ISSUE 001 OCTOBER 2O16
Khansaheb fits out the award-winning Tryano concept store at Yas Mall
Al Tayer Stocksâ€™ Sandy Stirling on maintaining quality in a low-margin market
DESIGN STUDY: MMAC pens stunning five-star hotel at Jumeirah Beach Residence
The inside line on Umdasch Shopfitting, Havelock, and many more
WHAT DOWNTURN? Perkins & Will head Steven Charlton hits back at market doom and gloom
A GOOD CRISIS IS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY
HOW GEMACO CEO CHRIS GILBERT MANAGES TO NOT ONLY SURVIVE, BUT THRIVE, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
Breaking the Mould LIGHTING SPECIALIST FAGERHULT BREAKS THE MOULD TO DELIVER GREATER VALUE TO UAE-BASED FURNITURE BRAND THE ONE THE One furniture store first opened in Abu Dhabi, in 1996, with a mission statement of “saving the world from soulless, overpriced furniture retailers”. While building the company from scratch took some time, it has now become a staple among UAE-based homeowners, who adore the brand for its affordable luxury home fashion. With several stores open across the UAE, THE One is now a major retail operation. And each of the brand’s stores needs to be finished to an extremely high specification, befitting the level of furniture that the brand sells. With that in mind, THE
One’s recently refurbished store in the Mall of the Emirates saw the company wrestle with the finer points of lighting in order
unnamed lighting supplier for 10 to 12 years, but for the Mall of the Emirates refurbishment, the Swedish lighting specialist
THE REASON WHY WE OPTED FOR THIS COLOUR TEMPERATURE WAS BECAUSE, WITH THE VAST COLOUR RANGE IN THE STORES, WE COULD MAXIMISE THE SELLING POTENTIAL OF THOSE COLOURS. to extract maximum value out of the investment. First, a little background. THE One had been using an
Fagerhult was introduced to the equation While acknowledging the brief set out by the client,
Fagerhult decided to break the mould and try something new, as the company saw an opportunity to improve THE One’s retail space. “Originally the client had a brief that they wanted 3,000K, which is the colour temperature of the light—it’s a warm white. And they’d been using warm white in all their stores for years. They were set on the fact that this is what they wanted. The luminaire that we proposed was actually 3,500K, which is slightly cooler, warm light,” explains Charles Wright, Sales Manager Retail at Fagerhult.
CONTINUED ON PG 5 SEPTEMBER 2016
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Dubai | + 971 4329 71 20 | email@example.com | www.fagerhult.com
To the highest standard WITH A SKILLED IN-HOUSE DESIGN TEAM, OFIS OFFERS THE VERY BEST IN INTERIOR DESIGN AND FURNISHINGS OFIS (Al Gurg Office Furniture), a part of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, is an interior design and furnishing practice that specialises in modular furniture and flooring solutions for commercial, educational, and healthcare spaces. OFIS combines the precision of architectural training with inhouse design talents. OFIS has the experience and brand portfolio to provide comprehensive through-the-line furnishing and interior solutions with cutting-edge designs for any kind of environment - be
it office spaces, classrooms or auditoriums. OFIS showcases some of
furniture brands includes Unifor, DVO, Benel and Aresline, all of whom are proficient in offering
OFIS HAS THE EXPERIENCE AND BRAND PORTFOLIO TO PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE THROUGH-THE-LINE FURNISHING AND INTERIOR SOLUTIONS WITH CUTTING-EDGE DESIGNS FOR ANY KIND OF ENVIRONMENT. the world›s leading names in office furniture and flooring. The company’s portfolio of
comprehensive interior solutions. Another key brand is US-based Steelcase which specialises
in tailor-made solutions for corporate, higher education and healthcare sectors. OFIS’s flooring division represents Interface, the international leader in carpet tiles, and the German brand Parador, known for its laminate, engineered and solid wood flooring. OFIS is dedicated to the highest standards of quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail. A team of competent staff work from a customised designed studio to offer innovative solutions that maximise customer satisfaction.
Timeless. Beautiful. Endearing. AND REFRESHINGLY NEW. INTERFACE’S NEW COLLECTIONS IN FOCUS Inspired by some of the world’s most beloved textiles, Interface’s new World Woven Collection brings a distinctive, handcrafted feel to a broad array of interior projects. The styles pay homage to centuriesold woolen textiles, from Scottish tweed to Saori hand-weaving. World Woven comprises six Skinny Planks and three FLOR by Interface squares, each with eight colours and made with 100% recycled content nylon. All nine styles weave together nods to some of
history’s most enduring designs—uncomplicated, elegant patterns that keep us warm and lift our spirits. The colours in the four core styles recall undyed wools with just a bit of contrast. To complement this set, two colour studies incorporate many hues mingled together to create a vivid, hand-made effect. Whether used as a simple, neutral background or combined to create diversity and movement, World Woven gives you an exciting new world of options.
THE COLOURS IN THE FOUR CORE STYLES RECALL UNDYED WOOLS WITH JUST A BIT OF CONTRAST.
Pantone Solid Coated
Pantone Solid Coated
WELCOME TO THE FIT OUT MAGAZINE Hello, and welcome to the first edition of The Fit Out Magazine, the Middle East’s only magazine dedicated to the interiors and fit-out market. I decided to launch this magazine simply because, up until now, there hasn’t been enough coverage dedicated to the full fit-out arena. Publishers here seem to have forgotten that there’s more to interiors than just design and architecture. It may be great to see and read about the region’s leading projects from a client’s perspective, but I’ve always believed that the contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers completing these amazing projects need recognition too. There’s also been an overall lack of business intelligence within the fit-out market, simply because we haven’t had a trade journal dedicated to us. Believe me, as someone who’s worked in this market for the better part of seven years, I know. So here we are—this is the first real attempt to provide the fit-out market with the publication that it deserves. Creating the magazine has been a difficult task—I’ve started it from scratch on a wing and prayer, but I believe the finished product really does do our industry justice; I wouldn’t have been able to complete it without the amazing team around me and I hope that it meets the industry favourably. As the magazine grows and develops, we hope to be at the forefront of all proactive information for the region’s fit-out arena. In terms of the market, it’s been a difficult year so far. The industry has had to contend with such things as tumbling oil prices and a free-fall in sterling. Plus there are smaller margins in projects that are combining with longer payments terms, which have meant tight cash liquidity within the market. It’s been tough all round, but the robust nature of the interiors market compared to others has seen key companies prosper—as you’ll be able to read in this issue, which features the market’s leading influencers. For so long, the commercial office space was the foundation of the interiors market but 2016 has seen a higher volume of smaller project values take centre stage. That said, the hope for 2017 is that the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Towers and commerical office towers in and around DIFC will start to be occupied as big business return with multi-floor opportunities when confidence in the market returns. However, in the meantime, it hasn’t been bad for everyone. Niche pockets of work have opened up and some companies have been exploiting these. Indeed, some of these firms are set to have record years, bucking the otherwise downward trend in the market, focusing their attentions towards F&B, leisure and retail opportunities have seen these businesses migrate and prosper away from the ultra competitive commercial and hospitality arena’s. In the pages that follow, you’ll be able to read all about the challenges facing the market, and how the region’s leading fit-out firms are meeting these challenges. All that’s left is to thank everyone for the support that we’ve already received. We hope to build a loyal reader base by becoming an indispensable source of information on the fit-out market. And don’t worry, there’s a fully operational website coming soon.
PUBLISHER, FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR Liam Toal firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tom Paye email@example.com FEATURES EDITOR Simon Butler STAFF WRITER Sarah Lownsdale DESIGNER Rey Calefante CONTRIBUTORS Peter Willmott Abdoullah Albizreh Colin Rawlings SALES CONSULTANT Megan Innes firstname.lastname@example.org SALES CONSULTANT Tom Bromley email@example.com PUBLISHED BY BLACKROCK GROUP L.L.E. ©BlackRock Group L.L.E. 2016. All rights reserved. Republishing in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Until next time, Liam Toal Publisher, Founder and Managing Director
While every care is taken to ensure that no errors are printed, the publisher cannot accept liability for any errors or omissions contained in this publication. The opinions and views contained in this publication
CONTINUED FROM PG 1 Fagerhult had good reason to opt for the cooler lighting colour. In collaboration with a major international retail brand, which orders hundreds of thousands of luminaires per year, Fagerhult had conducted an extensive research project, into the effects of different colour temperatures in retail stores. The company found out that the 3,500K lighting was ideally suited to furniture stores. “In most furniture stores wherever you go, it’s just a diverse amount of bright, different colours. Through trial and testing with our global key retail account, we developed a
specific luminaire tailored for retail applications with the colour temperature of 3,500K that was better at picking up a greater variety of colours. Blues, oranges and yellows look much crisper in
for this colour temperature was because, with the vast colour range in the stores, we could maximise the selling potential of those colours. Things pop out at you. You don’t think it happens,
WE WANT TO IMPROVE STORES; WE WANT TO HAVE GREAT CONCEPTS. WE’RE TRYING TO EDUCATE CLIENTS ON GETTING THE BEST VALUE FOR WHAT THEY’RE PAYING. that light, as opposed to looking a little bit duller under the 3,000K light,” Wright explains. “The reason why we opted
but when you see the difference, it works.” With the client convinced by the research and the following
mockup, Fagerhult delivered efficiently on the price and lead times. Now, with the new store, THE One is extremely satisfied with the new colour temperature. And according to Wright, Fagerhult’s insistence on changing the fitting was about providing the client with the best option which proved successful. “It was more about showing somebody what we can do, and that’s what Fagerhult, in a retail capacity, is trying to do. We want to improve stores; we want to have great concepts. We’re trying to educate clients on making their stores look as dynamic and individual, as they possibly can,” he says.
The products As a retail solution provider, Fagerhult works on applications and creates products ideally suited for them, based on R&D and long-term retail experience with a solid brand portfolio worldwide. Among the company’s recent launches, there are two core products in the company’s retail range.
Touch Spotlight The Touch Spotlight was designed in association with a number of global fashion retailers, tailored specifically for the retail market. The Touch Spotlight comes in a variety of lumen packages, with the Phillips Premium White CRI 90 LED Chip as standard. The sleek design, with its in-built driver, is an interior designer’s dream, and it is also available in recessed adjustable versions, and single-, double- and triple-gimble versions.
BOB Spotlight Say hello to the BOB, Fagerhult’s latest spotlight aimed specifically at the furniture store market. The unique colour temperature of 3,500K makes colours look crisp and sharp—perfect for a store with a vast array of colours. Developed in association with the world’s largest furniture store—the BOB is efficient, cost-effective and the perfect partner for retail lighting. BOB is available with both track and clamp mounting options, and is thus compatible with all TEGO ceiling systems.
A GOOD PROJECT MANAGER WILL TAILOR SERVICE PROVISION IN LINE WITH THE CLIENT’S BUDGET, ACCORDING TO PETER WILLMOTT, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR AT FAITHFUL+GOULD
THE LATEST NEWS AND ANALYSIS ON THE EVENTS AFFECTING THE MIDDLE EAST FIT-OUT INDUSTRY TODAY. FROM ECONOMIC REPORTS TO PROJECT WINS, WE HAVE THE FIT-OUT INDUSTRY COVERED.
WITH MORE AFFORDABLE OFFICE RENTAL SPACE COME ONLINE OVER THE PAST YEAR, DUBAI LEADS THE MIDDLE EAST’S OFFICE REAL ESTATE MARKET, ACCORDING TO THE LATEST CBRE REPORT
MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ON THE SUBJECT OVER THE YEARS BUT IN REALITY VERY LITTLE HAS CHANGED AND CERTAINLY THE SCIENCE OF SOUND HAS NOT, WRITES COLIN RAWLINGS OF ORANGE BOX
OUR COVER STORY LOOKS AT HOW GEMACO INTERIORS CEO CHRIS GILBERT MANAGES TO NOT ONLY SURVIVE, BUT THRIVE, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
EACH ISSUE, WE GET TO THE HEART OF WHAT MAKES THE REGIONâ€™S FIT-OUT LEADERS TICK. THIS MONTH, WE SPEAK TO BRYAN CROWN, DIRECTOR OF DESIGN AT BOWER & PUFFER
A higher standard HAVELOCK-AHI IS AN APPROVED MANUFACTURER AND FIT-OUT CONTRACTOR FOR THE REGION’S LEADING COMPANIES Havelock AHI, one of the leading fit-out contractors in the Middle East, is managed by a strong management team with the support of a highly skilled workforce of over 700 people. The company was established initially in 1998 through a joint venture with the UK-based Havelock Europa PLC—one of Europe’s undisputed leaders in the interiors sector. It progressively became an independent commercial entity in 2006. Havelock AHI has technically advanced fit-out offices in most Gulf countries. The experienced projects team in each of these offices is headed by a very senior fit-out expert. To support these fit-out offices, the company has an extensive joinery manufacturing and warehouse
facility in Bahrain, covering an area of 250,000 square feet, complimented with state-of-theart equipment. The company has become the preferred contractor for clients undertaking demanding and complex projects in terms of
An impressive list of clients serves as a testament to the company’s success and underlines the success attached to its work for international hotels, global brands’ retail stores, corporate offices, banks, royal palaces, prestigious private
AT HAVELOCK AHI, WE ARE COMPLETELY DEDICATED TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION. high-quality products and service. Among the company’s ongoing or recent projects there are: Four Seasons Hotel, Harvey Nichols, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, and a large office fit-out project with the government of Abu Dhabi.
residences and government buildings in the GCC and beyond Havelock AHI’s Group Managing Director, Syed Kashif Akhtar, believes that Havelock’s reputation for good customer service is second to none. “At Havelock AHI, we are completely
dedicated to customer satisfaction. This is made possible by our well-motivated and highly satisfied personnel. We encourage individual creativity and professional freedom, making each of our employees feel valued and therefore inspired to deliver the best possible service to our clients,” he says. Today, Havelock-AHI is an approved manufacturer and fit-out contractor for many global and regional companies. Over the years, the company has successfully executed more than 3,000 interior fit-out projects. Most recently, Havelock-AHI UAE projects have been completed under the guidance of the company’s Operations Director, Adrian Sellar.
