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interiors A N D A R C H I T E C T U R E from the G ulf , L e v ant and beyond

SAUDI ART SHOWCASE Rocco Forte Hotels’ Olga Polizzi on its Jeddah launch

ARTS AND MINDS Ray Phillips of SSH on the place of cultural buildings

March

2017

REMOTE CONTROL Building site safety in the back of beyond

HOEHLER+ALSALMY’S STUNNING TRIBUTE TO A SCIENTIFIC GOLDEN AGE


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SAUDI ARABIA: AL-GHAMDI CO. FOR SANITARY WARES Riyadh +966 11 4646279 Jeddah +966 12 6696263 Dammam +966 13 8340248 www.amghamdi.com BAHRAIN: MARMARA TRADING Co. Bahrain +973 1773 7735 www.marmaratrading.com

IDEAL STANDARD GULF FZCO Jebel Ali, Dubai, P.O. Box 261559, United Arab Emirates, Tel. +971 4 804 2400, www.idealstandardgulf.com IDEAL STANDARD DESIGN BATHROOM CENTRE Jabal Ali Bldg., Al Quoz 3, Sheikh Zayed Rd., Dubai, P.O. Box 38430, United Arab Emirates, Tel. +971 4 309 6000

OMAN: MAIN DISTRIBUTOR BAHWAN BUILDING MATERIALS LLC Muscat +968 2 465 0000 www.suhailbahwangroup.com DISTRIBUTOR ALSHAYA UNITED LLC Muscat +968 2 461 9681/3/4 www.alshayatrading.com

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CONTENTS MARCH 2017

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14

30

IN THIS ISSUE…

8

A design lovers’ delight

14

Saudi art showcase

22

Modern mashrabiya

30 40

Design Days Dubai is back – check out this spring’s packed programme of public events Olga Polizzi, director of design at Rocco Forte Hotels, talks about her scheme for the chain’s newly opened Assila Hotel in Jeddah Hoehler+alSalmy’s stunning Conference and Exhibition Hall at GUtech Oman

Arts and minds

Ray Phillips, design director and chief strategic officer, building design at SSH, reflects on the importance of arts and heritage architecture

Remote control

Health and safety expert Stewart Cripps argues for better care in hard-to-reach locations March 2017

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CONTENTS march 2 0 1 7

10

38

Wonder web

45

Trends on tap

52

Please be seated

HomesScope is a handy online resource for anyone involved with interiors. The Dubaibased start-up’s founder, Kashish Sajnani, tells us more about the project

News and products from the world of washroom fittings, fixtures and sanitaryware

The latest tables and chairs for lifestyle, residential and corporate settings

REGULARS

52 35 45 2|

March 2017

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Welcome

35

Wish List

Briefing

A school gets an upgrade, students could win big and Harrods Interiors makes its UAE debut

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Objects of desire on sale from the finest ateliers, from Beirut to London and Milan

Hot Ticket

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Interior Design Oman and CTBUH’s annual conference are among the trade fairs on our radar this month and in the year ahead.

The Last Word

Samer Al Isis, the CEO of Poltrona Frau Group Middle East, shares some of his trend predictions for summer 2017


Materials that inspire ideas. Shapes and hues designed to freely express your style. Unique and inspiring products with unlimited choice. RAK Ceramics gives you limitless imagination.

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CEO Wissam Younane wissam@bncpublishing.net Managing director Walid Zok walid@bncpublishing.net Director Rabih Najm rabih@bncpublishing.net Group publishing director Diarmuid O’Malley dom@bncpublishing.net Group sales director Joaquim D’Costa jo@bncpublishing.net +971 50 440 2706

Business development director Rabih Naderi rabih.naderi@bncpublishing.net +966 50 328 9818

Editor Lauren Steadman lauren@bncpublishing.net Art director Ifteqar Ahmed Syed syed@bncpublishing.net Marketing executive Mark Anthony Monzon mark@bncpublishing.net

Welcome The month of March is always an exciting one for the UAE’s creative community as Design Days Dubai sets the emirate’s imagination ablaze. Architects, furniture firms, lighting specialists and sculptors are a mere sample of the professionals who’ll display their work in d3 over four action-packed days, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store. Cultural events play an important part in any community, as to the buildings in which they occur. On page 30, Ray Phillips, design director and chief strategic officer at SSH, discusses the impact of such structures upon the urban environments they inhabit. We hear from the lead architect of another inspirational centre for heritage and learning in our page 22 cover story. The Exhibition and Conference Hall at The German University of Technology, Oman, is a museum-cum-gallery that makes great use of mashrabiya, the geometric latticework found at the farthest reaches of the ancient Islamic world. The team behind the centre, Omani-German partnership Hoehler+alSalmy, went to great lengths to ensure the earliest samples of the artform were represented. Elsewhere in the Gulf, Rocco Forte Hotels has opened a lovely venue that is dedicated to Arabian art. Assila Hotel, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is home to some 2,000 original pieces by the cream of the Kingdom’s artistic community. On page 14, acclaimed interior designer Olga Polizzi, deputy chairman and director of design at the family-run hospitality group, talks us through the concept behind this intriguing destination.

Contributors Kathryn Roberts Marouane Al Mandri Cover image: The Exhibition and Conference Hall at The German University of Technology, Oman

SUBSCRIBE subscriptions@bncpublishing.net PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates T +971 4 420 0506 | F +971 4 420 0196 For all commercial enquiries related to Design Middle East contact sales@bncpublishing.net T +971 50 504 0182 All rights reserved © 2016. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Design Middle East and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Design Middle East. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Images used in Design Middle East are credited when necessary. Attributed use of copyrighted images with permission. Prices are quoted in US dollars. Printed by International Printing Press ippuae.com

IMPRESSIVE: Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre, Kuwait, is one of a number of exciting arts and heritage buildings to have opened across the region recently

March 2017

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INSIGHTS

a design lovers’ delight

Now in its sixth year, Design Days Dubai is the place to see up-and-coming creative talent from not just the UAE but all over the world. Here’s a mere snapshot of what this month’s event has in store…

W

hether you’re seeking collectible objets d’art, cutting edge lighting or the latest furniture trends from far and wide, Design Days Dubai should be a highlight of your diary. Running for four days in cultural quarter d3, the event features a diverse schedule of talks, workshops, installations and live performance, enabling visitors to discover and engage with the design community and the works on display. Supported by Dubai Culture and d3, the public programme is part of the fair’s ongoing advocacy of art and design in the emirate and region at large. We’ve perused the listings and profiled some of the ones that caught our eye. WORKSHOP: The How and Why of Parametric Design Parametric design is a process based on algorithmic thinking that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define, encode and clarify

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the relationship between design intent and design response. Of particular relevance to architects, designers and visual artists, this masterclass will be led by Dutch architect Kas Oosterhuis, who will discuss the phenomenon using an interactive lecture app and through active input by the audiences. 4.30pm-6.30pm, Tuesday, 14 March, The Studio. Participants must bring their own laptops, tablets or smartphones AUDI INNOVATION TALKS: Discussion panel with awards judges Aisha Alsager, Brendan McGetrick and Salem Al Qassimi will explore the fundamental principles behind great design solutions. Al Qassimi is a designer, entrepreneur and assistant professor of design at the American University of Sharjah, as well as the founder of multidisciplinary design studio Fikra. McGetrick is an independent writer, editor and designer who has curated exhibitions across the

world, including the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, for which he was awarded a jury prize. Architect and researcher Alsager has worked on a variety of projects in New York, Boston and Kuwait City. 5pm-6pm, Wednesday, 15 March, Audi Lounge TALK: Mehran Gharleghi, studio INTEGRATE Mehran Gharleghi’s work employs sophisticated design and analysis tools along with rigorous physical material studies. An architect, researcher and educator, he looks to synthesise design and performance, establishing new relationships with the built environment and ultimately leading to novel spatial experiences. Gharleghi will present a holistic overview of the development of 3D printing and its influence on a number of industrues dependent industries such as food. 5pm-6pm, Thursday 16 March, Audi Lounge


BOOK LAUNCH: In Nature We Trust Marko Brajovic is a Croatian-born, Brazil-based multidisciplinary designer and will attend Design Days Dubai to present his new book. In Nature We Trust features selected work produced by Atelier Marko Brajovic over the past decade and is divided in three macro themes: Manifesto, Key Strategy Files and Selected Works from 2006 to 2016. Rich in high-definition images, diagrams, technical drawings and theoretical texts, the title is geared towards architects, designers, scenographers and artists as well anyone who would like to learn more about biomimicry as a design strategy. Discussion: 7pm-8pm, The Studio; book launch: 8pm-8.30pm, Atlas Bookstore; both events Wednesday, 15 March

