ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, INTERIORS + PROPERTY
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A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION
ISSUE 212 / SEPTEMBER 2021
The Innovators Issue
Master craft Larusi’s fascinating collections celebrate tradition and craftsmanship
Enlightened spaces Explore Dabbagh Architects’ contemporary Gargash Mosque in Dubai
Material gestures Architect Anne Holtrop shares his unconventional approach to architecture
Waterfront modernism Studio M’s Residence 402 for One Palm by Omniyat is the epitome of laidback luxury
House of curves This Sydney penthouse strikes the perfect balance between calming and energetic
Sculpted luxury A newly opened boutique hotel in Tuscany combines tradition and modernity
A human touch Sabine Marcelis transforms an old study centre in Rotterdamn into a vibrant space
DESIGN AWARDS 2021 Book your tables now E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit identity.ae/awards for more information
Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Group Director Andrew Wingrove Editor Aidan Imanova Designer Hannah Perez Sub-editor Max Tuttle Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Group Sales Manager Manish Chopra Senior Sales Manager Neha Kannoth Sales Representative - Italy Daniela Prestinoni General Manager - Production S Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran Production Supervisor Venita Pinto Contributors Batool Alshaikh Joyce Jarjoura Karine Monié Meshary AlNassar Niya Nikolova Rabah Saeid Tarik Zaharna identity magazine is printed by Emirates Printing Press. Member of:
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Photo by Young Habibti
Just like the Chief Design Officer at Vitra who joined the Swiss furniture brand in the midst of a pandemic (more about this on page 66), I, too, took over the editorship of identity in exactly the same scenario. Having already worked outside of a corporate office environment for almost six months and then continued with remote working for another three months, returning to daily office life was strange to say the least. While going back out into the world and occupying the same spaces we’d been forced to leave behind took some getting used to, it was going back to the office every day and reflecting on the kind of space it offered for work that occupied much of the conversations I was having with friends, colleagues and designers alike – many of whom shared the opinion that our workplaces needed some deeply thought-out changes. And in this month’s Design Focus we explore just that – how can we innovate our workspaces to suit our lives today and in the years to come? We have asked five designers to share their thoughts on the topic and are already seeing many implementing changes that cater to the demands of contemporary work. Whether companies like it or not, many employees have observed similar if not greater productivity levels in more casual and collaborative settings, so it is only a matter of time before offices begin to mirror these demands. “It is clear that now, more than ever, a human-centric focus on employee physical and mental wellbeing needs to take centre stage. This is directly related not only to talent retention but also to increased productivity, work morale, empowerment, creativity and, as a result, company profitability,” said Niya Nikolova, interior designer at Roar – whose new office I can’t wait to see (did someone say nap room?). Innovation is often born out of necessity or shifts in lifestyles, urging a renewed outlook and approach to the many things we have taken for granted as being one way and one way only. Other times, innovation aims to explore the potential of something, which is what design often does. This month’s cover story sheds light on the work of Dutch architect Anne Holtrop, who in recent years moved his studio to Bahrain, where he now works on myriad cultural projects, paving the way for a new direction in exploring desert architecture. I remember first seeing Anne’s work on my trip to Muharraq with the team from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and becoming instantly curious about the way he handles materials – more sculptor than architect. In our interview with Anne, Bahraini architect Batool Alshaikh shares vignettes of observations and conversations, discussing Anne’s process and approach to architecture. In other parts of the magazine, we speak to designers and architects across the region, such as Palestinian architect Raghad Al Ali, who is exploring innovations in glass, and Ibbini Studio, who marry contemporary craft and digital software. I also want to take this time to remind everyone that the entries for the identity Design Awards 2021 are now open, with nominations closing on 7 October. While many of us like to leave things to the last minute (I’m guilty as charged), the sooner you start preparing your entries the better. With only two months left until the actual event, I am excited to review all the wonderful entries.
Aidan Imanova Editor
Photography by Anne Holtrop
On the cover: The Green Corner, designed by Studio Anne Holtrop
Contributors BATOOL ALSHAIKH Batool Alshaikh is an architect at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the co-founder of design collective bahraini-danish.
