D-journal Issue #12

Page 1

Nadine Kanso Bil Arabi Ruben Sanchez Nez Gebreel Sunny Rahbar Fatma Al Mulla Prada Essa Ayaad Damouni Bridget Fleming

Cover: Nadine Kanso in Prada, Bil Arabi jewellery and Essa jacket. Featured above in Prada and Bil Arabi. Photograph by Ayaad Damouni. Styling by Meredith Damouni. Makeup by Samira Olfat for Max Factor. Production and Post by Capital D Studio.


The co-founders Ayaad and Meredith Damouni

Ten years ago Ayaad and I shot Nadine for her first interview for Bil Arabi. It was the cover of Society Dubai magazine and this was the first time we met. From then on we’ve stayed friends and we are so proud to celebrate 10 years of Bil Arabi with Nadine with this cover for D-journal. Journeys are the spice of life, each step towards progress being an experience within itself. With this issue we celebrate journeys and talk to a select few who we recognise as being a part of Dubai’s journey for 2016. Follow us on the journey forward: @DjournalDubai, @CapitalDStudio, @mrDamouni, @TheRealMrsDamouni TEAM: Managing Director: Ayaad Damouni Brand Director/ Managing Editor: Meredith Damouni Art Director: Anil Ashok Raina Head of Production: Mona Melhem Talent Bookings: Sorelle Anthony Production Assistant : John Japon Senior Retoucher: Shijar Mohammed Photographers: Miguel Veterano, Marvin Caibal Studio Assistant: Mohammad Sufyan Video Team: Monica Moreno, Gideon Fajardo

Copyright ©Capital D Studio Po Box 36122, Dubai #50, Street 6, Al Quoz 3, Dubai +971 4 341 5339 ask@capitaldstudio.com

Published by Mixed Media Publishing FZ LLC Address: Block # 1 Al Sufouh Rd - Dubai Phone:04 367 1693


Nadine Kanso in Prada, Bil Arabi jewellery and Essa jacket. Makeup by Samira Olfat for Max Factor Academy. Production and Post by Capital D Studio.

NADINE KANSO THE QUIET REVOLUTIONARY Photo by Ayaad Damouni Written by Meredith Damouni


Nadine wears Prada and Bil Arabi jewellery.

“The journey of the past decade, the journey of Bil Arabi has been amazing. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I set a trend. There have been so many others that have been inspired by what I did 10 years ago. My brand represents my identity as a proud Arab, a contemporary Arab, not a conservative one. I am proud and thankful that I have been able to create a brand that embodies my identity - I don’t think I could have done it any other way. I am always surprised at questions about being a female Arab artist - at times I am also offended to be categorised as female or regional or Arab. Yes I am Arab and a female and proud of it but this is not all that I am. I do, however, understand the significance of these questions in the context of the responsibility that we all have. The significance here is that we must use our voice to share our opinions and be the voice of women who cannot speak out. To show the world that we can achieve things on our own and be leading examples for others. This is an important point for me and something that plays an important role in my art. Funnily enough, I never planned a brand or a business. As an artist you just do things, in my case it became a brand and grew organically with a genuine passion that I consider to be strong and true. I would love Bil Arabi pieces to be present in more stockists and have my creations loved by many more, but I am proud of my achievements and that’s what counts. One never discovers their own talent. As an artist you just create and keep creating. Others say you have a talent and acknowledge it - this is how you come to realise it within yourself. Art is, for most of us artists, is the best form to express our views and visions, to archive and write history. In my case when I produce a body of work in photography it’s mostly about socio-political issues that have affected me while growing up during the civil war in Lebanon, I like to discus issues that many might consider normal or part of life as they have just leaned to live with it - they just go about their life and accept it - I don’t. I love to discuss politics and social commentary within my art. I love it, I love to play with nuances and allude to certain subjects in a way that can only be discussed through art because they may be sensitive - this opens discussion which is important. The concept of ‘reading between the lines’ is what most of my collages imply on the socio-political subjects that concern me in regards to my home country and the Arab world in general. On any journey you learn a lot, every day. I had a realisation,

