Wednesday, 21 January 2009

In Conversation with Tareq Abu Ghazaleh

Qerat has been one of my favorite design finds since I started blogging. This reputable company was established in 1995 in Amman, Jordan and specializes in furniture, textile and interior design.

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh, the principal of Qerat is a multitalented designer, entrepreneur and blogger. His pieces, to a large extent, are handmade using very old and intricate techniques in a new contemporary way while maintaining a respect for his culture.

I enjoy following his blog [ qerat ] daily to see all of his new projects and experiences. We have also created what I consider to be a technologically advanced pen-pal style friendship, sharing ideas and design philosophies.

Please see my interview with my friend Tareq below.

Iván Meade - What was your first experience with design?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - First experiences for most designers are normally at home. There we feel comfortable to move things around. The parents notice some talent and they start asking you to do more things. I think this is where talent is spotted and confidence is built, if you are lucky that is. I was lucky that my parents took my opinion about design issues at home at a very early age, and I recall being eager to help. But, my first “proper” project was my apartment in Los Angeles, and my first real project was building our family home in Jordan.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - Your furniture pieces are stunning, I think they are a beautiful blend of classic and modern as well as your heritage – what inspires you for these pieces?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - Each period and each piece has its different inspiration. I know for a fact that our rich heritage has definitely affected my designs especially lately, but it is also a combination of so many different factors. It is a combination of things seen and loved along the years coupled with admiration for great designers from different eras combined with wanting to break boundaries and be unique by introducing your own sense of style that is innate in designers. I constantly ask myself the same question, since in many cases I really can’t pinpoint where inspiration for a specific piece came from. Inspiration is such a complex thing, sometimes it comes from a small part of a photo, a tree leaf, an animal or a piece of discarded equipment. Any of the above might ignite your imagination to create something that has nothing to do with what you originally saw; a good example would be our spider collection. The train of thought of the human brain is always fascinating to me. The way you reach somewhere foreign and new without knowing how and where you started.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - Do you have a favourite piece in your collections right now? If so why?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - As I am sure you know from yourself a designer is rarely satisfied, we always feel that we can do better. You have one favourite piece and then the following period it’s another, we crave beauty and change. But if I had to name a few, it would be 2 pieces that have remained to be favourites for a long time; one is the “O” coffee table and the designs that followed it within that range. I don’t know why but it just talks to me. Perhaps also knowing that it is a difficult piece to make, made me like it even more. The other piece would be the Ha Wao with the contrast of wood, stainless steel and Arabic calligraphy that looks very abstract.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - What is your design philosophy?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - I am going to risk answering this the way I really see it. I don’t think we should as designers have a philosophy that is set in stone. We can have broad lines of how we would like our direction to be. I think if I do I will be confining myself to preset borders that after a while become deeply ingrained and I start wanting to respect those borders to maintain a “philosophy” rather than wanting to break these borders and grow, even if that meant moving out of the lines of my philosophy. We have see many designers start one way to later evolve and move from their initial style. However, having said that I do like certain styles more than others. I find myself comfortable in the clean straight lines of modern architecture and furniture. I like simplicity that is not naïve or empty. A piece has to say something to me to design it and make it.

Photographs courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - I find the Jordan River Project quite fascinating; there was a similar project that I was a part of in my hometown of San Luis Potosí, México. Could you please brief our readers on the project and your experience?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - This is an amazing project that was created and is chaired by Her Majesty Queen Rania. Last year Her Majesty created an advisory board that was asked to revamp the whole line of products of the foundation, and I was asked to be a member of the board and to also create a collection of products that would utilize the women’s skills. The project’s mission is to empower women and to help protect women and children by providing them with ongoing sustainable projects by using their handwork skills. It was an emotionally and professionally challenging & fulfilling experience. Sometimes we know about something but never really appreciate it until we are in close contact with it. I was deeply moved by these strong women, and deeply satisfied by exploring new design areas.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Her Majesty Queen Rania at the Jordan River Project
Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - Your textile designs as part of the Jordan River Project are absolutely stunning. What was it like going from working with furniture to fabrics?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - At qerat, we already design and make a huge collection of soft furnishings, so that part was not entirely new to me. However the new part for JRF was that I had to create a range of designs from scratch meaning I had to choose fabrics and then create designs that would go on the fabric in ways of embroidery or appliqué and decide on the color of everything from the plain base fabrics to the color of the thread used. I also had to work with the ladies of JRF for the first time and we both had to try techniques that are new to us both. At the beginning it seemed daunting but then it turned out to be lots of fun.

