Studio Visit: Fameed Khalique

Surface materials galore inside the designer's West London treasure trove

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King’s Road is home to many of West London’s famous interior designers and luxury companies, and it’s here that you’ll find the go-to eponymous firm for the most luxurious, unusual materials and over-the-top bespoke commissions: Fameed Khalique. The creative director’s career has seen him source and create materials ranging from his own Alumalux (a recycled aluminum product for floors and walls) to striking hand-painted wall coverings and pillows made from feathers in the style of a Giambattista Valli dress. He works with everyone, from the super-rich who want truly unique designs for their yachts and homes to hotels and retailers, and to those of us who can afford a beautifully handcrafted accessory but not a whole custom interior. From semi-precious stones to shells, leather, raffia and more, the beauty of Fameed Khalique’s luxury fabrics and surfaces truly lies in the detail. We met up with the designer in his treasure trove of a showroom to talk about his designs and the future of the company, as it moves into the lifestyle arena with new accessories and its first-ever online shop.

Fameed Khalique by Casja Carlson

How has your business developed since you started it in 2008?

When I first started I would find workshops or people that we could represent as a distributor or agent, but as time has gone by, we’ve also developed our own collections. A lot of what I do is about taking things and either finding a new use for them, or taking a traditional technique and making it more contemporary. For example, we have a silk that’s woven on a handloom together with leather. The idea came from a designer whose family owns a silk mill in Laos, and together we created a whole new product, a contemporary spin on a traditional idea.

Image courtesy of Fameed Khalique

What is it that still excites you about the job?

For something to end up in my showroom I have to love it; I have to get a funny feeling in my stomach when I see it. But once the products are here I tend to get a bit bored with them, because I see them all the time. It’s not that I love them less—they’re all my children—but what gets me out of bed is having a challenge, the feeling you get when you’re developing something new. I was in India a couple of years ago and saw a woman’s cloth dress that had a panel with a little leather macramé. I really loved it and thought, I wonder if we can make that into a curtain? We ended up doing the curtains both in an outdoor leather and a softer, indoor leather. You get the inspiration for an idea and you create it, and then you see whether people like it or not.

Image courtesy of Fameed Khalique

I want us to be the luxury brand for surface materials, and I want to spin it on its head.

What’s your aim for the company?

There are so many luxury brands that do fashion or accessories, but I don’t think there’s any one brand that has this many materials. I want us to be the luxury brand for surface materials, and I want to spin it on its head. Rather than just working with architects and designers, I actually want the client to say to their architectural designer, “I want to have Fameed Khalique materials, because they’re the best there are.” Or for a customer to go into a shop and think, “I want to buy this cushion because it’s unique, the materials are different and it’s from the brand that makes these incredible materials.”

Image courtesy of Fameed Khalique

How do you come up with the ideas for some of your more unusual materials?

I’m a good producer; it’s all about pulling different people and elements together. For example, we had a project where the client wanted to have starbursts of real straw marquetry for the lobby of a hotel. But it couldn’t technically be done at that scale within the budget, so they asked us if we could come up with an idea for how to make it work. We created a hand inlay wood veneer starburst wall-covering, that once installed gives an incredible straw marquetry effect, and as a result developed a collection of wall-coverings that allow designers to create the desired effect at a fraction of the price and time. At the same time, we were trying to create a way to make really durable resin—a lot of the time you don’t use resin in interiors, because it gets scratched—and we ended up testing a piece of our starburst veneer wall-covering and putting our new resin on top of it. Suddenly you can use the starburst veneer as a tabletop, a bar top or a door! The resin is self-healing and comes in two formats, a hard and a soft version.

Diana cushions with bone embroidery, courtesy of Fameed Khalique

Your brand is moving into the accessories arena—shoes, scarves and cushions. How did you decide to make that transition?

A few years ago I thought, “We have all these amazing materials that we sell, but we don’t make anything with them,” and I got curious—could we create a lifestyle collection with the materials? We’re a small company and retail is a never-ending pit, but we made a small collection of cushions and it worked really well for us. The idea is that the materials set the products apart, whether its hand embroidered fabric or plissé leather. Next year we’re going to introduce woven velvet slippers—everybody’s done a velvet slipper, but nobody’s ever done a woven velvet slipper.

Hoxton Hotel headboard, courtesy of Fameed Khalique

Some of the projects that you want to cry over are the projects that no one will ever see

What is your favorite type of project to work on?

I like a challenge, whether that’s residential or a hotel. The ones that are the most fun to work on are probably yachts—only because that’s where our laboratory is, in the sense that with yachts, you get a lot more leeway and budget to develop the ideas. You get to trial and test things, and then they can filter down. But I also love working on hotels, because unlike yachts and other residential projects, more people get to see hotels. Some of the projects that you want to cry over are the projects that no one will ever see.

From the leather used at the Ace Hotel London to cashmere and leather woven scarves we’re inspired by Fameed Khalique’s unique point of view. If you’re looking for someone to help realize a dream or you just need a new little bit of handcrafted luxury in your life visit Khalique London, or in person at their London showroom.