Over the last 10 years, The London Design Festival has established itself as one of the most anticipated events in the world of interiors and product/furniture design. With London being the capital of everything artsy and interestingly peculiar there was no surprise in the turnout of talents showcased this year. In comparison to “Maison & Objets” in Paris or “Salone del Mobile” in Milan, London remains the quirky little sister – more accessible, relaxed and interesting in all aspects. One of the festival’s highlights is the geographical spread of the design event locations across the city – approximately 300 venues showcasing furniture, home accessories and installations from Earls Court, South Kensington, Holborn to Brick Lane.
ALGHALIA INTERIORS at TENT London
Once I got out of Liverpool Street Station and turned into Founier Street, I could already feel I was entering a particularly buzzing Bricklane to then arrive at the Old Truman Brewery where Super Brands and TENT London were taking place. Making my way through to ALGHALIA INTERIORS, the most ambitious and finest interior design companies South Africa has to offer, I couldn’t help myself from admiring a variety of products from wallpapers to accessories and furniture which would fit in beautifully in any space. In an array of distinctive shapes and patterns, my eyes were immediately attracted to the Geomatrix wall light standing out from ALGHALIA INTERIORS booth. The first thing to catch my attention was how beams from the light were reflected on the walls, illuminating geometric patterns across the stall. The construction of the light is a work of art in itself which emphasised the current shift to geometric shapes and patterns evident not only in fashion but also in interior design – a flair that was also spotted at other shows around town.
On meeting the brain behind the Geomatrix light Ghalia Edrees, I wanted to find out where her ideas for the distinctive shapes and her creative style came from.
What is your inspiration?
My main inspiration is Islamic architectural elements, such as geometric and vegetal forms. By staying true to my Islamic heritage and culture, my designs are able to radiate the art in Islamic patterns and design whilst blending in with contemporary styles.
Sinan Chair inspired by Islamic architectural elements
What got you into the interior design field?
I have always admired style in general and putting elements together; I indeed started by creating style whether it was in fashion or interiors. Been driven by a challenge, I have always felt that interior design was the field I wanted to succeed in. It is very demanding and I love it, that’s mostly why I got into the interior design field. I also believe that interiors can really change one’s mood and affect you personally as well as emotionally. It is a very timeless, noble and consistent discipline.
My personal favourite from your collection is the Sinan Chair, if you could choose one of the designs that mean the most to you, which would it be and why?
I obviously have a special bond with every piece I design – I love them all. However, I think the Geomatrix light is a very interesting one to describe further as there is a rich story behind it. I have always been attracted by lighting design especially playing with the shadows, the light and the structure.
When I was starting my 2012 collection, I wanted it to be based on geometric forms and developing geometric patterns into 3D objects. As I was playing with a piece of paper and folding it around just like origami, in a playful mood in my office, the idea of the Geomatrix light suddenly came out. I thought to myself: “this could make a beautiful light fixture!” What I really like about this project is the sleekness and clean finished lines – the sharpness of the edges is interesting whether the light is on or off.
Beautiful Geomatrix Light Fixture illuminating light beams across the wall
What do you think the West can learn from the Middle East?
I believe the current style of interiors in general even in the west is mainly focused on forms. What I’m trying to do with most of my pieces is not to focus on colours and texture but function and structure. It’s kind of a “form follows function” philosophy.
Working with geometric forms was actually initiated in Islamic architecture; it’s based on art and mathematical science. Linear Geometric forms of Islamic design are composed of basic elements that are duplicated, interlaced, and arranged into intricate combinations evolving into infinite forms! It all starts with one point, and the sky is the limit. ALGHALIA INTERIORS furniture production line is driven by a passion for experimenting with forms based on the principle of infinity.
I have seen your collaboration with Abdullah Qandeel, an amazing artist I must say – how did this play out?
During the holy month of Ramadan 2012, Abdulla Qandeel was looking into expanding is artwork into objects. He saw my pieces exhibited at Tashkeil, and suggested we collaborate on producing furniture. I suggested that he uses the Geomatrix sleek top as his canvas, and he spent 3 consecutive days in ALGHALIA INTERIORS Design Studio experimenting with his fine strokes. The outcome was this exquisite of art based on his concept “The misconception of love”.
The misconception of love illustrated on the Geomatrix Table
What are you presently excited about?
I am really inspired by the “ALHAMBRA CASTLE” in Granada-Spain. In the past two years, we have covered two of three fundamental elements of Islamic design (Vegetal forms and Linear Geometric forms). My next collection aims to showcase the third element which is (Islamic Calligraphy). The composition is yet to be revealed with the release of the new collection in June 2013.
What are your future plans?
I am currently working on initiating a design movement, a contemporary Islamic design movement to be precise. I feel that every era has its own style but when it comes to Islamic design, we are still holding on to the beauty of traditional Islamic design and fearful of evolving. This is my humble attempt to the evolution of Islamic design; creating a style that represents my origins but also fits into the current era.
Geomatrix Dinning Table and Bloometric Side Table: incorporating Islamic design into contemporary style
What advice will you give upcoming Interior designers from the Middle East?
The first advice I would give is not to let fear hold you – if they think they might not be able to do it, they should still go for it and try, making their mistakes. It might sound odd but through mistakes, they will find their path. Young designers should also be prepared and equip themselves with the right tools and appropriate knowledge. It is essential not to depend too much on other people, and to be able to do every task pertaining to their work on their own. Lastly, I think that they should always have the focus and direction, being a designer is not about being popular or following a certain trend but being true to themselves and expressing their individual creativity and passion.
It was interesting to dig further into the philosophy behind ALGHALIA INTERIORS and the design movement Ghalia is striving for. I am positive whatever comes out from the upcoming collection is going to be creativity, announcing the skill in Islamic art and the artistry in Islamic style. I am also very interested to see the evolution in Islamic styles fusing with contemporary designs in Europe and the rest of the world.
WORDS BY: Mayor Akintola
IMAGES: Courtesy of ALGHALIA INTERIORS