WE ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND PROFESSIONAL FREEDOM, MAKING EACH OF OUR EMPLOYEES FEEL VALUED AND THEREFORE INSPIRED TO DELIVER THE BEST POSSIBLE SERVICE TO OUR CLIENTS.
Pioneering in shopfitting AS A CUSTOMER OF UMDASCH SHOPFITTING, YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A PASSION FOR OUTSTANDING, HIGH-QUALITY WORK, CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PIONEERING TRENDS IN SHOPFITTING. WITH THE COMPANY’S WIDE-RANGING EXPERT KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE OF DETAIL, IT IMPLEMENTS YOUR SHOPFITTING PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD.
DeBeers, Avenue Mall, Kuwait
The Umdasch Shopfitting Group (USFG), with its headquarters based in Austria and more than 1,300 employees, is a leading European shopfitting company and has experience with retail projects in the GCC region spanning more than 30 years. With the regional head office and the Umdasch Factory in Dubai, there are more than 120 staff on the ground dedicated to providing local retailers and international brands with exceptional ideas, competence and a love of detail to create unique retail environments and support their expansion plans in the Middle East. With the trust of leading local retailers and retail organisations like the Paris Gallery Group, Chalhoub Group, DeBeers,
Magrabi, and Fitahi, as well as travel retail partners like Aer Rianta, DFS, Qatar Duty Free, Dubai Duty Free, and Dufry, Umdasch Shopfitting has successfully realised many fashion and
Little Treasures, Level Kids, City Walk, Dubai
lifestyle as well as premium and travel retail projects in the region. Duty Free Stores realised by Umdasch Middle East can be found in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Bahrain, Cairo, Beirut and
other destinations like New Delhi, Colombo, Auckland, Hong Kong, Saipan and Guam. These projects demonstrate their Umdasch’s acting radius. Umdasch Shopftitting was awarded for the ‘outstanding contribution’ to the airport fit-out projects in Dubai International Concourse A (around 10,000 metres squared) and the new terminal at Doha International Airport (around 15.000 metres squared). The fit-outs demonstrate the availability of resources and production capacity to professionally realise large-scale projects in environments that require expert knowledge of project management. Umdasch Shopfitting creates space for retail.
Ferrari Store, The Dubai Mall, Dubai
Al Haddad, Salama Center, Jeddah
CONTACT: Umdasch Shopfitting LLC 22nd Street, Al Quoz Industrial Area 3 PO Box 182774 Dubai T: +971 4 341 77 15 firstname.lastname@example.org www.umdasch-shopfitting.com
Etro, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
WORK ENVIRONMENT AFFECTS EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Employee engagement positively correlates with workplace satisfaction, according to recently released Steelcase report The work environment can either augment or hinder efforts to boost employee engagement, according to a new Steelcase Global Report. The report, Engagement and the Global Workplace, saw Steelcase partner with global research firm Ipsos to measure the relevant dimensions of employee engagement and workplace satisfaction. It covered 17 countries and included 12,480 participants, including 701 from the UAE and 450 from Saudi Arabia. The first key finding of the report was that employee engagement positively correlates with workplace satisfaction. The data show that workers who are highly satisfied with various aspects of their workplace also demonstrate higher levels of engagement. However, only 13% of global workers are highly engaged and highly satisfied with their workplace. The inverse was found to be true as well – 11% of employees are highly dissatisfied with their offices and are also highly disengaged.
“The disturbing question raised by this data is given that a small number of people are doing the heavy lifting at work, could disengaged counterparts in effect cancel out their efforts?” Steelcase said in its report. “The positive finding, however, is the correlation between engagement and workplace satisfaction, which indicates that changing the work environment can be an important tool for organisations to deploy as part of a strategy to improve engagement.” The report also found that there was a correlation between how much control employees have in their workspace and their engagement level. The report added that the vast majority of workers use fixed technology at work, despite the high global adoption of mobile devices for personal use. This may be the result of an intentional strategy based on the type of work people are doing, or it could reflect the challenges of
keeping up with constantly changing technology, Steelcase said. Either way, employee mobility, both inside and outside the office, and people’s ability to fully utilise a range of spaces in the office is influenced by the organisation’s technology choices. According to Steelcase, this could end up being a problem for some organisations. “People who need access to digital information for their work may feel tied to their desks and less likely to engage with colleagues who aren’t physically nearby. Given the changes in how people work, organisations will want to consider how their workplace and technology strategies align,” the company said. Despite this advice, the report also said that traditional workstyles largely persist; nearly two-thirds of employees said they work in either individual or shared private offices. Indeed, for all that is said in the media about workplaces changing dramatically, the report found that most people work in traditional office environments, with an emphasis on hierarchy and desk-based individual work. “Neither extreme—entirely enclosed or open—is always the right solution and these findings suggest that organisations may not have adequately advanced their workplaces in ways that promote higher degrees of engagement,” said Steelcase. Finally, the report found that cultural context influences engagement levels; the most highly engaged employees tend to hail from emerging economies and the least engaged tend to come from countries in well-established markets.
UAE BUSINESSES ‘BEHIND’ ON SUSTAINABILITY
Dubai, Abu Dhabi among most active cities for shopping centre development Abu Dhabi and Dubai, are among the top 17 most active cities for shopping centre development, according to CBRE’s latest Global Shopping Centre Development report. The two cities currently have a total of 626,887 square metres of retail space under construction, an 11% rise on last year’s figures. Dubai accounts for 361,127 square metres and Abu Dhabi for 265,760 square metres of retail space, the report said. In the global rankings for shopping centres delivered over the last year, Dubai, along with Muscat, ranked in the top 30, with Muscat leading the way for the GCC region. According to the 2016 report, the
DESPITE PROMISING MEASURES TO INCREASE SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS, BENEFITS NOT REALISED BY LOCAL FIRMS, SAYS SUMMERTOWN
Middle East retail market remains a very attractive proposition for international brands. Dubai ranks second for international brand presence, with high per capita incomes, significant growth potential, and a high spending consumer base. Commenting on the findings, Matthew Green, Head of Research and Consulting, CBRE Middle East said, “We know that consumers across the Middle East like to spend their money on retail, food and beverage (F&B) and leisure activities particularly within the mall environment. “The Middle East offers a tried and tested marketplace for investors with less risk than those normally associated with emerging markets.”
700 600 361,127
400 265, 760 300 200 100
RETAIL SPACE UNDER CONSTRUCTION (SQ. M.)
UAE businesses are considerably behind their western counterparts when it comes to implementing sustainable practices, according to Marcos Bish, managing director of Summertown Interiors. This is despite the fact that the UAE government has taken a number of progressive measures to make the country a global model of sustainable development, Bish said. “Since Dubai pledged to make Expo 2020 the first sustainable expo, the UAE’s sustainable development agenda has been thrust into the global spotlight. The UAE government has made very clear its intention to become a successful model of a sustainable economy and has put in place some ambitious targets to make this vision a reality,” he explained. “Most recently His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This aims to make Dubai a global centre of clean energy and green economy by providing 7% of Dubai’s energy from clean energy sources by 2020, 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050. Bish added that the UAE is leading global efforts with its diverse strategies and investments in clean and renewable energy, despite having the second-largest oil reserves in the world. OCTOBER 2016
FLEX STONE COMES TO DUBAI
ECO-FRIENDLY ARTIFICIAL STONE CLADDING NOW AVAILABLE THROUGH SMART KONNECT.
MARKET TO TURN INTERESTING ‘AFTER EXPO 2020’: FITOUT-DUBAI Fit-out firms should be preparing for what happens after the Expo, argues Fitout-Dubai While the UAE’s fit-out market will benefit from the uptick in business caused by Expo 2020 Dubai, the companies involved in the market would do well to prepare for what comes after the event, according to Chris Graham, managing director at Fitout-Dubai. Speaking to The Fit Out Magazine, Graham said that, while it is true that the prospect of Expo 2020 is attracting a lot of business to the region, the fit-out industry should be looking beyond the expo. “Whilst we have seen an increase in the market in the lead up to this event, we must understand that the purpose of Expo 2020 is to explore new concepts, innovations and drive the development of the region both in terms of infrastructure and personal development,” he said. “Therefore I firmly believe that the post-Expo market will be considerably more interesting than what we are witnessing now and because of this, companies should start planning for this, because Fitout-Dubai.com certainly are.” However, Graham did acknowledge that the market benefits brought on by the Expo have become something of a double-edged sword for the region’s fit-out industry. In
particular, he said, with so many fit-out firms clamouring to involve themselves in the Expo, competition has skyrocketed, putting pressure of businesses across the value chain. “There has been a huge influx in smaller fit-out companies looking to cash in on the lead-up to Expo 2020,” he said. “This has significantly reduced the average project value compared to two or three years ago and therefore companies are looking for ways to still achieve a profitable outcome whilst still offering the end user value for money.” In response, Graham said, fit-out firms are turning to specialisations in order to differentiate themselves. He said that one prominent strategy is to leverage advances in available materials. However, he stopped short of claiming that this strategy will cure all of the market’s ills. “This in itself brings new challenges such as government approvals, importing rules and responsible product training. Fitout-Dubai.com are working with a lot of larger organisations to ensure estimating teams understand the technical applications and the operational teams are able to correctly install,” he said.
Smart Konnect recently launched a gallery for Flex Stone, a brand dedicated to artificial concrete systems suitable for both interior and exterior cladding. Located in Business Bay, the gallery shows off a range of artificial stones, murals and floors for interior and exterior applications. According to the brand, the stones are eco-friendly, with 80% of the raw materials used for them being made from recycled products. “At Smart Konnect, we understand the importance of keeping up to date with the latest technology to contribute to the enhancement of the building processes. As such we are honored to provide architects, designers and engineers with this cutting-edge artificial stone cladding that will meet their growing demands,” said Sailesh Iyer, CEO of Smart Konnect. The Middle East is a key market for building materials as it strives to achieve its bold global ambitions. The run-up to Expo 2020 and the revived confidence in the market will see Smart Konnect launching another six to eight exclusive Flex Stone galleries by 2017. “Our sales results in the international market have been in line with our expectations and we remain confident that even in the UAE the one-of-its kind artificial cladding will strengthen our relationship with customers providing them a reliable platform for effective cladding options,” added Iyer.
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THE ROUNDUP Russian investors flocking back to Dubai real estate AS OIL PRICE TRENDS UPWARDS, RUSSIANS RENEW INTEREST IN EMIRATE’S PROPERTY MARKET There has been a significant rise in overseas enquiries in Dubai real estate, particularly from Russian investors, according to statistics recently published by Dubai real estate portal PropertyTrader.ae for the first half of 2016. According to the site, the statistics indicate a renewed interest in the emirate as an investment hotspot. Although Russia has always been a key market for Dubai, especially for property purchases in glamorous communities such as Emirates Hills and the Palm Jumeirah, interest dipped after the record fall of the Russian rouble earlier this year amid the oil price slump. However, according to PropertyTrader.ae, interested has bounced back this year. “As we looked at the statistics
for the first six months of 2016, we noticed a definite increase in visitors from Russia looking at homes for sale in Dubai,” said Umer Ali, sales director at PropertyTrader.ae. “As an illustration, in January 2016, hits from Russia made up just 6% of our overall traffic, yet in July it was up by nearly three times at 17%this is a significant upward trend.” Ali added that PropertyTrader’s research ties in with just-published research by Russian real estate agency Tranio, which placed Dubai at the top of the most popular cities for prospective property investors right now. Russia has traditionally been attracted to Dubai for its vast array of luxury property when compared to many other cities.
