Inside out

British artist Kevin Dean talks about his work on the interiors of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
By Kevin Dean
Sun 05 Sep 2010 04:00 AM

When I left college I used to haul my portfolio all over London seeing publishers and design agencies. I got some good jobs that way.

The UK has a great tradition in visual art so I don't have to look very far for inspiring and influential artists and designers.

I was recommended for the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque project by the Royal College of Art. HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan liked my design for the courtyard floor and I went on to design various floors, walls and archways.

I did plenty of research so that the finished designs have echoes of Islamic design. Sheikh Sultan was very interested in moving away from traditional Islamic geometric designs to more free flowing floral designs.

The best thing about working in Abu Dhabi was the people. The worst thing was not being able to travel on foot, either because of the distances involved or the heat.

I am hoping to do more work in the Middle East and have just been discussing a new project in Dubai with the craftsmen that did much of the marble work on the Grand Mosque.

As the world comes out of recession I think the Gulf is going to be an even more exciting place for artists and designers.

At the moment I'm working on several projects. My own brand of wall-coverings, textiles and tableware, as well as a restaurant mural and a new architectural project.

The person who has had the most influence on me is probably my former tutor at The Royal College of Art.

My wife is a graphic designer. She's also my greatest fan and critic.

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