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interiors A N D A R C H I T E C T U R E f ro m the G ul f , L evant and b e y ond

HOListic living Demand for spas have increased in the region

event review The highlights from the UAE’s biggest design show, Index



cladding concerns How are companies tackling the issue of cladding in the region w w w.d e s i g n - m i d d l e e a s t.c o m











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Spas get serious

“Spas will need to position themselves as an oasis of unplugged human connection, bringing nature into the spa and people into nature.”


Out of the box


Creative confluence


Slow the flow

Maria Economides, senior FF&E interior designer, Draw Link Group, discusses spacious living and ways to overcome the limitations of scale.

Attended by over 30,000 visitors and with more than 1,100 exhibitor stands, the 27th annual INDEX Series along with Middle East Stone, infused optimism in the growing regional design industry.

Grohe’s Michael Seum talks about precision, intuitiveness and the spa-like experience in the Smart Control line of showers. June 2017






An eye on the environment

Hilda Impey, associate design director, FF&E, for Wilson Associates looks at the latest trends in sustainability that are facing hospitality designers.



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Back to basics


A mall world


Trend watch


Collaborative vibes

Historically, availability and budget defined cladding specification in the GCC, but the recent maturation of the regional market is making a statement of design once again.

London-based architecture firm Design International has cemented its place in the UAE through a partnership with retail giant Lulu Group.

Samer Al Isis, CEO of The Poltrona Frau Group ME, discusses the evolution of the MENA interior design industry.

AUD and dormakaba come together to enable students to contribute to the design of Expo 2020 pavilions.


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Vist us: Zabeel Hall 3, Stand ZZ301

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.

Bathroom suites: resort - Daisy


CEO Wissam Younane Managing director Walid Zok Director Rabih Najm Group sales director Joaquim D’Costa +971 50 440 2706

Business development director Rabih Naderi +966 50 328 9818

Art director Ifteqar Ahmed Syed Sales manager Michelle Rebelo Marketing executive Mark Anthony Monzon Contributors Aby Sam Thomas Jason O’ Connell Paromita Dey Veathika Jain Melanie Mingas

Welcome “Design is not about creating an acceptable product. It is about creating an exceptional product.” That’s how Samer Al Isis, CEO of The Poltrona Frau Group ME, begins his musings on the evolution of the MENA design industry in this month’s issue of Design Middle East, and we have to admit that we follow a similar sensibility when it comes to covering this fascinating sector in the pages of this magazine. We are looking out for the designers that think big and differently, the products that make us stop and contemplate them closer, and the ideas that are off the beaten path when compared to the status quo. In what is a good sign, we are glad to report that there does seem to be a lot of the above already available in the region- a walk around INDEX Design Series this year would have confirmed this particular fact. But of course, we want to see more- it can be safely said that the region still has a lot of untapped potential, and we at Design Middle East can’t wait for more of it to be unraveled. Here’s hoping.






Cover image: Vartan Kelechian’s The Black Tulip

SUBSCRIBE 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 T +971 50 504 0182 All rights reserved © 2017. 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

June 2017



Elemental wins Qatar’s Art Mill international design competition


June 2017

Qatar’s Art Mill international design competition has been awarded to Santiago-based practice Elemental, led by 2016 Pritzker Prize laureate Alejandro Aravena, following a two year international search for an architect. Aravena’s firm came top of the list of 26 teams, selected ahead of established names such as Renzo Piano, Junya Ishigami and runner-up Adam Khan, in the competition organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants. Launched on 1 June 2015, the long-list was announced in August of that year, with the shortlist following on 21 April 2016 and the awarded firm finally named on 17 May 2017. Billed as one of the world’s leading art galleries, when it opens ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup The Art Mill will stand side by side with Doha’s existing line-up of world-class galleries, which includes I.M. Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art and Jean Nouvel’s forthcoming National Museum of Qatar. Drawing inspiration from the industrial process of milling, according to a statement from Elemental, its design incorporates “the rhythmic monumental grain silos that are the industrial legacy of the original Flour Mills on the site, which have produced bread for the State since the 1980s. However, in a creative riff the team added to the strict geometry of retained silos a looser grouping of new silos that will act as cooling chimneys circulating air through the site that extends spectacularly on three sides into Doha Bay.” The statement continues: “As much a bridge between cultures as a treasure house, the Art Mill aims to inspire new insights, encourage receptivity, widen artistic sensibilities, and promote understanding. The Art Mill will celebrate imagination and creativity.” The design was described by the jury as ‘a serene artwork, where the structure is the architecture’.

June 2017



#LeFrenchDesign launches at VIDA Downtown A new international label to promote the French furniture industry to new international audiences launched at an exclusive event at VIDA Downtown last month. #LeFrenchDesign will be used by French Furniture Export Group (GEM) and will also be carried by French manufacturers and designers in promoting their work at events such as INDEX. France is the 10th largest exporter of goods in the world of which €2,2billion is generated by the furniture market. “This year we have brought a total of 14 exhibitors and 16 brands grouped together on a French Pavilion, marking an increase of 50% in the number of brands exhibited in comparison to 2016. “We are very excited to offer consumers in the region a fresh look of the French Furniture Industry through a variety of designers and manufacturers. Trade show attendees will also benefit and have access to brands and companies they may have never known and we foresee success on a grander scale this year,” remarked Stephanie Roussin, International Project Manager, GEM. The event was held during INDEX, where exhibitors in the French Pavillion had increased 50% on 2016 participation figures. Designers and INDEX exhibitors at the event were also treated to a preview of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s “No Taste for Bad Taste”, which will soon be a permanent feature in the city with two main objectives: to enhance the creativity of French Design and highlight French furniture industry throughout the world. Roussin added: “We are proud to unite companies with similar or complementary commercial interests on shared assignments in all

foreign marketplaces and indeed this time, at INDEX Dubai and we hope that they will continue to invest in the long-term.”

Just Design established to recognise “outstanding, ethical” practices A new certification scheme, Just Design, is naming and praising the US-based architecture practices that work to tackle what it terms “long hours, low pay, misogyny, egos and hostile work environments”. The scheme has been established by an anonymous group inspired by the revelation that just 20% of women questioned for last

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year’s Women in Architecture survey wouldn’t recommend an architectural career. Just Design, which has been a year in the making, is asking architects to nominate the firms it believes are deserving of recognition for their efforts to support and nurture all employees through its website The questionnaire and the certification

methodology were developed by a partnership of The Architecture Lobby, Yale School of Architecture’s Equity in Design, and Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Women in Design. The site also explains the labour, internships and freelance working regulations US firms must abide by and offers advice on working on internship and freelance contracts in the US.

Hyatt recruits design elite for new generation of Middle East hotels Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Dennis Lems Architects Associates, MKV Design and Greg Norman are among the names confirmed to design a new generation of hotels for Hyatt, comprising 14 properties across five brands throughout the Middle East. The award of design work to major names shows the hotel operator is looking to make a statement with its landmark openings. The new hotels will double the number of Hyatt branded properties in the region and introduce the Centric brand to the GCC for the first time. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill will design the 275-key Park Hyatt Riyadh, which will position its offering on highly personalized service, renowned art and design, a profound reverence for culture, and exceptional food. Additional features will include three restaurants, a lounge

and 1,450 square metres of meeting and event space, including a 1,000-square-metre ballroom and a spa and fitness centre. It isn’t the first time the two have collaborated, with SOM designing Hyatt’s seven storey global HQ in Chicago in 2004. The 47-storey Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Residences Emirates Pearl will be designed by Dennis Lems Architects Associates, with interiors by MKV Design of London. Featuring 368 guestrooms, 60 fully furnished service apartments, four restaurants, a lounge and two bars, it will be located on the southwest end of the Coastal Boulevard in the prestigious

Ras Al Akhdar district of central Abu Dhabi. At the Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla, Greg Norman is confirmed to design the golf course, complementing the master-planned, multiphase hotel development on the northern shores of Aqaba. Peter Norman, senior vice president of development with responsibility for the Europe, Africa and Middle East and Southwest Asia regions for Hyatt, said: “The growth opportunity in this region is a testament to the global appeal of Hyatt’s entire brand portfolio as it continues to expand worldwide and offer more choices to our guests.”

