Creative Mind: Khaled El Mays
The founder of his namesake multi-disciplinary Beirut design studio, El Mays finds balance between traditional craft and innovation
“I am pushing for design powered by the human hand in a world that is getting more virtual by the second,” says Khaled El Mays, founder of Atelier Khaled El Mays, a furniture, interiors, and graphics studio based in Beirut. “I’m looking for
a way for them to coexist and interact.” After earning an MFA in digital art at Pratt Institute in New York, El Mays returned to Lebanon and turned his attention to soulful furniture design that places craftsmanship at the forefront.
Working closely with artisans in eastern Lebanon and Mexico City, he uses natural materials to create textural pieces, which will be shown next with Nilufar during Salone del Mobile in June. “The whole design exercise is about finding that balance between traditional craft and innovation,” he says. “It is a subtle process.”
Breakout Work: The Fishawy valet, which was originally created for the 2016 House of Today Design Biennale. Technically meticulous, the piece is a contemporary twist on a historical object with El Mays’s signature exaggerated proportions and bold curves. “It was a turning point for me in how I want to define myself as a designer and the ideas I want to convey.”
“The whole design exercise is about finding that balance between traditional craft and innovation”Khaled El Mays
Creative Possibilities: “I love that initial moment when I have a thought that looks like it will lead somewhere exciting, even though I know from experience that most of these ideas will morph into something totally different.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2022 Spring Issue under the headline “Creative Minds.” Subscribe to the magazine.