AIRY: A building designed by Brazil-based practice Atelier Marko Brajovic is in harmony with its surroundings

for optimal acoustic performance of retail, office space, residential, hospitality and performance venues. Through an engaging discussion with the audience, various tools will be provided to enhance functional environmental acoustics. The workshop will be led by Fouad Bechwati of Beirut-based acoustic solutions firm 21dB. 2pm-4pm, Friday 17 March, The Studio WORKSHOP: Experimental Arabic Typography as Architectural Skin This session will teach the basic principles of designing an Arabic typeface and demonstrate the evolving possibilities of using Arabic letters. Intended for design students and professionals from various disciplines, including graphics, architecture, furniture, textiles and jewellery, it will concentrate on the potential of Arabic typeface design as material for creating ornamental surfaces. Letters will be treated as formal elements that test the limits of readability. Urban and architectural elements from the cityscape of Dubai will form the starting point of this typographical exploration, which will also serves as a concept development session for potential typographical projects. 4.30pm-6.30pm, Thursday 16 March, The Studio WORKSHOP: Sound Matters: Designing for Better Acoustics An environment that is too reverberant or has acoustic damping leads to poor clarity in speech and music. This workshop is an investigation into the different materials and spatial parameters necessary

TALK: This is My Job The curator of the exhibition Britain Takes Shape, the designer and author Suzanne Trocmé, will moderate a discussion between prolific UK-based

designers Sebastian Wrong, Kim Thomé, Philip Michael Wolfson and Brodie Neil. They will consider a question put forward by Wrong: “Should designers look after production themselves, or sell their ideas?” This event forms part of Britain Takes Shape, an exhibition by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority running for the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Creative Collaboration. 7pm-8.30pm, Tuesday, 14 March, The Studio

Design Days Dubai runs from 14 to 17 March. Entry costs AED50 per day. Advance registration at designdaysdubai.ae is required for workshops

DEBATE: Norwegian designer Kim Thomé will take part in the panel discussion This is My Job

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BRIEFING

Students could win $10,000 prize by entering developer’s design challenge A Dubai-based developer has invited students to come up with winning concepts for the chance to win $10,000. KOA is seeking fresh blood to put their stamp on its first major project, boutique residential scheme Canvas. Running throughout the first semester of 2017, the contest is open to members of Canadian University Dubai (CUD) who are studying art and design-related subjects. KOA’s CEO and founder, Mohammed Zaal, said: “The judges and I cannot wait to see the final work of the students of Canadian University Dubai and have no doubt that we will be presented with some innovative solutions to our competition’s criteria. “KOA is an aspirational project to provide people their dream homes, working spaces and communities, and we hope that the aspirations of

CREATIVE HUB: KOA by Canvas, on the outskirts of Dubai

Dubai’s young and creative talent is demonstrated in the finished products of their submissions.” Canvas, KOA’s first development, has been strategically designed to foster creativity and collaboration, incorporating a coworking space, nursery and amphitheatre. Entrants to KOA University Design Challenge have three tasks from which to choose. The first is to extend the co-working space into the outdoor common area in a way that both incorporates the design of the indoor space and complements and enhances the natural environment. It must also demonstrate resilience against Dubai’s hot

summer climate. The second competition option is to design bilingual signage that identifies the units in a cohesive manner. Finally, students can design a climbing frame or similar play structure for the Canvas on-site daycare centre. The judging panel comprises three people who are involved in the Canvas development. They include Tarik Zaharna, the scheme’s lead architect and the founder and director of T.ZED Architects, Mohammed Zaal and award-winning landscape architect Kamelia Zaal. The name of the winner will be announced no later than 12 April 2017.

Painter to cook up a storm at new French restaurant Chez Charles Restaurant will host a live painting session with an artist renowned for her portrayal of brasserie life. The new venue will welcome French painter Elizabeth Germain, whose paintings can be seen on its façade and within the firm’s headquarters. After the event, being held from 14 to 17 March during Dubai Art Week, the oil on canvas painting will become a signature piece of the restaurant’s décor. The bistro Chez Charles Restaurant is due to open in Dubai Design District this month.

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Zaro Architects opens for business following d3 launch Zaro Architects is open for business following a successful launch that took guests on an interactive journey through the team’s creative processes. More than 100 guests gained an insight into the firm’s work through the presentation, held at its new Dubai Design District headquarters, which utilised video and virtual reality to bring its buildings to life. The firm’s principal architect, Hazem Al Zaro, said: “I’m thrilled with how the launch has gone so

far – it’s been great to showcase our work within our new community. “After months of planning, it is very exciting to be officially open in Dubai – an ideal location for our creative expansion.” Established in the UAE in 2010, Zaro Architects provides an extensive scope of architecture services, including programming and space planning; concept and schematic design and construction documents and supervision.

OPTIMISTIC: Roderick Wiles

American Hardwood Export Council gears up for WoodShow 2017

MODERN: The latest addition to Al Sufouh school Dubai College

GAJ starts work on high school’s extension GAJ has commenced building work on an extension for Dubai College, the latest scheme in its long-standing partnership with the Al Sufouh secondary school. The new administration block will form a single gateway to the building’s entrance, incorporating its main reception, meeting rooms and offices. Jason Burnside, a partner at the architectural and interior design firm, said: “Our longstanding relationship with Dubai College means we are completely aligned with its vision. “As architects, one of our prime considerations is to accommodate the needs of today while anticipating changes in education five years from now.

“With Dubai College, our flexible approach throughout has allowed us to continually adapt and update the facilities so that each new upgrade blends seamlessly with the existing structure.” GAJ has worked with Dubai College since its inauguration in 1978. The initial master plan was created 40 years ago with the involvement of managing partner Brian Johnson; the practice has since been tasked with all subsequent development of the campus. To date, it has overseen the design of the school’s classrooms, laboratories, swimming pool, lecture theatre, multipurpose hall and design technology centre, in addition to external works.

The event, from 7-9 March, will be attended by representatives of 14 US hardwood lumber and veneer exporters under the banner of the American Hardwood Pavilion. AHEC, a major international trade association for the American hardwood industry, is taking part in the event with the aim of educating visitors about the wide availability and variety of American hardwood species as well as their environmental credentials amid a mild regional slump in demand. AHEC’s regional director, Roderick Wiles, said: “Since the very first Dubai WoodShow, AHEC has consistently participated with an American Hardwood Pavilion, which plays host to a number of US hardwood exporting companies. Now in its 12th edition, the show has been very good for the region and is by far the most important wood trade event in the wider MENA region. “Despite a slight downturn in demand for hardwood across the region in 2016, AHEC’s participation will help strategically reinforce the position of US hardwood as a favoured material, mainly for interior joinery, flooring and furniture, and more importantly as key projects near their completion dates and final materials, including hardwood, are specified.” Dubai WoodShow 2017 runs from 7-9 March at Dubai World Trade Centre.

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BRIEFING

Harrods’ VIP lounge plan for Index

Harrods will launch its interior design venture in the UAE at Index. The legendary London department store will create a VIP lounge for the 27th edition of the trade fair, which comes to Dubai in May. Interior stylists from Harrods Interiors, the high-end retailer’s interior design arm, are crafting a five-star retreat within the forest paradise Index has promised this year’s visitors. Set in the heart of the show’s new luxury hall, it will showcase the brand’s debut furniture range, the Harrods of London collection, which officially launches in March. It will be the first time pieces from the stunning collection will be displayed outside

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the British capital – and marks Harrods Interiors’ first design of a public space anywhere in the UAE. Letitia Taylor, Head of Harrods Interiors, said: “We are delighted to support Index this year in Dubai. We will be creating a visual feast for the senses by using the intense colours and textures of nature, inspired by the wild. “Guests will be transported to into the heart of a tropical paradise. By using an exciting mix of organic materials and whimsical prints with strong and unexpected narratives, Harrods Interiors will create a memorable sensory experience for our guests with the design celebrating all of the latest interior and design trends.”

The director of Index, Samantha KaneMacdonald, said: “There may simply be no brand held in the same esteem as Harrods. When you speak of Harrods, people know you’re talking high-end; they picture signature designers and outstanding products. “That reputation has been built by a near two century dedication to style and innovation – hallmarks that are now the cornerstones of Harrods Interiors. To have such a respected, experienced and design-leading creative team as the brains behind our VIP lounge is a source of huge excitement for everyone involved in Index. It promises to be truly breathtaking.”