Greenline Interiors announces new Dubai projects worth AED130 million Greenline Interiors (GLI) has won commissions for two major new projects in Dubai – Millennium Bay View Hotel in Business Bay and Jewel of the Creek in Deira – with a combined value of AED 130 million. Managed by HLG Contracting, the projects are due for completion ahead of Expo 2020. The scope of work for the five-star Millennium Bay View Hotel encompasses the joinery and fit out works for 218 rooms, while at Jewel of the Creek, which includes four residential buildings located between Al Maktoum Bridge and the Floating Bridge in Deira, GLI will be responsible for the comprehensive joinery and fit-out works for 333 furnished apartments. Samir Badro, chairman and CEO of GLI, commented: “All of GLI’s work is driven by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Vice President and Prime

Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – which is centred on establishing Dubai as a global capital for excellence in all respects. Our company has a proven track record in delivering high quality craftsmanship and offering unique products that are both longlasting and meticulously finished, and by bringing our expertise to these projects we are proud to be enhancing Dubai’s flourishing cityscape.” Since 1976, GLI has grown into an international corporate network with offices in 10 cities. The company works in both the hospitality and residential sectors with projects including the seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel, Arjaan Rotana and Sofitel in Abu Dhabi, Grosvenor House II and Paramount Towers in Dubai, Hilton and Fairmont Hotels in Riyadh and Hotel de Vendôme in Paris, as well as 22 UAE royal palaces. Samir Badro - Chairman and CEO of GLI

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Is design a need? Beirut Design Week concludes With ambitions to address a question of endless debate, Beirut Design Week (BDW) concluded on May 26 following seven days of exhibits, workshops and competitions. Posing the question, “Is design a need?”, the fifth edition of BDW welcomed more than 25,000 visitors to 150 events across the city. Through the sub-themes of regional collaboration, community and security, the show aimed to

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change perceptions on the region and its artists. Addressing national media, organisers MENA Design Research Centre, said: “The theme offers the participants and audience of BDW to question design and their role in the field of design. To assess more critically what a need is. To debate and create discussions that are not being heard in the public sphere. “The theme also offers participants the

choice, which they have to make by deciding where they stand and why. The theme also pushes people to remember that Beirut Design Week is not just about commercialisation and marketing of luxury goods, but an opportunity for everyone to think more creatively about their designer paths, to explore new options, to look for new collaborations, and to dare to do things that are outside their comfort zone.”

CELEBRATING CREATIVITY IN DESIGN CONGRAGULATIONS TO OUR 2017 WINNERS Held at the Palazzo Versace Dubai on 23 May 2017, the prize-giving paid tribute to the vast pool of design minds who continue to transform the UAE’s stunning interior and architectural landscape, while also rewarding the most innovative local and international products featured at the 2017 INDEX Design Series exhibition held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Best Cafe, Bar or Lounge Design Project Gold on 27, Keane Brands

Best Restaurant Design Project Bazxar , Bishop Design LLC Best Commercial Furniture Product Design The Brody Worklounge, OFIS/ Authorised Steelcase Dealer

Best Retail Design Project House of Handsome Men’s Salon, Korus Interiors

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Helen El Mettouri, Sander Borchart, Yasmin Farahmandy, Thijs Van der Hilst

VIEW ALL THE WINNERS: WWW.INDEXDESIGNSERIES.COM/IADA Best Technology Product Design & Best Residential Product Design Tailormade Pillow, Van Der Hilst BV

Thank you to our Official Lifestyle Magazine:

Thank you to all our Sponsors:


The regional spa industry is valued at $1.7bn with the hotel spas now holding the same revenue generating potential as the restaurants. With spa staycations and detox days set to define the future of wellness industry, that could change. Melanie Mingas writes.

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Getting Serious About Spas

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odern life has become a hamster wheel of creating and running from stress, with millions now bookending the hectic working week with spa staycations at one of the region’s hundreds of hotels. In Dubai, where there are currently 200 hotels spas and a further 25 in the pipeline for 2017, demand for treatments last year increased 9% on 2015 figures. Regionally, revenue grew 134% between 2012 and 2017, reaching $1.7bn and no doubt eliminating stress for general managers as well as guests, particularly in the leading markets of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan. But while business is good, competition is tight.

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Offering activities beyond the pool area creates a sense of connection to the destination. From our property, guests can explore Fujairah’s unique landscape by hiking or cycling Ayuko Suzuki Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort will be the first in a series of planned ultra-luxury hideaways on the UAE’s Indian Ocean coast when it opens its doors this summer, paving the way for a resort and wellness boom beyond Dubai.

The resort takes the lifestyle-beach club route with spa, pool, and wellness centre to balancing the primary experience. Multiple swimming pools and Jacuzzis overlook the Gulf of Oman and Al Hajar Mountains and for day guests the hotel will offer a “private utopia” experience in exclusive day chalets with private beach access. Ayuko Suzuki, director of spa and recreation at the resort, said: “Our product attracts a select group of guests who are drawn to seamless and bespoke experiences. The luxury and comfort of our guest rooms and the unique aesthetic of the resort highlights our commitment to offering an unprecedented travel experience, turning valued travellers into returning guests.” With USP, star rating, and big names over the

Ayuko Suzuki

Milica Petrovic

door not always enough in a crowding market, hotel spas now depend on design to drive business in terms of number of guests and profitability. Milica Petrovic, senior interior designer at architecture practice Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), explained: “The operational flow needs to be considered and this is where the designer and the spa operator work closely together to ensure the facility provides a serene environment and an unforgettable experience. Some of the most iconic spas around the world are those that manage to combine good design with a sensible operational flow. This is key to the design/revenue symbiosis.” A holistic planning strategy, which considers the treatment menu at the start of the design stage is a differentiating factor – not only for guests

Some of the most iconic spas around the world are those that manage to combine good design with a sensible operational flow. This is key to the design/revenue symbiosis Milica Petrovic but also staff, who must be able to seamlessly navigate the space without backtracking or disturbing treatments.

Theodora Kioussis, managing director at Esadore International, elaborated: “The spatial design planning of a wellness facility has a direct impact on the revenue that facility generates and how the guest perceives the experience of the service and space. That is critical for a business’s survival in an over-saturated market. “The designer needs to understand the spa service approach and menu offering, so that when designing the journey path through the different spaces they create the feel of a seamless experience.” As the figures show, the surge in facilities has resulted in increased demand for spa operators, making what was once a guest-only extra a major selling point for some guests. So high is the demand for spas, they are even a staple at the airport.

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WELLNESS Kioussis continued: “Wellness design is now considered its own sector and, as specialists in this sector, we understand that there are psychological techniques to create a stimulating journey through different spaces whilst calming the guest at the same time. Wellness design is a concept in its own right and is no longer limited to just spas and gyms.”