NIYA NIKOLOVA Niya Nikolova is a junior interior designer at Dubaibased boutique practice Roar.
JOYCE JARJOURA With a background in interior design, urban planning and architecture, Joyce Jarjoura is an associate and senior interior designer at Gensler’s Dubai office.
RABAH SAEID Designer Rabah Saeid is the founder of interior architecture studio, Styled Habitat, based in Dubai.
MESHARY ALNASSAR Meshary AlNassar is a designer and founder of Studio Meshary AlNassar, based in Kuwait.
KARINE MONIÉ Karine Monié is a journalist based in California, covering design, architecture and fashion.
TARIK ZAHARNA Architect Tarik Zaharna is the founder and director of Dubaibased boutique architecture practice T.Zed Architects.
Breaking boundaries Cosentino’s Capsule Collection, created by five regional designers, sheds light on how creativity can push boundaries WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATELEE COCKS
hen architectural surfaces brand Cosentino approached five designers to create a collection of furniture and home accessories using its Dekton Slim material, the transformational potential of the material had not yet been explored. The eclectic range of objects, which now makes up the Cosentino Capsule Collection, includes a rocking chair, a console, a coffee table, a range of low side tables and a series of vases. The diverse yet beautifully comprehensible collection was masterminded by Middle East-based designers Nada Debs, Mustafa Khamash, Fadi Sarieddine, Aljoud Lootah and the duo from The Line Concept, Dana Al Matrook and Newsha Dastaviz. With each bringing their own approach to design, all five designers responded to the brief and theme of ‘Breaking Boundaries’, utilising Cosentino’s ultracompact Dekton Slim format both functionally as well as decoratively, demonstrating the versatility of the material. Created within an impressively short period of four months in collaboration with production partner Cherwell, each piece in the collection reflects the ethos of the designer behind it. Nada Debs’ Carapace console is in line with the designer’s philosophy of creating unexpected material combinations. It features a synergy of opposing elements through a playful geometric composition, and consists of natural and industrial elements that come together using the marquetry craft in a carapace pattern. Mustafa Khamash’s Rocco chair draws references from the design world’s most recognisable rocking chairs and is executed entirely in Dekton Slim – emphasising the material’s raw quality and purposefully withholding any additional embellishments. The chair additionally explores using nature as forms of seating, and its influence on the beginnings of furniture-making. Similarly, Fadi Sarieddine’s Paper coffee table celebrates the slim quality of the material itself. With its fine 4mm edge exposed, the material appears to hover as a tabletop – an engineering feat achieved through a system of broad solid walnut legs held in place with gunmetal tension rods. The slimness of the slab is further enhanced by the deliberate bulkiness of the legs. Meanwhile, Aljoud Lootah’s Talyd is a collection of vases that pays homage to the UAE’s rich culinary culture and the everyday tools and objects that are intertwined with the livelihood of Emiratis from an era gone by, drawing inspiration from large traditional metal pots used for cooking over open fires. Talyd, which translates as ‘legacy’ in Arabic, is a modern interpretation of historical findings. While the shapes and proportions of the vases are influenced by original artefacts, they are repurposed as functional objects of curiosity, using a minimalist design approach in the designer’s signature style. The final piece in the collection is The Line Concept’s Tektonia tables, whose soft and organic lines challenge the perception of stone as a hard, cold and sharp material, paying tribute to the origins of the earth. Parts of the tables are sliced off to expose layers that resemble earth’s strata and the movement of tectonic plates, while the discreet exposed stone edges in profile highlight the particular thinness of Dekton Slim. The series includes three small tables in various sizes which can be displayed in closed form or separated to expose the layers of stone within. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
Master craft Rugs, runners, pile, kilims, bed linens, cushions and throws – among other textiles – are part of Larusi’s fascinating collections celebrating tradition and craftsmanship WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAKE CURTIS STYLED BY ALEX KRISTAL
n 2000, I decided to leave my cherished human rights job to spend more time with our son; I was working on developing amnesty structures and human rights education in the Middle East and North Africa,” remembers Souad Larusi, who grew up in Fes, Morocco and is now based in London. “When we moved from a flat to our house, I just could not find the carpet we wanted in the UK. After a few trips to Morocco, I managed to source a lovely vintage rug from a village market. It was an original Beni Ourain pile rug. Friends and neighbours asked me to get them a similar one.” This is how the Larusi brand was born. “Having no business background, I was not sure whether to go for it or not; then Ilse Crawford asked me to source some rugs for a hotel in New York, which made me think that it was a viable idea,” says Larusi. Even if the project seemed to come about by chance, Larusi’s passion for textiles dates back to her childhood. She fostered it in her adult life, and it ultimately defined her professional path. “My mother was a master hand-embroiderer making intricate traditional embroidery on kaftans, belts and veils to help support the
Souad Larusi’s studio/showroom
Photography by Souad Larusi.