6 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

quite early in the pace, that I could have a business and be known as a ‘Cultural Entrepreneur’. The unexpected part, was the judging, both positive and negative, that comes with such a career path. A of being considered a ‘mentor’ means that some may be ‘inspired’ by your work. I feel strongly that the copying of intellectual property and ideas should be addressed in the design sector as the industry moves forward. The business part of Bil Arabi for me is the layer of sweetness upon my passion. When one does something lovingly from the heart, no matter the bumps encountered along the way, nothing will stop them. Part of this passion also means that I am not big on planning! My vision for the next 10 years is to reinvent things and keep being creative - it is the essence of progress. Being who I am today, I have my opinion heard and this makes me proud. It’s a true achievement as I would not want to have passed through life without leaving my mark. I always try to think differently and out of the box so I have new things lined up ... let’s hope they will be as cool as Bil Arabi.” Bil Arabi has its distinct DNA and a life of its own. People ask me “how can you do so much with a set of letters?” I just smile and say, “I love it and it inspires me.’ The emergence of the Dubai Design District made me realise that this would be the best choice for me. This move makes me look forward to the future and to new things, it is setting the tone for the next wave of Design in Dubai. After 10 years working from the guest room and then to the garage, I definitely feel that my business is ready for this! I have worked hard to get here and very proud that I am at the stage of making such decisions. Balancing the business with the creative is also something that is very exciting for me and I know the d3 is the perfect place to create that balance. I have always said I am a ‘designer’, not a jewellery designer. This communicates the vision of Bil Arabi. The brand can be adapted to many different disciplines and mediums. The message of Bil Arabi is to celebrate Arabic culture and I like to think that I am part of the movement pushing design forward in Dubai and the Arab world. We are all part of the DNA and the fabric of Dubai and we want to see change, so we also have to be a part of making those changes. I am proud to say I am Emirati at heart! Dubai and the UAE have been an amazing home to me and my family and this country has been good to me and most of the people I know. Dubai made us believe in a better future in the region and the Arab world, in general. Dubai has taught us that sky is the limit, and if you have a vision, a dream and ambition, you can achieve anything.

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 7

Nadine wears Prada with Bil Arabi jewellery.

The way forward is a long journey ahead and I have many things I wish to do, hopefully I will have the chance and time to do them all. Contributing to the education of the next generation is something that matters enormously to me. I hope that I can be a part of this in the future. Everyone has to have education, it is the best way to avoid wars and conflict is to make people productive and give them work ... As I look to the next 10 years this is definitely something I would put as a priority and I hope I get the opportunity to be involved in education and mentoring.�

Follow @bilarabi


Nadine’s pieces of good advice for a young designer? 1. Be yourself. Have your own DNA and identity. 2. Travel and see the world, it inspires! 3. Work from the heart. 8 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 9

Makeup by Negin Sadeghi for Max Factor Academy.

“The Third Line” literally is a line from a poem written by the master teacher of the famed 13th Century Persian poet Rumi, Shams. Shams was a mystic who is credited with breathing poetic life into Rumi. The poem itself goes something like this in English The first line I write is for only you and I to read The second line I write is for others to read The third line I write, no one can read The third line is me. (Sometimes translated as “the third line is Sufism”) The Third Line is Art. The Third Line was established out of a need for a place where creatives could converge – as a much needed platform where artistic talent and culture from the Middle East could be showcased and where it could perpetuate dialogue. The Third Line is dedicated to raising the bar on contemporary creative expression in the region, and presenting it to a local, regional and international audience. It is also one of the few galleries in Dubai to represent all of its artists on long-term contractual commitments, and one of the few that have a commitment towards developing and encouraging more local programming.

SUNNY RAHBAR LINES IN THE SAND Photography by Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio

Sunny Rahbar has been a significant part of the art scene in the UAE and one of the leaders who showed other gallerists that Al Quoz was the perfect place to set up an art precinct in Dubai.

The Third Line has been a major inspiration for so many other to follow in creating their own art businesses. You were the first in Al Quoz and have been at the forefront since 2008 - what advantages has this given you? We have actually been around since 2005. While, being one of the first commercial art galleries in the city presented many of its own challenges, it also came without a framework that would’ve potentially limited us. Everything was an experiment, and we developed organically, responding to how much we could push ourselves and our programming. It also meant that we had to develop a lot of alternative support programming which included educational outreach, artist talks, book clubs etc. We had to develop an audience first. How has your business changed? It has grown exponentially and we’ve built many new and varied relationships across the world. The programming has grown too and we have a strong schedule of gallery shows, international fairs, non-profit/alternative programming, and book publishing. It has definitely become much larger than we ever anticipated and we are especially proud to see the journey of many of our artists who have been with us from the beginning and are in very good positions in their careers. Why did you decide to move the gallery to Alserkal Avenue? It is a coming of age move, where the gallery’s expanding programming now needs a new, larger and more versatile space. It reflects the maturing development of our 27 artists, many of who have been with us since the beginning, and who have journeyed with us through intimate opportunities towards impressive career milestones. With the new custom-made space, designed by architect Amir Rahbar, The Third Line hopes to continue offering diversity in programming, which still remains very true to the spirit and vision of the gallery. Alongside a larger exhibition area and gallery bookstore, the gallery will continue to host film screenings and artist talks, as well as open opportunities of partnership with local and regional partners for creative ventures. What benefits has this given your business? We are already experiencing increased footfall and are getting in a large number of people of all demographics. We had been fortunate enough to build a loyal and steadily growing audience over the past 10 years – but moving to the Avenue has introduced our programming and publications to a much wider audience. One way we can gauge the engagement is the reactions of the walk-ins on their Instagram accounts…Social media really is the future. How do you see the Dubai arts scene shifting as we approach 2020? Much more interest, engagement, curiosity and appetite. The wheels were set into motion about a decade ago when major publications, the local art fair, and other individuals set up the foundations for some of the first programming in the UAE. Now they provide an established platform for many young people to spearhead new initiatives and businesses. It’s an exciting time for Dubai.