Solving the puzzle In the absence of hammam or other regional customs and themes, music, symbols and scents of Eastern origin are the go-to for creating atmosphere and tranquillity. One familiar technique to dramatically integrate with nature is the inside/outside approach – walls replaced with foliage or trees, open paths to the outdoors and a symbiosis with nature. But the local climate often deters designers and operators from stepping out. Petrovic observed: “In the Middle East, there are a lot of under-utilised outdoor recreational areas offering a host of opportunities. From the architectural landscape, we encourage clients to utilise these areas by adding split-levels or linking outdoors to indoors and incorporating areas for team activities.” Instead of letting the outside in, an alternative is to make the outdoors an attraction in their own right. At Fairmont Fujairah, this is achieved through physical connection to the landscape. Suzuki commented: “Offering activities beyond the pool area creates a sense of connection to the destination. From our property, guests can explore Fujairah’s unique landscape by hiking or cycling and we have mapped out the best running trails for the area.” Another challenge lies in striking the balance between creative autonomy and brand identity. A crowded market has no space for cookie-cutter treatment rooms but guests still expect certain signature markers – monogram towels, exclusive branded amenities. With a hotel’s spa now generating similar levels of footfall to the restaurants, Kioussis said it could be time for design and identity to follow the same path as in F&B. She said: “It’s a balancing act. The aim is to make each spa and wellness space aesthetically pleasing and functional to ensure that operation is faultless and revenue making a priority. “The facility should have a link back to the rest of the hotel’s design, however, it should also stand out on its own. The hotel spa is a business in its own right, not just another facility provided by the hotel. You want the guest to remember the experience, which includes the design and service, and then return.” Experiential travel is also a significant driver for wellness bookings. At the recently opened St. Regis

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Maldives Vommuli Island Resort the iridium spa is a modern interpretation of the crustaceans that swim below, whilst the Blue Hole Pool replicates the deep sink holes sometimes found in reefs. Designed by WOW Architects | Warner Wong, it is part of one of the most expansive integrated recreational areas in the country and the experiential USP is the breathtaking surroundings. Complementing local nature, the resort offers a yoga studio, gym, acupuncture clinic, nature library and culinary school, with each private villa equipped with a private pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. “The architectural idea was to create a concept befitting of such an incredible location - a design that stands out, but at the same time is inspired by and complements its natural surroundings,” says Alexander Blair, general manager, St. Regis Maldives. “We wanted to create a resort which ensures that our guests are fully immersed into the environment and the beauty of Vommuli Island. We chose a strong eco-conscious design which incorporates aspects of contemporary architecture and interior with Maldivian traditions, marine life and culture, while maintaining the St. Regis brand. For example, the overwater villas resemble a manta ray while the beach villas were designed as a modern interpretation of fishing huts.”

Healthy outlook A number of wellness and travel trends are expected to emerge in 2017, underlining the shift in focus towards healthy holidays. The exclusivity of spa and wellness is also set to become less apparent as regular visits become more mainstream. Blair predicted: “I believe mental wellness, with emphasis on stress, depression and anxiety elimination, will be the next focus as people look to

re-balance their mental health along with physical health. As a result, wellness facilities will divert their attention to healthy mind programming, perhaps leading to an increase in activities such as alternative meditation, yoga and Pilates.” Embracing its seaside charm, Fairmont Fujairah will look to the ocean for inspiration as Suzuki predicts 2017 will bring a focus on hammam, steam and sauna treatments. Yet Petrovic believes the coming months will bring growth in preventative treatments, while guests seek responsive experiences. She said: “The guest experience is undergoing change with some exciting new responsive concepts such as intelligent climbing wall panels, infinity skyline pools and sensory triggered rainfalls being incorporated into wellness facilities. In the design studio, the future definitely involves a greater use of technology, more sustainable and flexible materials and responsive features that provide intuitive mind and body benefits.” For Kioussis the future of spa design is both digitised and unplugged, meeting the demand for a tech-free guest experience while discreetly using technology to enhance services. She concluded: “The unprecedented stress of being connected 24/7 will drive spa trends for the coming years while, on the other side of the scale, there will be an increase in the use of highly sophisticated technology for short yet resultorientated beauty treatments. “Spas will need to position themselves as an oasis of unplugged human connection, bringing nature into the spa and people into nature. Accompanying this will be an almost anthropological quest for meaning and authenticity, whether in the form of Turkish hammams or spa owners growing their own herbs and performing treatments in gardens.”

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Out of the box Maria Economides, senior FF&E interior designer, Draw Link Group, discusses spacious living and ways to overcome the limitations of scale 20 |

June 2017

Maria Anna Economides - Architect & Interior Designer

C The majority of advice about small space design seems to work on the assumption that in order to create the illusion of a larger space, we are prepared to sacrifice style and personality

reativity thrives best when constrained. Tight boundaries shape and focus problems and allow us to see the challenges to overcome. It may sound contradictory, but limits can actually boost creative thinking. Small spaces are therefore the perfect setting for designers to demonstrate their originality and expertise when it comes to planning. The majority of advice about small space design seems to work on the assumption that in order to create the illusion of a larger space, we are prepared to sacrifice style and personality. There are in fact various ways in which one can live large within the limitations of a tight floor plan:


Change your way of thinking about scale. Do not assume that small spaces require small furniture. Consider your basic human functions (eating-sleeping-relaxing) and create a space that caters to your own lifestyle. How we feel in a space is the most important factor. Allow for custom built-in architectural details. Beds, desks, lounge seating, and tables can all be designed to be folded away making a space more versatile.



Fight against clutter. Small spaces necessitate excellent editing skills, forcing us to keep what is necessary, and having an assigned space for everything, whether on display or concealed. Going minimal is not always the best solution. Personal belongings such as books, framed photographs, items from travels and objects d’art are what give any space its individuality. Clearly assigning where each is to be located allows for an uncluttered display. Maximise the use of vertical space for storage and the display of your favourite items. Drawing the eye upwards will create an illusion in your favour. Play with the ceiling heights to create different zones. Lowered ceilings are good for creating cozy areas, whereas high ceilings are best for a spacious and airy feeling. Tie it all together. In small spaces, the living room may also need to function as the home office and/or the dining space. In order to keep a cohesive look, ensure that the overall color palette and style is unified. Trying to distinguish these functions stylistically in a small space tends to look confused and disordered.

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Collaborative vibes AUD and dormakaba come together to enable students to contribute to Expo 2020 pavilions

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he spark to create the idea came from one of the AUD students Tania Mary George who collaborated with Simon Beckers of dormakaba to create designs for Expo 2020 Opportunity and Sustainability Pavilions. They wanted to translate the design philosophy of the pavilions to the lever handles. “The only object you touch in a building is the Lever Handle. The design concept of the building should be conveyed through touch and feel.” Seeing the exciting results of this collaboration, Prof Kristin Lee of AUD forwarded the proposal to Prof Chadi El Tabbah. Prof Kristin and Prof Chadi saw the opportunity to involve their Interior Design class and almost overnight merged the project into the curriculum. The objective was to create design proposals of lever handles for Expo 2020 Mobility Pavilion. What followed was a series of interactions between dormakaba and the students, under the guiding leadership of Prof Chadi. This inspired the students to create bespoke design proposals. Speaking on the occasion, Uros Markovic of Meraas, said: “It was a privilege to adjudicate the AUD/Dormakaba competition for design of the bespoke door handle for Expo 2020. The young men and women of 2017 class of AUD Interior design have shown great courage and determination in presenting their designs that epitomize the Dubai spirit of forever striving forward. Their presentations were well articulated, with confidence and professionalism beyond their years. It was truly both rewarding and humbling experience. A great future awaits these students and I encourage them to be brave, to follow their dreams and always strive for excellence.” Commenting on the upcoming competition, George Philip, vice president dormakaba Marketing Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We, at dormakaba, are always looking at innovative ways to introduce designs that have a global benchmark and a local appeal. We are delighted to invite young minds to share with us some futuristic designs that we could propose for the upcoming Mobility Pavilion for the expo. We would like to compliment the vision of Expo 2020 Dubai by bringing in world class standards and inviting the youth to partner with us. We want them to contribute by adding the local flavour for a sustainable cultural identity in line with the design philosophy of the pavilions.” Chadi El Tabbah, associate professor of interior design led this project, stated: “Product to serve the human behaviour was our target, and our collaboration with dormakaba, the leading

From left Salwa Hassan -1st Prize winner, Lena Kinj – 2nd Prize Winner

We would like to compliment the vision of Expo 2020 Dubai by bringing in world class standards and inviting the youth to partner with us company on security solutions and products have challenged our students to balance the ergonomic and the practical applications, the result was a distinctive design, the process was intense research,

statements, modelling and a lot of passion. During this journey, each student was a unique individual, they all learned how to be sensitive to how people experience products and recognize the emotional connection to their surroundings.” The project capitalised on some of the key strengths of AUD’s internationally recognized ID program: having a foot in the future, sensitivity to the human factor in design, integration of the ergonomic and technical, the need for differentiation through relevant distinctiveness. Student ability to analyse, conceive, and express was challenged to the maximum, and their design education was furthered significantly by exposure to dormakaba, the leader in security solutions.

