Bethan Gray debuts at Index with Shamsian Collection inspired by regional architecture

As well as appearing at the OFIS-sponsored Design Talks, Bethan Gray will be exhibiting at this year’s INDEX Design Series. This year marks her first attendance at the show, and elements from her Shamsian Collection will be on display both in the VIP Oasis, and on the company’s stand in the Luxury Pavilion.

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“It’s going to be fascinating to see for the first time all that is on offer across the show, as well as experience the fully-immersive features,” she says.

“I’ve been working closely with master craftsmen from the GCC for many years now, from founding the Ruby Tree with Islamic arts and crafts scholar, M Abdul Karim Crites, to working with renowned Iranian artist, Mohamed Reza Shamsian, in Oman. I’m really looking forward to seeing other elements of master craftsmen’s work on show.”

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With a signature style that incorporates “a love of detail, tactile textures, and luxurious materials such as semi-precious stones, marble, wood, and hand-tooled leather”, Gray’s range is exemplifies INDEX 2017’s theme of Design for the Senses.

“I focus on using high-quality, natural materials, with a focus on craftsmanship,” she explains. “For me, in 2017 colours such as pink, jade, and teal will continue to be popular, especially in combination with warm metallics. Rich patterns and textures will be combined in a new, contemporary, decorative style. This is a move away from the Scandinavian, pared-back style we’ve seen dominate over the last few years.”

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Citing her own Arabian heritage as a key influence on her work, Gray focusses on the similarities between the craft traditions of the East and West.

“The East has been very instrumental in inspiring and informing design styles that are now common place in the West, such as monochrome. It’s my own – and my ancestors’ – journeys that influence and inspire me to look for these similarities. At the heart of my design process is cultural referencing; through my travels and research, I’m inspired to create original contemporary pieces that resonate with global – as well as local – audiences,” she explains.

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“For me, design itself is about finding the right balance [between style and functionality]. I like to create an atmosphere that is inclusive and comfortable, featuring symmetry, making it easy on the eye, and helping balance the senses. However, it’s important to me that this balance is carried through in terms of usage and the practicality of the interiors, and with pragmatism and functionality important in the design of the pieces.”

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Gray’s latest range, the Shamsian Collection, was created in collaboration with Mohamed Reza Shamsian and his team of 70 skilled craftsmen based in Muscat.

“The collection is inspired by regional architecture, and features intricate marquetry – a traditional Islamic craft dating back to the 16th century – on Italian stained birds-eye maple, in combination with solid brass or iridescent mother of pearl,” she explains. “Detailing on the beautiful Nizwa cabinet takes inspiration from the rounded architectural castellation patterning of the Nizwa Fort in Oman, whereas detailing on the Dhow takes inspiration from the sails of the traditional boats.”

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