10 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 11

What is your vision as you move towards this pivotal year for the city? To stay current, relevant and important. We want to stay with the times and learn as we move, but not forget our roots and what made us start in the first place. In the end, it’s all about the artists. Do you feel very close to the artists - how difficult is it to work with them on their collections? Of course, the artists on our roster are the ones we believe in and hence chosen to work with, based on how we feel about their work and what potential for growth we see in their careers. Therefore I already feel very strongly about them. However, working with any artist requires a long-term trust-based relationship, quite like any other relationship in your life. Good communication, understanding and a bit of give and take on both sides are the key ingredients to working together successfully. There are difficult moments too, as we have to constantly find the balance between running a commercial gallery and making sure the artist’s creativity is not stifled. How do you balance their objectives of a show with the gallery’s? The agreement to work together is a mutual one – and so we work with the artists to see what they want and we guide them and promote them to the best of our abilities. Tell us about projects that are yet to happen this year? Well our new space just opened in Alserkal Avenue and our first show – a solo exhibition by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian – opened on January 5th. It’s been an incredible 10 years and the new gallery allows us to plan for the next 10 – or more. We have Youssef Nabil’s video, I Saved My Belly Dancer (cast: Salma Hayek and Tahar Rahim), premiering in the Middle East, with his solo show opening on February 3rd. And then March is upon us, undoubtedly the busiest time in the year for the art and design community in UAE. Hassan Hajjaj will be returning with a fantastic solo show in Gallery 1 titled, La Salle de Gym des Femmes Arabes, and we’ll be exhibiting the first solo show of our youngest and newest artist Sara Naim in Gallery 2. We will be following it with an important solo exhibition in April/May by Egyptian artist Huda Lutfi. What is keeping you up at night at the moment? Thinking about tomorrow. What are you listening to? Billy Holiday Follow @thethirdlinedxb

12 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 13


FASHION NEWS Compiled by D-journal Top row from left to right.

1.Versace SS16

Out of this world collection - look it up online to discover the cleverly constructed combo of sports tech, graphic and divine galamazon inspirations.

2.Christian Louboutin

Circus Coty 120 Kid - the ultimate shoe this month to make space for in your wardrobe. We are equally in love with the allgold version of this shoe that takes OTT to the TOP.

2.Pal Zaleri SS16

Now instore a chic geek inspied collection with impeccable fabrication and cut. We love the vintage inspirations. Bottom row from left to right.

1.Salvatore Ferragamo SS16

With a nod to more conservative dressing, we love the layers in this collection is perfect for the region and beyond.

2.Saint Laurent SS16

Speaking to a youth market, the Skin collection takes staples of vintage, leather and denim, mixing them to create the ultimate in understated cool. Throw any of the looks on from the SS16 collection and you’ll be looking the part for Glastonbury - just need to book your tickets!

3.Lanvin FW16 Preview

To mark his ten years as the men’s style director at Lanvin, Lucas Ossendrijver has chosen to go beyond a mere retrospective and look to the very heart of his craft: the garment itself. Skip ahead and see the sophisticated paired down feel of Lanvin men’s - we are looking forward to this for the upcoming winter.

14 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 15

SPA One&Only The Palm, Dubai is delighted to announce its latest partnership with the prestigious house of Guerlain to operate the resort’s spa. Since its creation in 1828, Guerlain has drawn inspiration from nature and its many wonders to formulate its excellent fragrance, make up and skincare. For the first time in the United Arab Emirates, guests will be offered personalized spa treatments in an exquisite setting where every treatment will be transformed into a unique and personal occasion, a moment created especially for you – this is the essence of the Guerlain experience, the perfect

16 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

union of effective know-how and aesthetic expertise. To make the experience even more unique, Guerlain has designed exclusive treatments for One&Only The Palm such as the “Dubai Harmony”, a vitality boosting treatment with original hot and cold touches or “Desert d’Orient”, a true oriental treatment journey to experience in the exclusive Spa Suite. www.oneandonlyresorts.com

