”
Painted almost completely in calming sea foam green, the space feels lighter than Khan’s previous studios which left more mysterious impressions. The designer sees this as an evolution of his aesthetic: “Despite having a lot of black and dark pieces of furniture, I really am about a lighter palette but you know my love for metallics and whimsy is always going to be there.” Lighter colour schemes notwithstanding, Khan didn’t want to spend too much on a huge visual revamp, instead, he wanted to use what he already had and present them in a new way. He did however buy a few antique vases and screens to complete certain looks. The dining chairs were also updated and a massive round mirror from Nic Chris, was purchased which gives the living room a
Shire feel straight out of The Hobbit. His intricately designed and realised rugs from different collections are dotted around the apartment, landmarks from different phases in the designer’s stellar career. In typical Khan fashion, he installed his playfully named My Little Bonaparte rug on the ceiling above the dining table. An unusual use of a rug for sure but which works as part art installation, part feature ceiling, part backdrop to a modern chandelier - and wholly fabulous. With regards to the apartment’s function as a workspace, Khan says he designed the space to play several roles. “This new studio was designed specifically to act not just as the designing space for the rugs, but as a gallery, presentation space and showroom of sorts. So we have kitted it out with a huge presentation screen, sample rooms and a custom colour area so that we can hero and explain the bespoke work that we are known for,” he states.
While waiting for the apartment to be ready, Khan sheltered at his family home for the better part of the lockdowns and conducted his business with minimal disruption. New achievements like having his rugs exclusively carried by the House of Wang in China buoyed him. “The blessing is that I actually had my business running pandemic style since day one. I’ve always worked from home and communicated with the mills remotely and online. Not to mention, my clients, who are mostly out of New York, China, Hong
Kong and Jakarta. So Facetimes, Whatsapp calls, web approvals - we already had that sorted out for years. It was however paramount that our artisans were kept safe, so I guess the impact came with the closure of our mills while we kept our production families safe,” he says. As Khan settles into his new home studio, he discloses that this fresh start has put him in a contemplative mood. “Lately I’ve been very reflective on what is next for Omar Khan rugs. What’s our direction, and how do we move from a space that’s genuine, and who are we really as a brand,” he reveals. He’s also working on two new collections, the first a statement rug range that goes back to his “non-apologetic uber-luxe super-ornate side” which he feels he hasn’t been exploring for a while and the other, another exclusive collection for Moie in Jakarta. When asked about what he’s been inspired by, he talks about a documentary he’s seen recently about Ralph Lauren: “I just watched Very Ralph – and bless him he had no formal training in fashion, but he had a vision, he had an eye and he had the right people in his life. So at the moment, I’m vibing with that.”