GCC FIT-OUT WORTH $8.8BN REGION’S FIT-OUT INDUSTRY TO HAVE VALUE OF $8.87 BILLION BY END OF 2016 The GCC’s fit-out market is expected to be worth $8.87 billion by the end of 2016, a 25.62% increase on last year’s $7.06 billion, according to the organisers of the DIFAC trade show. In a report ahead of the event, due to take place from March 7 to 9, 2017, tourism events like the World Cup 2022, World Athletics Championship 2019 and Dubai Expo 2020 will have a positive impact on construction, renovation and refurbishment projects. While this is certainly a boon for the region’s largest construction contractors, the organisers added that benefits will also accrue to the GCC’s fit-out industry, which they described as “flourishing”. Their report said that demand for new hotels, retail spaces, commercial real estate, schools and hospitals continues to grow. The report added that this demand cements the GCC as one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, from a fit-out perspective. The GCC interior contracting and fit-outs sector encompassing internal wood works, soft and hard furnishings, lightings, partitions, flooring, kitchens, bathroom fittings constitutes approximately 10 to 20 per cent of the average construction project value, the report said. The Difac Show (Dubai International Furniture Accessories & Components & Semi-Finished Products) will take place from March 7 to 9 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Perkins+Will gets new design director FIRAAS HNOOSH TO OVERSEE DUBAI OFFICE’S ARCHITECTURAL WORK Perkins+Will, one of the region’s biggest architecture and design practices, has hired Firaas Hnoosh as its Dubai office’s new design director. According to a statement from the company, Hnoosh will oversee all architectural work done by the Dubai office, as well as be responsible for growing the firm’s architectural design portfolio across a number of disciplines. “Firas’ international leadership experience will help take our burgeoning architecture practice to a whole new level, nurturing a culture of design excellence among our growing staff and complementing our already robust corporate interiors practice,” said Steven Charlton, managing director at Perkins+Will’s Dubai office. “His multicultural background, ability to speak several languages, and comprehensive understanding of the markets in EMEA, particularly the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, will also ensure stronger relationships with our clients.” Hnoosh has over 17 years of professional design experience, and has held design director roles for the Abu Dhabi practices of two large international architectural firms. He has also served as the head of a studio for the London practice of a renowned global design firm. Hnoosh’s strong commercial and institutional building portfolio
includes projects such as The National Bank of Abu Dhabi Global Headquarters on Al Maryah Island; the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal in Mina Zayed for the Abu Dhabi Port Company; a large mixed-use development in Dubai for Majid Al-Futtaim Group; Manhattan Loft Gardens, a 42-story mixed-use residential and hotel tower in east London at the Olympic Village; and a large retail center in Bahrain Bay in Manama. Other high-rise residential, commercial, and mixed-use buildings designed by Hnoosh have been proposed, built, or are currently under construction in the UK, UAE, Ireland, Sweden, Russia, Poland, Italy, Qatar, and Egypt. In his role as design director for Perkins+Will’s Dubai office, Hnoosh will guide a growing team of 30 architects through all stages of design for mixed-use developments, high-rise office buildings, hotels, universities, and cultural centers. With a strong background in digital design, he will introduce new tools and production software, building information management (BIM) platforms, and environmental and parametric applications to the Dubai studio. Hnoosh will also work closely with London-based EMEA Regional Design Director Jo Palma, who joined Perkins+Will in September 2015, and with whom he has already collaborated on a number of design projects in the past. OCTOBER 2016
PRIME OFFICES STAY UP
PRIME OFFICE LOCATIONS IN DUBAI PERFORM WELL DURING Q3
DUBAI IN FOR SMALL RECOVERY Construction awards to pick up in 2017, according to Faithful+Gould report Dubai will next year see a small recovery in construction awards, as the Expo 2020, Dubai Creek Harbour and Dubai World Central developments are contracted and move to site, according to David Clifton, Regional Development Director at Faithful+Gould. In his Construction Intelligence Report for the UAE, Clifton said that, as the oil prices begins a level of recovery to over $45, and with OPEC agreeing to slow output, the financial outlook for the UAE is improving. “Looking forward to 2017 we forecast a small level of recovery in construction awards as the Expo 2020, Dubai Creek Harbour and Dubai World Central developments are contracted and move to site. At this stage, we are expecting [circa] $45 billion, a 4% growth on 2016›s forecast. However, this is still below required levels to support the industry in its 2014/2015 shape,” Clifton wrote. “With global liquidity declining (8% from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016), a tightening in credit standards locally,
and real estate prices that have contracted, there is a sizable minority of mixed use schemes in the UAE that are likely to be going through reassessment as they are borderline feasible or now unfeasible. The effect on the pipeline of projects planned won’t be dramatic, but will take the $860 billion-plus of schemes and will extend the delivery horizon from [circa] 10 to [circa] 25 years.” That said, Clifton added that Q3 and Q4 2015 will see a sizeable quantum of construction tenders entering the UAE market, as the critical path for Expo 2020 and the committed projects for delivery prior to the event mean awards need to peak in early 2017. However, Clifton also warned that peaks and troughs are still not being addressed at present and that, to prevent the industry suffering a contraction, government investment in infrastructure needs to grow and continue at a steady rate. He said that the cut backs and delays in major schemes caused by budget balancing are being felt and without awards, talent loss to the country is a likely risk.
Prime office locations in Dubai continue to perform well from a rental point of view, despite a downturn in rents and fears of office oversupply in other parts of the city. That’s according to the latest report from Core Savills, which recently said that prime office clusters in Barsha Heights (formerly known as TECOM) and Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) were the top-performing office areas during the third quarter of 2016. “After a sharp annual drop of more than 20 per cent, rents seem to have finally bottomed out while the lower rental range saw no change from Q216 to Q3-16,” the report said.
AZIZI’S NEW $117M PROJECT
59,760-SQUARE-FOOT PROJECT TO BE COMPLETED BY 2018 Azizi Developments has announced a new AED 430 million ($117 million) project dubbed Azizi Plaza, which will be based in Al Furjan, Dubai. Spread across 59,760 square feet, Azizi Plaza will encompass 434 units made up of 286 studios, 46 one-bedroom apartments and 102 two-bedroom apartments. It will also offer a total retail space of 9,400 square feet. “Azizi Plaza is another project in our line of ‘affordable luxury’ apartments that have been popular with investors and clients in the past. It has been earmarked as a good time for investment,” said Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments. OCTOBER 2016
Inside information on the indusry today
Brexit unlikely to have long-term impact on Dubai real estate According to JLL Q2 2016 Dubai Real Estate Market Report, short-term uncertainty to be main worry
he United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) will increase uncertainty in the Dubai real estate market, but will be unlikely to have a significant long-term impact, according to JLL MENA’s Q2 2016 Dubai Real Estate Market Report. The report evaluates the impact of Britain›s exit from the European Union on the Dubai real estate market across office, residential, retail and hotel sectors. According to the report, the emirate caters to the most open real estate market within the region and as a result is more susceptible to external factors. As Brexit brings slight uncertainty into the market, it was noted that in Q2 2016 rent values continue to face a downward slope in the office and residential
being more negatively affected than the rental sector. If external factors stabilise over the rest of the year, we expect the Dubai residential market to easily recover in early 2017.” In terms of commercial office space, Plumb added that the second quarter of 2016 saw office vacancy rates showing a general downward trend. However, he said this could also be attributed to a lack of quality of office space, and that Dubai still remains the largest and most active office market in the MENA region, due to the fact that many businesses prefer Dubai as a regional hub. However, Plumb did say that the retail and hospitality sector had already been slightly affected by the prospect of Brexit. “The Brexit decision has seen an adverse effect on the retail and hotel sector. Due to
Firstly, the report said that a number of projects which were scheduled for completion in 2017 have been delayed to 2018. Secondly, Al Duja Tower, which was previously included as a mix-use building has now been confirmed as largely residential-with only one floor of office space-reducing potential 2017 office supply by 167,000 square meters. Finally, the handover of ICD Brookfield has been confirmed for Q1 2019. Looking at some of the more popular areas for office vacancy, Dubai Design District (d3) is becoming a more desirable destination. Asking rents in d3 have increased by approximately 40% over Q2 2016, primarily due to the achievement of an occupancy milestone. Having attracted the headquarters of top retail names such as Chalhoub Group, the bargaining power is
“IF EXTERNAL FACTORS STABILISE OVER THE REST OF THE YEAR, WE EXPECT THE DUBAI RESIDENTIAL MARKET TO EASILY RECOVER IN EARLY 2017.” sectors. The report said that, with diverse nationalities residing in Dubai currently, data from Dubai Land Department suggests that British Nationals are the third largest investors in real estate. “Even though it is too early to predict the long-term implications, overall there is a slight probability of British investors being negatively impacted by the devaluation of the British Pound following Britain›s decision to exit the European Union. However, we believe the effect of the decision will have temporary repercussions as a substantial number of British investors who work and reside in the UAE avoid sourcing their income in sterling,” said Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL MENA. “If we dissect the market further, particularly for residential, we notice that expatriates in Dubai are most likely to continue renting their homes instead of switching to ownership, resulting in sales
the devaluation of the pound, Dubai and the MENA region as a whole has become an increasingly expensive destination for European visitors,” he said.
The report offered highlights on the state of various sectors in the Dubai real estate market at the end of Q2 2016. In terms of office real estate, the report said that the second quarter saw the handover of only one office tower-Westbury Square in Business Bay. This added 30,000 square metres of office gross leasable area (GLA), taking the total stock to 8.5 million square metres, broadly in line with the figure recorded during the first quarter of 2016. However, the report said that the forecasts of future supply levels for 2017 and 2018 have been revised downwards over the quarter owing to a number of factors.
now with the landlord. The design industry in the region is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6% over the next five years, which will result in more office demand for space in developments like d3.
In terms of the residential market, around 1,500 villas for Emirates staff were delivered in District 11 of the MBR City project in Q2 2016. This marks the first project which has been delivered in this major development. A further 1,680 units were added across Dubai, including both apartment and villa units, and taking the total stock to 462,000 units. Danube Properties launched its 418 unit Glamz residential project in Q2 2016, located in the Al Furjan area of Jebel Ali, adjacent to its existing Starz project. Construction should commence in Q3 2016 and is due for completion in September 2018. This takes
REAL ESTATE OUTLOOK
RENTAL GROWTH SLOWING
RENTAL GROWTH SLOWING
Q2 2015 RENTAL GROWTH ACCELERATING
Q2 2016 RENTS BOTTOMING OUT
Danube›s portfolio to 1,700 units with an addition of two projects expected to be launched before the end of the year. On top of this Dubai Land Department (DLD) is introducing a new building classification system which aims to create a more transparent market (in line with the 2021 vision) by providing a complete database for every single unit in Dubai along with a star rating system.
According to the report, three new shopping malls were added over the quarter-a Community Centre in International City, Ibn Battuta Mall Phase II, and The Ribbon in Motor City. Collectively, they added almost 30,000 square metres of GLA. The remainder of 2016 is expected to witness the delivery of further 150,000 square metres. JLL said that Dubai’s supply pipeline for 2017 has been increased with construction having resumed on two projects-the Dubai Art Centre in Barsha and Sustainable City Mall, which increases the 2017 supply to 159,000 square metres. Meanwhile, the reality of VAT being introduced in 2018 is setting a worrisome tone across the market. It will lead to higher inflation rates and reduce discretionary spending. Although food and other necessity goods may be exempted, this is likely to impact the ‹luxury› sector as consumers become more cautious over their spending patterns. While negative for the retail sector, the report said that this new tax will be positive for the overall economy, marking a further diversification of government revenue away from the oil sector. Another positive of the VAT will be greater
RENTAL GROWTH ACCELERATING
RENTS BOTTOMING OUT
RESIDENTIAL transparency and the ability for mall owners to have greater visibility of sales patterns.
The second quarter of the year saw the opening of the landmark W Hotel on the banks of the Dubai Canal, following its sister property, the St. Regis in November 2015. Paired with other additions to the supply such as the Rove Downtown Dubai and Wyndham Marina, this brought the Dubai supply to around 72,500 rooms, the report said. However, the report added that several properties announced for 2016 can be expected to see their openings postponed to 2017. Among the causes are delays in construction and funding, as well as the overly ambitious timelines initially set by some developers. With the 4% fall in the Euro so far in 2016 and more recent falls in the value of the British pound, Dubai has become an increasingly expensive travel destination for many European tourists. More GCC visitors are also opting to travel to Europe for vacations. This is creating challenging conditions for more luxury brands and increased demand for the midmarket segment, the report said. As a result, JLL said that more operators and owners are now investing in mid-scale properties and several projects have been announced by brands such as Rove Hotels and Ibis. This more comprehensive, midscale offering is likely to enhance Dubai›s attraction to fast-growing source markets in China and the Far East. While softening the decrease in occupancy rates, this trend will result in continued falls in city-wide average room rates, the report said.
Plumb: There is a slight possibility of a short-term impact thanks to Brexit. SEPTEMBER 2016
Inside information on the industry today
Dubai leads Middle East office real estate market Despite seeing more affordable office rental space come online over the past year, emirate leads the Middle East’s office real estate market
ubai is currently the number-one office space market in the Middle East, and is ranked 23rd globally, according to CBRE Global Research and Consulting’s Global Prime Office Occupancy Costs survey. According to the report, the Dubai office occupancy ranking dropped by 4% compared to last year, translating to more affordable office space. The emirate’s prime office occupancy cost in the first quarter of 2016 was AED 280 per square foot per annum.
market fundamentals in the commercial sector remains positive particularly for well-located buildings of good quality. Poorly located offices with indifferent facilities, particularly those which are badly managed, will struggle against more competitive new stock. According to the CBRE research, Hong Kong (Central) scored the world’s highestpriced office market and Asia continued to dominate the world’s most expensive office locations. Shanghai (Pudong), China in tenth place and New York moved up to
ninth place as the most expensive office market in the Americas, with a prime office occupancy cost of $136.7 per square foot. Global prime office occupancy costs increased 2.4% in the year ending Q1 2016 reflecting the same rate of growth stated in the previous survey. At the beginning of the year, the global stock markets were unstable, however the service sector was not adversely impacted. The study implies that the economic growth is expected to pick up in the coming quarters which will then translate into further occupancy cost increases.