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 17

BEAUTY & SKIN (Below) Eyebrows are one of the most important features of a face for Dubai dwellers. The social trend of ‘eyebrows on fleek’ has put pressure on us all to perfect our brows for our insta-posts. Now, whether a beginner or a pro, perfect brows are possible. Introducing, Estée Lauder Brow Now – from shaping and taming to tinting and lifting, Estée Lauder becomes the go-to eyebrow destination for the fast and simple brow transformation. Featuring an assortment of intuitive and innovative brow products in expertly selected shades, Estée Lauder Brow Now has all the tools needed to create a uniquely perfect, tailored arch every day. (Right Top) Shiseido’s new Hydro Master Gel for men is a one-stop for most time-poor males in Dubai. A refreshing gel-type moisturizer that simultaneously resolves multiple skin conces such as dryness, excess oil and conspicuous pores, bringing the skin back to a healthy, stable condition.The rest of the collection is with the same spirit - sort out the skin quickly without irritation. For work-out skin that needs some pep, reach from the Total Revitalizer, a high-performance cream that energizes skin, accelerating its ability to defy dryness, dullness, the appearance of fine lines and other visible signs of aging. (Right Bottom) We were so happy when NARS finally made it to the UAE and now they’re even getting inspiration from the region - or so we like to think. The limited-edition Hot Sand Collection is inspired by the cult-favorite Illuminator. Highlight eyes, lips and cheeks with the extremely sheer, new Lip Gloss in peach shades and match with the Illuminating Multiple and Blush and Bronzer Duos. This collection is all about getting the perfect glow so make sure to apply the bronzer duos with the new limited edition Hanamachi Kabuki Brush also now available from NARS counters.

18 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 19


Photo: Maddie Demaine by Brooklyn Beckham for Burberry

We love the bold statement made by this digital leader by employing Brooklyn Beckham to shoot this camapaign for instagram - say what you will, all the talk surrounding this campaign could not be compared to a paid media campaign. Our hats are off to Christopher Bailey’s bold move that was then trumped by himself as he swept in to change the retail and fashion calendar for the brand’s up-coming seasons. Interesting times we are living in for business, fashion and creative. If you can’t adapt ...

20 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

(Left top) Christie’s, announces a world first for Dubai with “Elements of Style” a new sale including unique handbags and jewels from the world’s best. (Left bottom) Christine Innamorato continues resolutely in this direction for the second Bonpoint Couture collection. She pays tribute to the savoir-faire and history of the House. Cherry Blossom, Buena Vista, The Party, Diabolo Menthe and Nouvelle Vague - the Summer 2016 themes exude the world of Bonpoint.

(Right top) Atelier Versace shows off it’s exquisite new pieeces for SS16. Classical, modern, evocative, understated are the themes and we love the feminine drama and sophisticated designs coming from the House. One to watch. (Right bottom) Franck Muller unveils the Yachting Collection. Maybe not the most robust of watches to hit the waves with, but we do love the colours of the deep blue sea mixed with rose gold.

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 21

RUBEN SANCHEZ: THE MAN BEHIND THE MURALS OF DUBAI AND BEYOND Photography by Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio You must have noticed the unmistakable mark of this creative master whether it be on a wall in the Facebook office, in a cafe or on the side of a building on Jumeirah Beach Road - perhaps you didn’t know his name. Ruben’s ownership of his modern Aztec graffiti is a refreshing part of the UAE arts movement. How long has art been a part of your life? I don’t really know, I did my first graffiti in ‘93 but that was far from being art. In the late 90’s I got interested in graphic design and illustration. I started learning all by myself thanks to the internet. I knew the art from famous graffiti writers but now I was discovering graphic designers and illustrators so I had interesting new inputs. I always have been fascinated by the skateboarding industry graphics, since I started skating in the mid 90’s, I guess that was a big influence and an involuntary approach to art. Like any other kid I always have loved to draw, but as a teenager it was more of an obsession. If you see my text books from school you can barely find a clean page, it’s all drawings everywhere, they have all graffiti sketches and random drawings everywhere. I also used them as flip books, from both sides, and when there were no more room, we took post-its from the teachers room to continue. My friend Alberto Mielgo and myself were always drawing, I can’t say we did that well at school, but he’s working for Disney now. Apart form natural talent, what else has helped you decide on this career? Everything started to merge organically at some point, I was paying my bills thanks to graphic design and illustration but I was missing the action from graffiti and I didn’t want to spend my days in front of the computer. This feeling took me back to the streets and to start working on handmade pieces at home, at the beginning just for fun, then somebody called it ‘art’. The skateboard industry has an important role here, as when I saw that you could survive by doing art for boards and T-shirts, (this realisation was like a dream) I followed that direction and worked for a few companies and then started doing group art shows. There’s not much money but it’s mad fun, I was working with close friends, traveling a lot, skating boards that I designed myself and seeing my favorite skaters riding my designs too! I still do that from time to time. How has your art connected you with like minded individuals around the world? Through group art exhibitions, events, mural festivals... and through skateboarding as well, there are a lot of amazing artists in the scene. It’s great to see local graffiti writers from my era killing it out there, being among the most renowned names in the game. At the end of the day it’s a small world. Why did you choose Dubai as your home? I was invited by Tashkeel to join their Art Residency in 2013. The conditions were very good so I jumped in. This residency was a turning point in my life as it gave me the chance to by fully dedicated to developing my work and a new level of productivity. This was supposed to be only for one year but we really got along and couldn’t break up after that year so I’m still here. How long ago was that? 3 years and a few months Why is Dubai so special? My studio Tashkeel, is where I spend most of my time in this city. It’s just special, a creative oasis full of good people. Every time I show Tashkeel to a newcomer, they get fascinated, they’re