family,” says Larusi. “Later on, she was instrumental in me getting an academic education and going to university. I moved to the UK in the early ’80s. Then my husband, who is an architect, rekindled my interest in textiles through his passion for weavings – from baskets to textiles – which we came across during our travels through Thailand, New Mexico, Japan and, of course, my native Morocco.” Combining a contemporary design aesthetic and traditional craftsmanship, Larusi’s fine woollen pieces seduce the most demanding clients, from Tom Ford, who commissioned several rugs for his Santa Fe ranch, to artist Peter Doig, who purchased many of the coloured rag rugs knows as boucherouite. “I source all rugs and textiles [from] Morocco, Turkey and Iran, and only buy what I would use in my own home,” Larusi explains. “The patterns and style of tribal rugs, such as those of the Beni Ourain, go back millennia and are passed on from weaver to weaver [all of whom are exclusively women]. There’s much improvisation. Many rugs are characterised by non-symmetrical patterns that are free-flowing and not bounded, studded with symbols and markers referring to the earth’s elements, animals, fertility, etc.” Souad Larusi
Photography by Michael Sinclair
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Regarding colour palettes, Larusi is attracted to tones that feel universal and timeless, something that pervades her newly launched bed linen collection. Made from natural, finely woven linen, this range is responsibly sourced from Lithuania and features earthy hues. “I aim to create in-between shades that have depth, using thread-dyed fabrics (which take longer to make) and playing with colours for hours before deciding on one or a combination,” Larusi explains. Currently working on a new table linen and accessories, and possibly a new showroom in 2022, Larusi continues to develop one-of-a-kind vintage and contemporary textiles to adorn our homes. id
Contemporary heritage Emirati designer Abdalla Al Mulla’s latest project marries traditional and contemporary forms PHOTOGRAPHY BY OCULIS PROJECT
rganic forms, arches and warm hues of amber and rose gold seduce the eye at Al Ain’s new café and floral boutique, Esproses, by Emirati designer Abdalla Almulla. The multifunctional space brings the worlds of café culture and floral gifting under one umbrella through a sophisticated palette of hues and forms with the cultural resonance of the Middle East region. Exploring Almulla’s Arab heritage, the arches are a central theme running across the space, and are described by the designer as “powerful structural elements [that] have a deep significance in design as they create an array of perspectives.” The windows and arched door of the volumetric floral station feature the
same accents of rose gold as the café, which is accessed through a separate converging pathway. The open café and lounge feature various seating arrangements, with organic-shaped furniture from Sancal and Haldane Martin. “All the pieces are designed in organic forms to create a cohesive momentum for the space, where senses can drift between the different pathways in the space,” Almulla describes. A sensuous glass artwork by artist Latifa Saeed, showcased in the café, features a collection of sand from the seven emirates that is displayed through glass panels, while the sculptural light pendants in the shape of rose petals cast a warm glow over the space.
