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In Conversation with Tareq Abu Ghazaleh



Tareq Abu Ghazaleh


Tareq has been one of my favourite 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, 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.



Qerat Furniture


 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.



Qerat Furniture


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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Artis


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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Artis


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.



Photo courtesy of  Voi Arts


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 Gerat, 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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Arts


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 peraps 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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Arts


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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Aritis


 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.



Photo courtesy of Voi Aritis


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.