22 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 23


gives me total freedom to do it, then we can sit down and talk about it. In Dubai you get lots of commercial inquiries, it’s hard because you know you might lose a good cheque, but at the end of the day it’s better for your work to be a bit selective. I painted walls in restaurants and offices though, I guess you’ve got to try to find a balance between not being a sellout and also keeping yourself going.

Where is the one place that you hope to create an artwork?

How do you differentiate art and commerce in your life?

How do you tie together different influences in your life?

It’s a delicate combo, but if you decide to be an artist you’ve got to be ready to sell your art, right? That’s how artists survive. I don’t have an agent, Tashkeel takes care of the administration hassle with collectors and commissions but the first contact is always face to face. I like to talk and explain my work to whoever is interested. Luckliy people are interested in my work and buy it. Sometimes a collector asks for a commission, sometimes instead of a collector, it’s a restaurant, a school or a hotel who wants a painting, an installation or a mural. From time to time I also release editions of screen-prints which I ship worldwide. Social media is great to show your work and connect with interested people. What kind of personal endeavors balance you?

like ‘Now I know why you don’t wanna come back’. Dubai is great if you know how and where to move. To be honest I’m not a big fan of the ‘official Dubai lifestyle’ so I find my own way to enjoy this city, there are amazing places if you drive your car for 30 minutes. Desert, mountains, farms, wadis...

press myself, the emotional power of the simple shapes are interesting to me, but there needs to be something else, the esoteric touch, the surreal input. It’s a vision, it’s not about what you see, it’s about how you see it. If you want some names: Juan Gris, Bosco, the Bauhaus, Leger, Magritte, Corbusier... and hundreds more.

I work hard to be honest, I don’t like to be lazy. Well, maybe only on Fridays. Your brain and body need a break from time to time. I guess I should take it easier but I love what I do and I don’t have enough time to do it all. You’ve got to stay focused in the bad times, when it’s frustrating, when you run out of inspiration - thats what makes you find solutions and encourages you to be more creative or travel somewhere to get inspired. In Summer when I’m on holidays, after the second or third day chilling, I get nervous and I have got to go and find spray paint and paint a wall or start drawing anything or film this and that or whatever. I just can’t do nothing. Skateboarding once again, is a good tool for a balance, it keeps your brain off while you are generating serotonin and endorphins and all those happy hormones that will help your creative process later on.

Luckily there are more an d more people thinking like this here, there’s a growing art scene also a larger group who are not interested in the ‘posh’ life who are hosting nice art shows, events and house parties. I think it’s people who make this place so special, the mix of arab-western-asian cultures in one place is very enriching, lots of interesting people and different points of view of coming together. Coming from a place like Barcelona, where pickpockets are around every corner I really appreciate the safety in this city and another thing I love from this place is the ability to make things happen. Sometimes you have an idea that requires support and involvement and in the next days you see yourself making it happen.

Do you have a mentor?

How do you relate to your surroundings?

Not really, the closest to a mentor I ever had it was Alex Castañeda in the early 2000’s. He’s an artist, skater and friend who gave me my first acrylic paints, brushes and tips.

I try to merge with the environment wherever I go, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and it causes anxiety. It’s about focusing on the positive things what those surroundings can provide. Avoiding the tourist life is a must. Wherever I go, I try to get involved with the locals, get to know their day by day captivities. This can end you up in quite particular situations.

Who is inspiring you right now?

It did already and I will definitely continue that direction. I have a few projects in progress at the moment.

It changes quickly but I’m into Magritte and Wes Anderson lately. Which historic artists or designers have given you a platform to do what you do today? In Madrid, where I was born and raised, we were very fortunate to go to museums like El Prado or Reina Sofía at an early age, with the school. At that time you might not pay much attention or even find it boring, but those first impressions on Picasso’s art, Miró, Velázquez, Goya, Bosco, Dalí, Caravaggio, etc they get really stuck in your mind forever, I swear. That might be an early and vague beginning. Nowadays, I find the cubist technique a comfortable way to ex-

24 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

How do you see your skills developing in the future? I hope I can make faster moves with cleaner results when it comes to spray paint. In the studio there’s a whole world to explore beyond acrylic paint and wood, that’s exciting. Do you see your artwork coming off a 2D surface?