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At the crossroads WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ IMAGES: COURTESY OF IBBINI STUDIO 18
When a visual artist and designer joins forces with a computer scientist and maker, the outcome is like no other. A case in point is Ibbini Studio.
t was more a natural evolution of the practice, coupled with the growth of our collector base, that resulted in the formalising of the work into Ibbini Studio,” remembers Julia Ibbini, one half of the duo. Both Jordanian and British, Ibbini grew up in the United Arab Emirates. While she’d known that she wanted to be an artist since a young age, it took her many years to realise her dream. “I spent 10 years in marketing before moving into a fulltime arts practice.” Born in France, Stephane Noyer obtained a master’s degree in computer science and then moved to the UAE, where he worked in several fields before starting to collaborate with Ibbini in 2017. Since then, the two have created a unique body of work of which sits at the intersection of art, design and contemporary art. “Sometimes the work is closer to functional art; for example, we’ve just completed a collection of mirrors,” says Ibbini. “On other occasions, it’s more contemporary craft with a design lean – as with our Symbio Vessels collection. I find it more interesting not to sit within specific boundaries of a ‘field’, and instead push the practice to spill over into many areas.” Their elaborate and ornate pieces can take up to six months to complete as some of them comprise thousands of single parts. They require different skills, from software programming to the highest level of craftsmanship combined with the use of very precise machines. “An important part of the practice is in research and development, so a portion of the projects focus on purely pushing [the]
boundaries of material/technique/concept,” confesses Ibbini. Fine veneer wood, paper, mother of pearl and – more recently – repurposed thin acrylic sheeting are some of the materials the duo work with to create their mesmerising pieces in their new studio space in Abu Dhabi. “We select the materials for their delicate and tactile qualities when cut,” says Ibbini. “I am particularly fond of paper, which looks like lace when cut finely enough.” Working mostly on commissions for private collectors, hotels and corporate collections, Noyer and Ibbini – who received the Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East Emergent Designer Prize in 2019 – are always busy, and the coming months show no signs of slowing down. “We’ve got some especially large-scale pieces underway that will need a lot of development before they are completed,” Ibbini says. “We are also working on a series of more functional works that I’m excited about.” Whether it is through the repetition of simple motifs, elaborate geometric constructions or an accumulation of ornamental details, the Ibbini Studio creations reinterpret old references in a contemporary way, giving life to something visually unique that cannot be compared to anything else. Complexity and simplicity intertwine through objects that involve both humans and machines. “Algorithms allow [us] to augment hand-drawn designs; highprecision machines are used to laser-cut or 3D-print parts; and the final build is always carried out entirely by hand,” Ibbini and Noyer say. The right mix for the perfect result. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
Spheres of influence What impact has Islamic art had on the Maison Cartier? This exhibition, presented this autumn in Paris, allows visitors to explore the answer to that question WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ
ith precious creations that look like art, Cartier has an established reputation all over the world. Since Louis-François Cartier founded the company in 1847, the brand has expanded globally and now specialises in jewellery. At the beginning of the 20th century, after five decades of operations, the new generation leading the business started to look for fresh sources of inspiration. Paris was the epicentre of the Islamic art trade, something that played a major role in Louis Cartier’s (Louis-François Cartier’s grandson) discovery of new shapes. Presented from 21 October 2021 to 20 February 2022 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the exhibition ‘Cartier and Islamic Art: In Search of Modernity’ (co-organised with the Dallas Museum of Art, with the exceptional collaboration of the Musée du Louvre and with the support of Cartier)
explores the influence of Oriental motifs through more than 500 exceptional pieces. Among them are Cartier jewels and objects, as well as drawings, books, photographs, archival documents and Islamic masterpieces. With scenography by renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the themed and chronological show is divided into two parts. The first, which focuses on the origins of interest in Islamic art and architecture in the Parisian cultural context at the beginning of the 20th century, invites visitors to discover some of Cartier’s iconic creations while also delving into the maison’s fascinating creative process. Drawings by Cartier designer Charles Jacqueau, as well as information on Jacques Cartier’s travels in India – where he met maharajahs – reflect how Oriental jewellery became the starting point for the French jeweller to reinvent certain shapes and techniques. This
Previous page: Tiara. Cartier London, special order, 1936. Platinum, turquoise, diamonds. Vincent Wulveryck, Cartier Collection © Cartier