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cover story

A Mall World London-based architecture firm Design International has cemented its place in the UAE through a partnership with retail giant Lulu Group. Jason O’Connell spoke to chief executive Davide Padoa about the company’s next step which includes opening a new office in Dubai.

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cover story


hen His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), unveiled the commemorative plaque and laid the foundation stone for Silicon Mall in Dubai in April, it also marked a symbolic step for Design International in the Gulf. The London-based company is the creative force behind LuLu Group International’s 2.3 million sq. ft. shopping mall that will have a total investment of around AED 1bn ($272mn) by the time construction is complete around November 2019. Led by Italian-born Davide Padoa, Design International now feels confident enough about its prospects in this part of the world that it is finalising

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plans to open an office in Dubai to add to those in Shanghai, Milan and London. And Padoa insists his company is here for the long haul. “When we open an office it’s a 20 year business plan,” he says. “So with Expo 2020 coming up we see a short term opportunity and after that we’ll see what’s next. We are much more attracted to become part of Dubai today and the entire region. It’s diverse, cosmopolitan with a growing culture that is now coming to the surface. We see certain parametres that give us a long term view. It’s a hub for the region.” Design International was living up to its name long before Padoa joined them. Founded in Canada in the mid 1960s, the globetrotting company worked on jobs as far from home as Japan, South East Asia and

“In our vision, the shopping mall of the future will actually belong to the hospitality sector more than the commercial or leisure sector”

Davide Padoa at Avenues Mall Announcement

North Africa. Wherever they worked they brought a “humble” approach, adapting to the local culture rather than imposing their own vision, Padoa says. The architect’s decision to join the company in 1998 proved to be an inspired piece of timing. Tired of travelling the world all the time, the owners were eager to find new blood prepared to share a little of the risk and take some of the burden off their shoulders. In 2002, Padoa led a successful management buyout of the firm he had joined just four years earlier. “I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time,” he says. “I closed a deal pretty soon with another partner from the Toronto office. We paid the old partners over four years until 2006. Then my associate decided to become a developer so I bought his part.”

Padoa convinced one of the former partners, who had been something of a mentor to him, to shelve plans to retire and also brought in a third partner. Despite the change at the top Padoa made sure to retain the company’s original philosophy of taking on client focused, unique projects. He explains: “The benefit of that is that every project becomes a one off. Don’t ask us to repeat something.” Design International operates six design teams each consisting of about 15 – 20 people, mainly architects but also integrated landscape architects, lighting designers, signage experts, and graphic designers. The company integrates all of these services into one package to provide a bespoke service for its clients. Avenues Mall – Silicon Oasis is the third

collaboration with Lulu Group following the Khalifa City Mall in Abu Dhabi and the Avenues Mall – Sharjah, both of which are under construction and scheduled to be ready in 2019. However at 88,000 sqm the Silicon Oasis incarnation is the largest of the three and is expected to welcome as many as 60 million visitors per year when it opens. Padoa says he was drawn to the Indian retail giant by the family owned company’s back story. “It’s a beautiful client to work with. They are a retailer that connects with people. For us they had a great story and we’ve had similar relationships with other brands.” He adds: “They know their customer and they know their product. The best developers really are the ones that don’t disconnect from what is sold from

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cover story

the shelves. The bad developers are the ones that only base their decisions on the balance sheet. In Europe I can give you a long list of developers that are totally disconnected from what people want.” The mall is designed as a gateway to the Silicon Oasis neighbourhood of Dubai. Originally it was planned to be a service mall for the area but Lulu Group and Design International saw an opportunity to widen the scope of the project, partly thanks to the university next door. “It’s a gateway to the city but also a meeting place for the community which has a lot of students,” he says. “There are plenty of areas inside that students can sit and study without having to shop. Connectivity is great.” Padoa describes the eyecatching outer appearance of the mall as being like “giant pebbles” with skylights that resemble “rivers of light”.

“The bad developers are the ones that only base their decisions on the balance sheet”

The Future Design International is in talks with some of the biggest developers in Dubai, including Dubai Holding, Emaar, Meraas and Majid Al Futtaim. “Majid Al Futtaim is the most difficult client to get because they have long lasting relationships with other architects and that’s very good,” Padoa says. “But they are curious and we have introductory meetings with them. Meraas is a similar story. They have strong relationships with our competitors but I’m confident they will be interested when they see a good product. Clients want to work with the best architects and they want a unique project. We’re not in a hurry.” He admits that the “boom and bust” nature of Dubai’s economy poses a challenge to companies trying to break into the market here. “The challenge

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is that it’s a very volatile market. Everybody probably has that 2 – 3 years maximum vision to make a quick buck and then decide later what to do. “Now is a good moment. Everybody has a target which is the Expo but the economy is not quite as good as people would like. Everybody is trying to do things prudently. Though Design International has found its niche as a designer of shopping malls, its plans for this part of the world go beyond retail. “We’re very interested in hospitality because in our vision, the shopping mall of the future will

actually belong to the hospitality sector more than the commercial or leisure sector. It’s all about making sure that every customer is treated as a guest and never generic for a group of people. “So we naturally shifted our focus towards the hospitality sector and are now designing quite a lot of hotels for the likes of Marriott, Sheraton as well as boutique hotels.” With shopping malls and hotels at the heart of its strategy, Design International should find no shortage of opportunities in Dubai in the coming years.

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INDEX 2017 Attended by over 30,000 visitors and with more than 1,100 exhibitor stands, the 27th annual INDEX Series along with Middle East Stone, infused optimism in the growing regional design industry

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Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, officially launched the 27th INDEX Design Series interiors festival and co-located Middle East Stone, now in its third year. Joined by INDEX event director, Samantha Kane-Macdonald, Yan Wang of Middle East Stone, and dmg events design portfolio director, Tony Crinion, HH Al Maktoum launched the four-day exhibitions before being given a guided tour of the show floor, interacting with standholders. He also liaised with firms taking part in Middle East Covering – which focuses on interior and exterior surface solutions – and workspace, dedicated to office furniture and décor. Between them, the shows attracted well over 30,000 visitors to more than 1,100 exhibitor stands. They also hosted knowledge sharing industry-focused talks, seminars, and on-site interactive features, with INDEX opening its doors to consumers for the first time in its history. Tony Crinion, INDEX event director, said: “All of us across the INDEX Design Series would like to personally thank HH Al Maktoum for opening what promises to be an incredible fourdays of business and networking. INDEX has an immensely strong 27-year history. Our challenge is to keep that going, and we feel that with all our innovations for 2017 – namely the Design for the Senses show theme and lush green décor – we have a show that will excite, engage, and exhibit the very best in global interior design.

