We talk to Mustafa Khamash, the man behind the d3 based, luxury design firm, Kart Group, that has been in existence for more than a decade and has firmly made its mark on the local design scene.
Designer Mustafa Khamash launched his Dubai-based firm, Kart Group, in 2004 and since then, they have only grown from strength to strength, whilst continuing to maintain a mid-size team and executing projects that stand out and remain truly memorable. As we dig deeper, we learn of his Italian education in design, his incredible career and experience working alongside global design icons, such as Paolo Piva and Starck, and what attracted him to Dubai.
How did your design career blossom?
I studied at Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia, Italy’s first architecture school. After graduating, I had the privilege to work alongside Paolo Piva, one of the most prominent Italian architect-designers of the late 20th century. It was under Paolo’s guidance that I was able to hone and craft my skills to such an extent that I was able to work with the famous French industrial designer and architect, Philippe Starck, who is so well known for his comprehensive range of designs. I also worked with Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born British architect known for her radical deconstructivist designs. She was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
What led you to practice design in Dubai?
When I moved to Dubai in 2004, the city was an architect’s dream – it has a spirit like no other. It was the global hub for distinctive designs during the early noughties, from man made islands that could be seen from space to otherworldly buildings that rose majestically from sandy deserts.
What do you feel is most challenging about being an interior designer in the UAE?
Dubai is an extraordinary city and is home to a multitude of cultures, nationalities and religions. This vibrant society means that it is equally fast-paced and ever-changing. Each challenge is fascinating and allows me to explore a different landscape. In addition to its fascinating cultural heritage, the design culture in the UAE is enriched with an exceptional diversity of external influences from the creatives that it attracts.
Mustafa Khamash, Managing Director and Principal Architect, Kart Group
Can you tell us about a particularly exciting or challenging project that you worked on?
One of the most incredible projects I’ve directed was for Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and his executive offices. The government tasked the Kart Group to design an inspirational work environment that reflected Dubai’s unique personality, culture and brand, and interiors that motivated the workforce.
How would you describe your design style, and where do you find your inspiration?
My design style is simple yet innovative. I always like to retain some aspects of the original space, take inspiration from its history and surroundings, and allude to the United Arab Emirates’ rich culture.
What is your favourite design sector, and why?
I thoroughly enjoy working with the Emirati Government, cultural institutions, and corporate partners. Dubai is known for its incredible innovation, but it still has a deep-rooted history and culture that must be acknowledged.
“We need to be a pioneer in the continuous evolution, redefined, and reimagined world. It is essential to stay ahead of our own ideas and be the architect of our unique designs and future“
Where do you see the interior design industry five years from now?
The next five years will see us exploring new materials and improving on already innovative designs. As architects, we will always strive to discover new ideas, streamline designs, and hone superior craftsmanship.
How do you manage to stay abreast of the ever-changing trends and technologies that the industry throws at you?
We need to be a pioneer in the continuous evolution, redefined, and reimagined world. It is essential to stay ahead of our own ideas and be the architect of our unique designs and future.
If not an interior designer, what would you be?
I wouldn’t want to be anything other than an architect and interior designer. It is my calling, and it tests, challenges and inspires me every single day.
If you could design anything without constraints, what would it be?
It would have to be ‘Kart Mansion’, a unique space where I can truly express my design philosophies. It would be wholly experimental, interactive and reflective.
Above: The Leader, an art installation in Dubai that celebrates HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s journey of leadership
What are your design dreams?
I’d love to design my very own island. It would have an endless budget, which would allow me to experiment with perpetual creativity and neverending innovation, and to explore diverse architectural materials without borders or constraints.
What are you working on at the moment?
The Kart Group and I are working on an extraordinary private penthouse on The Palm for the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs.
“I’d love to design my very own island. It would have an endless budget, which would allow me to experiment with perpetual creativity and neverending innovation, and to explore diverse architectural materials without borders or constraints”
What is the best advice you have ever received? And alternatively, what would be the most important advice you would give new designers?
It was once suggested to me that in order to maintain our brand identity and retain exceptional quality control, it would be sensible to keep my studio running as a medium-sized concern.
I’d advise new designers never to stop experimenting and to always invest in their creativity.