Pen box said to have belonged to Mirza Muhammad Munshi. Deccan, India, late 16th to early 17th century. Walrus ivory, gold, turquoise, black paste, silk. © 2018 Musée du Louvre / Hervé Lewandowski
artistic (r)evolution led Cartier to the creation of head ornaments, tassels and bazubands (elongated bracelets that are worn on the upper arm), among other pieces. The second part of the exhibition focuses on the new forms that Cartier developed, having been inspired by Islamic art and architecture, which became the basis of what was later described as art deco motifs. Fascinated by the Persian world, Louis Cartier started to combine bold colours such as lapis lazuli and turquoise, and emerald and sapphire, as exemplified by the famous peacock pattern. And it doesn’t stop there: In the 1930s Jeanne Toussaint, who oversaw Cartier’s artistic direction, also gave free reign to her creativity, and looked towards India to mix new colours and invent other shapes, including the Tutti Frutti pieces and sautoirs. While the image of Cartier is inevitably associated with France, this exhibition delves into another aspect of the company that contributed to the development of an innovative visual vocabulary that is still alive today. The contemporary jewels showcased in this exhibit clearly prove it. “Cartier’s jewels and bejewelled objects have an unmistakable style and sense of taste that was cultivated, in part, through this aesthetic appreciation and study of Islamic art,” says Dr. Heather Ecker, curator of Islamic and Medieval Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. After this first stop in Paris, the exhibition will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art in the United States from 14 May to 18 September 2022.
Cigarette case . Cartier Paris, 1930. Gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise, diamond. Nils Hermann, Cartier Collection © Cartier
Vanity case. Cartier Paris, 1924 . Gold, platinum, mother-of-pearl, turquoise, emeralds, pearls, diamonds, enamel. Nils Herrmann, Collection Cartier © Cartier
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Heart of glass
Raghad Al Ali’s experiments with glass aim to uncover the unknown potential of the material – both artistically and architecturally WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
y interest in glass as a material started at a young age, as my family has a history of working in the glass industry and I currently continue their work through a more experimental lens,” shares Palestinian architect and designer Raghad Al Ali. She additionally describes herself as a “glass artist”, adding that her passion for glass only intensified during her architectural education at the American University of Sharjah – and unconventionally so, during her painting classes. Al Ali’s work lies at the nexus of design, art and architecture, and explores the crossovers between each of these, using painting, material exploration and digital fabrication that is largely inspired by structures of nature found in regional flora and fauna. “Pushing the boundaries of traditional practices through the advanced techniques of modern technology enables my work to capture the elegance of nature,” she adds. Having co-founded the collaborative group of interdisciplinary designers called MRM, together Al Ali and her colleagues explore the crossovers between craft and technology with works commissioned by and exhibited at Art Dubai, Amman Design Week and the Sikka Art Fair. She has also been shortlisted for the RIBA President’s Silver Medals. “Studying traditional practices and crafts informs the process of experimentation as they are timeless case studies of material engineering,” Al Ali shares. “Innovation is born from utilising the technologies of today to question and answer the problems of tomorrow through the knowledge of traditional techniques. My work builds on a keen interest in crafts and past material interventions by designers and engineers to create unique and innovative compositions and solutions.” Her projects such as the Desert Series and the latest Nudi series explore the physical and architectural potential of glass – a material that dominates the majority of Al Ali’s work. In the Desert Series, an interplay of light through the rippled patterns in the glass translates to light paintings on sand, which are rendered using standardised panels of glass in an exploration of depth and pattern. In the Nudi series, Al Ali experiments with freeforming glass through the lens of behaviours found in the depths of the sea. Nudi offers theatrical compositions of glass that are reminiscent of marine life, its petal-like arms seemingly in motion. This project explores the illusion of movement, where – with the aid of light and refraction – the piece looks like it is flying. Nudi also functions in the dark, doubling as a light element as well as being a mirror. “Glass-blowing as a technique dominates the glass presence in the art world, while in the word of architecture, glass is treated merely as an enclosure that allows for
transparency. We see very few examples of pushing the boundaries of glass beyond the vertical plane,” Al Ali remarks. “My work explores techniques of kiln-forming, in which industrial glass sheet processes allow [the material] to express and function [in order] to provide structural and aesthetic solutions in freeform. Furthermore, I am currently working towards constructing a glass lab within our production facility [in order] to invite interdisciplinary practices of art, design and science, and create a space for innovation. This is to provide solutions that transcend our current understanding of what this incredible material can do, in both artistic and architectural scales.”