Have you ever dabbled in animation? Yes, I’ve been flirting with animation for a long time, I used to do motion graphics back in the days (I still do sometimes) and I really enjoy it but my skills are limited and I don’t like the amount of hours in front of the computer for a few seconds of animation. I ‘d rather work with my hands - but I am totally open to collaborations on this front. Do you cross over your own art with the commercial wishes of corporate clients? If a company that I don’t hate propose something interesting and

Any building by Le Corbusier. He has this church in France, Saint-Pierre de Firming, which is out of this world. I am always attracted by any abandoned place generally. What are the main themes of your work? Each artwork is a different story, but it’s easy to find common subjects like exploration, esoteric-ism, nature, coexistence...

Cubism does the work. It allows me to build a solid structure and style. Do you regard your works as telling stories or are they more fantastical visions? Even if my work is telling a story, it’s still a vision of it. I like to add the fantastical, surreal touch to everything. What kind of music do you listen to when you are working? Buff... from Notorious Big to Johnny Cash, Smiths, Pixies, flamenco, jazz... of course it depends on the mood. What are the milestones you are planning for 2016? 2016 is going to be a quite introspective year with a lot of work in the studio. I’m going to focus on volume, so I could expect to have small sculptures and maybe some big public ones if some projects move ahead. I would like to explore some techniques in murals too, like including wood and mechanical features. I want to go back to studying flamenco guitar too, it’s so difficult and frustrating but so rewarding when you nail it. Three pieces of advice you have learned on your journey? Treat like you want to be treated. Don’t do stupid things for a long time. Call your mom.

Follow @zoonchez

Who did you meet through work and have a long lasting friendship with? Too many to mention. It’s not easy to keep a daily contact with all of them when you have lived in four different cities, but the good ones are always there no matter what. How do you plan to move forward as an artist? There are a lot of things I want to experiment with, mostly related to volume. I’ve been with clay modelers this past summer and it really excites me to see my artworks turn into a third dimension. I want to explore ceramics, fabrics, wood and in the other hand keep playing with video and animation. How do you gauge your own success? By thinking that my own success doesn’t really exist. I think success is a comfortable place where you become lazy and reluctant to experiment and change, so I’d rather ignore that place.

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 25

Interview by Meredith Damouni Photography by Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio Makeup by Evelyn for Max Factor Academy.

NEZ GEBREEL SETTING THE AGENDA We chat with Nez Gebreel, the CEO of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council about goals for 2016 and navigating the voyage of art and commerce.

“The majority of my experience lies in the strategic development of global brands and commercially driven fashion, entertainment and media related projects. Prior to my role at DDFC I managed the growth of David and Victoria Beckham’s individual and joint businesses including launching David Beckham’s Football Academy in London and Los Angeles and developing and building Victoria Beckham’s fashion collection. I also have a non-profit organisation called Noon Arts where my partner within that initiative, Najlaa Al Ageli, and I support Libyan artists by holding exhibitions for their work. It is tremendously exciting to have the privilege to work with a visionary government. It’s a very important time for the design industry in Dubai and there is increasing attention and investment from a governmental level, heralding a new stage in the evolution of the design industry. My role also involves a lot of collaboration with our key commercial partners, enabling me to have a broader industry-wide perspective, and delve into new and creative ways that we can work together to make Dubai an international design hub. The very core of our mandate is to nurture and support emerging design talent and so our designers are always at the centre of our plans and initiatives; ensuring how we can

26 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

best support and educate them guides our journey. As I mentioned, the design community are at the very core of all our projects and initiatives and a fundamental part of our role is to build a sustainable framework for them, so that they are able to add value to the design sector in Dubai, both from a cultural and commercial standpoint. Although there are many significant upcoming initiatives this year, our membership program is a key one for us. The program will offer an association between DDFC and the design community to deliver benefits for designers, allowing them to excel and further grow their businesses. We will be announcing details of this initiative this year. In order to give some context to this answer, I’d like to share some interesting statistics with you. DDFC recently launched the MENA Design Outlook; a ground breaking study across the MENA region that identifies key themes and issues influencing design culture, including the impact of the design sector on economic growth and its role in driving innovation. This study unveiled that with an average growth of 6%, the MENA Design industry will grow at twice the pace of the global design sector and by 2019, its contribution to the global design sector will