INSIGHTS

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An Arabian art hotel Olga Polizzi, acclaimed interior designer and director of design at Rocco Forte Hotels, talks us through the concept for Assila Hotel, the hospitality group’s new property in Jeddah

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I

n the two decades since Olga Polizzi and her brother Sir Rocco Forte launched the Rocco Forte hotel group, the entrepreneurial siblings have opened 10 five-star properties across Europe. Their latest, Assila Hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, marks their first foray into the Middle East. The two-tower property, designed by Jeddahbased practice Mohamed Harasani Architects, occupies a corner of Tahlia Street in one of the coastal city’s most exclusive districts. Its distinctive curved design and reflective glass exterior have made it a landmark in its own right. “I think it’s actually rather a beautiful hotel – it’s probably one of our nicest Rocco Forte hotels,” Polizzi says. “It’s got some lovely heights and wonderful doorways and yet it feels of the place because that’s what we always try and do – so you wake up and you know you’re in Saudi Arabia. But it was quite difficult when we started.” Occupying 63,000 square metres, Assila Hotel is set across two towers housing a total of 210 rooms and suites, 94 serviced apartments, five restaurants and a health centre complete with a 25-metre rooftop pool. There’s also a substantial ballroom. The building’s modern exterior is echoed in the interior architecture, with ceilings that stretch

We wanted to do something a little bit different but that something was still very comfortable and colourful and attractive and not too minimalist three metres high and dramatic full-height doors creating an airy, ethereal effect. Clean lines, limestone flooring and unadorned, cool-toned walls add to the tranquil atmosphere, as does panelling in grey-stained oak. Subtle Middle Eastern accents appear in the light fittings and in the vibrant soft furnishings such as scatter cushions, tapestries and bespoke handwoven rugs. These textiles add colourful, homely notes to the otherwise muted palette; they’re also a nod to Saudi Arabian handicrafts. The guest rooms, no smaller than 44 square metres, feature limestone floors and bathrooms of mosaic and marble. Polizzi teamed up with Martin Brudnizki

Design Studio, the upscale practice based in London and New York specialising in hospitality. The Assila is the second collaborations between the pair, who previously worked on Rocco Forte’s Villa Kennedy hotel in Frankfurt, and their aim was to avoid the glitzy, over-decorated looks so popular in the region without going for anything too austere. “We wanted to do something a little bit different but that something was still very comfortable and colourful and not too minimalist,” she says. The flooring is of white limestone is in a matte rather than shiny finish, with high skirting in the same stone. Subtle Middle Eastern accents appear in the light fittings and in the vibrant soft furnishings such as scatter cushions, tapestries and bespoke handwoven rugs. These textiles add colourful, homely notes to the otherwise muted palette; they’re also a nod to Saudi Arabian handicrafts. Loose covers have been used on the tables and chairs – “so it feels a bit Bedouin”, and brightly coloured cushions abound. Arabian-patterned carpets and handwoven rugs and tapestries celebrate the region’s rich history of craft. Polizzi adds: “The patterns are all from that part of the world, so it’s still got a feel of the place and yet it’s still very different from anything else in the region.”

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INSIGHTS

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A home from home The colourful textures and patterns add warmth to the vast, airy spaces – Assila Hotel has fullheight doors and unusually high ceilings. “Actually the owners wanted them. We took out the floors to make the ceilings higher – they are very high,” she says. “Even in the bedrooms they reach up to three metres, and very tall doorways, so it looks quite palatial.” While the guestrooms contain splashes of colour in the form of artworks and soft furnishings, the bathrooms are in cooler shades. The property has very traditional lanterns in all the lift lobbies, while more simple lanterns are placed beside each room. Elsewhere, the lighting is quite modern: “You’ve got a bit of downlighting but we’ve tried to limit it because everybody does it – it’s such a bore for hotels – and then to try and change all the bulbs is a bit of a chore.” The Royal Suite is suitably regal. Spanning half a floor, it is an expansive space with separate living quarters for a maid, a formal reception area and a dining room, as well as private quarters for the three. Bespoke hanging lanterns, silk wall coverings and crackled gold-inlaid plaster add a luxurious touch. The colour palette cannot be pinned down to any one concept; rather, the team took cues from the paintings and traditional textiles around them. “I think we didn’t cut out any colours because

a lot of yellows is very much that strong sun – I just thought so that it doesn’t all bleach out, you know, something quite strong. And the artwork is really good artwork.” Assila Hotel houses more than 2,000 pieces of original art by Saudi artists. Produced in a variety of media and numerous styles, they’re a wonderful tribute to the country’s burgeoning art scene. Each piece was chosen by Nora Al Issa, the daughter of the hotel’s owner and an established artist herself. A photographer who studied at London’s Goldsmiths College, Al Issa has exhibited her work in a number of countries and promotes the visual arts across Saudi Arabia in her role as an art consultant. Polizzi says: “She’s very good artist – she’s shown in London and all over the world – and she has many artist friends from the region, so she really curated the whole thing. We’ve got a lot of original paintings from some quite well-known artists, and then a lot of prints of works by others for the bedrooms. “I feel a sense of place is given by the art. You see art in Saudi and you immediately know that it’s not from London or Rome.”

The perfect partnership Assila Hotel is Polizzi’s second collaboration with acclaimed interior designer Martin Brudnizki. Based in London with a sister studio in New York, his

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INSIGHTS

I feel a sense of place is given by the art. You see art in Saudi Arabia and you immediately know that it’s not from London or Rome

In addition, Polizzi runs two hotels of her own, both in south-west England, and is a director of a bakery she set up with one of her daughters.

portfolio includes a number of trendy restaurants in London, Los Angeles and Miami. “He has very, very good ideas and it’s nice always to work with someone that you don’t have to tell them what to do, says Polizzi. “You know, he has his own ideas and take on board anything we want.” The pair previously worked on Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, one of Rocco Forte Hotels’ first properties. “Frankfurt, strangely, has actually lasted incredibly well, she reflects. “The bathrooms are a bit unusual because they have a lot of glass walls – the back is painted – and that looks interesting; we’ve got some local artwork there as well. But Assila is totally different.” Brudnizki’s influence can be seen in the Jeddah property’s F&B offerings, notably Argentinean restaurant Pampas. With a distinctly LatinAmerican ambience, it offers a dramatic contrast to the rest of the hotel. Partitions of dark wood feature stained-glass panels with a patchwork of coloured panes; adding both vibrancy and intimacy. It features an aged oak herringbone floor, oak wall panelling and a hammered brass bar front; the rodeo vibe is enhanced by the banquette of studded leather, beaten to give it the weathered appearance of a wellworn riding saddle. There’s even a painting of a bull in the lush lowlands that lend the venue its name. Polizzi adds: “We’re going to transfer a lot of prickly plants of all sorts in there to give it even more of an Argentinean feel.”

CONSTANT ACTIVITY Polizzi is a busy woman. Rocco Forte Hotels is revamping some of its older properties, including Brown’s, in London, the Balmoral in Edinburgh and Brussels venue The Amigo. She’s been spending lots of time in Rome, working on Rocco Forte Hotel’s second venture in the city, Hotel De La Ville. “It’s a real mixture of old and new styles. And this time we’re going back more to the traditional,” she says. While further details have yet to be released, Polizzi and her siblings appear hard at work. “There’s always lots going on and hopefully there’ll be lots coming up.”

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INSIGHTS

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Modern mashrabiya Ancient geometric patterns adorn a new exhibition space that pays tribute to the golden age of Islamic science. Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy, managing partner and lead architect of Muscat-based firm Hoehler+alSalmy, talks us through the adventurous concept‌

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INSIGHTS

STUNNING: The Conference and Exhibition Hall at GUtech, Oman, houses replicas of groundbreaking inventions from across the ancient Islamic world

T

he structure was still being built when its designers learned they had won an award. Clad in a concrete latticework shell that mimics the ancient art of mashrabiya, the Conference and Exhibition Hall at GUtech Oman, a striking addition to Muscat’s main technical university and was designed byHoehler+alSalmy, a partnership between German architect Ernst Hoehler and his Omani counterpart, Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy. Praised in the World Architecture Forum’s 10+5+X WA Awards 24th Cycle, the ambitious scheme blends European precision and Middle Eastern flair, acting as as a mediator between the Islamic world’s ‘golden age’ of scientific innovation with today’s university studies at Muscat’s German

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University of Technology Oman (GUtech). The building aims to create a link between art and science with nature and geometry while symbolising infinity and divinity, and will house a permanent display that pays tribute to the ingenuity of the early Islamic world. “There’s evidence of a lot of scientific work that was carried out during this period but the instruments were lost,” Al Salmy says. “There are books that prove that such devices would have worked, but no one can find them any more. There are just bits and pieces of them.” Although some call the building a museum, Al Salmy hesitates to use the term. “A museum would always hold old, original artefacts – that’s what you would call a museum,” he


INNOVATIVE: Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy, managing partner and lead architect at Hoehler+alSalmy, Muscat

COLOURFUL: Tiles at Qarawiyyin Madrasa, Fes

adds. “For me, it’s an exhibition because everything within it was made specifically for this building. Yes, they’re from books, they’re ‘old’, but they’re replicas.” It is divided into two sections; the external standalone mashrabiya is a concrete latticework shell that houses the gallery area of the internal building, while the internal structure is elevated on a platform. An inclined internal surface is incorporated in line with the sun and wind direction as a thermal control element, while a star-shaped entrance leads the way to a high entrance hall. The permanent display of replica instruments is housed on the first floor, accessed by an unusual staircase that is said to represent an architectural journey. While the exhibition’s scope encompasses geography, mathematics, physics, astronomy and maritime achievements, feats from which Al Salmy and Hoehler drew no end of inspiration, they felt that, architecturally, something was missing. “Usually when you create an exhibition space or a museum it’s a black box – it’s what you have inside that counts – and often it’s an old building that has been renovated.” Al Salmy and Hoehler wanted to create a “smart building” that would also represent the region’s history. The building’s core is modelled on a traditional Omani house, made of the same mud as the country’s old forts. This is surrounded by a wall of glass, over which is laid concrete latticework shell in a type of ancient geometric pattern called mashrabiya. Such designs appear all over the Islamic world, but Al Salmy wanted something very specific. “We knew that it’s used all over here in the Middle East and even

farther afield – it’s everywhere. But we wanted to trace its origins, to find out which patterns were most famous and how it evolved. “We didn’t want to pick a pattern and copy and paste it over the windows – we wanted to do something really modern, and to use technology to make it function in a different way.” The pattern they chose was copied from the complex that houses Africa’s largest mosque. Qarawiyyin, in Fes, Morocco, dates back to AD857 and was founded by Fatima Fihiyya, the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant – the shapes appear on its wall tiles in bright shades of blue, green and yellow.

