Forma: An Inter-Play Between Emirati Customs and Italian Décor

Award winning Emirati Product Designer, Khalid Shafar has collaborated with leading Italian engraving and mirror works atelier Arte Veneziana, to launch a new interior collection, entitled Forma. The collection pays tribute to Emirati culture: Forma is anchored in the tradition of wearing Agaals, the woven rope bands used to secure head covers worn by Emirati men.

Award winning product designer, Khalid Shafar

By deconstructing the Agaals to where they are stripped of their original fashionable function and serve purely as a building material for the collection, Khalid Shafar explores the inter-play between ancient Emirati customs and Italian décor, while engaging in a cultural dialogue that pays tribute to local traditions, decorative art and national identities.

The use of Agaals across interiors is unique to Khalid Shafar and a signature material of the KHALID SHAFAR brand.


Showcasing 14 pieces, FORMA offers a range of interior products spanning from monumental mirrors and screens to chandeliers, floor lamps, table lamps, and wall lamps. All pieces have been created using Agaals juxtaposed with glass, mirrored surfaces or natural stone and have been custom engraved by Arte Veneziana, the leading Italian engraver and mirror works atelier of over 40 years, that specializes in handmade techniques, engraving and decorative elements on mirrored surfaces, glass and natural elements. The collection is a homage to Emirati culture, contrasted with Venetian craftsmanship, that is not only visually stunning, but also offers a bold social statement on respect for different cultures and the fusion of creative techniques, leading to innovative forms of artistic expression.

Screen close up

“The Agaal is a part of our heritage and a universal symbol of Emirati culture – for me it was very important to ensure that this collection transcended being merely decorative objects, and instead became a functional collection and objects of cultural dialogue. FORMA is grounded in the belief that contemporary design can be elevated through the use of ancient handmade techniques, and thus we chose to partner with premier Italian engraver Arte Veneziana, who still follow the traditional practices. The FORMA collection represents the merging of the artistic heritage of two different cultures and if you look closely, you will notice that there are layers of parallels between my inspiration from Emirati heritage and centuries old Venetian traditions of craftsmanship; for example the circular patters created by the placement of the Agaals is reminiscent of traditional Rondels, the colored round discs of glass that are held together by grooved panels of lead, which are typical of traditional Venetian architecture and still prevalent across the windows of buildings across Italy, to this day,” said Khalid Shafar.


“It is a pleasure to see FORMA Collection coming to reality. We truly believe that this collaboration with Khalid Shafar reflects on how Arte Veneziana, with its almost four decades of history and craftsmanship, is looking forward to the future of contemporary design through such international collaborations. We are honoured to see our artistic heritage and artisan skills fit so perfectly with Khalid Shafar’s vision, pushing the rules of interior trends and handmade luxury design,” said Nicola Zanin, C.E.O. and Master Engraver of Arte Veneziana.

The FORMA collection was showcased at the newly unveiled Arte Veneziana Archiade Atelier at Dubai Design District (d3).

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