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 27

reach 5.2%. If we are to succeed in our mandate and continue on this trend of outpacing global growth we must support emerging designers and provide the infrastructure that enables creative collaborations and is focused on skill set development. By 2020 Dubai will be solidly ingrained on the international design map and Dubai based designers will have been an integral part of this pioneering journey. There are always challenges but I am pleased to say that we have the overwhelming support of the design community, key stakeholders and industry leaders who are working in collaboration with us and share our mandate of making Dubai the emerging design capital of the world. One’s perspective is always different when looking from the outside in, however I can say without a doubt that Dubai and the people of Dubai, are relentless in their pursuit of excellence and pushing the boundaries of possibility – Nothing is impossible in Dubai and it is this passion and commitment that makes working in Dubai so exciting. There are so many talented designers that I have my eye on in the different segments of design, so I will just name a few: Ali Al Usaimi (Osaymi); an Emirati Fashion Designer whose work was recently featured in Design 971 pop up in Dubai Mall, Omar Nakkash an interior designer Ayah Al Bitar: Saudi product designer, Salama Khalfan: Emirati Jewelry Designer and Khaled Mezayna: Emirati Graphic Designer. There are certain qualities that they share: their commitment, hard work, humbleness and creativity We are extremely proud of the DDFC Talks, which were created as a knowledge sharing platform where industry leaders, professionals and aspiring designers could come together to learn, discuss and share their experiences. We started off with ad hoc topics to test the community’s appetite and moved on to themed series’ with strategic partners, which has been tremendously well received and is proving very popular. We just concluded the ‘Intellectual Property’ series with Clyde and CO, and are currently running our ‘Retail’ series in partnership with Chalhoub Group. Comprising of workshops, panel discussions and interactive Q&A’s, our Retail series runs from February – September 2016 and is free to attend - I would encourage anyone with an interest in design to come and join us. I was honored to be involved in Burberry’s ‘Art of Trench’ Middle East campaign where 30 creative influencers and taste makers were photographed to highlight the iconic Burberry trench coat and the

different ways it can be worn. The Burberry team both here and in London are fantastic. When I met Chris Bailey we realized we share a common passion and commitment to nurturing emerging talent and that was the starting point for the collaboration. Hopefully in the future we can collaborate on some exciting projects that will reflect this shared vision. We will soon be launching The DDFC Ambassador and Spotlight program in order to highlight inspirational designers who are based in Dubai or the region, and have made an international mark becoming prime examples of the potential that Dubai and the MENA region has when it comes to Design capability. Our ambassador program enables the sharing of experiences through giving the public insight into designers’ journeys and offers inspiration for future designers. Our ambassadors also provide insight on how DDFC has helped shape their paths and can be a great resource to leverage. Our goal is that by 2020 Dubai will be known as a designer friendly city, where the design community feel supported, nurtured and confident in their creative and commercial endeavors. We will also see more regional designers from all industry segments launching internationally and representing the wealth of talent in Dubai in the process. 2016 is crucial for us as the momentum is definitely building; we are seeing a collaborative approach whereby everyone from our creative partners such as d3, Tashkeel and Alserkal Avenue to our commercial partners like Emaar and Chalhoub Group, in addition to the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and international brands are all focused on working together towards establishing Dubai as the emerging design capital of the world. The most valuable advice I can give a young designer is, be hardworking, open, humble and here’s that key word again – collaborative. We have a number of events that are planned and will also be announcing some exciting new initiatives this year. For announcements and further information on DDFC, take a look either on our website www.ddfc.ae.” Follow @ddfc_dubai

“Our goal is that by 2020 Dubai will be known as a designer friendly city, where the design community feel supported, nurtured and confident in their creative and commercial endeavors. We will also see more regional designers from all industry segments launching internationally and representing the wealth of talent in Dubai in the process. .”

28 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 29

Photo by Miguel Veterano at Capital D Studio Makeup by Dimelzai for Max Factor Academy. Fatma wears FMM by Fatma Al Mulla

FATMA AL MULLA MAKING HER MARK In an ever-changing world of trending, Fatma Al Mulla has been able to create a niche space where heritage meets humour and style and sensibility can co-exist in harmony. Her brand FMM by Fatma Al Mulla has identified with Emiratis and Ex-pats alike and is making waves towards new possibilities.

“In a way, graphic design found me; I always loved art and design, so later on I studied Visual Communication at the American University of Sharjah, attaining a Bachelor of Science. I was engaged after I graduated, which made looking for a job inconvenient. The jobs I was applying for in the fields of art and design, were for private firms and the long working hours did not paint the picture of an ideal dream job, so I sought a Government job that would allow enough free time for my own endeavours. During this time I launched my blog. I decided to post a few illustrations I had previously designed, not thinking at all about a strategy or a brand. As the months passed things started happened organically. I let go of the idea of applying for the ‘dream’ jobs and felt that starting my own label was the way to go, that’s when I started FMM. Culture and the world we live in is a huge inspiration for me. My current collection entitled “ #theCarbonEdition ” is inspired by old doors, particularly the doors from the area where I grew up. We used to live in Deira. Both my parents were born and raised in the Al Ras area, which is now the place of the Gold Souk and Souk Naif. I loved living in such a congested area; the traffic, the people, the neighbours. It was a community and a lot of my family members lived near to us. I remember sitting in the car when I was much younger and I would be fascinated with the doors we passed, filled with colors and juxtaposed patterns and colors. The way these doors would represent a certain family was also what I visually remembered from my childhood. During the creation of my latest collection, my Grandmother passed away, and I found myself simply wandering the area around where she had lived, trying to remember the days where we would come visit her. I would like to think that she (God rest her soul) was the one who also inspired me. I get inspired by talking to old ladies like my grandmother and her friends about what happened in the past, also from watching old sitcoms on TV. I find everything to do with the past extremely inspiring. In a way I always feel like I was born in the wrong era, something about history just fascinates me.

