These prayer mats are simply beautiful. We love Ruh al Alam’s designs, getting us excited about pulling out that prayer mat!
1. How did your design journey start? Do you remember the moment you decided to become an artist and a designer?
My own journey began as a child, when I began to draw or make things around the house. I felt that I wanted to always create new and beautiful things as I went through school and ended up at St. Martins where I studied design. Art and design came so naturally that it always was a way of expressing myself.
I found that art could be a way to communicate as well as influence, from design in advertising all the way through to commercial branding. Design for me is art you can experience and interact with.
2. Were you always interested in Islamic art & design or is that something you picked up along the way?
While I did grow up with an understanding of Islamic Art, it was only later during my university years when I was both travelling and discovering new things that I began to grow fond of our heritage. However my passion to know more stemmed from a desire see contemporary representations of Islamic Art – which I felt was severely lacking. But one cannot understand or even begin to create contemporary Islamic art without a grounding or understanding of the rich artistic history of Islamic art.
This is what led me to travel abroad to Egypt and study with calligraphy masters, after I had graduated. This allowed me to adopt and learn the highest forms of traditional Islamic art and as a typographer and designer, it was a totally natural extension to what I love producing.
3. Tell us about your prayer mats for Visual Dhikr. What inspired you? Who are they designed for?
The idea to re-imagine the prayer mats has been a long one in the making. Years of being dissatisfied with existing mats led to eventually re-desigining the look that I would love to have in my own home. A lot of the existing mats are designed quite poorly, without any real adherence or respect for Islamic art, some even have the clock tower in the them.
Unlike the beautiful hand-made rugs, a lot of the current mats in the market are mass produced with little care. Like myself, many Muslims growing up with an appreciation of the importance of aesthetics in Islamic culture, have felt that a new style of mats was overdue.
I wanted to do more than just design new mats, it was therefore important to marry both the ethos behind a sajjada as well as as improve on existing mats. Inspired by the arches found abundantly in our Islamic heritage, the mats took a whole new form. By introducing a new shape, it meant they could be slightly longer and more definitely look like mats made for a specific intention. I also focused on designs that are minimal, clean and not distracting – all influenced by Islamic art traditions.
The Visual Dhikr Prayer Mat appeals to Muslims living in a global and modern context. They are conscious of their own spiritual lifestyles and are proud to surround themselves with both technology and accessories that will help or aid them in their own personal journeys. These Muslims are proud to spend good money on products that make up their Islamic lifestyle, just as they would with mainstream brands.
4. Are you planning on adding more products to the prayer mat range? If yes, when?
I am planning to introduce new designs with the existing mats but also smaller version for children. I am already working on a travel-mat that is easily rolled up and light weight.
5. Are there any special features, such as the fabric used, that you want to share details about?
As part of the development, we introduced a slightly more cushioned feel, making it just that more comfortable. I also added a non-slip underside to help with praying on smooth surfaces as many moderns have. The material we have used isn’t rug-pile, rather we have chosen specific materials that unique to prayer mats such as soft denim, polytwill and canvas. All of which appeal to different customers and their lifestyles.
6. Where can we purchase them from?
The mats can be purchased from a worldwide list of stockists and also online. Have a look at the full list here.
7. Are they limited in stock?
The initial production run is limited but we are already planning for another big order due to the high demand and success of the the prayer mats.
Learn more about the designer, Ruh, by checking out his website.