We knew that mashrabiya is used all over the Islamic world. But we wanted to trace its origins, to find out which patterns were most famous and how they evolved At GUtech, these forms take on another dimension. The shell’s thickness varies according to its location, providing exposed parts of the building with extra protection against harsh summer rays.

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INSIGHTS

TRANQUIL: The thoughtfully landscaped exterior

EQUINOX EFFECT Sunlight is harnessed in several ways to create interesting shadows. Once a year, on 21 July, a solar eclipse has a striking effect on the building, penetrating the mashrabiya’s apertures and illuminating a second layer of latticework inside. “We wanted the building to add something to the science exhibition,” says Al Salmy. “The geometric shape on the outside will be cast in shadows onto the inner windows, and within that window there is a smaller mashrabiya – and only on that specific day you will have the perfect shadow.” The sundial was invented by the Greeks, but its design was refined by the Ottomans and they were used extensively in the Islamic world to help calculate prayer times. The Conference and Exhibition Hall has a hole in the roof though which sunlight penetrates; a sundial will be installed below it, possibly by pouring molten metal into a mould set within the wooden flooring. The exhibition space’s lower level, the free-standing box protected and wrapped by the façade, will include a children’s play area, a temporary exhibition area and a heritage research library for both locals’ and tourists’ use, as well as a coffee shop overlooking a dhow placed in the shallow water feature resembling a marina. Built by maritime scientists specially for the exhibition, the boat is based upon a drawing that is thought to be the oldest sketch of a dhow in existence and depicts a vessel that set sail from Oman to India. “We created a little mooring,” Al Salmy adds. “If you’re sitting in the coffee shop on the ground floor you can look up at it – it’s as if it’s floating.”

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“We’ve already had calls from galleries in Germany that want to exhibit modern art there, so it’s already getting a lot of attention. But the client doesn’t want to do anything yet. They say they can they can only do something once the first-floor exhibition is ready, because that’s really what made all of this start.”

With most buildings, people only care about the front façade. This is attractive from every angle, even if you see it from the plane

A COMPLEX SCHEME The construction took place in just 18 months. The scheme’s project manager, Muatasim Al Kindi, says: “It was challenging from the beginning because the lattice structure is isolated from the main building so it was like building two structures at once.” Several items had to be custom-made, including several huge panels of glass, chosen for its ability to block both noise and UV rays. “If you go during this time of year, the A/C is not even turned on, but you feel comfortable,” he says. “To us, the major challenges were regarding getting hold of the materials, which were abroad. For example, the wooden flooring was originally from Austria, and it had to be there with the windows so we could proceed with the project.” Like Al Salmy, he’s proud of the results. “Everyone who passes by says ‘Wow’. It’s right next to GUtech, which is one of the projects we’re very proud of, and it is something that you never get bored of looking at. Because of the mashrabiya, it looks different from each angle. And if you see it during the day it’s a different from when you look at it at night.” Liner LED lights were used on the exterior

façade, and the extravagant lighting is impactful. Al Kindi adds: “With most buildings, people only care about the front façade. Here it looks good on every side. Normally on the roof, you would just see the A/C units – on this you will see the mashrabiya. That is what’s nice about it – that it’s attractive from every angle, even if you see it from the plane.” With the building finished, Hoehler+alSalmy has embarked on the interiors, as well as imaginative landscaping the team has dubbed ‘the carpet’. Al Salmy says: “We call it the carpet because when we elevated the box, the plaza forms a connection with the park behind the exhibition centre and continues when you go inside and it continues to the plaza at the front of the exhibition hall, connecting it to the main building adjacent to it..” “In Oman we don’t have plazas, we don’t have places where people would gather like you’d have in Europe. Within the master plan we developed, the client loved the idea of the plaza, so right now we’re designing the building adjacent to the museum – it’s going to be the library.” Back in Germany, Ernst Hoehler is apparently

DELIGHTED: Project manager Muatasim Al Kindi

also thrilled. “He made a big contribution to this,” Al Salmy says. “The first idea for it came when we were sitting together in Germany having dinner and sketching what it could be like. He had the idea of elevating the box and from there it all exploded. “Ernst wanted to stay closely involved in the exhibition and it’s like this project is his baby, more or less – he is so proud of it, even though it’s a small building, because it’s so different from the university. “When we last met the client, we asked him: ‘Do you really like the building?’ and he said: ‘It is my jewel’. It was really a nice answer. “As for us, we just can’t wait to open it to the public. I have a lot of clients who say: ‘Please give us a sneak preview’ and we’re not allowed to do it, because the client wants to make the opening a real event for everyone. We’re really proud of this building.”

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INSIGHTS

ORNATE: The Great Mosque of Córdoba, Spain

IMPOSING: The Great Mosque of Herat, Afghanistan, was built under the rule of Alexander the Great

Geometric greats The centre’s windows incorporate patterns from some of the Muslim world’s most beautiful buildings. Despite their varying ages and vastly different locations, each was significant at some point during the ‘golden age’ of Islamic science, strengthening the strikingly modern structure’s links to ancient history… The Great Mosque of Córdoba Córdoba, Spain, AD 784 Construction of the mosque, known as La Mezquita in Spanish, began under Emir Abd-el Rehman I in AD 784 and lasted more than 200 years. The building, which is noted for its many columns and arches, boasts a splendid maqsura (prayer screen) which was commissioned by Caliph al-Hakim in the 10th century and took several years to complete. It emulates the architectural styles of the Umayyads of Syria (AD 661-750) and the early Abbasids of Iraq (AD 750- 2158).

The Great Mosque of Damascus Damascus, Syria, AD 709 The Great Mosque of Damascus was built by the Eighth Century Umayyad caliph al-Walid I and was a hugely important and influential monument of Islamic architecture. Damascus, together with Jerusalem and Medina, was considered a centre of Muslim power and sanctity and became the focus of an ambitious building programme – the first time in Islamic history that architecture had been used as a political and religious instrument. The Great Mosque of Damascus was regarded for centuries as one of the most impressive buildings in the world.

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Qarawiyyin Mosque and University Fes, Morocco, AD 857, AD 1056-1147 Founded in the ninth century by the daughter of a wealthy Tunisian merchant, this is the largest mosque in Africa. Surrounded by a celebrated university, the building took on its distinctive dimensions and ornamentation in the Almoravid period (AD1056-1147), when it was altered and enlarged. In the Middle Ages it was a centre of knowledge and science for the whole Mediterranean region. The Mosque of al-Salih Tala’i Cairo, Egypt, AD 1160 The Mosque of al-Salih Tala’i was built by the Fatimid Tala Ibn Ruzzik. The original main

entrance to the mosque, removed for preservation, bears geometrically adorned bronze plates (dating from AD 1303) and is thought to be the earliest example of this technique in Islamic Egypt. The mosque also accommodates Cairo’s earliest wind catcher, a chimney-like construction that circulates air though the mosque for ventilation. The Great Mosque of Herat Herat, Afghanistan, AD 1200 Herat is dominated by a citadel, originally built under the rule of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, and was renowned for producing fine metalwork and textiles throughout the Islamic period. The Great Mosque of Herat was the city’s first Friday mosque and is decorated with glazed tiles with floral motifs. The present structure was begun by the 12th century Ghurid ruler Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad Ibn Sam. The Huand (Hunat) Hatun Complex Kayseri, Turkey, AD 1238 Kayseri has been settled since 3000 BC and became an important centre of Islamic knowledge and education during the Seljuk dynasty, with 62 madrasas and a medical school. The Huand Hatun Complex comprises a mosque, madrasa, mausoleum and hammam. Richly decorated, it was completed in the 13th century.


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FIRST PERSON

Cultural capital Ray Phillips, managing director, building design at SSH, says the Middle East can lead the world in arts and heritage architecture

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ultural buildings signify a city’s selfbelief, changing the psyche of its people. Communities becomes more confident in their state as a consequence of the sense of place they create in which to celebrate their culture. Commercial spaces signify one sort of success,

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but cultural buildings make a clear statement that a people appreciates its heritage and looks to the future. Cultural buildings are history in the making. The Sagrada Família by Antoni Gaudí is an example. Construction of the Spanish cathedral started in 1882 and is unlikely to be complete before 2026, yet

it has already been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sagrada Família will have taken well over a century to build and may take forever to finish, but the effort will be worthwhile. Yes, 144 years is a long time, but this feat communicates to the world: ‘Barcelona is here forever’.