A region-wide study – launched on the first day of the 2017 INDEX Design Series – found that despite oil price fluctuations, the Gulf’s interiors industry has grown in value by more than $2.2bn in the last 12 months alone “The region’s recent history of infrastructure, hospitality, residential, and retail development is once again pushing on. With ambitious national growth set for the Gulf across the next ten to 15 years, being able to source the finest materials and products to help build and furnish these megaprojects is vital for the region’s construction

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and design leaders. The INDEX Design Series and Middle East Stone are here to meet that requirement.” The OFIS-sponsored Design Talks at INDEX welcomed big interior designers, Bethan Gray, Henry Holland, and Jo Hamilton to both in conversation and panel discussions. The show floor was peppered with sense-tingling features, including a Harrodsdesigned VIP Oasis exclusive distributor Finasi, an INDEX Design Hub, and textile and lighting exhibits. In addition, Middle East Covering offered a wide variety of surface solutions for flooring, walls, and interior products, while workspace – through the Steelcase-endorsed Active Learning Ecosystem – demonstrated the future of the office environment.

GCC’s interiors market boasts a net worth of $17.7bn The GCC’s interior design market has surged in value, and is now worth almost $18bn a year. A region-wide study – launched on the first day of the 2017 INDEX Design Series – found that despite oil price fluctuations, the Gulf’s interiors industry has grown in value by more than $2.2bn in the last 12 months alone. Conducted by market analysts Ventures, the research discovered that the value of interior-based design and fit-out spend has risen from $15.5bn in 2016 to $17.7bn this year, with the steep rise attributed to near-constant innovation and what experts describe as “everchanging personal preferences”. The report – commissioned exclusively by INDEX – concluded that interior design is one of the Gulf’s fastest growing industries. A Ventures spokesperson said: “Contractors in the GCC should consider themselves fortunate to be positioned in a region that is still very active compared to many other parts of the world despite low oil prices. With the current slowdown in the market and the fast-approaching dates for Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022, developers and consultants are bound to turn their attention towards providing highquality refurbishments to their existing projects, in turn fuelling the demand for interiors and fit-out contractors. The value of projects in the construction and interiors pipeline is four times the value of projects completed in the past ten years.” Samantha Kane-Macdonald, event director at INDEX – which has gathered more than 1,000 interior product suppliers for four days of exhibiting at the Dubai World Trade Centre, starting on Monday – said: “In the face of global economic challenges, the pioneering endeavour and ambition of designers, architects and construction professionals based throughout the Gulf continues to not only persevere,

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but conceive, invent and drive the future of design. The region will play host to some of the world’s biggest events over the next decade, and the construction and redevelopment process for each of those is already well underway, across all sectors; hospitality, commercial real estate, retail, health and hospitals, and education.” According to the report, the interiors industry is valued at its highest within the building sector, where its annual worth is $9.2bn – up almost $1bn on last year. The commercial real estate ($1.1bn), hotel ($2.1bn), retail ($1.2bn), hospital ($667m), and education ($452m) sectors have all increased interiors investment since 2016. The residential sector remained buoyant with an annual value of more than $3bn. Individual interior product industries are also experiencing profitable growth. The lighting fixtures market is booming, with the region’s lighting systems

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market predicted to be worth $3.5bn by 2020. Textile imports and exports are valued at $3bn per year, with furniture and fittings recording similar figures. All aspects of interior design were showcased during INDEX, which has prided itself on offering interior designers, architects, and procurement managers the ultimate creative platform on which to network and source some of the finest furniture and décor found anywhere in the world for the last 27 years. The show ran in tandem with workspace and Middle East Covering. As well as the buying opportunities, INDEX also offered a host of industry-leading knowledge seminars through four days of OFIS-sponsored Design Talks, which this year, featured former British Designer of the Year, Bethan Gray; high-end interior expert, Jo Hamilton; and fashion guru-cum-product

designer, Henry Holland. In what is a first for the show – which last year welcomed more than 34,400 visitors – INDEX 2017 ran with a theme, Design for the Senses, and was set in a lush green forest brought alive by a host of sense-tingling, interactive features. In another first, the show opened its doors to the public, offering consumers the opportunity to peruse the exhibition on the last two days.

World’s most expensive pillow unveiled at INDEX After working on a product for 15 years, neck specialist, Thijs van der Hilst, unveiled a gold-encrusted Tailor Made pillow worth AED210,000 ($57,000) during the INDEX Series. Using 3D-scanners, printers, a complex mathematical algorithm, Mulberry silk, Egyptian cotton, and a splash of 24 carat gold, the

cervical expert’s dedicated team of craftsmen handstitch a pillow perfectly moulded to the sleeper’s head, neck and shoulders. He said: “As a cervical specialist, I used to advise my patients to buy a good pillow. But what is the best pillow for which patient, I asked myself. If there are three sizes of pillows available, which one would fit the best? As our feet are all different, so are our shoulder heights and neck lengths. And the sleeping position varies person to person. Everyone is unique – so the pillow should be too. “With our portable scanner, we offer 3D scans for clients around the world. Once we have the scan, we use our in-house algorithm to calculate and draw the right pillow. This 3D-drawing is then imported into our robotic milling machine which makes the pillow out of non-toxic Dutch memory foam. “Once the core of the pillow is ready, our craftsmen create a precisely fitting cover made out of 24 carat gold to block all radiation during the night, ensuring the most-healthy sleep environment for the user.” Samantha Kane-Macdonald, director at INDEX, said: “The Tailormade Pillow is easily one of the most highly anticipated products we’ve ever had at INDEX, let alone been given the honour of being the international launch pad for. As an interiors exhibition, we cater to all budgets and styles and can’t wait to see the response to a pillow that guarantees a perfect night’s sleep. For me, I’d maybe need a lie down after spending $57,000 on a pillow, but many of our visitors may well just find that Thijs’ creativity, expertise, and advanced technologies could change their lives forever – especially when his whole range of carefully crafted cushions start at AED18,000 ($4,995).”

Noura AlGhandi named Index Design Entrepreneur of the Year Noura AlGhandi – one of Dubai’s youngest CEOs at 23 – was honoured as the winner of the INDEX Design Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2017. The brains and creative flair behind ALBAL Design Studio, AlGhandi is a truly inspiring Emirati businesswoman and interior designer, whose brand not only has a sterling client list, but is also routinely offering a helping hand to local firms looking to get off the ground. Founded in November 2014, ALBAL now employs a multi-national team who work on interior and architectural design projects ranging from homes to private-yachts. As their professional reputation grows, however, so does the support AlGhandi and her team offer start-ups, providing invaluable creative assistance across all elements of design – from logos and branding to the final execution of interior projects. Her hard-work and enterprise was recognised

when she was presented with the first-ever INDEX Design Entrepreneur of the Year award at the opening of INDEX Design Series – the Middle East’s biggest annual interior design show. AlGhandi said: “I am very happy to be receiving the INDEX Design Entrepreneur of the Year award. We started [the studio] around in November 2014, and were first located in Ras al Khor and moved to Dubai Design District a year ago. We now have people from Greece, Ukraine, Germany, India, the Philippines; we are a variety of cultures. Our style is basically contemporary and I think we are currently attracting clients with the same mindset. “Lately, we have been working a lot with start-ups. They come to us with a dream. We start with visual literacy [where clients draw with their eyes-closed and their creations are interpreted by Noura and her team] and come up with the branding, their logo, and support them in their business plan, strategies and interior design execution. “Moving forward, I want to have more local designers join the team and not just as designers working for ALBAL, but working with us; so,

Sometimes the use of unexpected materials comes from a serendipitous event, but mostly it’s through the efforts of nichedesigners, younger creatives with a passion to design in sustainable ways and find waste by-product of the food industry collaborating as graphic designers, interior designers, freelancers – just so we can all grow together.” AlGhandi – who attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design immediately upon leaving high school – is driven by not only her love of design, but also the heartbreak of her father Abdullah’s passing when she was only a teenager. She said: “ALBAL is an Arabic word that means ‘always on my mind’. When we were first looking for a name, it was just perfect as my main inspiration is my father, who passed away in 2008. ALBAL, in Arabic, starts with the first letter of his name – Abdullah – and that’s why, in our logo, the first letter is separated, so Abdullah is always on my mind. That’s where the inspiration comes from.”