WE CONTINUE TO SEE STRONG DEMAND FROM INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES PRIMARILY SEEKING TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF ACCOMMODATION AND/ OR ITS EFFICIENCY. This makes the emirate largely inexpensive when compared to Abu Dhabi, which last year was one of the most expensive markets globally in the third quarter of 2015. And while that market has now dropped by four ranks, its current prime occupancy costs in the first quarter of 2016 stood at AED 1,800 per square foot per annum. “We continue to see strong demand from international companies primarily seeking to improve the quality of accommodation and/or its efficiency. The latter point is particularly important for organisations whose staff are spread across several buildings,” said Nick Maclean, managing director at CBRE Middle East. “Dubai’s position as first choice for regional new entrants is very important. In addition to direct real estate considerations, the relative depth of the labour pool and the quality of the aviation transport sector were cited as important in corporate decision making.” Maclean added that, overall, the
MOST EXPENSIVE MARKETS 350
179.49 160.47 136.71
MIDTOWN, NEW YORK
THE CITY, LONDON
CBD, NEW DELHI
WEST KOWLOON, HONG KONG
FINANCE STREET, BEIJING
CENTRAL HONG KONG
($ PER SQUARE FOOT PER ANNUM) Twenty-two markets have moved more than three ranks upwards and EMEA markets account for 36%, according to CBRE. Indeed, the study found that occupancy costs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) increased 2.1% year-over-year on an annual basis, on par with the 2.2% gain seen in Q3 2015. Dublin, Stockholm and Barcelona were the fastest- growing markets in the region. Most Central and Eastern European markets were down year-overyear, including Moscow, which is still in the midst of a recession. Costs accelerated quickly in South Africa, with Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban all seeing increases
of at least 6.9% from year-ago levels, the report said. Office occupancy costs rose 2.7% year-over-year, up from 1.9% in Q3 2015. EMEA’s 2.1% year-over-year growth rate in Q1 2016 was about the same as the 2.2% pace seen in Q3 2015. These rates of occupancy cost growth may seem low compared to the higher pace of growth in some of the individual markets where demand for space is very high. However, it is important to keep in mind that inflation is low, so 2.4% represents real growth in office occupancy costs, and is significant for both office users and investors, the report said.
TOP 5 INCREASES (%)
19.5% 16.6% 14.2%
TOP 5 DECREASES (%)
CENTRAL HONG KONG
WEST KOWLOON, HONG KONG
Maclean: Dubai’s position as first choice for new regional entrants is important. SEPTEMBER 2016
The art of business UNLIKE MOST OTHER DESIGN FIRMS, BOWER & PUFFER GETS TO THE HEART OF THE BUSINESSES THAT IT WORKS WITH, CREATING CONCEPTS OUTWARDLY FROM THOSE CENTRAL PRINCIPLES. BRYAN CROWN, DIRECTOR OF DESIGN AT BOWER & PUFFER, TAKES US THROUGH SOME OF THE COMPANY’S STAND-OUT PROJECTS
AL AIN IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON DIABETES CENTRE
THE BRIEF: A hospital that looked like a hotel. WHAT CROWN SAID: “Why shouldn’t the serenity and beauty of a space be the first step to your healing process—or at least create a sense of wellbeing? The colours, fabrics, materials and furniture, although being in compliance with healthcare standards, evoked a calm and soft ambience. This was a space where waiting outside the physician’s office was a therapeutic experience in itself.”
ABU DHABI MUBADALA’S CAPITAL HEALTH
THE BRIEF: A health screening clinic that evoked efficiency and luxury. WHAT CROWN SAID: “All the previous clinics where so cliché and ‘clinical’—they were sterile in emotion and aesthetics. I wanted to create a space that was sophisticated, where lines of marble climbed over obstacles, walls and tables to guide you through to the journey of your medical screening experience.”
ABU DHABI HOUSE OF THISTLE
THE BRIEF: A regional first-of-its-kind florist outlet. WHAT CROWN SAID: “The interior here is inspired by the dark and cold cobbled streets of Edinburgh. Most florists create sterile and bland spaces that depend on the flowers and plants to fill up the void. However, I wanted to create a space that was warm and inviting—a space that combined the feelings of the new and the old, where the beauty of the flowers and plants was merely the fragrance that finishes off the experience.”
ABU DHABI ROYAL BIRYANI THE BRIEF: To create a beautiful, inviting restaurant that evoked Indian heritage. WHAT CROWN SAID: “The Indian Elephant was not only revered in the Maharaja era but was also vital to winning its wars. The interior of the space was constructed with the war elephant at its epicenter. The colours of the fabric, the texture of the wallpaper, the chains separate the space, the patterns of the marble and even the subtle shape of the arm chairs evoked this iconic animal. The walls were cladded with Rajasthani sandstone and with iron chandeliers, mimicking the settings in which ancient kings and queens would wine and dine, celebrating their victories.”
ABU DHABI INTERNATIONAL GOLDEN GROUP
LONDON CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT THE BRIEF: A private office in which a businessman could meet and entertain his guests. WHAT CROWN SAID: “The space needed to be warm and dark, offering a strong sense of masculinity. The colours, the mood, and the sense of classical age harks back to the family business that has been around for generations.”
THE BRIEF: The first retail store in the UAE to sell firearms to elite clientele. WHAT CROWN SAID: “I took my inspiration from the elements of a Beretta gun—the foam that lined the interior of its carry case, the black iron of its body, the copper finish of a bullet and the grey mist of its fired smoke. All the elements were fused together and formed the skeleton of the interior.”
ABU DHABI VELVET CAFE
THE BRIEF: To create a luxurious and opulent café. WHAT CROWN SAID: A space for the current Bourgeoisie, where women may get together and gossip on the happenings of the demographic circle. As the name dictated a sense of lushness, luxury, depth, comfort and opulence, so too did the interior, which featured Emperador marble, Baccarat chandelier, Dantel curtains and the scent of fresh lilies, which were delivered every day.”
ABU DHABI CONFIDENTIAL CLIENT
THE BRIEF: A masculine and artistic office to be designed for an influential businessman. WHAT CROWN SAID: “The stark, fluted Greek columns stood powerfully, creating a sense of authority, while the dark and modern marble floor acted like a painted canvas that energised the space with movement and colour. The space needed to feel corporate and professional but at the same time feel vibrant and artistic.”
Analysis from the region’s top fit-out experts
The case for external project managers Peter Willmott is associate director at Faithful+Gould
A good project manager will tailor service provision in line with the client’s budget, writes Faithful+Gould’s Peter Willmott As Dubai continues to cement itself as the leading global business hub, with free zones such as Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Barsha Heights in particular seeing strong demand from the Chinese companies looking for a launch city into Africa, the new-build fit-out market is potentially valued at $12 billion on the five-year horizon. An emerging sector in this market, with an estimated 50% higher share than new build is retro-fit or refurbishment. With reduced government spending and a declining oil price denting business confidence, leading businesses are staying put. This is supported by projects within
implications on the programme. With fit-out projects, there are often budgetary constraints imposed by business plans and operating costs, and there can be an inequitable view that the appointment of an external project management company is an unnecessary added cost. A good project manager will tailor the service provision in line with the client’s budget, however it is often found that the existence of an independent third party expert allows much lower project costs to be realised. This is through the implementation of procurement techniques, including direct purchase of items where applicable, efficient and effective tendering
ALTHOUGH LOWER IN CAPITAL COSTS THAN MAJOR PROJECTS, FIT-OUTS ARE JUST AS CHALLENGING, IF NOT MORE SO. A CLIENT-ACCEPTABLE DESIGN MUST BE FOUND, SUITABLE CONTRACTOR PROCUREMENT MUST STILL TAKE PLACE AND AUTHORITY APPROVALS MUST STILL BE OBTAINED.” hotel refurbishments, retail unit revamps in the region’s major malls and upgrades to corporate offices. Although lower in capital costs than major projects, fit-outs are just as challenging, if not more so. A client-acceptable design must be found, suitable contractor procurement must still take place and authority approvals must still be obtained. Often, this must all happen within a highly time-pressured schedule (at times with reduced working hours) due to operational requirements or sustained rental costs. Third-party approval requirement from a landlord, developer or mall operator can add complications to the process and add to the pressure, so stakeholder management skills are vital to ensure there are no
procedures and negotiation, and post-contract risk management and variation control. Bringing an external project manager on board can have a number of advantages; along with their technical skills and knowledge, they bring experience of working on multiple projects and the lessons learnt from these, making it easy to apply industry best practice and drive a “getting it right first time” approach, keeping costs down and schedules on track. As an independent party, the project manager acts only in the interests of the client. There is no bias or need to influence design or construction cost, providing surety to the client that their needs and requirements are understood and met. With over 20 years in the region,
WE PUT THE CLIENT AT THE HEART OF OUR PROJECTS AND OUR SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF REPEAT ORDER CLIENTS ARE A TESTAMENT TO THE PREMIUM SERVICE WE PROVIDE.
Faithful+Gould is a leading project and programme management consultancy with a strong track record of delivering successful fitouts. We have a vast project portfolio, including the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office (Emirates Towers), Cleveland Clinic (Abu Dhabi), Dai Pai Dong (Rosewood Abu Dhabi), Executive Council (Emirates Towers), Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority Head Office, Dubai Airport Public Areas, Tiffany Regional roll-out, Chevron & Roche Pharmaceuticals (Riyadh & Dubai) and multiple Clifford Chance offices. We put the client at the heart of our projects
and our significant number of repeat order clients are a testament to the premium service we provide. Despite a perceived slow-down in the commercial real estate market over the next year, we still see a significant projected pipeline of projects in the region, with the sector forming a key part of our business plan. In order to support this ambition, we have established strategic partnerships with specialist real estate service providers in the region, and are looking to leverage this combined specialist service provision to support the requirements of our clients. SEPTEMBER 2016
Analysis from the region’s top fit-out experts
Market Outlook 2016 While the UAE and Saudi Arabia continue to be the region’s leading construction markets, other GCC countries are picking up speed, writes Abdoullah Albizreh
Abdoullah Albizreh is business development manager at DWP
We are nearly finished 2016, and, so far, the fit-out and interiors industry seems to have felt something of a pinch. The low oil price hasn’t helped oil-dependent cities such as Abu Dhabi, and the oil price plunge has done little to help Saudi Arabia, either. Indeed, the situation in Saudi Arabia has seen ramifications that go deeper than just the fit-out industry. The construction industry as a whole in the Kingdom stalled in the first half of 2016, with one of the country’s biggest contractors, Saudi Binladin Group, even facing worker protests for allegedly being unable to pay employee salaries. From any point of view, it would seem, then, that the first half of 2016 was tough in the Middle East. All of that said, there are some silver linings for all these clouds. Firstly, as has always been the case, Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue to be the largest markets in the GCC. Businesses in these
hospitality and healthcare will be two of the strongest sector for the coming years in the UAE. Despite a slowdown in the early months of this year, these two verticals have long-term buy-ins from many stakeholders – including government organisations – meaning that the long-term outlook is good. Other business areas aren’t looking so rosy. For example, we have noted an oversupply of commercial space in the UAE broadly. And in Abu Dhabi, construction development has decreased much more than construction levels in Dubai. Residential was and will continue to be the largest sector in construction, however there is a movement to affordable housing in all GCC counties. Affordable housing, healthcare and education are getting more support from both the private and public sectors, due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the ‘Arab Spring’ has made GCC
THERE IS AN OVERSUPPLY OF COMMERCIAL SPACE IN THE UAE, HOWEVER THERE IS A NEW TREND OF FIRMS BUILDING THEIR OWN BUILDINGS INSTEAD OF LEASING. markets can still be comfortable with the fact that they are part of the region’s biggest markets. And while market activity has seen a slight reduction in Saudi and the UAE, and competition has been tough, the fact is that there is more business to be found in these two countries than in other country in the GCC. However, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the GCC region should be ignored. According to our research, Kuwait and Bahrain have both witnessed recent growth. Qatar, meanwhile, is on a clear upward trend, despite its growth surge being slightly delayed by the falling oil price. The country may not be bringing in the same revenues as it was, but it still has a World Cup to host, infrastructure to build, and all of the commercial and residential building that goes along with those things. Focusing on the UAE, though, we have found from client feedback and market research that
governments more aware of their responsibility towards providing its people with their needs. To their credit, the GCC governments are doing all they can to ensure citizens are given what they need. Secondly, there’s a huge supply of highend residential units and luxury hotels, meaning that contractors are moving downmarket. Finally, microeconomics and oil prices are also playing their part in the shift towards affordable housing. That said, prime commercial real estate still commands a premium. What’s more, the trend of firms building their own buildings instead of leasing – for example, Standard Chartered, HSBC and Landmark Group – is picking up. Indeed, for many large organisations with long-term ambitions in the UAE, building from scratch is becoming the most appealing option, so we expect more blue-chip firms to follow suit. Look out for build-to-fit moves from international companies such as Schlumberger, Microsoft and others.
