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Khaled El Mays

Khaled El Mays places bold modular seating in "psychedelic" installation

Multidisciplinary designer Khaled El Mays has created a surreal psychedelic-style installation at Nilufar Gallery for Milan design week, which features statement modular seating.

On display at Milan's Nilufar Gallery, the two-room installation features a large mural of an otherworldly scene that includes ambiguous architecture and faceless figures.

The installation presents an otherworldly scene

El Mays placed a cluster of equally vivid, curvy modular seating in one of the rooms, which are psychedelic-style iterations of his existing Flora seating series.

Some of the furniture was displayed on bright, patterned carpets that were already fitted in the gallery but add to the installation's bold appearance.

Khaled El Mays in Milan
Modular seating features in the space

A quirky "Medusa" lamp with eight sprawling lamps, or "heads", is positioned alongside the sofas.

"The project is a psychedelic look at how the proportions of Flora got deformed," El Mays told Dezeen.

Vivid fabric
El Mays designed psychedelic fabric

He explained that while the seating was presented against the mural at Nilufar to form an installation, it was created to be used.

"They are totally functional and designed to be very modular – that's the whole idea," he said.

El Mays took cues from an image of a 1970s patterned sofa when creating the seating's colourful upholstery, which is linen viscose with digitally-printed designs.

"When I saw it I was like wow, this is definitely the visual reference," said the designer. "The sofa's fabric was wavy. That was the starting point."

Khaled El Mays furniture
The second room also includes furniture

The second room includes a green velour chaise longue, a brown club chair clad in shaggy leather tassels and a bulbous wooden floor lamp with matching tassels.

Both spaces were defined by unusual proportions that encourage visitors to playfully connect fantasy and reality, according to the designer.

"Now people are selling pieces in both the virtual world and in real life," he considered. And there's a debate about which one created the other one. This is a play on that idea and that kind of debate about what we are living now."

Shaggy club chair
A shaggy club chair and twisty lamp sit below a vintage painting

El Mays is a Lebanese designer. Other installations currently on display at this year's Milan design week include a walkable interpretation of a sink by Daniel Arsham and bathroom and kitchen brand Kohler and a sculptural ceramic installation by designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

The photographer is Khaled El Mays.

Milan design week takes place from 6 to 12 June 2022 in Milan, Italy. See our Milan design week 2022 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.