Samantha Kane-Macdonald, event director at INDEX, said: “Her entrepreneurial spirit, flourishing reputation and already marked success are truly astounding achievements for any businesswoman. But then you remember, she is only 23-years-old. At such a young age, she has already cemented ALBAL’s place within the design community, brought together a team of international design experts and is offering business support to firms across all different industries trying to make their mark on the world. You can only be inspired by her work ethic and the values and philosophy she has bestowed in ALBAL, and it is truly our honour to announce AlGhandi as the 2017 INDEX Design Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Harrods Interiors debut venture into the UAE at INDEX 2017 Industry leading designers from Harrods unveiled unrivalled luxury during Dubai’s biggest interiors event when they created an exclusive VIP lounge for the 27th INDEX Design Series. Interior stylists from the high-end London retailer’s interior design arm Harrods Interiors crafted a five-star retreat within the forest paradise at the exhibition. Guaranteed to inspire the senses, the lounge set in the heart of the show’s new luxury hall - took guests into a lush organic oasis, where Harrods Interiors presented their own debut furniture range, the Harrods of London collection, officially launched in March. This was the first time that pieces from the stunning collection was displayed outside the British capital – and marks Harrods Interiors’ first design of a public space anywhere in the UAE.

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Letitia Taylor, head of Harrods Interiors, explained: “We are delighted to support INDEX this year in Dubai. We aimed to create a visual feast for the senses by using the intense colours and textures of nature, inspired by the wild. Guests were 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 created a memorable sensory experience for our guests with the design celebrating all of the latest interior and design trends.” Taylor and her team travelled the world discovering new trends, sourcing the highest quality fabrics and products to create truly sensational spaces. She continued: “Our design team place importance on understanding the history and feel of a space in order to craft the correct composition of materials, colours, fabrics, accessories and artistic lighting. It’s something that Harrods as a business has down to a fine art, and within the design studio we cultivate and build on that ability to take it to the next level.” The exhibition’s director, 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

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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 was a source of huge excitement for everyone involved in INDEX.” As well their debut furniture line, Harrods Interiors used INDEX to display a one-of-a-kind wallpaper inspired by the store’s historical Art Deco architecture, made in collaboration with pre-eminent creators of bespoke, hand-painted collections, De Gournay.

Designers turn to sustainable products during INDEX 2017 In the ongoing quest for sustainability, interior product designers are turning to a pool of bizarre new materials in a bid to help lower the environmental impact of their work and introduce interesting new textures and styles to the design world. Fish skin leather, for example, is now finding uses in upholstery, furniture and across accessories – such as on cushions. Rice and nuts can be found as base structure materials, while fabrics discarded from the fashion world are used to insulate, and waste magazines are becoming wall coverings. With their alternative feel and cheaper cost, the materials are now

superseding the more traditional for many designers. This year’s INDEX Design Series – the UAE’s biggest interior design exhibition – explored the theme Design for the Senses. UK-based trend forecasters, Scarlet Opus, invited visitors to the show to experience both their Trends Hub and Trend Tour, which looked at the many different materials finding their way into the wider design domain. Victoria Redshaw, lead futurist at Scarlet Opus, explained: “As consumer desire grows for makers to be more responsible about the materials they use, their production processes and how they address waste in getting products to market, designers are getting ever more creative and innovative in their search for ecofriendly materials. “Sometimes the use of unexpected materials comes from a serendipitous event, but mostly it’s through the efforts of niche-designers, younger creatives with a passion to design in sustainable ways and find waste by-product of the food industry. Fish skin leather has been used for some time in fashion, but is now finding its way into the hands of very good designers in the interiors world. “This is because the raw material is much more readily available to them and is using what is otherwise mostly waste. Using them not only helps to reduce waste material disposal around the world – which

in many countries is very expensive – it also avoids the need to ‘manufacture’ new materials or cause the partial use of yet more natural resources.” The INDEX Trends Hub showcased eight products from around the world that have been designed and manufactured to achieve 100% sustainability. Those include a salmon-skin drum table made, a pasta bowl made out of one-million-year-old slate, and a pair of sunglasses devised from shrub-plants. INDEX director Samantha Kane-Macdonald said: “Our Trends Hub and Trend Tour opened people’s eyes to the changing of the guard in traditional material use. INDEX prides itself on looking to the future of design and – although it may sound outlandish – foodstuffs are now crossing into the textural and architectural sides of design and having a genuine impact. Not only does this present major environmental and financial benefits, but exciting new opportunities for design too.”

Steelcase wins best commercial product design at INDEX Awards 2017 Leading insight-led design-driven solutions provider, Steelcase, has been awarded the Best Commercial Product Design for its Brody WorkLounge at the INDEX Architecture and Design Awards (IADA) 2017. The high performance and supportive WorkLounge features patented LiveLumbar technology, bringing thoughtful ergonomic design to the lounge posture. Providing privacy screens and an enhanced sense of psychological security for workers, Brody

WorkLounge offers the ideal micro-environment for people who need a place to get away without going away. Transforming underutilised, in-between spaces into coveted destinations, its adjustable Personal WorkSurface also holds technology at eye level, reducing neck and shoulder strain, while supporting today’s varied working styles and ample device usage. Commenting on the award, John Small, director of Design at Steelcase, said: “We are delighted to receive this accolade from the IADA, celebrating exceptional creativity, innovation and passion in design. Maintaining focus is a costly problem in today’s fast paced and connected world but the Brody WorkLounge creates a comfortable micro-environment by thoughtfully integrating power, ergonomic comfort, personal storage, and lighting—so employees can focus their attention and get work done.” Adaptive bolstering also enables the WorkLounge’s cushion to adapt to the unique size of each user, while a footrest with nonslip surface provides additional support for legs and feet to maintain exceptional seat comfort. Held as part of the INDEX Design Series - the region’s largest and most comprehensive commercial interior design event - The INDEX Architecture and Design Awards celebrate the region’s leading architects, designers, projects, and products.

INDEX features rainforest revamp for 2017 Bristling with fully-immersive feature experiences allowing guests to see, hear, feel, smell and even taste

their way around the show, the 27th edition of INDEX focussed on Design for the Senses, and offered interior designers, architects, and procurers the ultimate creative platform on which to network and source some of the finest furniture and décor found anywhere in the world. Big celebrity designers like London-style icon Henry Holland and Welsh award-winning luxury guru, Bethan Gray, led the pack, taking part in their own exclusive In Conversation seminars. Jo Hamilton - widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading interior designers and a respected public speaker, writer and broadcaster – headed the fourday festival’s Design Talks. Harrods Interiors supplied unrivalled luxury when they marked their first venture into the UAE with a five-star VIP Oasis set in the heart of the enormous exhibition, which was, this year, officially endorsed by the Dubai Design & Fashion Council. And on top of all of that, the trade show – responsible for generating $5.5bn in business in 2016 - opened its doors to consumers for the first time, hosting a dedicated night for members of the public to peruse the more than 800 expected exhibitor stands. Samantha Kane Macdonald, event director at INDEX, said: “What we all love about design is how truly organic it is; it’s always changing, developing, growing, improving. That’s why it remains our passion, as there’s always something new. No place mirrors that better than the rainforest, where the most incredible colours, sounds, textures, smells and tastes combine to create this living, breathing organism that encapsulates everything designers aim to achieve.”