30 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 31

The GCC countries also influence my designs because I design for the people living in the Arab world. As a visual artist, I observe and focus on certain elements of culture and heritage, and take them completely out of context, a good example of that would be the Sadu pattern. The Sadu pattern is a pattern only used when building a tent, a lot of people are used to seeing that as a representative of heritage, I on the other hand, so fascinated with the Sadu print, used it and created a pouch that a woman can carry it around with her. In a way she has not bought a Sadu print but she has bought a piece of culture that designed in a contemporary way. I consider myself a visual artist, and part of my art has to do with popular culture. Yes I am a commentator on culture in general, I take elements from heritage and traditions and put them out of context to portray the world we live in today. Arab women in the world today have a great responsibility to mentor future generations and share ideas. Art and design play a very big part in that. Flourishing in different parts of the world, I see artists that I have previously exhibited with in photography and digital media exhibitions, now leading the way for other Arab women, which is inspiring. FMM is a label that culturally infused. It is a brand influenced by the latest trends, Culture and Fusion. Being from the UAE, and in particular Dubai, it is obvious that we live in a city that has over 200 nationalities, hence making it a big melting pot. Such a mix of different nationalities creates the Emirati culture, or should I say the modern Emirati culture.

as soon as I receive them, my husband has helped me build my label from the business aspect of things. I wouldn’t have reached this far if it were not for them. They have been extremely supportive in every decision I have made. Social media is the reason why my brand is very successful, I believe that social media is THE best thing after the invention of the print advertisement. I have been able to engage a lot with my clientele through Instagram in particular. Having minored in photography in university I found myself at ease with Instagram, and I am a very visual person so I evolved organically on how to take good photographs of my products. With the rise of social media of course, it has been made accessible to everyone in the world, regardless the age group or ethnicity, that in itself has opened up a big window to so many people that print advertisement could not. Engaging with direct customers via social media has been excellent. Asking them their opinion, and also collaborating with other designers, in a way social media has created a community where a lot of like minded people get together. I hope to appeal to all women who have an interest of contemporary Arabic cultural designs. I aspire to have numerous retail concept stores around the globe where many people can enjoy my products.�

Follow @fmm.dubai

I love visiting new places, museums, art galleries, restaurants, plays etc. I feel places with cultural values inspire me to create. I love going to Japan, Tokyo and Osaka and visiting the contemporary art museums. Simply walking down the streets of Shibuya gives me so much inspirations and ideas for themes. Walking in London’s Hyde park, enjoying the scenery of the squirrels climbing the big trees gives me a sense of calmness and allows me to open my mind and look at things in Pantone colors. Sitting in a design library in Seoul gives me chills to see such amazing Korean designs. Sitting in a girls gathering in Riyadh talking about the latest fashion updates me on trends to start the theme to my new work. Hopefully the next three years will include a retail space inside the UAE, interesting collaborations with brands and expansion on a wide range of products. My parents are always excited to use my sample products

Fatma wears her own collection.

32 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 33

Photo by Ayaad Damouni at D the Agency Direction & Styling by Hideyuki Hayashi



Swimwear by Moschino Bag by Stella McCartney

Shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo

Collar by Fendi Pants by Emporio Armani

Dress by Saint Laurent

Visor by Moschino Swimwear by Moschino

T-Shirt by Alexander McQueen Overlay by McCartney

Jacket by Fendi

Shawl by Boden, jacket by A.P.C and trousers by Topshop

ABOVE THE SKY Photography by Bridget Fleming at D the Agency


Coat by Comptoir de Cotonniers, dress by Paul & Joe, sweater by Jigsaw, boots by Ganni

46 | D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016

Coat by Moncler, sweater by Max Mara, jeans by Paul Smith, socks by Calzedonia, boots by Clarks, necklace by Daisy Jewellery.

D-journal 12 | Jan/Feb 2016 | 49

Coat by The Kooples, sweater by Primark, culottes by Frame, socks by Calzedonia, boots by Monk, earrings by ChloĂŠ

Sleeveless sweater and trousers by Joseph, sweater by Stills Atelier.

FALL WINTER 2016 31 MAR - 3 APR HAI d3

In Partnership with

Supported by