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Living with nature DLR Group is designing a nature-inspired mixed-use development on Jubail Island to create a lifestyle that focuses on wellness
ocated between Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island and Saadiyat Island, the new ‘nature island’ of Jubail is being developed as a key nature reserve while aiming to become the emirate’s most desirable residential sanctuary, with a lifestyle that focuses on wellness and being in harmony with the natural environment. Jubail Island’s overall objective is to preserve, promote and harmonise the natural environment with its developing built environment, encouraging a nature-oriented community with compelling pedestrian experiences and a site that is in full harmony with its local context. DLR Group’s design comprises a mixed-use district complete with hospitality, residential and retail offerings. The residential component is inspired by
regional design, blending with the existing residences and creating a unified community. Human connection plays a vital role both within the neighbourhoods and the town centre. All these various offerings are connected to the open spine of the project, which is designed as a public space that unites the entire development. “The vision is founded on preparing a long-term, sustainable preserve framework for the entire area of Jubail Island. The framework allows for the placement of a low-rise and low-impact village-type development within a unique location. This is a long-term project that will add a managed natural preservation park for citizens of and visitors to Abu Dhabi,” the team at DLR Group share. The buildings across the development offer
a juxtaposition of indoor and outdoor spaces, with the aim of creating a biophilic design that interacts with the surrounding nature. Native or adaptive plant species which are drought- and/or saline-tolerant are being used across the development. Enhancing the ecological value of the site are a minimum of 10 different types of plant species, with trees and shrubs studied to be adaptive to the environment of Jubail Island and local climate of the UAE. Careful consideration has been given to the selection of materials for this project, to ensure a sustainable development that complies with Abu Dhabi’s Estidama ratings and green standards. The gateway to the overall project is the souk that offers the main identity to the project and acts as the main entrance to access the site.
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Dabbagh Architects has designed a contemporary place of worship that uses form, materiality and natural lighting to connect the earthly with the divine WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
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audi architect Sumaya Dabbagh, founder of Dubai-based Dabbagh Architects, has been crafting a portfolio of culturally relevant projects across the Gulf, including the likes of the Mleiha Archaeological Centre in Sharjah (which was nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2019) and the upcoming Al Ain Museum of Archeology. Her latest project is the Mosque of the late Mohammed Andulkhaliq Gargash, located in Dubai’s industrial zone of Al Quoz, which reflects the architect’s poetic approach and confident control of light, form and materiality to create a building that is contemporary in its architectural nuances. Never short of narrative, the Gargash Mosque is designed to transition the worshipper from the material world into an inner spiritual experience. “Creating a space of worship was a very particular design challenge,” Dabbagh confesses. “Prayer is a devotional act. It requires the worshipper to be totally present. With all the distractions in our modern busy lives, it can be challenging to quieten the mind and find
an inner calm to allow for full immersion into prayer. Through the design, a series of spaces are created that allow the worshipper to transition from the busy outer world and prepare for an inner experience.” The mosque is divided into two separate volumes using simple and minimal forms: one being the prayer block containing the male and female prayer areas; the second being a service block containing the ablution facilities and residences of the Imam and the Moazen (the caller of prayer). The division creates a courtyard that is covered by a sculptural canopy of steel cantilevered arms extending from either side of the two volumes, appearing as if reaching out to the other, but not quite touching. This physical metaphor emphasises the relationship between the earthly and spiritual functions of the two separate masses. The aluminium cladding also creates cool shading for worshippers accessing the mosque. The inner face of the courtyard is clad with Omani stone – part of the firm’s approach of sourcing materials either locally or regionally. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