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David Lessard


n the GCC, cladding is a divisive topic. Over recent years it has been at the centre of debate about fire safety and, over the coming years, dozens of cladding retrofit projects will be initiated to ensure structures comply with new rules. Discussion on safety and the ability of certain materials to retain their integrity in the local climate often overshadows discussion on design. Design itself has been restricted to the availability of materials strong enough to endure the challenging atmospheric conditions of the GCC; stagnating in comparison to global trends which have evolved to incorporate organic and unfinished materials. David Lessard, director of hospitality at Perkins+Will comments: “The primary cladding materials used in the region are precast concrete and aluminium composite cladding for commercial buildings and EIFS systems for smaller scale residential. Availability, budget and expertise are key drivers for the utilisation of such materials but inevitably we are seeing these trends broken as the market matures. Changes to legislation, lessons learned from facilities managers and more ambitious designers are introducing new trends away from the historic precedent.” The most significant change in legislation is the update of fire safety codes in the UAE, which will see hundreds of high-rise structures retrofitted with fire-grade cladding materials – as maintenance and necessity dictates – over the coming years. Avinash Kumar, associate partner at Godwin Austen Johnson Architects, advises: “The main considerations for retrofit would be the selection of

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Back to Basics Historically, availability and budget defined cladding specification in the GCC, but the recent maturation of the regional market is making a statement of design once again. Melanie Mingas writes

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non-flammable and code approved materials, and future emphasis would be on the use of materials which add to the overall insulation of the built form to reduce infiltration and are sustainable in nature to reduce HVAC loads.” Godwin Austen Johnson Architects has sourced alternative cladding materials and fillings for a number of years, including Rockwool or glass mineral wool to replace polystyrene based EIFS, which no longer features on the list of approved cladding materials. The firm works with suppliers who offer a three-hour rated non-flammable core for aluminium composite panels in order to meet new authority approval with familiar materials and assessment of fibre cement tiles and panels or precast concrete panels, which are non-flammable in nature, continues. He says: “We have always been selective when

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it comes to the specification of cladding materials and, since the introduction of the new building and fire safety codes earlier this year, we have continued to source alternative options including plain metal sheets which are not composite in nature and hence safer to use. There are a number of companies that have ventured into plain metal cladding panels to reduce the vulnerability of composites.”

Function or design? Historically, regional facade trends take their cue from three elements: glass, stone and mashrabiyainspired coverings. Kumar observes: “In the GCC the focus has generally fallen on traditional Islamic architecture with an abundant use of mashrabiya screens providing a locally inspired aesthetic appeal as well as functioning as solar shading for the buildings. “Materials used for high-rise building need to

be carefully selected because regular inspections, maintenance and replacement of materials are not easy to implement. It is always wise to use materials that require very little maintenance,” he continues. The most recent innovations to reach the regional market include ceramic façade panels and fibre cement, which are more durable, higher performing and competitively priced compared to alternatives, allowing designers to work with a wider palette. Perkins+Will established its Dubai-based practice in response to the unique nuances of the Middle East as a region and the need to be ingrained in the culture in order to adjust a design ethos to suit. Lessard observes: “There are various budgetary, performance and most importantly taste profiles to consider here in the Middle East, which may not be prevalent in other global markets. Fair faced concrete may be considered sophisticated in Zurich but in Dubai it’s considered unfinished.”

Instead, complex architectural designs often evolved from traditional mashrabiya designs, are driving innovation with regional suppliers now meeting demand for GFRC panels in compound curved shapes according to Lessard. Although the market is still “some time away” from carbon fiber, Corian or pneumatic facades. “As the appetite for innovation grows so will the cladding market,” he comments. While much of the focus falls on the high-rise building stock of the UAE, significant innovations are happening closer to the ground. Iron, steel and wood have desirable and on-trend aesthetic qualities but durability and maintenance are impractical in taller structures – even stainless steel corrodes eventually in the local environment. Globally, the trend towards organic materials and rustic effects introduces an element of Grand Designs to villas and gated communities, creating a new visual identity for the region’s residential buildings and integrated community facilities such as retail and dining destinations. Kumar shares: “We have seen a few new types of cladding materials such as perforated screens, WPC panels and timber panels being used in low rise built forms and we are also starting to see an increase

“There are a number of companies that have ventured into plain metal cladding panels to reduce the vulnerability of composite material.”

in the use of mineral fibre panels replacing the old traditional metal panels.” Lessard adds: “A suitable building material for a small scale project does not always translate to a large scale building project and one’s design approach must be adjusted to suit very early in the design process.” The real solutions lie in new blends of composites for specific visual effects: HPL panels for the appearance of wood without maintenance constraints and ceramic panels for the appearance of copper without progressive oxidation. The real point of change however, is exploiting the sweet spot between aesthetics and performance, as demonstrated by the incorporation of photovoltaic (PV) panels in facades and roofing. Lessard says: “Sustainability is arguably one of the biggest trends in building design over the last

few years and we are now seeing IGUs with integrated photovoltaics. Although not at peak efficiency for power generation it is no doubt a technology that will continue to develop and is only validated by efforts of Tesla in developing their Solar Roof panels which is moment of singularity between material and performance.” The development paves the way for further developments in sustainable and Smart facades, which are tipped to define the next decade in building design and function, with the Expo2020 site in Dubai set to be the first project to integrate both properties in its facades. A PV structure will cover the main walkways which, combined with the PV panels on the building facades, will be capable of absorbing energy and supplying half of the Expo’s power requirements. Kumar says: “Smart facades and the use of integrated photovoltaics, where PV cells would be the part of general glazing and cladding materials, are certainly going to feature in the future of cladding here in the GCC over the next few years. “A high performing facade or double skin facade can have a significant impact on reducing the loads at source and I believe sustainability will play a major role in deciding the cladding material for future buildings,” he concludes.

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Designing sustainability Hilda Impey, associate design director, FF&E, for Wilson Associates looks at the latest trends in sustainability that are facing hospitality designers 42 |

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ollution, in all its various manifestations— air, water, contaminated soil, or toxic fabric dyes—has been the result of rapid industrialisation and capitalism, which is overpowering nature’s ability to regenerate itself. With the global climate constantly changing, how does this affect design and the choices we make as designers? As today’s hospitality designers, we analyse 2017’s rising trends, while observing major world challenges, emerging lifestyles associated with socio-demographical changes, and the social implications of the current economic and political climate. Mindful of these events, we must take practical approaches when designing a space. The materials and furniture we specify for projects must come from smart decision-making, as they are crucial for the wellbeing of hotel guests and the environment. We have a responsibility to guide and promote thoughtful and sustainable

design that will positively impact both our health and our surroundings. It is essential that designers collaborate with product manufacturers early in the development process to produce creative and eco-friendly products that have a lower carbon footprint than others. Here are some examples of products that showcase sustainable attributes with smart manufacturers backing them: ● Kvadrat launched an upcycled fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, designed by British textile designer Georgina Wright. Revive 1 and Revive 2 are the company’s first fabrics to be made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester PET. ● Diana Simpson Hernandez is behind the idea of the first waste lab initiative – The Glass Lab. Waste Labs is a waste processing project that promotes local collection, processing and transformation of waste. Collected glass

bottles are crushed on-site and combined with a vegetable bio-resin binder to produce strong and weatherproof products, such as bollards, street furniture, tiles and lights. Designers must embrace the opportunity to find compelling solutions outside of their comfort zones. We can solve potential problems by using, merging, mixing and collaborating with other industries and professionals—and promoting worthwhile initiatives while doing so. I believe that the community should focus on specifying high quality products, materials, and furniture that have long lifespans and safe and sustainable manufacturing cycles and processes. Pollution has become a major concern for hospitality brands, and product and material choices that reduce this pervasive waste will be a key focus in 2017. As consumers continue to invest in ethical, environmentally-friendly products, so too must the hospitality design community.

