Through Chapter Studio in Dubai, Shima Samei creates refined designs that offer a unique perspective. 




Shima Samaei   

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hallenging herself to pursue a lifelong passion, Kurdish-born designer Shima Samei abandoned a successful career in finance to launch a collection of hand-crafted, architecturally-inspired furniture rooted in Middle Eastern culture. Samei's atelier, Chapter Studio  , constitutes a new stage in her journey as an artist, reflecting contemporary design trends and shaped by her rich cultural background. Retold through her elegant designs, historical and personal narratives intertwine to build a collectible, original, and exquisitely constructed body of work.


She selects the finest natural stones and alloys to transmit her vision, with Saint Laurent marble that shifts in color depending on the time of day and light-catching steel. Each luxury material is then manipulated in a workshop outside Dubai. Using traditional techniques, her small team of artisans transforms marble and metal into beautiful objects that resonate with meaning. "These pieces are my memories, shared with people," she says.


With Incollect, Samei discusses her recent series inspired by the Golestan Palace   in Tehran — a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and the official residence of Iran's Qajar dynasty, now a museum displaying traditional Iranian crafts, paintings, and rare, precious gifts to the Qajar kings from European kings.



Pictured above, the Golestan Series from Chapter Studio consists of five different pieces, including two consoles, a center table, corner table, and side table. 

   

  1. How did the Golestan Palace inspire your Golestan series?  
  2. The Golestan Palace is highly representative of traditional Persian architecture. Even today, it’s an inspiration for many contemporary Iranian artists. The large arcs of the façade and marble throne room are the main influences on the collection. 


  3. Top: This  Console Table features two intersecting slabs of marble. Bottom, left: In the Side Table, dark brown marble is complemented by hand-crafted steel legs. Bottom, right: The Center Table includes a floating cut-out . 


  1. In what other ways do you incorporate Middle Eastern culture and inspiration in your designs?
  2. I am deeply connected to my origins and respectful of my cultural traditions. Taking classes in calligraphy, pottery, and fine art throughout my childhood, I grew up fascinated by Persian art and design. Naturally, in my own work, I look back to what I have learned and experienced. By incorporating heritage motifs from the Middle East and specifically Persia in my designs, I’m transmitting personal memories. Chapter’s purpose is to create soulful objects that have contemporary functionality, and yet feel visually balanced and hold enduring value.



Top: The veined surface of Chapter Studio's Side Table. Bottom, left: A detail from the linear-style Console Table. Bottom, right: The circular version of the Console Table shown here in Emperador Dark marble.

  1. Which materials do you use in your work?
  2. Marbles, steel, brass, and copper, as well as imperfect organic materials that distinguish my work from high-volume brands. I admire natural textures, and the tactility and earthy feel they offer. Also, I have recently been studying sustainability in design, so I apply those lessons to Chapter’s pieces and the project as a whole, adding both soul and durability.



This  Console Table beautifully contrasts an elegant planar surface with circular inset marble. 


  1. What inspired you to contrast linear and circular forms in this Console Table  ?
  2. Drawing this console, I immediately knew it was the highlight of the collection – the first piece you would look at when being introduced to the Golestan series. I wanted a unique silhouette that would preserve its functionality, so that it could actually be used to hold items. The large straight surface allows it to work well as a console table. Meanwhile, the circle is an homage to the architectural curves of Golestan Palace. The circle also introduces a bold and playful contrast for an impactful piece that would stand out in any setting.



The tear drop-shaped  Center Table was inspired by the moon. 

  1. Talk to us about the design of the Center Table   . How does it change as the light in the room changes?
  2. The moon and crescent shape are major sources of inspiration in Persian culture. When the table is placed in natural light, a soft illuminated circle breaks through the shadowed floor like the moon. This is how the idea of the modular double-table was borne. And Saint Laurent marble offered a natural fit, with its rich pattern resembling a light-streaked night sky.


The srchitecturally-inspired  Corner Table from Chapter Studio.

  1. What inspired the name of your atelier, "Chapter Studio"?
  2. The studio was named after a major shift in my life. After moving from Tehran to Dubai with my Kurdish parents, I pursued a career in corporate finance. However, as I grew older, I turned back to design, and the urge to create. It felt like a new chapter. For one whole year, I dedicated substantial time to my design dream while working full-time in finance. During that year, the opportunity to travel and see different cultures, and being constantly exposed to design and architecture, gave me the motivation I needed to share my ideas and turn them into reality. I officially opened my studio in 2018, creating bespoke designs rooted in Middle-Eastern culture. I am also happily married to my dear husband, who has been supporting my project from the start.


Natural materials like marble help bring Chapter Studio's pieces to life. A  Console Table is shown above. 


  1. What is your production process like?
  2. Chapter’s workshop is located outside Dubai in Sharjah, in the UAE, where I have gathered a few brilliant artisans with multicultural backgrounds. Many of them specialize in marble, wood, and metal, helping to refine the craftsmanship behind each object. All items are assembled by hand, with a team of seven to eight artisans working simultaneously on a single piece.


The  Center Table is available with a variety of marble tops, including Saint Laurent (shown here), Bianco Carrara, Emperador Dark, and Black Marquina. The legs of the table are crafted from stainless steel. 


  1. You've said that many designs are crafted using traditional techniques. Could you provide an example of that?
  2. In several pieces, we are introducing a manual process for stone cutting and edging, which is then completed by machine. With this process, we can stay very close to the original design while offering uniqueness in each item. We also mark the marble block and slabs just like it was done by ancient craftsman to distinguish the successive phases in the process of shaping the piece.



This  Console Table is offered in a beige travertine or Bianco Carrara marble base with inset detail in four different materials: Noce Travertine, Rosa Levanto marble, Emperador Dark marble, and Black Marquina marble.

  1. In your second Console Table   , the two stone elements balance together quite delicately. How do you make sure it’s stable?
  2. Achieving balance between both materials to deliver a sustainable piece has been a challenge in the production process. While the weight of the full structure is massive, it remains delicate at the same time, and we had to produce various prototypes to ensure its stability.



Top: The  Corner Table topped with sand-colored Travertine. Bottom, left: The surface of the Corner Table features a curved edge in the shape of a crescent moon. Bottom, right: The Side Table is offered in Beige Travertine, Noce Travertine, and Emperador Dark Marble. 


  1. In the Corner Table    and Side Table, what are your favorite details?
  2. I love the metalwork that lies underneath the marble element. It is unique and represents an identifiable feature for the collection.


The  Side Table in Noce Travertine decorates a soft natural-hued space. 


Have you thought about branching out into interior design?

  • I have recently obtained a master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design, and I am now considering expanding the studio services to design projects, particularly for commercial venues.

  1. What are you working on now?

    I am now launching my latest series called “Soffah,” a collection of upholstered furniture created in collaboration with a UAE-based company. Driven by a contemporary approach, the series comprises modular and adaptable seating that serves multiple needs, while relying on Chapter’s natural color palette and our use of the finest construction materials. Also, this summer, we will release a new collection, starting with a dining table inspired by Persepolis – the ancient capital of the Persian kings of the Achaemenid dynasty. The design of the line features a striking combination of marble and metal resembling the magnificent pillars of Persepolis, and showcases intriguing dimensions and proportions.

      

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