Khaled El Mays is a Lebanese designer whose work encompasses traditional craftsmanship and a consciousness for luxury within an innovative contemporary framework.
Born in Lebanon, El Mays graduated from the American University of Beirut with a degree in Architecture before completing a Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts from Pratt Institute in New York. Since 2014, El Mays has been a lecturer and design professor at the Lebanese University alongside running Atelier Khaled El Mays, a multi-disciplinary design studio, which focuses on furniture design, interior architecture, and graphics in space. The studio divides its energies between the two sides of manufacturing, both of which put community first. Working with local craftsmen in the Bekaa Valley allows traditional businesses to grow or maintain their structures and pieces evolve organically between the artisans and designer. The second aspect ensures that the designs are formally processed in the most luxurious fashion, using only the finest materials and the best suppliers available.
Taking a variety of influences, El Mays' furniture designs are always based on process-based repetitive sequences and ultimately attain a balanced visual composition. As part of the EDIT Napoli residence programme, El Mays came to Naples and discovered the connections between the region’s linguistic code and his own culture. Like Beirut, Naples has a heritage rich in cultural diversity and without knowing the local language, the designer managed to communicate and to understand complex Neapolitan symbols and visual information. El Mays was particularly drawn to the secluded and enchanting heart of the Parthenopean city, the courtyard. From the architectural wonder of the open stairs to the diagonal lines that intersect and diverge, historical references and ribbed vaults, the space provided fascinating inspiration for his project. Working with artisans from the Quartieri Spagnoli, a working-class area with long-standing traditions in leather and ironwork, El Mays created a small collection of coffee tables, which feature Mediterranean and Middle Eastern architectural references, serving as a reminder of the cultural connections between the two regions.