While2016hasbeenslower, majorprojectsarestillon the horizon.
MARKET ACTIVITY HAS DECREASED SLIGHTLY SINCE THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2015, BRINGING CONTACTORS’ FEES DOWN. Another thing to note is that there’s been an acceleration in the movement from traditional contracts to design and build. Indeed, this movement has allowed design-and-build firms to flourish, despite the majority of projects still working in the traditional way. This is expected to change sooner rather than later, though - design and build contract are gaining more market share, and could eventually be considered the norm. Firms that only handle one side of the equation
GCC CONSTRUCTION BUDGET BY COUNTRY OMAN (5%)
BAHRAIN (3%) KUWAIT (6%) QATAR (10%)
SAUDI ARABIA (45%)
could struggle to keep up in a design-and-build age. What’s also making life tough for traditional contractors is the emergence of what can basically be described as a price war. Because market activity has decreased, some contactors have decided that the best way to weather the storm is by winning business at extremely low rates. This has obviously affected everyone because of the slowdown in business - as demand has decreased, supply continues to be the same, meaning everyone needs to contend with lower prices. We expect this to result in some contractors exiting the market. The one silver lining is that we also predict demand to increase again by the end of this year; these two factors combined should result in fees going back to their normal levels relatively soon. That said, with the intense competition and price wars, and nothing guaranteed, we suggest that contractors should develop a differentiator or a niche to compete on. This will offer protection from further price wars or supply gluts. Looking to the rest of the GCC, while the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the largest two markets in almost every sector, Qatar has been the strongest developer in retail, making it a prime target for contractors specialising in that sector. Saudi, meanwhile, is focusing more on education, healthcare and religious tourism.
• The UAE and Saudi Arabia are by far the largest projects markets in the GCC. • In Qatar, the ramp-up in spending took longer than first expected, but it is now clear that the market is on an upward trend. • Oman is the most stable market in the region, each year awarding $6 billion to $8 billion worth of contracts. With major projects planned over the next five years, the value of spending is expected to increase. • Kuwait has historically underperformed mainly due to political issues and an inability to push ahead with its project programmes. However, the award of several key projects points to a sharp increase in project activity over the next five years. • Bahrain is by far the smallest market. The political unrest over the past three years has resulted in a slowing in the market. Now that the situation improving, there is an uptick in project spending.
WONDERLAND CHALHOUB GROUP BREAKS BARRIERS WITH ITS NEWLY LAUNCHED LEVEL KIDS RETAIL OUTLET Level Kids is a unique sensorial retail journey, intertwining luxury fashion for kids together with enchanting experiences; a destination for children and a complete universe for mothers. Level Kids is the latest concept by the Chalhoub Group, the leading partner for luxury across the Middle East. It is customised to be playful and whimsical destination for the entire family. Chalhoub’s starting point when creating the Level Kids concept was simply to create a space where consumers just want to be. A place where they can feel a sense of joy from the moment they enter. When conceptualising Level Kids, the dream was to connect guests to their childhood memories. Chalhoub wanted guests to discover a world of wonderment, where things aren’t always as they first appear, a place that transforms before the eyes. As Level kids is sprawled over three floors, Chalhoub wanted to create a different world and experience on each floor, and along the way
iconic moments capture the child’s imagination. Upon entering the store, guests dive into an underwater world of ‘Crystalline Waters’ with the Submarine concierge desk, the swarm of jelly fish and shoal of fish chandeliers. Journey up the escalators to arrive into the ‘Flowering Desert’ with iconic mother and baby gold mirrored giraffes, and the enchanted forest with whispering flowers and bird sounds. Then guests glide to the ‘Enchanted Sky’ on the second floor, where the world is buoyant with windmills, floating balloons and the sky walk.
Level Kids includes specialised services ensuring an enjoyable experience for both the kids and their parents: a spa, a photo studio, a room for birthdays and events, a classroom hosting a variety of activities, a VIC room (Very Important Child), a concierge, a Palace Garden where kids can dress up as their favorite prince or princess and transform into the character of their dreams, a fancy dress atelier, a tailor, stylists, a kid’s play area in addition to a custom gifting area. The store will also feature two internationally renowned restaurants—Aubaine and La Pâtisserie des Rêves.
THE RETAIL LANDSCAPE OF TOMORROW IS ALL ABOUT EXPERIENTIAL RETAIL DESIGN, A LANDSCAPE WHERE GUESTS ARE LOOKING FOR MEANINGFUL SHOPPING EXPERIENCES THAT ARE EMOTIONAL AND ENGAGING MULTI-SENSORIAL JOURNEY
LINTON CROCKFORD-MOORE, GROUP CREATIVE DIRECTOR, CHALHOUB GROUP
THANKS TO ITS QUANTUM BOARD LIGHTING SOLUTION, EDWARD RAY INTERNATIONAL HELPED TO MAKE CHALHOUB GROUP’S LEVEL KIDS SHINE Chosen as a project partner by the Chaloub Group, Edward Ray International worked closely with DPA Lighting and Chaloub’s own in-house design team, on five zones within the leading group’s new, Retail Interior Design of The Year 2016 award winning project, Level Kids at City Walk, Dubai. Edward Ray was responsible for the turnkey supply and installation of our project specific RGBW LED Quantum Board lighting solution, unique seamless five-metre-wide stretch ceiling, fibre optics, control system and scene programming. With an initial installation program of six weeks
Edward Ray International
to install, test and commission these features, Edward Ray was able to reduce its program by more than half to suit the tight construction schedule whilst maintaining high standards of quality and the original budget provided. Edward Ray International was established in the UK in 2007 to provide bespoke textiles, interior lighting, pendent lighting, smart control systems and decorative lighting solutions. Since then, Edward Ray’s project experience includes sectors such as aviation, healthcare, hospitality, commercial, retail and education.
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Analysis from the region’s top fit-out experts
Designing the acoustic office Much has been written on the subject over the years but in reality very little has changed and certainly the science of sound has not, writes Colin Rawlings One of the biggest challenges I face is persuading businesses that quiet is not what they want—what they need for a healthy productive office is calm. By explaining that noise is just unwanted sound, you have a good premise to look at what will really work acoustically. By creating quiet, you end up with a library, a place where you can hear a pin drop—when someone coughs it shatters the silence, if someone dares to speak, everyone is listening whether interested or not in the content of the conversation.You know the office is too quiet when people leave the office to make phone calls and this is a common occurrence. As a business, vast amounts of money have been spent on the office fit-out, furniture, the premises and, of course, the staff—for them to then leave all that expense behind to make the very calls you pay them to make seems strange. Open-plan offices have been the norm for many businesses since the 1950s and they are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Of course, home working is more viable now but many of us prefer to interact with colleagues—psychologically, we like to “go” to work. From a business perspective, the interaction is vital—information is shared, mistakes averted, opportunities maximised. Thankfully over the last 12 years, we have seen an increase in our involvement at the early stages of projects and the most successful projects have undoubtedly been where all the elements are considered and integrated. Many of those have in fact started with a Leesman survey to understand what the business needs and what the staff need. The second challenge we face is budget. We can put the time in to the design and make our
recommendations. Plans are drawn, specifications written and contractors engaged but at the twelfth hour, there is the inevitable squeeze on budget. It seems that everyone needs desks and chairs, computers, giant LCD screens, air conditioning— the list goes on. But out go the acoustic elements. However, when this happens, the office will not function as it was designed—hence the studies that show productivity reduced by 10% to 15%. I even heard recently from a colleague who reported productivity losses of 66%! Studies also show that poor acoustics is still in the top two complaints by staff of their working environment. It seems unwise to remove the acoustic elements, particularly when, often, they are installed with hindsight, post-occupation, at greater expense. What are the challenges of good acoustic design? They largely fall into two categories— concentration and productivity in open-plan or speech privacy and intelligibility in meeting rooms. The needs vary depending on the business and the role of each person but the principals remain the same. A large proportion of a person’s day is spent on focused individual work that is probably at a desk using a computer. As humans, we are susceptible to interruption both visually and audibly. The distraction may or may not concern that individual—they may or may not be interested in the content but the loss of concentration has cost 10 to 15 minutes of concentrated work. This is noise. Unwanted sound. Primarily speech, but it could be a banging door, an unfamiliar voice, or someone making coffee. Preventing unwanted sound in open-plan offices is about reducing the distance at which
IT SEEMS UNWISE TO REMOVE THE ACOUSTIC ELEMENTS, PARTICULARLY WHEN, OFTEN, THEY ARE INSTALLED WITH HINDSIGHT, POST-OCCUPATION, AT GREATER EXPENSE. COLIN RAWLINGS, ACOUSTIC DESIGNER, ORANGEBOX 32
SOUND & NOISE LEVELS
A ROCK CONCERT
STILL, OPEN COUNTRYSIDE
intelligible noise can be understood—typically 15 metres or more in an untreated office. Reflective surfaces such as windows, walls, floors, and ceilings allow sound to travel significantly further by reflecting them. By carpeting the floor and using a non-reflecting ceiling, the distance is reduced. Windows are a compromise—difficult to do without—but walls can be treated. Installing vertical barriers, whether that is desk screens, free standing screens or strategically placed furniture, these barriers stop the direct path of sound providing they are sufficiently high.
overlooked elements of good acoustics. For meeting rooms, speech ineligibility is paramount within the room to avoid misunderstandings and hearing strain. Four glass walls will have a predictable effect on sound even without calculation. Any sound is simply bounced around the room becoming more and more distorted. Four plasterboard walls will have a similar effect—sound needs to be absorbed preferably before it is reflected. Equally, stopping the intelligible speech leaving the room is important both for confidentiality and
A LARGE PROPORTION OF A PERSON’S DAY IS SPENT ON FOCUSED INDIVIDUAL WORK THAT IS PROBABLY AT A DESK USING A COMPUTER. AS HUMANS, WE ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO INTERRUPTION BOTH VISUALLY AND AUDIBLY. Increasing the background sound in the office can work, but not with music or recognisable sounds, as that can add distraction and be perceived as noise. Sound-masking systems are now in common use to artificially raise background sound using speakers. The technology, often referred to (incorrectly) as pink or white noise, now uses very high quality speakers emitting a random sound similar to rushing air. Of course, etiquette is important—training staff to use areas of the office considerately and effectively has been shown to have a big influence on satisfaction. Holding meetings away from desks, or the choice of phone ringtones, are often
distracting others. By absorbing the sound in the room, there is less to escape but most problems arise through poor door sets and gaps in ceilings; sound travels below the floor or above the ceiling. Sound masking can again help by artificially raising the background sound outside the room, reducing the amount of intelligible speech heard by a listener. Lastly, a challenge we will all face is the changing demographic within the office. Before long, there could well be five generations of staff using one space, each generation with its own view of open-plan working. With poor acoustic design, a business could risk losing the productivity of at least one generation completely. SEPTEMBER 2016
CONSTRUCTION WILL CONTINUE, WHETHER THATâ€™S INNOVATION OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES, DEVELOPING NEW LIFESTYLES, LIVING SPACE, MOBILITY OR REFURBISHING WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN BUILT.
PLACING A PREMIUM ON QUALITY
In a market struggling on margins, Al Tayer Stocks stays ahead of the competition by delivering high levels of quality to a discerning group of clientele. Sandy Stirling, Business Development Manager at Al Tayer Stocks, offers us insight into how the company does business HOW HAS YOUR YEAR AT AL TAYER STOCKS BEEN SINCE JOINING, AND WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY? I joined Al Tayer Stocks (ATS) in February and it’s been a rather intense settling in period, but in a very good way. I had actually been speaking with ATS over joining them for five years, but the timing had never been right for either of us. The company is one the leading fit-out specialists in the marketplace and they have an excellent track record of delivery, which is massively important when selling this to potential clients. Under the leadership of our CEO, Jorge Areosa, we have experienced phenomenal growth and success, specifically over the last six years. Along with the Divisional General Manager of Interiors,
Ian Milford, they are very much focused on the operational side, knowing that if you deliver on time, then project opportunities will keep coming. ATS’s selection of clientele is very much about choosing the right clients that understand quality, delivery and are willing to pay for it, and so we currently have 85% repeat business. To add to that, the company is also in a very financially sound position and is supported well by sub-contractors who know they will be paid on time for their hard work delivering our projects. As well as looking after our interiors division, I also now look after the business development for our building division, which also brings its own challenges, let alone a new learning path for me.