DISTINCTIVE: The SSH-designed Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre will showcase performing arts in Kuwait

Dubai now has an opera house, Kuwait its new cultural and museum complexes – these facilities change cities. The iconic Sydney Opera House transformed the city’s skyline; in Bilbao, buildings by Frank Gehry changed the whole character of the city. Yet cultural buildings alone are not a formula for success. Leaders throughout history have sought to alter their surroundings by creating iconic structures, but such achievements are just one element that contributes towards a city’s character.

TRANSFORMATIVE POWER The opportunity to be involved in the design and build of a major centre for culture is always astounding. You’re creating something timeless that will be there for generations to come. In 2015 and 2016, SSH was ranked number one for Cultural Architectural Design in the Building Design World Architecture 100, having also just completed Kuwait’s $775 million Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre. The complex is a cultural milestone for Kuwait – its opening ceremony featured a performance by legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli – a world-class venue for ceremony, celebration and artistic expression. To witness an architectural vision come to fruition – people performing and audiences enjoying the spectacle – was amazing. SSH will continue to work on the museum project, to completion, and also on Al Salam Palace, which tells the story of Kuwait through the history of its rulers, another fantastic renovation project. Hopefully, the country will create more and more of these buildings.

PLACES FOR THE PEOPLE Creating cultural buildings is also a responsibility because they are for everyone. They’re commissioned by a client – it’s their vision – but it’s not just for them. In the past, architects were sent around the world on grand tours to look at fantastic structures, so they might return and recreate them for the few. Cultural buildings are for the many, and we much prefer that. The UAE and Kuwait are confident of their futures, so I think we will see many more such projects launched both to celebrate artistic talent and entrepreneurship and to encourage citizens of these countries to celebrate their roots. Such places have an opportunity to be more than empty rooms. They can be engaging, dynamic spaces generating a vibrancy and life that can be enjoyed by individuals and by families. Visitors may experience changing exhibitions, or see familiar objects presented in surprising ways. As a designer, it’s about making cultural buildings people’s favourite place to visit. Interactive displays

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FIRST PERSON

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Creating cultural buildings is a responsibility because they are for everyone

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Sydney Opera House, Australia, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon; Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família cathedral in Barcelona, Spain

can be more fun than looking at dusty rocks. Of course, such relics have their place, but to present artefacts within context, to interpret their meaning and bring history to life, then look down at where they were found is enlightening. Often, displays benefit from a certain atmosphere or darkness; some pieces are precious and need preservation from sunlight. Each has unique characteristics that can fascinate and entertain us. Equally, to step up to a different level, into a magnificent space, enjoy a meal in an inspiring environment, that’s the

present and the future of art spaces and museums. The sands are shifting; the landscape worldwide is changing. People are creating and building more – that’s very exciting. Such special projects are for places and their people – it’s not just about size. Small art centres, built for specific groups, are as important as splendid galleries. The essential ingredient is that they are inspiring places that compel you to return, realise the funding behind them was well spent and that people will enjoy visiting many times over. It is about sustaining heritage.

Ray Phillips is managing director, building design at SSH. Prior to this, he was design director for WS Atkins in the UK, China and the Middle East. A member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, he trained in London and has worked in Europe, the USA, China and the Middle East. SSH is one of the Middle East’s largest master planning, infrastructure, building design, construction supervision and project management firms. Founded in Kuwait in 1961, it has experience in a wide range of sectors, including cultural, residential, leisure, retail and healthcare.

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Wish List

Napoleone sofa Bellavista Collection Handmade in Italy, this elegant sofa features ash wood feet, and fabric or leather upholstery. The piece was designed by brothers Attilio and Fabrizio Zanni, who together launched the Bellavista Collection in 2010. Inspired by Italian architecture, the sofa is “timeless” and “unique,” according to the pair.

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Wish List

Bolon by Jean Nouvel Design flooring Bolon Designed by Pritzker prizewinning architect Jean Nouvel, Bolon’s new flooring concept amplifies interior geometry, making it easier to experiment with layout and natural circulation. Made of woven vinyl, the collection comes in combinations of black, grey, red and blue. It marks the Swedish company’s first collaboration with an architect. “It is not a decorative carpet,” says Nouvel, “but an architectural floor.”

Bora glasses Carlo Moretti As if pushed by the Italian Bora wind, these Murano crystal glasses are irregular in shape and finish. They are hand blown in Venice and feature decorative motifs such as speckles, streaks, rings or spirals. Each piece is signed and dated, making a set an attractive collector’s item.

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Revolving cabinet Cappellini Italian design house Cappellini chose Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata to introduce its brand to the international market in the Eighties. One of his most striking pieces, from 1970, was this revolving cabinet with 20 drawers. Moving around a vertical metal support, it is made of red polished acrylic and adds a splash of colour to any home.

Bohemian chair Marina Home From driftwood coffee tables to velvet armchairs, Marina Home offers an eclectic mix of contemporary furniture. This stainless steel chair is no exception, with a chocolate or gold polished finish. Other items include aluminium Islamic wall art, a leather Capri chair and a marble and brass Versailles console.

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Wish List

Pop art pieces E$COBAR and Van Donna Fusing street style, graffiti and popular culture, a collection of contemporary art will be on display at Manzil Downtown Dubai from 10 to 22 March. Cities Design, Art & Lifestyle Store and London’s Walton Fine Arts Gallery will share expressive and bold pieces from designers such as E$COBAR and Van Donna. The exhibition, which will run in The Boulevard Lounge, will include colour prints and the Spray Cans Trilogy.

Bouquet Bois Bellavista Collection Designed by Attilio Zanni, this side table’s knobbly legs are rendered in cast brass and hammered antique bronze. The 15mm-thick clear glass tabletop is best viewed from above, as the intertwining twig-like supports take on a sculptural form.

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INSIGHTS

A home makeover HUB HomesScope.com connects UAE homeowners with a horde of interior and building design professionals. Its founder, Dubai-based entrepreneur Kashish Sajnani, told us more about the start-up… When did you set up HomesScope? I’ve been working on the idea for two years but we started one year ago. The idea just came up when my family and I first came in to Dubai and we wanted to build our own house; we couldn’t find the right architect or interior designer. We had the idea of creating a platform where we could pull in all those people and allow the homeowner to source them out. What did you do previously? I have an interior design qualification – a diploma from a college in London. But my main educational background is in business. I have a bachelor’s degree in

commerce and an MBA in marketing and branding. I chose interior design out of passion. After I completed my course, I did a few freelance projects but I never wanted to establish a proper set-up for what I was doing, since I had a family I was taking care of. When my kids grew up, I realised this was what I wanted to do and decided to make the switch from being a full-time mother to a full-time interior designer. I had moved back to India for a while and did a few residential schemes there, but when I returned to Dubai I had the idea of combining my design and marketing expertise. Why did you launch a website? I had gathered a lot of data about interior designers and architects I got to know through various trade fairs in the UAE. I realised that this data needed to be shared with people and things started to fall into place. We now have a professional directory that people can check.

AMBITION: Kashish Sajnani has combined her business acumen with her passion for interiors

It gathers architects, interior designers and 11 more categories of professionals underneath one platform. We don’t only promote UAE-based companies but also some based abroad – we have members in Germany, Italy and France that are ready to offer their services here but aren’t really well-known. We target residential clients as opposed to commercial – we’re focusing on a niche audience – but the service is for anyone.

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INSIGHTS

Access all areas When work takes them to the top of skyscrapers or deep into the desert, construction staff face extra risks should they become injured or fall ill. Stewart Cripps, an expert in remote healthcare, says such settings demand specially equipped medical teams – a first-aid kit won’t do…

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tewart Cripps is no stranger to the back of beyond. As a naval paramedic, he served on ships off the coasts of Asia and Africa; later roles took him to North Sea oil rigs, gold mines, the coast of Greenland and the dust of Oman’s deserts. Now based in Dubai, the Brit is using his experience to boost safety in construction by promoting excellence in remote healthcare – that which is delivered in highrisk, isolated or inaccessible places. For while militaries and petrochemical giants have long embraced the concept, building firms lag far behind. “People don’t realise that remote areas can actually be in the middle of the city,” he says. “If you’re building a 40-storey tower and somebody gets injured on the 39th floor, that could be considered a remote area because it’s very hard to get the emergency services up there in the required time.” In emergency medicine, the ‘golden hour’ rule refers to the timeframe following a bad accident or sudden illness in which it’s most likely prompt treatment will save somebody’s life. “Theoretically it should take one hour from the time of a patient’s injury to get them proper medical care. In some cases, such as when the patient’s in a tower and you have to come down 30 storeys using the staircase, it should take you roughly 10 minutes. Remote areas are places where the emergency professional cannot get there with easy access – it could be anywhere.” In stark contrast to many building firms, petrochemical companies started to embrace remote healthcare several decades ago. “I was one of the first paramedics in Oman back in 1995 – I worked for Occidental Oil & Gas,” he says.

