Launched in September 2018, Chapter 101 handcrafts beautiful furniture that is inspired by Middle-Eastern culture, travels around the world, geometrical shapes and dimensions. Born in Iran to Kurdish parents, Dubai-based founder Shima Samaei started a new chapter in her life when she switched careers from finance to furniture designing. Inspired by Middle Eastern architecture, Shima made the decision during her travel to Istanbul four years ago to pursue her passion for designing. “I love Istanbul and I always admire the architecture there, it kind of gives me this nostalgic feeling of my home country,” says Shima.
Despite her background in finance, the furniture designer grew up surrounded by art – her mother is a painter and her sister studied interior design. Shima took part frequently in calligraphy and pottery back home, admiring Iranian art and culture. “I have this desire to bring in something new that holds passionate and enduring values, while being authentic,” she says. “I make this connection with my designs because I believe everything should have a story that is meaningful and gives an imagination to the designed piece as if it were a story - regardless of where you come from.”
Shima Samaei stands with her furniture in her Dubai studio. Courtesy of Fritz Asuro
Inspired by the Iranian Golestan palace, the former royal Qajar complex, The Golestan Series is the latest collection by Chapter 101. With history tracing back to the 18th century, the palace is a monument in Tehran that Shima visited once during her childhood and was mesmerised ever since. “The arc shaped large façade windows, the hand-carved mirror rooms and tile work gave me the inspiration behind my collection today,” she says.
The material used for the series is inspired by the 250-year-old Marble Throne, renowned for its beautiful Iranian architecture and designs. “I always admired marble, the differences in them, and the luxury they carry, they are like art pieces to me,” says Shima. “I also admire natural textures, I believe you need to feel and touch the texture of a product to get a sense of its authenticity and its connection to nature.”
Gol. 005 from the Golestan Series, collection No. 002. Dark Emperador marble. Courtesy of Chapter 101
Chapter 101’s very first designs from The Succulent Collection take inspiration from the Middle East’s dry landscapes and the geometric patterns of the natural world. Each bespoke piece is named after a plant, a testimony to the founder’s love for greenery even in the desert. “Given the weather conditions of the UAE, many plants don’t survive, but succulents are pretty durable – they have the most beautiful roots I have ever seen.”
With production facilities located in Sharjah, Shima commutes to and from Dubai regularly to personally be involved in the creation of each customised design. Materials used originate from France, Italy and Turkey - such as Rosa Levanto, a dark cherry-red marble with white veins all-over and Beige Travertine, a natural stone in an elegant shade that blends with nature.
Console table titled Gol. 002, Travertine rock; Coffee table titled Gol. 003, Saint Laurent marble. Both from the Golestan Series. Courtesy of Fritz Asuro
The raw materials used combine elements of minimalism, nature and simplicity to create an aesthetic that is elegantly creative with natural textures. “I decided to create a mix of natural marble where you can see imperfections that actually make it look perfect with a perfectly polished marble that could create the synergy between the both and bring out a piece of art while keeping it connected to its roots and its authenticity,” she says.
For Shima, furniture goes beyond aesthetics and through her designs, she hopes to share her journey with the world. “Anything I design comes from the heart and I like to share that with people,” she says. “Having a bespoke piece with a story that can be told, will give me the comfort that I am sharing a piece of my culture with others.”
To read more, pick up the Summer 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors
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