HAS 2016 BEEN AS HARD AS EVERYONE SAYS IT HAS? For us it really has been business as normal. We are currently working in the following sectors: Corporate offices, hospitality (including F&B), retail, healthcare, entertainment and and design and build. Due to this, there are many opportunities, but again it’s more about the right selection of clients for a long-term working relationship. WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE MARKET FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR? Very positive indeed. Again, this is more due to our flexibility and experience of working in different sectors. SEPTEMBER 2016
in-depth: AL TAYER STOCKS WHAT GROWTH SECTORS DO YOU SEE? Healthcare, hospitality and entertainment, and design and build. HOW HAS THE MARKET EVOLVED DURING YOUR TIME IN THE UAE? I have worked in the fit-out industry for six years and, when I started, we were very much in recovery mode after the financial collapse of world markets. Since then, there has been a gradual growth spurred on by the winning of the 2020 Expo. Obviously this has given confidence for the growth of Dubai, which has slowed due to the current oil prices, but has to carry on to achieve the plans required in that bid. WHAT DO YOU THINK LIES IN THE FUTURE OF THE FIT-OUT INDUSTRY? The vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is to keep Dubai “a city of happy, creative and empowered people; an inclusive and cohesive society; the preferred place to live, work and visit; a smart and sustainable city; a pivotal hub in the global economy; and a pioneering and excellent government.” For this to happen, construction will continue, whether that’s innovation of new technologies, developing new lifestyles, living space, mobility or refurbishing what has already been built. There is a very exciting future ahead for the construction industry. HOW WILL CONTRACTORS HAVE TO ADAPT TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE? I don’t necessarily see it as having to adapt, but more to constantly improve as a company, keeping up with delivery technology to keep ahead of the market. We are currently doing a rebrand, which will include a refresh of our website, marketing materials, company documentation and much more. We want to be a “company of choice” and the only way to do that is trying to keep ahead of your competition, but most importantly it’s to simply deliver. We also promote a good working environment and culture as we believe in our staff and want to retain them all. Through this we have adopted better office working hours and included other staff benefits, all of which promote morale and help us to attract high-quality employees. WHO DO YOU SEE AS YOUR MAIN COMPETITION? I guess that really depends on sectors. AMBB, ALEC and Khansahab cover most of the same sectors, but obviously there are
WE WANT TO BE A ‘COMPANY OF CHOICE’ AND THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS TRYING TO KEEP AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY IT’S TO SIMPLY DELIVER.
others. Those would be the most recurring companies that compete with us.
IN A MARKET OF TIGHT MARGINS, HOW DOES ATS MANAGE TO ENSURE IT KEEPS QUALITY TO A HIGH LEVEL? We pride ourselves on our quality and customer service, which is why we have so much repeat business. We are able to keep a high standard of quality with our suppliers and contractors because they are paid on time and work with us on many projects, so
they also understand our requirements and high standard of finish. On many projects now we will build mock-ups or carry out workshops for elements of work on site and we guide the contractors on best practices and fixing technics, sometimes bringing in specialists from the UK and Europe. This market is very competitive and in order for us to improve, excel and lead the way, we make sure we are fair but firm with our suppliers, who appreciate our honest and realistic approach.
WHERE TASTE MEETS PERFORMANCE AL TAYER STOCKS COMPLETES THE INTERIOR FIT-OUT OF INTERSECT BY LEXUS, A CONCEPT RESTAURANT DESIGNED TO BRING TOGETHER CUISINE AND CARS The new concept restaurant, Intersect by Lexus, was recently fitted out by Al Tayer Stocks (ATS) with James Toy on Senior Project lead. The project was born out of Japan as the design of Wonder Wall Interior Designers and supported in its implementation by LXA Design based in Dubai.The restaurant, based in DIFC, is a two-story establishment bringing the motor industry into the world of cuisine. The ground level houses the main restaurant, seating area and library, bringing forth the notion of being a ‘‘third home’’—a place to meet, relax and do business. The detailed design of the upturned sand
dune ceiling, designed and constructed by ATS, houses the hidden services and light fittings. There is a chandelier which sits in the centre of the seating and relaxation area. The curtain walling is covered with a bamboo, Lexus-designed mashrabia screen from floor to ceiling on all four sides of the restaurant. The ‘Hypocaust’ level houses a futuristic car and sits on top of a glass raised floor. Underneath the glass floor panels there are Lexus car parts laid out and illuminated by coloured LED lighting. The toilets sit off this area with access via a corridor housing 1,500 mini cars laid out on a vertical wall, each telling an
individual story. The toilets are designed with Japan in mind with fully self-functioning toilets and mirrors with inbuilt TV screens. As the project was designed in Japan, the interior designer held the final approval on all materials and design shop drawing approvals, with all materials being shipped to Japan prior to a final decision being made. The wave ceiling was a challenge in itself. The original design intent was for a “paper ceiling”, but this was deemed impractical to install. Therefore ATS proposed an revolutionary alternative design which was approved and installed, bringing this feature to life. SEPTEMBER 2016
YOU CAN HAVE A HUGE ORDER BOOK, BUT IF YOU’RE NOT GETTING PAID, IT DOESN’T HELP YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS. CASH IS KING. 38
Never wasting a good crisis
IMES ARE TOUGH-there are no two ways about it. That’s how Chris Gilbert, CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Gemaco Interiors, sees things, anyway. Despite having a stellar year last year, the design-andbuild fit-out contractor has seen a challenging 2016, conforming to the general feeling in the industry. As is the case for most firms, money is tight, clients are paying late, and projects have been delayed. And for a company that operates mostly in the oil-driven Abu Dhabi, these problems are only being exacerbated. As CEO, then, Gilbert could be forgiven for feeling a little worried about the rest of the year. However, he’s more than confident about what the future holds, with a large, unannounced business play soon to be on the cards, and influential backers, Gilbert reckons that Gemaco can not only ride out the storm, but come out of it stronger than ever. That said, he’s under no illusions that times are challenging.
HOW GEMACO CEO CHRIS GILBERT MANAGES TO NOT ONLY SURVIVE, BUT THRIVE, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH “It’s tough. We’re very, very busy on enquiries-extremely busy-but nobody’s making the decision once you’ve done that. We’re just seeing the projects move from month to month,” he explains in an all-toofamiliar summary of the state of the market this year. “It’s all down to oil in Abu Dhabi, and in the world as well. We’ve got factors now in Europe and the UK. And in the States, it’s fairly buoyant but it’s not as good as it used to be. Everybody’s suffering. Look at China-everything’s dropping. But here, Abu Dhabi is extremely conservative and cautious. My opinion-and the opinion of the owners of this business-is that this year is not going to get any better. It will be very much the same for the rest of the year, but in 2017 we’ll start to see an uplift, and this year it’s about survival.”
If Gilbert’s words sound defeatist, they belie his confidence that Gemaco is on the up. Bucking the market trend, the company is growing, with the biggest example of that to be announced later this year (his plans are, at the time of writing, still confidential). But even outside of this aggressive expansion plan, things are looking good for the company’s fortunes towards the end of 2016 and early 2017. Gilbert may be struggling with things like payments, but his keen business sense has meant that Gemaco will be able to pull through and bounce back. “I think probably the biggest issue that we and our competitors are facing is making sure you get your payments.You can have a huge order book, but if you’re not getting paid, it doesn’t help you run your business. Cash is king,” he says. “We’re seeing, particularly when you work with the oil companies, you were once on a 30-day payment. Done. Now, it’s 45 and might stretch to 60. It’s now going up to 45 as the base. There is a stretch in SEPTEMBER 2016
on the cover: GEMACO that respect, which you need to absorb. You’ve got to be very strong financially as a business to survive here.” And staying strong financially is just one pillar of Gilbert’s strategy to deal with tough times. He cites other business advantagessuch as having a low staff turnover and having a strong backing from a prominent local family-as other strengths that will help Gemaco through the downturn. What’s more, Gilbert has invested much time in ensuring that the relationship between the firm’s designers and its clients is solid. “Client perception is your biggest challenge-you’ve got to be able to work with your clients. Maybe because we’re in Abu Dhabi, where it’s much more government-based, and much more local, you have to be able to make the client understand what you’re doing,” he says. “Not all our clients are able to technically understand a drawing. We put a great amount of time and effort when producing our designs, showing different perspectives and various 3D views-these, for them, are merely pictures. And nine times out of 10, we would win projects because of the presentation. Our design team takes up the biggest part of the company and its role is very essential to the business.” As a result, Gilbert says, at any one time, Gemaco has six or seven projects on the go, ranging from 200m² to 12,000m². Not bad for a firm that was, until recently, gleaning 70% of its business from the oil and gas market. With that market in severe turmoil, Gilbert has had to diversify into other sectors, including healthcare, education, tower fit-outs, and smart outdoor furniture-to name a few. And no job has been too small. While stand-out projects, such as the installation of floors and corridors for Etihad Towers a few years ago, were great additions to the portfolio, smaller projects have helped the business gain a footing in previously untapped markets. That said, Gilbert hasn’t forsaken the energy market entirely. Indeed, with Abu Dhabi’s economy focused on energy-be it oil and gas or renewables-it would be foolish to ignore the sector.With that in mind, Gemaco’s last major project was for a large corporate headquarters situated in Masdar City. It was one of the largest design-and-build fit-out projects in the emirate this year. “It was a big project-full fit-out design and build and furniture. We’d moved the furniture from their existing different four locations into the new office, and then we brought in new furniture. It was a massive organisational challenge with the logistics, design and everything,” Gilbert says.
AT THE TIME, I TRIED TO BUY GEMACO, WHICH WAS FINE, BUT THE BANKS WOULDN’T HELP ME WITH FINANCE. “It’s certainly interesting to work with them. It’s very regulatory, very focused, with very high security. And we came out with massive compliments. Hopefully it will lead to other parts for us as well.” Otherwise, though, Gilbert says that most of the oil and gas companies in Abu Dhabi have slashed their budgets by around 25% to 30%. This has really forced Gemaco to look at other sectors, but Gilbert isn’t phased, as he seems to have a keen eye for new revenue streams. “There’s plenty of other stuff going on. We’re very much focusing on key towers in Abu Dhabi. If we can get in with the owners and do the enabling works, it’s good. We just try and keep ahead of the game of what’s happening in town,” he says. “A lot of people at the moment are finding there are no major projects of
companies taking entire floors. It’s all small. A lot of it is downscaling. People are moving out of their existing offices, going to newer premises but taking smaller places. And that’s what the real estate guys are finding if you talk to them. The common factor is that people are looking for smaller spaces, but there’s a market there for that.” And on the flipside of that, with many businesses moving to the premium new builds in Abu Dhabi, older buildings are being left empty. Glbert sees opportunity there, too. “Will those older buildings be refurbished? Who knows? There’s another line of business there. They’ve got to do something, so we’ll see,” he says. Gemaco’s ability to see itself through a challenging environment is all the more impressive considering its recent (turbulent) history. In 2013, the firm’s Dubai office
CLIENT PERCEPTION IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE—YOU’VE GOT TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH YOUR CLIENTS.
on the cover: GEMACO
was closed, thanks to issues on payments and funding. The office cost the Abu Dhabi office a lot of time and money. This lead to the owning family of the main Gemaco office to their decision to sell up, and for them to close the Dubai office. This wasn’t easy on a firm that, just five years previously, had had its owner pass away. Nevertheless, with Gilbert in a senior position (having returned from a brief stint in his native UK), it fell to him to help with the sale of the company which he had invested so much of his professional career in. Certainly he has been the driving force behind the company’s resurgence since those troubled times. “I tried to buy it, which was fine, but the banks wouldn’t help me with finance.There is no SME finance in the UAE. So there were three of us-we had enough money to buy the business, but then when you need AED 40 million of bank facilities, which is what we need, we all have to give guarantees and all that. So the banks weren’t interested,” he says. “So at that point, we had three businesses interested in Gemaco. We got it down to two and, in fact, we were doing the fit-out for the new owners. We were doing their
WE’RE VERY MUCH FOCUSING ON KEY TOWERS IN ABU DHABI. IF WE CAN GET IN WITH THE OWNERS AND DO THE ENABLING WORKS, IT’S GOOD. WE JUST TRY AND KEEP AHEAD OF THE GAME OF WHAT’S HAPPENING.
offices, and I got to know them very well while we were doing that, and one day they asked me what was wrong. I said that my mind was elsewhere with the business being up for sale, and they said that they’d buy it.” With the business now in safe hands, and backed by supportive owners, Gilbert has set himself a target of tripling Gemaco’s growth over the next five years. He explains that he views this target as aggressive but realistic-particularly given his expansion plans. Without going into too much detail, he explains that the move will be a gamechanger for the company. “It’s very, very exciting. It’s something I’ve wanted, it’s something that, when the takeover was done and the family asked me what was required to grow, and I told them this is what we need. And they’ve acted on it.They’ve been very, very proactive in it as well,” he explains. With Gilbert clearly able to guide Gemaco through through rough times, it would appear that the company will ride out the challenges currently facing the market. Indeed, with expansion plans in place, the Abu Dhabi-based company will be one to watch out for in the coming years.