EXPERT: Safety consultant Stewart Cripps

“It was hard to get the hospitals to understand what a remote area medic can actually do – and what they can’t do. You have to know that paramedics can do a lot more than first-aiders, that they’re the stop-guys between the patient dying and getting into hospital.” Cripps ran an on-site medical centre 120km away from the nearest hospital. With up to 1,000 staff employed by the company at any one time, plus traffic accidents from the hazardous highway nearby, he faced formidable hurdles. Yet when it comes to construction, in many countries on-site medical facilities may comprise little more than an odd-job man equipped with a first aid kit. “There is a long way to go,” he adds. “The construction industry as a whole needs to understand that more but many companies don’t – they just have a first-aider on-site. You need a professional who understands the construction industry. Some of our nurses come straight from a hospital background to a

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INSIGHTS

construction site, which they find very difficult. I’m a great believer in lots and lots of training exercises for how to deal with emergencies because you can never be prepared for everything. “Remote areas care is improving but it still needs a lot of things especially for the construction industry. Other industries, such as oil & gas and shipping, are superb – nearly all their staff are exmilitary and they have to go on certain courses to be proficient in what they do. In construction, the nurse on site is basically a registered nurse or not even that.”

SPREADING THE WORD Three years ago, Cripps joined SSH, a major Middle East firm whose activities include master-planning, infrastructure, building design, construction supervision and project management. “My role is to look after all of SSH projects and also all of their offices. We want to be in the top in terms of house safety environment,” he says. “We have training modules available to our staff, we developed a weekly checklist that allows engineers

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If the right leadership is there, the safety culture will change to look after their scores, after each six months there is a table that comes in to indicate high performers and low performers and three months ago, we brought 20 of our residents to our IOSH managing safety course and that gave them more insight into safety matters, expert investigations, the risks, how to control the control points. It is an internationally recognised certificate.” This month, he will speak at Remote Healthcare Middle East, a two-day conference in Abu Dhabi running on 7 and 8 March. It’s the first time SSH has taken part in the event, the only one of its kind in the region, which will address key issues including regulatory challenges in telemedicine, quality control for new medical technology and remote

patient information protection. Cripps will part in a panel discussion, joining experts from medical risk consultancy International SOS and the Ministry of Public Health Qatar to address key topics affecting healthcare provision within construction such as regulations, costs and continuity of care. “In different regions, there are different regulatory rules regarding who can treat a patient,” he explains. “One of the best standards is OSHC in Abu Dhabi, the occupational safety and health centre. It actually produces the code that details who can treat whom. I believe other countries need to follow that.” Key to this will be changing companies’ mindsets from management level down. “There are various types of contractors that are not at the same level of understanding safety,” he says. “If you have a CEO who has a strong understanding of safety, then it will sync in to the rest of the team but if you don’t, that’s when the problems start. “My job is to help them improve their safety culture. Safety culture starts from the top.”


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SUPPLIERS

Trends on tap The look and function of the smallest room has changed hugely over the past 10 years. We spoke to major bathroom fixture and sanitaryware suppliers about the trends and technology shaping this fast-paced sector – and learned they’re cutting water consumption, promoting hygiene and brightening spaces with fittings in modern metallic shades…

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SUPPLIERS

Sophay Young, senior project design consultant

BAGNODESIGN AND SANIPEX Tell us about your company. Sanipex was established in 1995 to provide highquality bathroom and plumbing products to the Middle East, complemented by professional support and service. Twenty years on, we still have the same business philosophy, albeit to a global marketplace, as the breadth of the Sanipex brand expands across Europe, Asia and Africa while strengthening its position as the market leader in its core markets.

What are your latest product lines? Within our BagnoDesign brand we recently launched the Art furniture collection, which offers a new take on classically styled bathroom design. With a quality that is unmistakably Italian, Art captures the interior design trends of the moment in a timeless way. Our brassware offering also enjoys strong sales within the hotel market; the BagnoDesign M-Line mixers, which launched last year, are popular among specifiers due to the variety of finishes available that they cannot get elsewhere. The range is available in chrome, brushed nickel, matte black, matte white and brushed copper. From an aesthetic point of view, the range gives designers the freedom to customise bathrooms with an individual, high-end finish.

What trends and technology are influencing bathroom design? Basins as statement pieces are a key trend in the hotel bathroom, particularly those crafted from unusual materials such as metal or stone. Echoing this, there is a move away from chrome brassware towards coloured finishes such as brushed nickel, copper and gold. Hoteliers now have more choice and colour

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is being seen more throughout the hotel bathroom, driven partly by the increased options on brassware finishes and also by the variety of furniture now available in bold colourways.

How do your products differ from those on offer elsewhere? Sanipex offers quality products for every area of a bathroom’s design, and in styles and price points to suit all requirements, bringing together trusted brand names to offer complete bathroom solution.

What major markets do you serve? The international breadth of the Sanipex brand expands across Europe, Asia and Africa while strengthening its position as the market leader in its traditional Middle East markets. bagnodesign.org, sanipexgroup.com


IDEAL STANDARD Tell us about your company. Ideal Standard International is a leading provider of innovative bathroom solutions, privately owned and headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The company’s heritage is in understanding how a bathroom works in totality. For over a century its core business has been the provision of total bathroom solutions; it designs, manufactures and supplies ceramic products, bathroom mixers, furniture and accessories, bathing and showering solutions for residential, commercial and institutional buildings. Ideal Standard is the firm’s international flagship brand for bathroom solutions worldwide. It also owns the leading European brands Jado, Armitage Shanks, Ceramica Dolomite, Porcher and Vidima.

What are your latest product lines? Connect Air is an elegant range of ceramics, baths and furniture in an array of sizes and finishes. Designed by world-famous creator and product designer Robin Levien and his team at Studio Levien, the collection comprises ceramic WCs, bidets, basins, vessels, vanities, bathtubs and shower trays. Connect Air is Ideal Standard’s latest multiproduct bathroom collection in the Middle East and North Africa region. Durable and extremely lightweight, it can be configured to suit individual spaces and needs. The range can be previewed at our Design Bathroom Centre in Dubai.

What trends and technology are influencing bathroom design? The Connect Air collection taps into the minimalistic trend for sleek and slimline interiors, which can now be transferred throughout the household to include the bathroom. It’s about lightness at every element of design. In terms of technological advances, Connect Air WCs have been designed with an invisible fixation system that enhances the beautifully elegant, airy design. The WCs additionally feature AquaBlade technology in which the water covers the entire surface of the inner bowl. In traditional WCs, a significant area of the bowl is left unwashed on flushing, whereas AquaBlade guarantees total hygiene as the area below the rim is rinsed clean. The water rinses right from the top of the bowl for better performance and there is no overhanging rim.

How do your products differ from those on offer elsewhere? There’s a vast choice of styles and sizes, from basin units with drawers and shelves to side column cabinets. The range finishes come in six bi-colour combinations, chosen by Levien to fit diverse houses and styles. Connect Air bathtubs and shower trays complete the range, both offering thin contours to increase the comfort area, but also to contribute to total range harmony. Its alluring sleek look

Dimitra Dotsia, marketing manager, Ideal Standard MENA

manifests itself in four shapes: vanity, vessel, basin and semi-countertop. Sizes range from 40cm up to 134cm and are designed to offer flexibility of installation and variety in style – ultra-thin rim for the vessels, slim low-profile for the vanities, angled low exterior sides for the basins.

What are your main markets? Ideal Standard International operates in more than 30 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Ideal Standard MENA, the sister company of Ideal Standard International, is focusing on the growth and massive business opportunities of the Middle East and Africa from its head office in Dubai, where Ideal Standard Gulf, the entity encapsulating the Middle East region, is also based. ideal-standard.co.uk

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SUPPLIERS

Andrea Mensitieri, vice president, marketing and communications

RAK Ceramics Tell us about your company. RAK Ceramics is one of the largest ceramics brands in the world. Specialising in ceramic and grès porcelain wall and floor tiles, tableware, sanitaryware and faucets, we produce 110 million square metres of tiles, five million pieces of sanitaryware, 24 million pieces of porcelain tableware and 600,000 pieces of faucets per year at our 17 state-of-the-art plants across United Arab Emirates, India, Bangladesh and Iran. We are a publicly listed company on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in Bangladesh and as a group have an annual turnover of approximately $1 billion. Founded in 1989 and headquartered in the UAE, we work closely with architects and designers on projects both large and small across a variety of sectors, including residential, commercial, industrial and hospitality. RAK Ceramics is a preferred partner of several luxury international hospitality chains and supplied bespoke luxury tiles and water saving faucets from Kludi RAK to the Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah.

What are your latest product lines? RAK Ceramics was one of the first companies in the world to introduce rimless technology. As the name suggests, these WCs have no rim around the bowl, making them extremely hygienic and easy to clean. We are excited about our latest range of sanitaryware, which combines water-saving technology, beautiful designs and silent flush, and we look forward to presenting it at the ISH trade fair in Frankfurt. In 2016, RAK Ceramics invested in a new sanitaryware development team that is working in a different way to create new products.

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Its challenge is to take technical solutions and new designs to market for both entry-level suites and the luxury ranges. Design has to be affordable for everybody, and creativity is the real differentiation tool when you have to consider production needs and budget constraints. We have been working to improve our rimless WCs for many existing collections and are also developing five new rimless models, including wall-hung, back-to-wall and close-coupled ones.

