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