Pillows - Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Robes - Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Bedding - Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - You seem to have many successful design ventures including not only your furniture but also soft furnishings, lighting, textiles and interior design. What would you like to tackle next?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - I think if you are passionate about design there is no end to your ambitions and aspirations. I have always dreamt of designing everything that I use in a house and perhaps even outside a house. If and when I have more time I would like to try designing things that are a total departure from what we do at Qerat. Maybe jewelery design or a bit of fashion design or leisure wear, for example I designed a few robes for JRF, so I might expand that a bit. I like the fact that designers now feel freer to dabble in whatever they feel like. Armani is doing kitchens and mobile phones, Starck does luggage and whatever he dreams of, and fashion designers are creating hotel interiors. The borders are thinner and transparent; the world is utilizing the creativity and the sense of beauty of designers in different areas.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - I notice that we have very similar tastes in designers and design books. Who are some of your favourite designers?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - They are many and I keep discovering new ones everyday. With so many blogs being published daily the amount of talent you get introduced to is unprecedented. But to name a few, I really like Vicente Wolf, Kelly Hoppen, Phillipe Starck, Barbara Barry and Rabih Hage, Patricia Gray and last but not least Ivan Meade.

Photograph courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - Good answer ! What are you excited about right now in the world of design?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - The world of design is not only VERY exciting it has become confusingly exciting. There are so many beautiful designs and so many excellent designers that you get confused as to what excites you. However, what I am excited about now is that there are no “trends” in the real sense of the word. People and designers alike feel very free and confident to express themselves without feeling the need to adhere to a certain style. I like this liberty.

Photographs courtesy of Qerat

Iván Meade - Lastly, you have already created a stunning body of work with many mediums and styles, what would you like your legacy to be?

Tareq Abu Ghazaleh - Iván, isn’t that too early to ask?

OK, I would like my legacy to be the first Jordanian furniture designer that becomes internationally known for his designs and to set the road for younger designers from our small country to aspire for higher goals.

MEADE DESIGN GROUP - THE BLOG. Copyright 2007-2011


Anonymous said...

Great interview, it's true - Tareq is very talented and seems like a genuinely nice and generous individual. It was so interesting to read more about the man behind the designs!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan, I really enjoyed reading Tareq's interview. His answers are thoughtful, his designs inspiring -- I especially appreciated learning about the Jordan River Project, created and chaired by Her Majesty Queen Rania.

Great interview! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Hi Ivan
Tareq's intelligence and creativity is very compelling and inspiring for me. He is a true visionary and I think his goal of fullfilling his legacy is closer than he thinks. I am very honored to be included amongst his favourite designers. The JRF is an amazing project to benefit and honor the women involved. I forsee it having a global impact on generating self esteem and renumeration for women that create with their hands and hearts to provide for their families.
Thanks for the great interview.

Michelle said...

Great interveiw''s nice to know more about our talented friend from Jordan...his dining room table is one of my favorites...(and your eye candy)

I agree with Patricia- JRK is an amazing project, and warms my heart, along with tantilizing my design sense.

Thanks Ivan and Tareq!

qerat said...

Dear Ivan,
It is great to be interviewed and to have the chance of expressing your ideas to an audience in different countries. It is even better to be interviewed by someone you respect so much. Your blog has become part of my daily ritual were I come to visit with your creativity and inspirations everyday. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity.
I was also really touched by the kind comments that were already there early in the morning. So thank you Echito, Bobbie, Patricia & Michelle.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ivan for interviewing qerat .. tareq , the leading designer in Jordan. His answers reflect a thourough understanding of what he is doing! When talent and creativity goes side by side with practice, and hard work, this is what we get : Perfection . Good luck tareq ..