What trends and technology are influencing bathroom design? Innovation is at the heart of our philosophy and we have continuously led the way in terms of product development, using a wide range of technologies at our state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. Wallmounted fixings, thin edges and smooth shapes are the current trend for sanitaryware, along with welldesigned and affordable rimless WCs with watersaving technology and hidden fixtures. We have been working on new solutions for a hidden fixture system and have developed a new and very innovative fixing system, to make fixation easier and safer.

How do your products differ from those on offer elsewhere? We have a strong focus on water-saving technology. RAK Ceramics was the first

manufacturer in the region to introduce a 2.5 litre half-flush and four-litre full flush for our water closets in 2009, and in 2014 we launched Eco Fresh, an advanced urinal sanitation system which uses unique ‘odour trap’ technology and requires absolutely no water to flush. In addition to our sanitaryware, we offer a range of complementary accessories and bathroom furniture. At RAK Ceramics we can offer true customisation in every sense of the word. We consistently produce high-quality tiles, sanitaryware, tableware and faucets with an impeccable finish. Our quality, combined with our passion and expertise, enables us to provide a wide range of integrated ceramics solutions.

What are your main markets? The company’s core markets are the UAE, Saudi and the wider GCC, India, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Levant. RAK Ceramics holds the highest market share for both tiles and sanitaryware in the UAE and Bangladesh and has the highest production capacity in the GCC. Around 80 per cent of the products we manufacture are exported, reaching more than 150 countries through our network of operational hubs across five continents. Worldwide, we employ approximately 15,000 staff of more than 40 nationalities. rakceramics.com

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SUPPLIERS

What trends and technology are influencing bathroom design? Bathrooms have become an extension of the bedroom, resulting in decorative touches being added to soften the functional feel of the space. Polished gold, antique copper, bronze, rose gold and brushed nickel-finish taps, faucets and other bathroom fittings have become very popular. While white remains the most popular choice for sanitaryware, there is a definite shift towards colour, with black and anthracite greys making more of an appearance in recent years. Fragmented tile designs, coloured grout and tiles with muted pastel shades are becoming more widespread.

How do your products differ from those on offer elsewhere?

in our product offering. Customers and strategic business units are serviced by a team of trained and qualified sales professionals who can provide personalised assistance at all times.

Mac Al Gurg represents premium European and American sanitaryware brands and provides the best possible solutions to the construction industry by evolving and strengthening operational resources, as well as the way we communicate with our customers and meet their needs. All materials follow project specification implemented at local and international level. Not only do products meet the highest quality standards, we provide technical support through our team of specialists. In short, we’ve built our reputation on the design, performance and durability of our products – and through our expertise in their application.

What are your latest product lines?

What are your main markets?

As an ISO 9001:2008-certified company we stock a comprehensive and readily available product range covering drainage solutions, municipal castings, sanitaryware, solid surfaces, bathroom accessories and high-end kitchen solutions for residential, commercial and healthcare projects.

Mac Al Gurg is a full-service building materials supplier. We cover a significant area in the GCC and have a reputation for high-quality delivery. Mac Al Gurg operates from various locations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain as well as Qatar and Oman.

Mac Al Gurg Tell us about your company. Established in 1974 as part of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg group, Mac Al Gurg has long been a reliable solutions provider to the construction industry for sanitaryware, bathrooms, building products, kitchens, solid surfaces, gas fittings, plumbing and drainage. Mac Al Gurg delivers value-added products procured from leading European brands for major projects in the UAE. To ensure continuous growth, Mac Al Gurg follows a policy of expansion and development which includes adding products and suppliers, thereby frequently renewing interest

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macuae.ae


Katrina Tasbaz, specification and design manager, Roca Sanitario, SA

Roca Tell us about your company. Roca began manufacturing in 1917 in its plant in GavĂ , Barcelona. Today, Roca Group is a global operator in the bathroom space sector, with a comprehensive product offer in all bathroom categories and a vast international presence.

What are your new product lines? New and versatile vitreous china and furniture collection Inspira. It offers three lines of design and multiple combinations so that, regardless of your style, you may find the solution that will allow you to create your ideal bathroom space.

What trends and technology are influencing bathroom design? Increasingly, designers are asking for sustainable products. Roca is dedicated to the environment and saving water. We have rimless technology WC reducing-flush volumes and cold-start faucets with cartridges that cut water consumption by half.

How do your products differ from those on offer elsewhere? Roca is one of very few manufactures that can offer a complete bathroom proposal including accessories, sanitaryware, faucets, installation systems and tiles, all produced within the European Union. We are also very honoured to be the manufacturer of Armani Roca.

What are your main markets? The business has dramatically expanded and we currently have 76 factories in 19 countries and a commercial presence in 170 markets. export.roca.com

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PRODUCT FOCUS

Please be seated Turn the tables on workaday spaces with these functional yet highly versatile pieces…

Lifestyle Calvin Vaughan Benz The Calvin’s form is heavily influenced by the mid-century modern aesthetic. The slim, sturdy base of stained solid walnut wood supports a streamlined, sculptural seat, giving the impression the soft leather piece is embracing the sitter. Designed to be appreciated from every angle, the chair is at once classic, modern and current. vaughanbenz.com

Hemlock Nemschoff A versatile addition to any room or setting, the solid-wood Hemlock is modest yet mighty. The turned legs are composed of a dowel design that works well with the tabletop to create a stunning, sturdy accent. It’s available in a range of sizes. nemschoff.com

Les Copains Brühl & sippold for Chattels & More Designed by Kati Meyer-Brühl, Les Copains are the ideal outdoor companions – rugged, yet rendered in a minimalistic, elegant format, with decorative filigree and wickerwork. The chairs, stools and tables are prepared to withstand the elements, thanks to the use of sturdy robinia wood, hot-dip galvanised base frames and synthetic or stainless steel wickerwork strings. bruehl.com, chattelsandmore.com

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Crosshatch EOOS for Geiger Featuring parachute cord as seat and back support, the piece’s distinctive look and fine craftsmanship set it apart from its contemporaries. Now, two additions to the family – a side chair and stool – have emerged from a collaboration with EOOS. geigerfurniture.com


Solace Marina Home This unusual coffee table comprises a plinth of recovered driftwood topped with 8mm of tempered glass. A real talking point for larger spaces, it’s one of several similar pieces in Marina Home’s current range.

Steelscraper Nada Debs Beirut-based designer Debs created these curious tables specially for Design Days Dubai as part of a project called The City on Display. nadadebs.com, citiesstore.com

Griffin Vaughan Benz Ideal for laptop users – or just those wishing to rest their elbows – the Griffin is an ideal solution for hospitality and office settings. With its trapezoid-shaped top, it can accommodate large groups. The table, shown here with an added dataport (not supplied), is made of solid walnut wood and wood veneer, with a base of polished brass. vaughanbenz.com

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PRODUCT FOCUS

Hug Arflex The armrests of these chairs by Swedish designer Claesson Koivisto Rune reach out as though making a friendly gesture or even asking for a hug. Its structure and base is metal; the details are solid wood in walnut Canaletto, wengè stained, oak or chocolate. The seat and backrest upholstery is moulded polyurethane foam with a polyester slip cover, while the plastic feet are height-adjustable, arflex.it, available at Selva, selva-me.ae

Ponza Gordon Guillaumier for Frag The padded piece is available as a lounge chair or smaller side chair. It is upholstered in soft leather, with legs of ash wood. gordon-guillaumier.com, frag.it, available at Selva, selva-me.ae

650 Nido Vibieffe The 650 Nido series comprises sofas of several sizes as well as matching armchairs. The covers are removable and are available in cotton, linen or leather. It was designed and made in Italy. vibieffe.com, available at Selva, selva-me.ae

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Valeria sofa suite 2XL This French-style furniture brand has launched an opulent living room suite in subtle shades of soft burlywood and pale turquoise. Gold-coloured legs add a touch of glitz. 2xlme.com

Fred and Ginger Poltrona Frau Like its Hollywood namesake, Ginger is both sassy and sophisticated. Roberto Lazzeroni’s easy chair has a soft leather shell enhanced by visible topstitching along its outside edge. Designed both to accompany the Fred desk (pictured) and as a standalone seat, it’s available in dark brown and camel. poltronafrau.com

Frozen Marina Home Blue velvet and polished copper make a dramatic pairing in this angular piece. The square-shaped backrest and cushions complement the simple metal-framed armrests, resulting in an armchair that looks modern and perfectly balanced.

