Ammar Kalo is an award-winning designer, architect and researcher based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Kalo describes his work as “interrogating the relationship between digital technology and traditional craft” (ammarkalo.com). Ranging from spatial design projects to small-scale pieces, his creations always seek to provide a forum for the dialogue between materiality and form through heightened attention to detail.
“[Kalo’s]” area of research interest includes developing design/fabrication projects that utilize the inextricable links between materials, fabrication tools and form-making. Kalo combined this specialisation with his own creative flair to produce the Fikra Tables and Macaron Seats – two design series that make use of recycled tyre rubber.
Fikra Tables by KALO
Embracing visual heaviness and experimenting with such an unconventional material as recycled rubber crumb led Kalo to create KALO’s Fikra Tables; a series of tables with bulbous rubber bodies that appear to have been sliced in half, revealing a solid, white oak interior.
“The tabletops are made of white oak panels […] cerused with pink paint [that picks] up hues from its surroundings. The hovering black masses are delicately balanced by contrasting. thin legs [that] pierce through to the ground. A cross-section of the legs can be seen inside the tabletop[s], nestled in between the tabletop[’s] surface and the rubber exterior.” (ammarkalo.com).
The Fikra Tables were commissioned by Fikra Campus, a design studio based in Sharjah, UAE, that includes a design library, an experimental gallery, a co-working space and a café. Each table was designed for a specific use and location within the space.
Macaron Seats by KALO
KALO was one of two teams of designers commissioned by BEEAH Group, the Middle East’s leading waste management company, to explore the potential of using its locally recycled rubber crumbs in a furniture collection. KALO’s approach to designing a series of pieces using this innovative material involved using an industrial technique similar to the one BEEAH Group uses to make rubber pavement tiles. Ultimately, KALO’s collaboration with BEEAH Group resulted in the Macaron Seats, which are made partly from recycled rubber crumbs sourced from used tyres.
“Each Macaron seat is made by pressing a two-part mould onto a pre-made wooden frame” (ammarkalo.com). Their design explores the rubber material’s softness, compressibility and ability to bond with other recycled materials, such as wood chips, redefining the relationship between soft and hard surfaces within a chair. KALO describes their Macaron concept this way:
“The design is simple in its form, yet rich in its detailing. Its speckled seat surface is a result of adding wood chips generated when making the legs, and a brass ribbon sandwiched in the center adds an extra layer of refinement”.
The seats’ main visual characteristics are smooth, chamfered surfaces, rounded off edges, and their distinctive, fuzzy center. The legs jut out of the rubber mass and fold towards the ground, while also leaving an X-shaped silhouette print on the seat’s underside, as if the solid rubber had stretched to accommodate the wooden legs. The parting line has been the molds is exaggerated by allowing some room for overflow rubber, which creates a solid rim around the seat.
Once the pieces are de-molded, this rim is ripped off, resulting in a rough edge to the seat, contrasting the smooth seat surfaces. Inlaid within, is a thin brass elements that add to the tension and visual juxtaposition. Also, mixed in with the rubber crumb are wood shavings created from the wooden legs fabrication process, giving the rubber seats a contrasting speckled organic look”, Kalo explains.
Ammar Kalo’s work has been recognised through multiple international and local awards, including the Emerging Designer Award from Harper’s Bazaar Interiors. Kalo is also an associate professor and the Director of Labs at the College of Architecture Art and Design, American University of Sharjah. His research and teaching focuses on robotic fabrication, furniture design and design-build courses.