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Welcome to my laboratory: a one to one with Afzal Kahn

Steve Whitaker 6th March 2012
by Steve Whitaker
From a modest start selling alloy wheels, Afzal Kahn has become known around the world for his stunning personalised cars. James Batchelor of Car Dealer magazine met the man himself.

SET back from one of Bradford's busiest thoroughfares, Kahn Design sits among a seemingly endless assortment of car dealerships.

But to mistake the building for a car dealership would not be doing justice to the work that takes place inside. Indeed, the outside does not reflect its automotive persuasions either; clad in smoky blue panels with deep black tinted windows, Kahn Design has an attitude which makes the Volvo dealership opposite look just a little ordinary.

'It's a laboratory,' says the owner, Bradford-born Afzal Kahn, in complete seriousness. 'We are a laboratory that focuses on innovation and design – and that is what this business is all about.'

Sitting in the dark grey office that he shares with his employees, Kahn is the mastermind of this slick operation. The business is a design house for wheels, interiors and cars – in fact, it is more than that: it is a tailor's shop where the most personalised cars can be clothed.

The business's roots date back more than 20 years with Kahn owning his own alloy wheel business selling fashionable aftermarket wheels. His design breakthrough came with the wheel named RS-R in 1996 – now perceived to be a design classic.

'I was 17 years old and had a successful business selling other people's alloy wheels,' he says. 'I became good at what I did and I knew what design of alloy wheels would work. I went back to basics and designed a very simple five- spoke alloy wheel and soft-lined it. At that time there was no such thing as soft-lining, so I created one and designed it in a way that made it look bigger than it actually is.

'I saved up and bought the tooling in a factory in Italy and had them make 1,000 wheels.

Since then, Kahn has developed a famous range of alloy wheels that can adorn a Rolls-Royce or a Renault, not mentioning his flair for stylising cars. He can count celebrities such as Simon Cowell, Katie Price and Amir Kahn as his customers.

'I begrudgingly went into styling cars,' he says, straight-faced. 'Clients and customers urged me into stylising and personalising cars for them and I have never really looked back.'

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