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PRODUCT FOCUS

Corporate furniture Brody WorkLounge Steelcase Providing high-performance comfort and support, the Brody WorkLounge features patented LiveLumbar technology, integrating ergonomic comfort and personal storage so the user can focus on the tasks at hand. The adjustable, personal work surface holds technology at eye level, reducing neck and shoulder strain. steelcase.com

Diffrient Humanscale

Privva Arte Como This innovative modular system was designed to optimise office space and tackle two of the main gripes about open-plan offices, namely noise and a lack of privacy. Developed to meet the needs of a variety of workplace set-ups, Privva is a user-friendly, versatile concept that reflects changes in the way colleagues interact within the workplace. oasis.com.my

Humanscale’s first foray into all-mesh task seating, Diffrient’s design eliminates the need for traditional mechanisms, instead using the laws of physics and the sitter’s body weight to offer the ideal position for each user. The weight-sensitive recline is automatically adjustable, while the tri-panel mesh backrest provides custom back and improved lumbar support. humanscale.com

Elevate Intermetal Research indicates that staff who alternate between sitting and standing experience are more focused and productive. Elevate products offer quiet, effortless height adjustment to meet individual working styles throughout the day. A simple way to create private zones within an open-plan space, the system is available as a single desk or a double work station. intermetal.com

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T2 Intermetal This versatile, flexible system can be used to section off meeting areas, social spaces or simply quiet areas in which to work or relax. The range includes modular workstations which can be configured to suit clients’ needs; Intermetal’s in-house design team can assist with room layouts during the process to maximise the use of space. intermetal.com

Aeron Herman Miller The Aeron was an instant hit upon its 1994 launch, with more than seven million pieces sold in 134 countries. To accommodate a variety of body types, it was designed in three proportional sizes; advances in engineering have enabled Herman Miller to reduce the number of twists and turns needed to achieve a comfy fit. The armrests can now be adjusted from front to back and side to side in addition to up and down. hermanmiller.com

Nava Arte Como The Nava series demonstrates both form and function, making it suited to a wide variety of applications. Offered in white for easy matching, the chairs come in a variety of seat heights, giving users the most ultimate sitting experience while brainstorming. Up to 10 chairs can be safely stacked on top of one another, ideal for locations in which space is at a premium. oasis.com.my

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Events

Hot ticket

Trade fair dates for your diary… Interior Design Oman 13-16 March This décor, design and lifestyle exhibition covers a wealth of products and services relevant to the design, fit-out and upgrade of residential, hospitality, office and retail spaces. Happening alongside The BIG Show Oman, its existence reflects the surge of investment in tourism, hospitality and infrastructure across the country which are, in turn, fuelling the expansion of its building, construction and interior design industries. A significant portion of budgets and investment are now directed towards interiors and the interior products and services segment due to the influx of luxury, boutique and highend retailers and property. In recent years, the increase in 3- 4- and 5-star hotels, shopping centres, restaurants, leisure facilities and entertainment zones – plus the construction of Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre – has

Singapore Design Week 3-12 March, Singapore Contemporary interior design exhibition presenting the latest furniture, lighting, bathroom/kitchen, floor and wall coverings for interior designers, architects, retailers and specifiers. new.designsingapore.org/sdw Remote Healthcare ME 7-8 March, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Of relevance to many architects, engineers and building contractors, this is the region’s only conference dedicated to improving healthcare in remote, extreme or otherwise inaccessible places. Turn to page 40 to learn more about this often overlooked aspect of construction workplace safety. remotehealthcareme.com

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also paved the way for increasing requirements for the national and regional design community. IDO will be divided into three sections. Artisan will highlight designer, modern and ethnic handmade crafts and objets d’art, while Contemporary Collection will place an emphasis on modern furniture design. Thirdly, Sleep will be devoted to bedding, mattresses, linen and related furnishings, fittings and accessories. Exhibitors are set to attend from across Oman and the wider GCC, as well as farther afield, offering a broad range of items and services required for the design, fit out, and upgrade of residential, hospitality, office and retail spaces. Being held concurrently with The Big Show Oman, it’ll take place in Hall 4 of Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. interiordesignoman.com

WoodShow Dubai 7-9 March, Dubai, UAE Dubai WoodShow is the premier destination for wood specialists who visit the show every year from across the globe. It has become the region’s only dedicated business-to-business meeting place for the wood, woodworking machinery and wood accessories industry. dubaiwoodshow.com EcoBuild 7-9 March, London, UK The world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. ecobuild.co.uk KAPI Eurasia Door Fair/ Eurasia Window Fair 8-11 March, Istanbul, Turkey International window and door

fairs held concurrently at Tuyap Fair and Convention Centre. The door fair covers shutter, lock, panel, board and partition systems and accessories, while its sister show encompasses windows, window shades, facade systems and accessories, machinery, insulation materials, raw materials and auxiliary products. .eurasiadoorfair.com Thailand International Furniture Fair 8-14 March, Bangkok, Thailand TIFF 2017 is expected to be Thailand’s largest furniture exhibition to date. The first three days will be dedicated to trade visitors, after which the public will descend to check out everything from locally handmade pieces to high-end designs. It’s a platform for buyers, importers, designers

and showroom owners from all over the world. thailandfurniturefair.com Salon de la Cuisine 11-19 March, Tunis, Tunisia Trade fair covering integrated kitchens, household appliances, bathrooms, wall coverings and flooring. salondelacuisine.com.tn Design Days Dubai 14-17 March, Dubai, UAE Returning for its sixth edition, and with 50 exhibitors the largest event to date, Design Days Dubai is the Middle East and South Asia’s only annual fair dedicated to collectible modern design works. The event provides an international platform on which the Middle East’s emerging studios and creative talent can present their furniture, lighting and


design objects in parallel with displays from major galleries. Turn back to page 12 to learn about some of the talented people set to turn up this year. designdaysdubai.ae Art Dubai 15-18 March, Dubai, UAE The 11th edition of Art Dubai will showcase more than 90 galleries among which a large number are solo and two-artist exhibitions. A move considered to give the visitors a bespoke and immersive experience into the world of the artists on view. With a diverse range of mediums, fair-goers can expect an equally diverse line-up of exhibited artists, spanning the globe from East to West. Whether they flew in from Russia or just around the corner within the Middle

East, the artists had one thing in common; boundless artistic expression that merits a solo/ two-artist show. artdubai.ae Mega Build 16-19 March, Jakarta, Indonesia Architecture, interior design and building exhibition. It will feature six key segments: bathroom and kitchen, design lighting, doors and windows, facility security and fire, HVAC+M&E, roofing and flooring. megabuild.co.id Saudi Building and Interiors Exhibition 18-21 March, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia This trade fair will feature more than 500 exhibitors from countries across Europe,

the Middle East and Asia. Alongside building materials including marble, granite and stone, it will encompass lighting and interior design products related hospitality, offices, education, healthcare, retail, residential and landscaping. aceexpos.com The Big 5 Saudi 27-30 March, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Launched in 2011, The Big 5 has evolved into a mammoth portfolio of construction industry events spanning the Middle East, India and SouthEast Asia. The Big 5 network now includes more than 300,000 suppliers and buyers from 120 countries. Sister events are held in Kuwait, the UAE and farther afield. thebig5saudi.com

Book now – CTBUH 30 October-3 November Sydney, Australia; sister events in Melbourne and Brisbane The annual conference of the Chicago-based Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is expected to attract in excess of 1,000 delegates, including major architects, developers, engineers, contractors and suppliers. The theme of this year’s event is Connecting the City: People, Density and Infrastructure. ctbuh.org

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OPINION

The last word Samer Al Isis, CEO of Poltrona Frau Group Middle East, shares his thoughts on the key trends that could take off in months to come… A balance between comfort and style

your own style. Your home or office should mirror your likes, dislikes and personal flair.

Lavish materials and Middle Eastern taste often go hand in hand. There is a much-needed balance between comfort, aesthetics and the opulence with which the region is associated. Although the interior design market continues to demand luxury, comfort is the key to making a space inviting. Visual appeal is one essential component of interior design; however, it is not the only one. When designing a home, our designers always consider ways in which they can make a home an oasis – not just aesthetically but tangibly, creating a haven from the stress of the outside world. To strike this balance, it is important to avoid underestimating the quality of materials. A fine craftsman will always ensure that his product is pleasing inside and out.

more personal space Interior designers are exploring ways to create more personalised spaces to accommodate individual needs. These curated experiences have been one of the biggest trends in interior design this year. As we continue to embrace the ongoing evolution of change, the celebration of meaningful experiences through spaces by unique, authentic and more holistic design approach will be something to look forward to this year. Large spaces can create more freedom to accentuate and smaller spaces require less intensity to achieve an overall look. It is important to consider how to best utilise and implement a design trend in relation to the space. Sometimes an optimum space can be embellished with on-trend elements, provided the designer keeps the bigger picture in mind. Other times, though, less is more and one classic piece can transform an entire room.

fresh approaches to curve and colour The year 2017 will see an increase in the use of saturated natural hues, soft curved lines and organic shapes, with stunning accents of on-trend marble and stone. Mood lighting is also a necessity to finish this season’s trends with a polished glow. We can expect to see more clear lines and chromatic colours schemes borrowed from Bauhaus’ style, with an enriched palette of softer pastels, accentuated

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by the tones and textures of natural materials. To achieve the best outcome in embracing this season’s trends with curve and colour, research is key. Follow designers such as Giulio Cappellini for advice or inspiration and be sure to accent each trend with

Throughout his varied career, Samer Al Isis has been passionate about luxury. He joined Poltrona Frau in 2011 with a vision of setting it as a benchmark for design and elegance, bringing the best of Italian design and furniture to the United Arab Emirates


Design ME - March 2017  

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