Multi-dis­ci­plinary de­signer Kholoud Sharafi is de­ter­mined to leave her mark on the city of Dubai, cre­at­ing a new de­sign lan­guage as she goes

Villa 88 - - Contents -

Kholoud Sharafi is de­ter­mined to leave her cre­ative mark

LEAD­ING THE DE­SIGN COM­MU­NI­CA­TION DI­VI­SION and the op­er­a­tions at Tinkah, while also es­tab­lish­ing and pur­su­ing the suc­cess of The Foundry and its re­lated projects, Kholoud Sharafi is bring­ing back tra­di­tional arts and crafts in a way that is de­cid­edly ahead of its time.

The de­sign of the fu­ture moves quickly, and not al­ways in the di­rec­tion one ex­pects, which is why in­no­va­tors al­ways have to stay one step ahead. That’s not to say modern artists have to forgo all tra­di­tion to solely fo­cus on dis­rup­tive in­no­va­tion; in­stead, they have to stay so­cially en­gaged. Which is ex­actly what a group of artists, de­sign­ers and ar­ti­sans are do­ing with Tinkah and The Foundry.

Set up in 2012 by Kholoud Sharafi, Reem Al Ghaith and Abeer Tahlak, the in­no­va­tive cre­ative plat­forms of Tinkah and its off­spring The Foundry are help­ing to re­pur­pose the UAE as a global power in de­sign and in­no­va­tion. A group of artists, de­sign­ers, and ar­ti­sans work­ing to­wards cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant so­lu­tions with ser­vices in de­sign com­mu­ni­ca­tion, ex­pe­ri­en­tial de­sign, re­search and con­tent, Tinkah’s ap­proach is one that is fresh and far-reach­ing.

“Our icon,” says Kholoud “is a tinkah, a util­i­tar­ian tin con­tainer his­tor­i­cally tailored for dif­fer­ent pur­poses. It is a multi-func­tional ethos that we ap­ply to our think­ing.”

Since work­ing as the Cre­ative Head of Tinkah, Kholoud – whose pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence in­cludes work with Bar­jeel Art Foun­da­tion, the Jor­dan Na­tional Gallery of Fine Art, and the Bri­tish Mu­seum’s Pri­vate Col­lec­tions – has racked up an im­pres­sive port­fo­lio for the out-of-the-box brand. Tinkah’s all-en­com­pass­ing, nut-and-bolts ap­proach means their range of clients and projects are as di­verse as the work they pro­duce with de­sign col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­clud­ing work­ing with Dubai’s Eti­had Mu­seum, Sole DXB, Burj Khal­ifa, Zero Nine Ex­hi­bi­tion, Irthi Con­tem­po­rary Crafts Coun­cil and Dubai De­sign Week, to name but a few.

For Dubai De­sign Week in 2017, Tinkah col­lab­o­rated with Inked to co­host a pop-up ex­pe­ri­ence called Grey Area, an im­mer­sive, six-course din­ner fea­tur­ing cus­tom­ized table­ware de­signed by Tinkah and Mex­i­can C37 Ma­te­rial De­vel­op­ment Stu­dio. This was fol­lowed by a project with the Fa­tima Bint Mo­hammed Bin Zayed ini­tia­tive (FBMI) – which was launched by Her High­ness Sheikha Fa­tima to em­power Afghan women – where they pro­duced a spec­tac­u­lar car­pet through The Foundry to be show­cased through­out Dubai De­sign Week 2018.

More re­cently, Tinkah was hon­ored to be se­lected to rep­re­sent the UAE at the Lon­don De­sign Bi­en­nale in 2018. Fol­low­ing the theme ‘Emo­tional States’, Tinkah’s con­cept ‘Time is Sub­jec­tive’ high­lighted the speed of change through the seven emi­rates since the 1970s. The in­stal­la­tion fea­tures seven rows of ten hour­glasses that ap­pear sus­pended in mid-air to de­pict the UAE as be­ing in a con­stant state of mo­tion. Con­versely, the desert sand and hour­glasses also rep­re­sent the con­trol­lable el­e­ments of time.

In­sist­ing that the cus­tomiza­tion they ap­ply to each project means it’s im­pos­si­ble for Tinkah to have a sig­na­ture, Kholoud says the com­mon thread is “in the process and ap­proach that we fol­low when it comes to giv­ing our ser­vices; al­ways re­liant on un­der­stand­ing cul­ture and build­ing nar­ra­tives to con­cep­tu­al­ize our so­lu­tions.”

As an ex­ten­sion of Tinkah, Kholoud launched The Foundry dur­ing Dubai De­sign Week in 2017. An on­line store, re­tail arm, work­shop and ex­per­i­men­tal plat­form that Tinkah es­tab­lished for its team of cre­atives and as­so­ciates, The Foundry’s in­ven­tive realm in­volves re­search­ing, cri­tiquing, ex­e­cut­ing, ar­chiv­ing and show­cas­ing de­sign ob­jects. “Ded­i­cated to defy the monotony of me­chanic pro­cess­ing,” Kholoud says, “The Foundry wel­comes a com­mu­nity of de­sign re­searchers to col­lab­o­rate, in­ter­act and cre­ate, be­cause ar­ti­sans and cre­atives thrive on ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and the ac­tual ma­nip­u­la­tion of re­sources.” The prod­uct se­lec­tion for The Foundry ranges from home ac­ces­sories to table­ware, fash­ion, sta­tionery, books and a fur­ni­ture line with lim­it­ededi­tion runs. Run­ning along­side this is a ded­i­cated dig­i­tal plat­form that un­veils a range of ex­per­i­men­tal ex­pres­sions and items con­ceived by artists, de­sign­ers, writ­ers and as­so­ciates of Tinkah.

Ap­proach­ing de­sign as a learn­ing process where hu­man re­la­tion­ships are val­ued, Tinkah is turn­ing the ta­bles on the de­sign world with mean­ing­ful, cu­rated ex­pe­ri­ences.


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