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ivan for this wonderful interview with our favorite designer in Jordan whom we value for his creativity, great taste and perfection. We also love & value the other side of Tareq that not many know about. His sensitivity and compassion not only affect his designs and working methods, his hard work with different charities such as JRF is only one example, but also extends to his own company were he is doing his own share of empowering women were each of them has a different story. Being among the close friends of Tareq we also know how much he wants to help younger designers refine their abilities and has many plans that would help young designers with their careers. We know that it is a matter of time before Tareq is internationally recognized.

suhad said...

Thanks for the great piece. Tareq is one of my favourite designers. I have quite alot of his pieces. (much to my husband's despair)! Reading this interview made me feel like I was looking through a peephole into the mind of Tareq which makes his pieces mean even more to me. Tareq's work on the Jordan River project exposed me to more of Tareq's creativity and more importantly his passion to help others. The unprompted amount of time and effort spent on this project was "unreal" and I hope he reaped some rewards when Her Majesty saw his pieces, and showed such appreciation and support.

Anonymous said...

After reading all the comments I found it difficult to add anymore except that i love Tareq's designs and I am very happy to read his answers to know more about him.
To Ivan, I also liked your blog a lot and I think the interviews you are doing are great.

Anonymous said...

As Suhad said, Tareq might not be very popular with husbands :) Whenever I go to his showroom I feel I need to own a piece of his. We are proud that he is in and from Jordan. We are proud to read about him on your blog which I have been visiting for a while by the way through qerat's blog.
Great interview.

Anonymous said...

Nice interview and nice answers. I like the fact that Tareq feels so comfortable with what he does. Love his pieces

Maria Killam said...

Really unique and beautiful pieces. Thanks for the always thoughtful interview!

Anonymous said...

Tareq turned our house from an ordinary house to a very modern HOME not only with his furniture but also with the color themes he chose after he had a deep understanding of our charachters, life style and likes & dislikes.
thanks Tareq and thanks Ivan for this beautiful interview

Unknown said...

I just checked back and I am so happy for Tareq for all the lovely comments on him!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pieces
Love them.
Thanks for introducing us to this wonderful designer.

Anonymous said...

Good morning Tareq. Since the inauguration of your gallery in 1995, I was aware that you were of international standards. Faithful designs, thorough details and immaculate finishing are some of the features one observes in your artistic production. Congratulations. Carlos.-

Maysoon said...

Loved the interview! Thanks Ivan for shedding the light on Tareq's work and design philosophy. I personally enjoyed working with him as part of the JRF project this past year and looking forward to a new surge of creativity for the upcoming collections...

pve design said...

I love the name of his company. It already tells me that I am going to find someone who is a forward, and backwards thinker!

qerat said...

Thank you Mohammad, Hakam, Suhad, Marwan, Lina, Kristina, colour Me Happy, Rand & Afif, Laila, Carlos, Maysoon and PVE, and Patricia Gray again for your comments. I am really thankful for taking the time to read and leave all these beautiful comments.

katiedid said...

Nice! Thanks for the intro. Noted and bookmarkes!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan..I think you executed the difference between East and West by interviewing Tareq ..meaning they can meet by another meanings such as creation ,intelligence, art and taste. I have my own experience with Tareq when he designed a small apt for me .the result was the small becomes very spacey ,wide enough by feeling ,more than beautiful and a very relaxed apt. Nobody he or she believed what he saw before and after . It became a master piece. Tareq is a creative ,professional, smart and easy to know what others want to have by designing their needs, ideas or thoughts to be real by the latest styles.
Nadim Malhas

Anonymous said...

Hi Ivan. .interviewing Tareq was a very clever idea..(.between two creators.).In my believe creation is a gift from GOD...both you and Tareq are gifted by the same meaning shown by the bloge dialog. So I wonder what both can do if you share one production one day ???.Think about it...what a suggestion !!!.I like to see it shown in two places on the same time...CANADA & JORDAN. .Wishing you both the best of the best