NUCLEAR ENERGY HQ GEMACO COMPLETES TURNKEY DESIGN-AND-BUILD, INCLUDING FURNITURE, FOR NEW ENEC HEADQUARTERS IN MASDAR CITY Gemaco Interiors recently completed the design-and-build fit-out of the new Energy Company’s Headquarters, based in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City. The project was one of the Emirates largest commercial fit-out project of the year, spanning 16,000 square metres, spread across two six-storey buildings. With a challenging kidney-shaped floor plate, peripheral columns and connecting core bridges, it was essential that the space plan was efficient to maximise it capacity. As a result, the layout took advantage of common shared spaces for a café, meeting rooms and collaborative spaces. In the open office, Gemaco Interiors installed the Haworth Intuity bench system mixed with collaboration seating from Connection to not only be efficient with real estate, but also encourage communication, which was a driving project goal. Previously spread over several different buildings in Abu Dhabi, this would be the first time that all the employees would be in one location. Gemaco Interiors applied typical footprints to employee work areas from VIP office furniture through to workstation settings, helping with forecasted future expansion. With everyone under one roof, the focus was on a design that could
enhance collaboration, communication and employee engagement. Team meeting rooms, library and collaboration rooms were introduced as well as a large catered café for people to meet and connect outside of the work environment. Finishes were carefully considered throughout the project. On the whole a neutral palette was used, with colours applied to both wings of the building to add energy and also help with way finding, distinguishing floor levels and departments. The Executive floor, complete with board room and command centre, has a richer colour pallete. Broadloom carpet from EGE and walnut timber paneling and custom-made desks designed by Gemaco and manufactured in its strategically aligned joinery factory. The biggest achievement for Gemaco Interiors was to complete the 39-week program ahead of schedule. To shave four weeks of the program is no mean feat. Gemaco Interiors implemented a fast-track process including collaborative coordination with the client to speed up the final design details, efficient procurement processes, and assigned an experienced project team on site to ensure no time was lost.
THE PROJECT IN NUMBERS:
16 , 0 0 0 M 2 Size of the project 12 Total number of floors 4 Completed 4 weeks ahead of schedule
Perkins+Will’s Steven Charlton on defying the market’s doom and gloom “I THINK FOR ALL THE doom and gloom in the market, we haven’t felt it.” These words from Steven Charlton, principal managing director for the Middle East at Perkins+Will, defy the general feeling in the region’s fit-out market. With the large design and contracting firms in the
Middle East feeling the negative trickledown effects of last year’s oil price crisis, few people involved in any aspect of the construction industry have seen 2016 as a ‘business-as-usual’ year. While the UAE’s market has been more resilient to the crisis than, say, Saudi Arabia’s
has, there’s certainly an air of caution blowing through the business climate. Cash flow has become an enormous issue, with clients demanding more flexible payment terms on top of rock-bottom prices for projects. And whoever you talk to, it would appear these problems are affecting
WE TAKE INTERNATIONAL BEST PRACTICES AND APPLY THEM TO LOCAL STYLES. THIS HAS GIVEN US SOME OF OUR BEST WORK. SEPTEMBER 2016
in-depth: PERKINS+WILL everyone. Except for Charlton, that is. “We’ve got some substantial projects, which will see us through for the next couple of years. We recruit all the time, and we’re able to attract some of the best staff in the region. A great example of this is the fact that we have just recruited last year’s Young Architect of the Year winner. We seem to be getting people who are considered to be best in class, and they’re coming directly to us, which is fantastic,” he says exclusively to The Fit Out Magazine about Perkins+Will’s 2016 so far. “I think what’s happened is some of the more established firms have been hit hard, and they’ve struggled a bit because they haven’t been as agile as some of the younger, newer firms. When you’re coming out of a recession, you must be very agile, you have to do things very quickly, and it’s just in our DNA to do that, I think we’ve made some wise decisions at the right time. A good example of our agility when it comes to our work is a concept we live by…being ‘glocal’. This is where we take international best practices and apply them to local cultures and styles. This ability to cross-purpose has given us some of our best work. ”
A little history
Perkins+Will could very well be described as an established design firm; despite it only having been operating in its current form in this region for the past few years, it’s one of the most respected consultancies. However, according to Charlton, the firm doesn’t operate like a traditional design consultancy. The firm, he claims, is able to diversify quickly and effectively, meaning it isn’t reliant on the expansion of a single industry. “Sectors-wise, it’s not just corporate fit-out; we’re doing healthcare, hospitality, residential, aviation, landscape architecture, masterplanning you name it. We’re doing everything at the moment—we have adapted to our local market,” he says. “It’s one of those things—by being diversified, we’re not effected so much because, when one market drops, another market tends to increase. For us, healthcare has basically picked up all the slack we had from residential coming down.” Good business practice demands you spread your investments across a broad range of income streams. But perhaps some of this desire to diversify has come out of lessons learnt from the past. After all, Charlton moved to the UAE in 2007, when he started to work at Hamilton’s. He was a senior designer at the now-defunct firm,
but quickly moved into business development, no longer doing the design work, but ensuring the firm understood what the clients wanted. It was about the relationships, reputation, quality and speed, he says. However, anyone who’s been in the region long enough will know that, not long after Charlton joined Hamilton’s the market crashed, taking the enormous fit-out firm with it. Such was the
BY BEING DIVERSIFIED, WE’RE NOT AFFECTED AS MUCH BECAUSE, WHEN ONE SECTOR DROPS, ANOTHER TENDS TO BUILD. seriousness of the time, the market crash sent shockwaves throughout just about every industry around the world. The fit-out industry in Dubai and Abu Dhabi was hit badly, with projects at first stalling, and then being halted altogether.
But this didn’t stop Charlton, who managed to weather the storm, setting up firms that could handle the rough economic climate, leading him to the position he’s in now, heading up a major consultancy. “I set up Artillery, another design firm. I set up the UAE office opening up in Abu Dhabi. I did that for about a year. But in simple terms, my aspirations and the company’s plans were different, so I chose to leave,” he says. “Then we established Pringle Brandon, and that was a fantastic experience. London Pringle Brandon was obviously a strong brand, so we could go and see any of the clients, any of the blue chips, and say that this is who we are, and they knew us already from London.”
The sound of silence
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Naturally, things were a little different for Charlton in those early days. Setting up a company is hardly easy at the best of times, meaning times were especially tough in the fit-out industry during the worst years of the economic downturn. Still, Charlton and his team managed to not only survive, but thrive—first at Artillery, then at Pringle Brandon. “When I started Artillery, we were basically winning work from my living room, pretty much. We were designing it, and getting it across the line, and negotiating on it and delivering on it. It was good fun,” he says. Now, of course, Charlton is playing a different game entirely. Pringle Brandon was acquired by Perkins+Will about three-anda-half years ago, becoming the Middle East office of the brand, with Charlton at its head. Certainly, Charlton had proven that he could navigate stormy market conditions, as well as put together talented teams capable of delivering. This is what attracted Perkins+Will to the firm. “My business partner, Diana Thorsen, was with me pretty much all of the way. She joined Hamilton’s around one year after I started and we’ve worked together ever since. She came across to Pringle Brandon with me, and we quickly grew that before we were acquired by Perkins+Will about three-and-a-half years
I THINK WHAT’S HAPPENED IS THAT SOME OF THE MORE ESTABLISHED FIRMS HAVE BEEN HIT HARD, AND THEY’VE STRUGGLED A BIT BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T BEEN AS AGILE AS MANY OF THE YOUNGER FIRMS.
ago. In theory, it’s been the same people, just a change of name and ownership,” Charlton says. The rest, as they say is history, and Perkins+Will Middle East is a force to be reckoned with in the fit-out industry. The firm recently hired its 100th employee, meeting a target that Charlton had set himself. And to ensure the firm stays agile, he says he channels advice given to him by Jack Pringle, one of the founders of Pringle Brandon in London. “His theory is every time you double in size, you have to change the way you operate. Once we were 50 people, it was a different business, and now we’re at 100 it’s very different as well, and it’s different for me. We have new staff joining and I struggle to remember the names because there’s people joining every month!” he says. “And you never really think about that when you first set out, because you’re very much hands-on and you’re getting involved in absolutely everything. Now I spend less time doing the work, I just oversee the work that we’re doing, and it’s sort of guiding the ship, which is rewarding. It’s fun, it’s just a different challenge.”
As Charlton has made clear, Perkins+Will has gone from strength to strength, with the firm not even feeling the effects of what has been a tough year for most of the industry’s other players. So how has Charlton done it? Well, certainly, diversifying away from pure corporate fit-out has helped, but this doesn’t mean the consultancy has dropped that market completely. Indeed, Charlton says Perkins+Will’s corporate fit-out department is fully stacked. “Corporate fit-out is steady. We’re basically at a saturation point on corporate fit-out projects. With the volume of work that comes on the market every year, there’s a handful of consultants, and we tend to get all of the blue-chip and more prestigious clients of a certain size. And that sees us through,” he says. “The team size is never going to grow massively because blue chips aren’t going to make big offices in this region. We’ll do a client in the UK or US for half-a-million square feet, but the same client here will be 50,000 square feet. They’re not going to suddenly do half-a-million square feet in the next 10, 15 or 20 years.” That’s where other industry sectors come in, and on that front, the firm has certainly been busy. According to Charlton, the residential sector has been strong. Saudi
MARKET INTEL FROM THE TOP There’s a lot of talk around a second downturn in Dubai—what do you make of that? Personally, I think it was a softening of the market, and I think it was a welcome softening of the market. Particularly with residential prices here, you don’t want them going through the roof, because that’s a bubble and it will burst. And the bigger it gets, the harder it is to deal with. I think what authorities have done is impose new legislation to restrict that growth, so it’s basically levelled off but it will begin picking up soon enough. For me, that’s an established market; yes it’s up and down but it’s more gradual than before. What you don’t want is the big spikes, which can be painful. There’s a lot of people saying there’s an office surplus in the region, though. There’s not a prime office surplus in the region; there’s an office surplus. When we looked around for our office, we looked at maybe 20 buildings but in reality there are probably three buildings that are even considered to be a grade A-type spec. When you look at location, parking, amenities, quality of construction, all of the things you factor in, there’s a real shortage of quality property.
Arabia, for example, has seen its residential sector pick up over the last six months, and until six months ago, the UAE’s residential market was very active. Another strategy Charlton pursues is being flexible on the scope of work that the firm will take on. For example, some clients may want Perkins+Will for an all-encompassing project, while others will want the firm for smaller parts of a project. “We don’t mind; we work with competitors on projects. It’s just one of those things that happens. Somebody might be doing the architecture, we might be doing the interiors, and at other times we’re doing the architecture and they’re doing the interiors. Sometimes we just do the landscaping,” Charlton says. Whatever strategy Perkins+Will follows, however, Charlton is confident 2016 and beyond will bring more success—his strategy is simply to stay agile and move with the market. After all, he says, things will always change. “We’re happy with what we’ve achieved, we’re happy with the targets - they’ve been aggressive but everything is going well, so we’re confident. We’re winning work weekly. It’s a very dynamic market, it’s very quick. Things change all of the time, so you just have to be agile and move around in synergy with it,” he says. SEPTEMBER 2016
ISG Middle East recently announced the appointment of Steve Ramsden as its new managing director. Having been ISG Middle East’s general manager from February 2016, he succeeds the current managing director, Alan McCready, who will be stepping down after almost eight years at the helm, and now heads up one of the Middle East’s most important contracting firms. We catch up with Ramsden to find out what he anticipates from the market for the coming years. How would you describe the current state of the Middle East’s fit-out market? Is it buoyant or are things slowing down? I think that it would not be accurate to make a general statement about the market in the region. We are seeing more activity in certain sectors and less activity in others. Also, there are varying degrees of activity between the region’s biggest cities. For example, there are more hospitality and healthcare projects in Dubai, but there’s less hospitality and more corporate office fit-out work in Abu Dhabi. How has the fit-out market evolved in this region over the past five years? The market, especially here in the UAE, has undergone significant changes over the last few years. I think that the emergence of fit-out specialisation was extremely important for a company like ISG, because our work can be sophisticated technically and is often engineering-led. Our strategy
is to identify segments that require complex technical knowhow and establish ourselves as a specialist in those areas. Gone are the days when the perception about fit-out companies was focused on furniture and
OVERCOMING PRICING ISSUES REQUIRES PROGRAMME, DESIGN AND SUPPLY CHAIN INNOVATION. finishes; these days, clients expect their fit-out contractor to provide them with effective technical solutions that minimise the impact of an office move or upgrade on their business.
What changes in the market do you anticipate for the coming years? I think that there will be more consolidation. The UAE is maturing as a fitout market and this is always a good thing for companies with a well-differentiated offer, track record and specialisation. What are some of the biggest trends you’re seeing at the moment? The biggest trend has been commercial office fit-out moving to international standards from fitting an office into a building that was designed as a residential block. Corporate office fit-out companies now operate in the UAE designing and constructing high-specification, open-plan collaborative workspaces, as opposed to the individual, closed-office environments of a decade ago. For a large proportion of the market, commercial office fit-out design is unrecognisable in Dubai and Abu Dhabi SEPTEMBER 2016
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from a decade ago. Bright, well-lit, openplan workspaces, break-out and collaborative areas are now the norm. Some sectors, such as legal firms, may still opt for a more traditional dark wood veneer and private closed office environment, but even the legal sector has mostly moved to contemporary office design over the past few years. Our recently completed project for international law firm Pinsent Masons in Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) definitely represents their values of being ‘approachable, bold and connected’. The values were beautifully translated in the design by Perkins+Will. What about challenges? What are players in the market having to contend with at the moment? I think that the increased competitiveness in the marketplace is putting pressure on pricing levels and contractors are finding that already tight margins are becoming difficult to maintain. There are exceptions, of course, but generally this is increasingly the case. How are fit-out companies dealing with these challenges? I cannot speak for all contractors but overcoming pricing issues requires programme, design and supply chain innovation. Also, we often communicate to clients that value can be viewed in different ways and go beyond the shortterm financial savings. In fact, we often demonstrate that, over the lifetime of a project, investing in seemingly more expensive fit-out components or technology can be more cost-effective. In terms of ISG, what strengths are you using to navigate the challenges of the market? ISG is an international construction services company delivering fit-out, construction, engineering services and a range of specialist solutions. Our strong track record, both locally and internationally, supports our position as the fit-out company of choice for the most sophisticated projects in the region. This is a favourable position that sets us apart from local competition.
