“Middle Eastern designers are underrepresented by a large margin on global design platforms,” begins Alia Rachid, founder of a new design platform, FROMM, which is working to develop the Qatari design landscape and create space for young designers from the region. She adds that the barriers to entry into the design field are challenging to overcome for emerging talent – something her platform wishes to uncomplicate.
Pivoting between Milan and Doha, Rachid explains that the platform can connect young designers from the region with Italian expertise to not only help develop their skills, but to additionally offer a wider perspective on the industry from a key design capital. “It is these designers who will serve to inspire the next generation of designers and further develop the design culture in our region,” she asserts.
Its first collection, Shurooq, debuted during Milan Design Week and was designed in collaboration with two Qatari designers, Shua’a Ali and Maryam Al Suwaidi, whose complementary styles brought forth a series of objects that are inspired by their Qatari heritage – an important brief for the project.
“The integration of Qatari heritage into our first collection enables FROMM to put its best foot forward by showcasing the pride of our identity and origin to the international design community,” says Rachid.
The collection features eight objects that are rich in both form and material, fusing the design languages of the two designers in a seamless manner, with each bringing their own sensibility, yet in a way that is harmonious and open. These pieces include the Baida‘ sofa, the Haima‘ sofa and the multifunctional Majra table by Al Suwaidi; and the Derj desk/console, Laite floor lamp, Maiz coffee table, Makteba wall unit and Tawla side table by Ali.
“FROMM’s mission is to create collections that are an ideal fusion of design and manufacturing while supporting local design communities,” Rachid affirms. “We hope to strengthen design across Qatar by firstly providing the tools and resources to young aspiring designers to develop their skills and gain exposure to the design and production process behind [creating] furniture.”
Community building and education is an equally important pillar, which the platform hopes to contribute to through its FORMM Lab space, located in Doha’s vibrantly developing Msheireb area. The lab offers workshops, mentoring and educational services, helping connect designers with international universities, professionals and design companies. And while Rachid describes Qatar’s design landscape “as still in its infancy”, the growth of private and governmental initiatives is likely to prompt a soon-to-be-flourishing design scene in this Gulf capital.