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Buy local: Tahir Mahmood

A Q & A with Tahir Mahmood about his enlightening career as art director-cum-product designer and what he loves most about summers in T.O.

By Alexandra Caufin

As an art director for film and television commercials, Tahir Mahmood travels the world and indulges his passion for handicraft along the way – visiting local artisans and manufacturers and referencing their styles and materials in his designs. The copper and brass Sunehra light, with its pivotal lamp head, was inspired by the lighting and metalworking industry in Sri Lanka. $625, at Pimlico Design Gallery, 643 Dupont Street. Also available at Caviar20.

DL: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
TM: Getting my work printed in Wallpaper magazine in 2011 was a highlight. But most special – I almost got tears in my eyes – was when I received a handwritten letter from a nine-year-old girl thanking me, saying how much she enjoys playing with my spinning tops.

DL: Who is your all-time favourite designer? Why?
TMJasper Morrison for product. His design mission was to “Produce everyday objects for everyone’s use, make things lighter not heavier, softer not harder, inclusive rather than exclusive, generate energy, light and space.” This is my philosophy and I try to gel old craftsmanship with products for present day.
For fashion, it’s Issey Miyake. His approach to creation is unconstrained by preexisting rules and is led by experimentation. Being a designer, it’s our duty to break boundaries and write new definitions.
My favourite interior designer is Claesson Koivisto Rune. What is important to them is to develop, improve and never repeat.

DL: What is your workspace incomplete without?
TM: A good music system.

DL: When the weather is gorgeous, how do you stay focused and productive?
TM: I take my work outdoor, usually near the Humber River. That’s the beauty of being your own boss.

DL: What is the best thing about summer in this city?
TM: I really enjoy events like Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and the Pride Parade. Most definitely, spending sunny days near the lake and flying kites with my son.

DL: Any vacation plans?
TM: My family has an RV trip to Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island planned. Travelling has always been a mode of inspiration for me. They boost my energy and during these trips, new ideas happen.

Produced by Tory Healy.


Categories: Local Act
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