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THE UAE IS MATURING AS A FIT-OUT MARKET AND THIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING FOR COMPANIES WITH A WELL-DIFFERENTIATED OFFER, TRACK RECORD AND SPECIALISATION. Can you describe some of the standout projects that you have completed recently? ISG has recently completed the muchcelebrated Kempinski Mall of the Emirates refurbishment, which was Dubai’s largest ever live hospitality refurbishment project, as the hotel stayed open to the public throughout the project duration. We also remain one of the most active players in the corporate fit-out sector, having completed a plethora of projects across all the key masterplans in the UAE,
such as DIFC, Emaar Business Park, Abu Dhabi Global Market Square and ADNEC in Abu Dhabi. Work will commence shortly on a series of healthcare clinics in Dubai, which comes after completing a series of fit-out packages for an international healthcare provider located on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Which industry sectors are you seeing the most promise in this year? So far in 2016, we are seeing increased project activity in corporate office fit-out, leisure & entertainment, and healthcare. SEPTEMBER 2016
THE PROJECT: Tryano Store in Yas Mall THE CLIENT: Chalhoub Group THE ARCHITECT: HMKM THE CONTRACTOR: Khansaheb Interiors
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Khansaheb fits out the award-winning Tryano concept store at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall In December 2015, Khansaheb Interiors successfully completed the interior fit-out to the front and back-of-house areas of the new, award-winning concept retail store for the Chalhoub Group in Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi. The project, Tryano, is a completely new retail concept, creating a category-defining
square feet, housing over 250 of the most sought-after international and local brands, Tryano immerses shoppers in an everevolving retail experience The store is embedded in the theme of ‘The Garden of Imagination’, with extensive departments spanning over three floors designed around the four seasons.
ON ARRIVAL, THE CUSTOMER WALKS THROUGH A GRAND RECEPTION HALL FLOORED WITH AUTUMNAL-COLOURED MARBLE, DRAWN TO THE CENTRAL ATRIUM—A 20-METRE-HIGH VOID FLOODED WITH NATURAL LIGHT. destination shopping experience focused on the three specialisms of beauty, bags and childrenswear. Conceived by the Chalhoub Group, the mastermind behind the awardwinning Level Shoe District in Dubai Mall, Tryano is intended to become the go-to shopping destination. Spread across three floors and 200,000
Developed with London-based retail architect HMKM, the space is a visual surprise, with new to the region display techniques and some world exclusives in terms of retail design. The experience of shopping at Tryano is centered around the concept of creating a remarkable and immersive retail experience. SEPTEMBER 2016
Case study: KHANSAHEB
On arrival, the customer walks through a grand reception hall floored with autumnalcoloured marble, drawn to the central atrium—a 20-metre-high void flooded with natural light. Moving through to the winterinspired Beauty space, its frosty demeanor sees shards of icy mirror and crackled glass cling to vertical surfaces. Theatre and interaction continue through the Beauty space with theatrical pavilions entertaining the consumer as they transition from fragrance to make-up to skincare. Walking through, customers arrive at the ‘Fountain of Youth’, an interactive digital ‘fountain’ that comes alive with streams of LED lights glittering and pulsing to echo the customers’ movements. From Beauty to Bags, the seasonal transition continues from winter to spring with an orchard of mesh-wrapped trees
THE NUMBERS: 200,000
SQUARE FEET ACROSS THREE FLOORS
THE HEIGHT OF THE CENTRAL ATRIUM
70,000 KG OF KORIAN INSTALLED
290 FLOOR BOXES INDIVIDUALLY HAND-CARVED INTO THE MARBLE
clustering around bronze birdcages; each housing a luxurious seating area. The heart of the bag department houses a classic garden maze, embracing modern technology with floating glass display boxes and animated LED screens. The children who navigate themselves through imaginative, play-focused landscapes enjoy the heart of fun and interaction perhaps most. A fully interactive fairytale ‘Carousel’ sits at the centre of the floor. Just beyond it is the Kids area, home to play castles and lily pad tables creating a dynamic and immersive playscape. The department is complete with a timberclad treehouse offering more adventure, exploration and discovery for older children. In relation to the build of this prestigious department store, there was
over 70,000 kg of Korian installed in Tryano, much of which was carefully hand fitted, small individual, colour-coordinated, triangular pieces found in the columns and shop in shop facades. The highest quality marble flooring was used in the store, and in some areas there are interactive floors that light up.
WHAT THE CUSTOMER SAID: “Today’s consumers are looking beyond just shopping, they are looking for an experience; they expect to be taken on a journey. Tryano provides customers with a retail experience that is alive, entertaining and remarkable. Our partnership with
THEATRE AND INTERACTION CONTINUE THROUGH THE BEAUTY SPACE WITH THEATRICAL PAVILIONS ENTERTAINING THE CONSUMER AS THEY TRANSITION FROM FRAGRANCE TO MAKEUP TO SKINCARE. A total of 290 floor boxes were individually hand-carved into the marble in a triangular shape to keep the consistent floor pattern throughout the store. Tryano recently won the award for ‘Best Retail Interior Design’ at the UK’s Design Week Awards in June 2016.
Khansaheb enabled us to bring our vision alive. Their excellence, dedication, quality of work and understanding of luxury shop fit-out have contributed in making Tryano a success.” —Linton Crockford-Moore, Group Creative Director, Chalhoub Group SEPTEMBER 2016
THE CLIENT: CONFIDENTIAL FIVE-STAR BOUTIQUE HOTEL SIZE: 57,727 M2 AMENITIES: 4 F&B OUTLETS + 1 BAR + 1 SPA LOCATION: THE WALK, JUMERIAH BEACH RESIDENCE, DUBAI THE DESIGNER: MMAC
Case study: MMAC
SLEEPING IN STYLE
MMAC completes project for international boutique hotelier at JBR Dubai Design agency MMAC recently completed a project for a 259-room hotel at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai. The confidential client is apparently known for being a design-centric brand whose founder is often credited with inventing the boutique hotel segment. With hotels in London, New York or Miami, the operator has impressed with its strong emphasis on
the directive was to incorporate a strong ‘sense of place’ within the hotel. MMAC was entrusted with managing all aesthetical expectations and striking the right balance between the two. In the 50-metre-long entrance atrium, inspiration was drawn from the timber hull of a dhow, the traditional Arabian sailing vessel, to turn the hotel’s five-storey lobby
THE DECORATIVE WALL FEATURE IN CONCRETE RUNS THROUGH THE LENGTH OF THE ROOM FROM THE HEADBOARD TO THE BATHROOM VANITY. design and its creative approach to the hotel guest experience. For this project in Dubai, the hotel brand laid focus on clean architectural spaces that were clad with superb yet simple materials. The brief stressed the usage of a timeless style that was devoid of all patterns, decorative techniques and other shortlived design trends. On the other hand,
into a theatrical yet hospitable space. Apart from creating a dramatic sense of arrival (whether it be day or night), the design of the lobby allows for natural light to penetrate into the heart of the building. The lobby is furnished with plush residential furniture that exudes a deep level of comfort and quality, which is synonymous with the brand’s message. All
Case study: MMAC
THE LOBBY IS FURNISHED WITH PLUSH RESIDENTIAL FURNITURE THAT EXUDES A DEEP LEVEL OF COMFORT AND QUALITY. the front-of-house areas have been designed with finest materials so as to resonate with a deep sense of authenticity and craftsmanship. The bar at the end of the lobby was envisioned as a hearth that could draw its visitors in. Dubai’s vibrant art scene would also play a vital role in the decoration of the interior. In terms of the rooms, MMAC made use of a muted palette with sandy tones and soft accents inspired by Dubai’s picturesque shores to transform the guest room into a minimalist seaside sanctuary. The usage of light stones and bleached wood play a strong
role in creating the resort identity while the large, open bathrooms are reminiscent of a serene spa experience. The dramatic interplay of the volumes within the interior design is a throwback to the building’s own dynamic architecture. The decorative wall feature in concrete runs through the length of the room from the headboard to the bathroom vanity. The glass window showcases the bathroom and brings natural light to all corners of the room. The various spaces in the guestroom seem to flow seamlessly into each other. The orientation of the hotel windows toward the SEPTEMBER 2016
THE NUMBERS: 50M
LENGTH OF THE ENTRANCE ATRIUM
THE NUMBER OF ROOMS AT THE HOTEL
THE HEIGHT, IN STOREYS, OF THE LOBBY
west captures the low penetrating rays of the sun leaving the interiors awash with warm evening sunlight. The immaculate design aesthetic allows true luxury to be expressed through the material and a high quality build. The touch of craftsmanship in the carefully selected FF&E and handpicked artwork convey a natural sense of place.
THE DRAMATIC INTERPLAY OF THE VOLUMES WITHIN THE INTERIOR DESIGN IS A THROWBACK TO THE BUILDING’S OWN DYNAMIC ARCHITECTURE. ABOUT THE DESIGN FIRM
MMAC is a boutique design agency founded by Merieau and Anil Mangalat in early 2014. The firm provides interior design services to developers, architects and hotel operators. Specialised in luxury, up-scale and upper mid-scale hotel and restaurant design, the founding team has developed more than 50 hotel concepts for
10 of the leading international operators. Based in Dubai, this team has delivered high-end projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. The firm’s hospitality expertise is fully expressed through its ability to produce powerful and original designs for each project, delivering on time and within budget, while fusing the client’s vision, local
customs, geographic considerations and the operator’s guidelines. “MMAC’s mission is to understand the needs of our hospitality clients and provide creative design and innovative solutions through an efficient process based on deep industry knowledge, extensive and specialised experience and an up-to-date comprehension of standards, context and guest experience,” says the firm.
REAL-TIME INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS ON THE MIDDLE EAST FIT-OUT AND INTERIORS INDUSTRY
Each issue, we get to the heart of what makes the region’s fit-out leaders tick.This month, we speak to Bryan Crown, Director of Design at Bower & Puffer HOW DID YOU MAKE YOUR START IN THE INDUSTRY? I felt there was a void in the market for people to go to a designer who specialises in business creation. One who not only knows design, but also its psychological impact on the clientele, the know-how of running a business and understanding the importance and intricate world of branding. WHAT INITIALLY BROUGHT YOU TO THE MIDDLE EAST? Love. HOW DO YOU VIEW THE MIDDLE EAST’S FITOUT MARKET? WHAT ARE ITS QUIRKS? There’s minimal red tape, and it’s a thirsty market. There is material availability due to its geographical positioning and we have open-minded clients with disposable income, which allows for marvelous projects. WHAT IMPROVEMENTS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN OUR INDUSTRY? The unification of designers and fitout contractors would assist in better finishing, cost saving, efficient timing and a general overall communication which consequently leads to a more successful
project. I currently feel that, because the designers and the fit-out contracts are different parties, the lack of union creates a disjointed workforce, which slows progress.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST FULL PROJECT AND HOW DID YOU FEEL UPON ITS COMPLETION? The design of Al Ain’s ICLDC hospital was
INVEST IN MARKETING AND ADVERTISING. PEOPLE WILL ONLY COME TO YOU IF THEY KNOW YOU EXIST. GETTING PERSONAL
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 10 FAVOURITE CAR: BENTLEY FAVOURITE MOVIE: THE FIFTH ELEMENT FAVOURITE BOOK: THE PROPHET BY KHALIL GIBRAN QUOTE TO LIVE BY: “WHERE THERE IS LOVE, NOTHING IS TOO MUCH TROUBLE AND THERE IS ALWAYS TIME.” – ABDUL BAHA
fun and exciting. Questions were asked and traditions were challenged of how a hospital should be designed, made and ultimately feel.
SINCE THEN, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PROJECTS THAT YOU’VE COMPLETED? Focus by IGG, the first gun reseller in the region. Also there was Slices, an FnB that specialises in healthy sandwiches and focused on bringing their produce from local farms. It then transpired to change the unhealthy eating habits of schools and revolutionised healthy eating region wide. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? I want to further specialise in small to medium business design and allow for a one-stop-shop service for clients to ensure the unification of all the faculties of a business so that its success may be guaranteed. WHAT KEY PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER PROFESSIONAL SELF? Invest in marketing and advertising. People will only come to you if they know you exist. OCTOBER 2016
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