Abdullah Alkhorayef is a Saudi engineer working in real estate development, yet his profound enthusiasm for art, design, culture, and fashion consistently emerges in his work, regardless of whether he is constructing projects or designing homes. Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Kharif's identity and work are heavily influenced by art and culture. He joined the real estate development field due to his belief in the close relationship between real estate development and the realm of design and creativity. He has consistently shown interest in blending the creative and artistic aspects with the functional aspects. In order to fulfill his artistic inclinations, he actively seeks out opportunities to engage in creative fields like drawing, interior design, writing, and other areas related to culture and art. As we commemorate Saudi National Day, we pay a visit to his residence to explore how different facets of his personality are mirrored in his home.
How did your upbringing shape your personality and choices?
In my view, I possess an innate artistic aptitude and an inclination toward anything associated with innovation, aesthetics, and artistic expression. During my upbringing, I was raised in an inclusive and varied milieu that provided me with the opportunity to investigate and encounter numerous facets of existence, be it through traveling, personal interests, or different cultures. My parents had a fondness for traveling and an appreciation for culture, which led us to frequently visit museums and exhibitions, alongside their admiration for historical legacy and antique items. As a result, my character developed a fondness for exploring, unearthing, and identifying beauty in all things, regardless of whether they originate from our surroundings or other parts of the world, and an enthusiasm for novel experiences.
Could you elaborate on your fascination with heritage and history, and how it manifests in your activities?
I have a great passion for history and cultural legacy, it is a significant inspiration to me. During my art history studies, I acquired the skill of drawing inspiration from visual and artistic history for my work. Although not obvious in my designs, I incorporate this inspiration in subtle ways such as the choice of colors, space arrangement, and traditional materials. I don't advocate blindly copying the past but rather incorporating it in modern designs as a subtle reference, for example, in a table, a painting, or a particular material.
What are the three key life lessons that you impart to young people in Saudi Arabia based on your personal experience?
To adopt a worldview of themselves that is not limited to a local perspective, taking into account the international design leaders who follow them or the personal achievements they can attain. Moreover, they must consider the commercial aspect of their work to ensure long-term continuity and sustainability. If they do not find motivation in the commercial aspect of their work, the artistic aspect may suffer as it is challenging to sustain without financial support.
In addition, designers and artists need to prioritize the issue they intend to solve with their creations so that society can appreciate the significance of art and creativity. However, if the primary objective is purely aesthetic, that alone can serve a significant purpose.
Could you share with us the narrative of how this decoration style was chosen for this residence?
Personally, I consider the design of this house as a field of experiments for me to practice everything I want to do, and to try out all the ideas, even if they are contradictory. My goal is to ensure that it is adaptable and useful, allowing for the simple addition or removal of any element, and to test how these changes affect the overall ambiance and mood of the area. Finally, what matters to me is that this place reflects my personality and the life stages I have gone through and currently going through. In my opinion, it is crucial for a location to mirror the character of its proprietors, enabling any guest to discern the message that the place is conveying. In fact, I see this as the main function of the designer, embodied in translating what is meant to be expressed through the tools used in design.
In terms of the decoration of this house, what do you believe is the primary title or central concept being utilized?
Undoubtedly, modern design is the preferred style, and I strongly believe that decor should reflect the current era. Nevertheless, this dwelling is characterized by an Eclectic design strategy that selectively incorporates various materials and design styles from different periods and patterns, resulting in a modern and contemporary arrangement that narrates the taste, history, and experiences of its resident.
However, to ensure the success of any design, it is crucial to connect all these elements using a common language, such as employing similar colors, shapes, and fonts, and unifying select accessories or picture frames. This approach provides a unique character to the space.
Does Saudi or Gulf heritage stand out in this house and how?
Certainly, the decor features rugs, side tables, and photographic artwork that catch the eye. Along with a contemporary style that draws inspiration from Saudi or Gulf heritage, incorporating elements like traditional wooden vessels and modern pieces adorned with Saudi symbols such as palm fronds or folk costumes.
What are the characteristics of your personality that are expressed in the decor of this house?
It's hard for anyone who enters this place not to discover my personality. It is clear that the artistic aspect of my living space is reflected through my cherished artworks and collectibles, which are a means of self-expression for me. In my opinion, it showcases the extent of freedom and the coexistence of contrasting elements, whether it be the use of a multitude or limited range of colors in certain artworks, or the combination of luxurious and vintage pieces with minimalistic designs in modern art.
This location also reflects my perpetual curiosity, which is evident in the repurposing of certain pieces and elements for functions other than their original intended use, as well as experimentation with varying sizes and dimensions. The playful aspect of this experimentation is also apparent in the decoration.
Is there a favorite specific artwork or piece that you have in this house, and why?
In fact, all of the artworks hold a special place in my heart, but if I had to choose, two paintings particularly resonate with me as they embody certain aspects of my character. The first painting, situated at the entrance, encapsulates my essence through various elements such as color, materials, size, historical references, poetry, fashion posters, and more, all of which were intentionally selected to represent me. The second painting, on the other hand, is predominantly white and almost devoid of color, featuring delicate, watercolor-like strokes that seem to blend in with the white background like faint shadows. These two paintings represent two sides of my personality - one that is vibrant and exuberant, and the other that is calm and lucid.
How does this space inspire you to innovate in your work and your projects in general?
I find great inspiration and motivation from the diverse range of colors, shapes, decorations, books, and materials present in this space. It serves as a direct and primary source for my creativity and imagination. To ensure that I'm constantly stimulated, I purposefully choose furniture pieces, accessories, paintings, and souvenirs that inspire me, even if they lack any significant material value. For instance, I may be drawn to an empty perfume bottle for its unique design, a box with an unusual shape, or a book cover or notebook with distinct colors. Furthermore, the comfortable furniture in this space facilitates relaxation, contemplation, and imaginative thinking.
What does this house represent to you, and can you describe it in three words?
This is the family home, which provides the warmth and comfort that everyone desires. It embodies my accomplishments, mistakes, and life lessons. It serves as a peaceful retreat to unwind, gather my thoughts, and recharge. Visitors often comment on the home's cozy, inspiring atmosphere that reflects my personality, and I wholeheartedly agree with their assessment.
What is your message to your country on Saudi National Day?
My country, continue to thrive!
Actually, I take great pride in being a Saudi national and in the rich history and accomplishments of the Kingdom since its inception in various domains. However, what particularly motivates me on this occasion of National Day is the innovative artistic renaissance and revolution that is currently taking place in my country.