Mo Kheir for simplicity in design

By Zoe Walker

The multi-talented Mo Kheir has fallen in love with branding.

Mo Kheir. Photo / Babiche Martens
Mo Kheir. Photo / Babiche Martens

Mo Kheir is passionate about design, with a focus on simplicity - although his skills are far from simple. The multi-talented Kheir is brand manager and industrial designer for menswear label I Love Ugly, as well as part of the band The Wyld, a comedian and recent graduate of a recent Master of Architecture degree. His role at I Love Ugly involves everything from designing store fit-outs, product packaging, guiding collaborations, developing relationships with "influencers", and building brand culture and hype. Kheir describes branding as a new endeavour that he only truly fell in love with in early 2011. "I entered an international branding and marketing competition judged by Yahoo, and was miraculously placed second out of 5000 entries. I got to fly to Doha to meet and present to the Yahoo team. I saw that branding and design were two and the same, and, when married and associated, the possibilities for brand growth are monumental," he explains. His most recent project involved a new fit-out for the I Love Ugly boutique in Mt Eden, in collaboration with Jordon Saunders and the brand's designer Valentin Ozich. It includes shelving that reacts to people's movement through the use of sonar technology (it glows as you walk past). Kheir tells us more about his approach to design, from the power of simplicity to an Apple admiration.

10 FAVOURITE THINGS

1. Valentin Ozich's art

Not many people really know much about V, the head designer of I Love Ugly. He likes to keep to himself and just design. He's one of the few artists I've met in my life who creates art by merging his varying life lessons from different disciplines. Typography, graphic design, digital illustration and fashion all merge under the I Love Ugly brand aesthetic and it's people who see art in that holistic way who will stand out in our modern age.

2. Takashi Murakami Ego 2012

I'm a huge fan of Takashi Murakami's art. His latest collection is probably my favourite so far, titled Ego which he premiered at the Al Riwaq exhibition space in Qatar.

3. The Wyld album artwork

I was very excited to have the talented artist Campbell John Taylor illustrate the cover art for my band's debut album The Wyld Preface.

4. iPhone 4S

I'm an Apple fan. Desktop, phone, laptop, even the fruit. When innovative industrial design and digital systems come together as seamlessly as with the 4S we often get a timeless classic. Apple in general has inspired me. Whether it be its innovative business approaches and internal structuring or its superb world class design philosophies and fabrication techniques.

5. Hannah Jensen's new art collection

I am fortunate enough to have Hannah Jensen working next door. Her style and art collection has inspired a lot of my own work.

Her art focuses on heraldry, and therefore her family. She layers up paint in alternating colour tones and etches into it to bring out shades creating beautiful textural images. Her collection focuses on different animals, with each animal representing a member in her family. Each animal derives from a certain crest.

6. The new KAWS x IKEPOD watch

This watch was designed by world-renowned artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly). I love how much detail was put into the internal workings of the timepiece. Designed to perfection, it happens to retail for US$14,000. With this swift move Brian projected KAWS into the world of high-end watches. Currently it is stocked in my favourite store in Paris, Collette.

7. Katie Lockhart's Karen Walker boutique fitout

I think that everything within Karen Walker's stores is on point. Katie and Karen have found an understanding and formed an aesthetic, which fluidly moulds collection design to store brand experience.

8. Sadari pencil case and gift cards

I was hunting around for the perfect gift to give to my sister for receiving an awesome grade in her first university exam. I found this beautiful hand water-coloured pencil case by a company called Sadari. It's composed of really simplistic, off-white leather with a delicately hand-painted bird. To top it off I saw that the same designers also made hand-painted cards to give for any special occasion, which was the perfect addition.

9. I Love Ugly store fit-out

I had the privilege of designing our Mt Eden store with Jordon Saunders and Valentin Ozich. Part of my role is to make sure design is immersed into every aspect of the brand. We decided to design our own store fit-out and build a digital library for the fit-out materials, colour tones, components and parametric systems used in the creation of these components. It's cool to see a sophisticated process culminate in a simplistic setup, which represents our brand philosophy which is to achieve a sophisticated simplicity.

10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I think that if you truly want to be a successful designer in our modern age it is important to read books like this one. Simply put, it shows the stress, intensity, excellence, drive, blood, sweat and tears that goes into a small well-crafted product. Nothing is as it seems. I've often found that choreographed chaos and complexity must occur in the backdrop and lead-up to an understandable simplistic product. Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs is designed to show us not just the life of a remarkable and complex man, but also the process and dedication of an innovative thinker.

- NZ Herald

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