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Slow the flow Grohe’s Michael Seum talks about precision, intuitiveness and the spa-like experience in the Smart Control line of showers. By Veathika Jain 46 |

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ho doesn’t love a spa experience? And if that experience can be at home, then it’s definitely better. New shower range from Grohe does just that – gets a spa experience right in your bathroom. Grohe showcased its new product line, Smart Control, along with its other faucet and shower lines in Dubai recently, where Design Middle East caught up with the vice president of design at GROHE, Michael Seum.

What is the Smart Control line all about? We have evolved the shower concept into a spa experience and basically bring a spa to your own home. The new line is smart controlled, concealed, and precision based showering. The smart control system has the ability to intuitively select which type of spray you want. We are offering two different spray types – centre of the shower, which is a precise focus spray, great for rinsing. While, the perimeter spray is the rain shower experience. What’s nice in the head shower is when you have two different spray styles is that within the controls, you can adjust the

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We don’t look at trends in the industry, we look at the need of the consumer

With those options, you can then pair it with one of our faucet lines that either have more masculine or cubic geometry to match the square head shower or you can go with the essence line to be paired with the round showers. It’s really about the idea of precision and control of an individual experience in the shower. It is one of the best experiences you can have as it has so much ability to control the water intensity and intuitiveness. The box also allows you to have pre-waterways, so you can have two sprays in your head shower and one in your hand shower in one simple box.

volume intensity of the water. For example, when you need to rinse, then maybe you want to turn up the power of the water and as you are lathering soap, you want to turn down the water. It allows you to change modes in the experience of showering but is highly personal to however you want to control it.

How user-friendly is this showering line?

Are there different designs of showers within the Smart Control line? We have designed the head showers in the boxes to be coordinated and they can be round or square.

I travel a lot and I enter hotels that I am really unfamiliar with and I don’t know what’s going to happen when I turn the water on. This problem is completely solved with the Smart Control line, as we have intuitive icons for the controls, making it completely flexible. It doesn’t have a memory function where you can store your choice of showering pattern but it’s an analogue experience that was inspired a little bit by the precision of digital controls. We have the knurling texture on the

showers, which conveys the precision and has the ability to adjust almost immediately when you want the water level down or a high intensity shower.

How sustainable product line?

you can control the light and the sound via an app. Customisation is surely possible in the Aqua Symphony range.


the Would you say, you have it all when it comes to a shower That’s also a part of the strategy. So, when you talk experience? about the ability to individually control water, there are times when you need more water intensity and there are times when you need less, we really leave the option to the consumer as to how they want to change their behavior regarding water usage. But because you can so easily adjust the water volume, you can take immediate action and still have an amazing spa like experience, even in low setting. With the rain shower, you can save a lot of water.

We believe, in our showering portfolio, it’s all up to the consumer what they want to bring. If you want ultimate luxury, you can have the Aqua Symphony, or if you want a little bit more modular, you can bring in F series that allows you to scale from large to smaller shower cabins. Our new product, Smart Control, offers a complete breakthrough experience in terms of the intuitiveness and precision.

The Smart Control range doesn’t offer customisation. Our flagship range is Aqua Symphony that is a collection of every spray technology you have. We hand make them in Germany per order with six different sprays and Chroma therapy. If you want, you can add a Bang & Olufsen sound system, where

We don’t look at trends in the industry, we look at the need of the consumer. If we can make it simple and intuitive, our customers will truly love the experience of their showering. Then we know we have the winning formula. We focus on water experiences that consumers love.

What are the design trends Is there a customisation you look at before coming up with a new line? option in the range?

Michael Seum Vice President of Design at GROHE

June 2017

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Hot ticket

Trade fair dates for your diary‌


14-16 June, 2017 Tokyo, Japan Interior Lifestyle Tokyo is an international trade fair for Tokyo to propose lifestyle concepts in interior design markets from around the world. Interior Lifestyle Tokyo derives from two trade fairs – Ambiente, the largest consumer goods trade fair in the world, and Heimtextil, an international trade fair for household and commercial textiles.

HOUSE AND GARDEN FESTIVAL June 21-24, 2017, London, United Kingdom

This four-day festival brings together three leading lifestyle events, Grow London, Spirit of Summer Fair, and The HOUSE Fair to create the ultimate celebration of summer living inspiration and shopping. The festival offers a wondrous and eclectic treasure trove of 550 beautiful garden, interior, and lifestyle brands to explore and shop, all hand-selected by expert team and approved by House & Garden. Bursting with ideas and packed with inspiration and professional advice, one can enjoy free talks and workshops from leading interior, garden and lifestyle experts.


June 24-27, 2017 Frankfurt, Germany Tendence is home to a wide range of products from the home, furnishings and decoration sectors, as well as gifts, jewellery and fashion accessories. The large selection in the mid to upper price segments offers international high-volume buyers and the specialist retail trade an array of new product ideas for autumn, winter and Christmas, plus fresh collections for the following spring and summer seasons.


Index trade fair, touching almost three decades, has successfully maintained its position as the leading international B2B trade fair in India. The aim of Index trade fair and the philosophy of the international trade fair is not just selling space, but also creating a confluence of ideas, inspirations and most importantly, Exhibitors from around the globe come here to showcase their products. Similarly, the corporate, architectural houses, and freelance designers attend the trade fair to experience the latest innovations and procure what works best for them.


July 5-8, 2017 London, United Kingdom New Designers is the most important design event in the UK ensuring the lifecycle of the design industry continues and thrives. Entering its 32nd edition, the New Designers exhibition brings together design education, design consumers and the design industry to celebrate and recognise and the next generation of graduate designers. New Designers gives you the unmissable opportunity to buy new products for your store or home, get inspired by fresh ideas and discover new design talent to commission or recruit.

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2017 10–12 OCTOBER








The Last word

trend watch Design is not about creating an acceptable product. It is about creating an exceptional product. Several key industry trends have emerged in design throughout the last 20 years, placing the customer as its core. Products must now pre-conditionally evolve to satisfy four things in their design:

Pragmatic problem solving Benefit is greatest when design is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers’ problems. The number of single and two-person households are on the rise, resulting in a demand for small and portable furniture. Consumers have also been looking for furniture that is multi-purpose, versatile and technology-driven, especially when it comes to living in smaller spaces.

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Creating cultural relevance Design is most powerful when culturally embedded - It works best when it has strong support in the organisation, especially from senior management. This helped design evolve into a supporting influence on economic growth. In terms of location, Europe has the largest market for luxury furniture, but developing countries such as China, India, and the Middle East is not far behind. As the economy grows, more consumers are willing to buy luxury items for their living and work environments, for its quality, style, and special feel.

Accumulate added value Design has evolved as an added value to any organisation and can benefit manufacturing/ service-based organisations of all sizes. The rise

of telecommuting is driving the demand for home office furniture. With the rise of entrepreneurship and start-ups, consumers quickly found that their home offices had multiple uses, and they often preferred to buy versatile furniture that could cover up office equipment when not in use.

Ethical ecological responsibility More furniture vendors are choosing to go green and develop eco-friendly furniture. With luxury comes the expanding trend to go green, driven by environmental concerns, such as the problem of deforestation. Although eco-friendly furniture is more expensive, the demand is on the rise, making it worthwhile for manufacturers and companies to offer these products.

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Design Middle East June 2017  

This issue of Design ME features the cover story on Design International and articles on the rising demand for spas and wellness centres.

Design Middle East June 2017  

This issue of Design ME features the cover story on Design International and articles on the rising demand for spas and wellness centres.