Intertwining the East and the West with her innate sense of design, Rana Salam found a niche that would quickly become her signature style. Studying at both Central St. Martins and the Royal College of Art, Rana has been based in London for over a decade and is known for combining Middle Eastern pop art and culture into unique design creations.
Specializing in brand creation and re-branding, Rana's Studio caters to everything from high fashion, hospitality, design, interiors and exhibitions. Boasting clients such as Harvey Nichols, Villa Moda, V&A, Comptoir, Boutique 1, Sawani, Liberty's and Paul Smith, Rana Salam's Studio is in the forefront of the graphic design world. Khaleejesque got in touch with the visual extraordinaire to find out what it takes to survive in the competitive world of design.
How did you break into the world of design?
This happened over a period of years when people started taking interest in my work and its influence on both East and West.
What would you say inspires you?
Street Culture, street life and its authenticity and creativity/spontaneity.
We know you've mastered various aspects of design from designing for various cafes such as Comptoir, Ayyame, and Fakhreldine, to big fashion and retail shops such as Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Villa Moda with stationary and art in between; what is your favorite thing to design for from all those?
Retail and restaurant designs mainly as they are a fantastic form of 'Theater' that can engage the public in no other way. Its a fantastic canvas for expression.
Can you describe your design process?
'Look' 'Look' Look' keep looking at what's around you, then capture, digest and reinvent!
What sort of feedback do you get as you blend Arab Pop Culture into a Western Design Perspective especially with people who aren't familiar with our culture?
It's all very positive and western people want more! the thing is that I've managed to package the Arab popular culture in a very 'cool' and contemporary way making it very desirable.
Do you think the interest is from a visual or symbolic aspect?
Mainly visual, and maybe subconsciously symbolic?!
Do you think Arab Pop Culture is becoming new niche in art?
Yes, very much so.
We've noticed you're drawn to old Egyptian Cinema, what's the secret behind that?
Again, its falling in love with an art that many disregarded. And Egyptian Cinema posters as the beginning of 'design' in that region, when traditional calligraphy was at the top, these posters set a new trend, or if you like a new visual trend in parallel to Pop Art in the West. They are wonderful and unfortunately, that kind of art is dying, if not dead!
We know you are currently based in London, but do you have any pending or upcoming works/exhibitions in the Middle East? in the GCC region?
My biggest project is slowly relocating in the region starting in July. I believe Beirut is as happening as London, if not in the same way, in many other way… when I left 25 years ago, there was no such thing as Internet nor design education. Now you have everything… plus the good weather!
What's in the future for Rana Salam?
Rana Salam is to develop her own product which will allow her to apply her vision onto them. its already started with mishmaoul.com. Watch this space!
Any tips you'd like to send to local Arab Graphic Designers, especially since it's a booming regional concentration these days?
Celebrate and keep looking within.
For more information and to view Rana Salam's work, visit her website here.
Images courtesy of Rana Salam.