Studio O: an ethnic amalgam

Furniture designer Omer Nabi hopes to revolutionise the field of art

Umnia Shahid February 02, 2017

KARACHI: Jazzing up indigenous designs and adding flare to folkloric craft, is Studio O in a nutshell. Furniture Designer Omer Nabi is all set to commence an art revolution; stepping over the precincts of contemporary art and making ethnic strategies gleam bright.

Speaking to the designer himself, we enquired about the tale behind Studio O. Quoting his studio as a “design wonderland”, he reiterated that it all started when his existing studio was running short on space. Aiming to seek a drastic renovation, he decided to invest in a property to have a bespoke design house, custom-built for the purpose of promoting art and craft. “Initially, it was a little daunting managing a larger-than-life space and responsibility but things worked in my favour when some friends suggested that they would want to contribute to the studio by putting on display their own ethnic gear,” explained Nabi.

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On how it all came together to become a platform for local craftsmen in Pakistan, Nabi clarified, “I came across a few craftsmen when I visited the Daachi exhibition. They all had displayed their quirky signature crafts; I was intrigued by their talent and found this person from Sindh who specialises in porcelain artifacts such as the beautiful birds available in my studio.” He also added, “Another person from Kashmir did embroideries on tea cozies. Then I was approached by a person from Taxila, who wanted me to see his Gandhara sculptures after being grasped by my interest in promoting traditional crafts. Similarly I always loved Kalash’s sculptures and got introduced to the art by a local contact.” Also, a gamut of designers are reaching out to Studio O to showcase their own stuff at Nabi’s design-temple.

The local crafts of Pakistan have been around for ages but they have always remained a niche interest in urban areas. We wanted to know how the designer intends to contemporise this art and at the same time, make it a cut above the rest. “I am taking a small responsibility to promote our local craft by captivating basic elements of cultural pieces and making minor changes as per the requirements of my craftsmen.” As per the Kashmiri craft, the designer claims that “it didn’t need any improvisation”. Nabi will be launching his latest collection at studio O and have every intention to launch his exhibitions in other cities also and even internationally at some point.

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Studio O caters to all segments of society — the price tags range from as little as Rs3,000 to as much as Rs550,000. Discussing the philosophy behind Studio O, Nabi elucidates, “For me, less is more. Simple, intact, understated, chic interiors and spaces, with an eclectic twist — that’s what we do”.

On whether he has a preferred region, he reveals that he doesn’t focus on any one in particular. “All regions are equally important because they all belong to Pakistan but I am trying to focus a little more on the Kalash’s sculptures because the art is dying. There are only one or two craftsmen left. We are trying to set an apprenticeship programme for them. I am doing it on my own without any external help because we want to keep the craft alive.

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