The minaret, which alongside the dome marks the two main visual components of a traditional mosque, is designed as a separate volume. “[The word] ‘minaret’ in Arabic means beacon,” Dabbagh explains. “Symbolically, the minaret is a visual beacon or a signifier of the mosque in a neighbourhood. Thus, as part of our minimal approach, we wanted to maintain the integrity of the minaret form from that of the mosque form and chose to express them as sperate entities.” Although the project sees a variety of components that eschew traditional Islamic typology, there are many visual links across the design that create its harmonious and cohesive design, such as its strikingly white exterior and the use of geometry and calligraphy. Clad with GRC (glass-reinforced concrete) panels that have been manufactured in the UAE, the building’s skin is perforated and recessed with triangulated patterns that reference traditional Islamic geometry, albeit reinterpreted using a deconstructed, contemporary language. Internally, these perforations scatter natural light into the areas of worship, illuminating the spaces and helping to keep the mosque’s interior cool. The double skin dome also allows natural light to enter, filtering it through the internal decorative skin, which incorporates the same triangulated pattern as the rest of the building, creating a connection between the exterior and interior. The reinterpreted Islamic patterns and triangulated geometry additionally harmonise throughout the interior as lines intersecting across walls, carpets and light fittings. Using natural light throughout the project is a key consideration and can be additionally observed in the skylight placed above the mihrab that invites worshippers’ attention towards Mecca as the direction of prayer, as well as in the shafts of light from the narrow openings on the sides of the building that further create a sense of illumination. Finally, a surah (verse) from the Qur’an wraps around the prayer hall externally to create a metaphoric protective band, signalling the spiritual nature of the space. The verse ‘The Most Merciful’ is composed entirely in ‘saj’, a rhyming prose characteristic of early Arabic poetry. “At the end of each project my hope is that the building will evoke the feelings and emotions that were envisioned at the outset,” Dabbagh says. There is a defining, magical moment when the building is born and claims a life of its own. For this, my first mosque, that moment was particularly moving. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to create a sacred space that brings people together for worship.” id
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It is difficult to place the work of Dutch architect Anne Holtrop within the category of traditional architecture. For one, his process is closer to that of a sculptor working directly with material and form, exploring their properties and experimenting with processes. Holtrop’s use of material not only builds but also shades and highlights, in the way an artist would with a sharpened pencil. His architecture is more fragments than wholeness, influenced by various production methods – the ‘making of’ is equally if not more important than the final form – be it simple concrete casting, handcutting stone or casting reliefs. Holtrop has developed a new form of desert architecture that merges with its material surroundings, while the term ‘contextual’ sits on the edge.
INTRODUCTION BY AIDAN IMANOVA
WORDS BY BATOOL ALSHAIKH
Anne Holtrop, photographed by Camille Zakharia THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
The Green Corner, photographed by Anne Holtrop
hen I was asked to interview Anne Holtrop, I immediately thought that in a way, it might be possible for me to write a detailed text on his work without the need to spend an hour asking him questions. I have been witnessing the studio’s work very closely for the past six years, not only because of my role at the architecture department of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities – which acts as a client for some of Holtrop’s projects – or because I pass multiple buildings by the studio every day on my way to work; or even because many people within my close circle used to, or still do, work at the studio, or because we actually work in the same building in Muharraq. I think it is mostly because the carefully crafted work of Studio Anne Holtrop demands to be noticed, experienced and admired. Holtrop often mentions in interviews that he always wanted to be an artist rather than an architect. His architecture practice started as a self-imposed initiative, encouraged by a piece of advice that was given to him by the Dutch artist Krijn de Koning, whom Holtrop had spent some time assisting before starting out on his own. de Koning once told him that “being an artist is that no-one is asking for your work”. “Around that moment, I got an openended invitation to take part in the SITE2F7 exhibition for the Museum De Paviljoens – there was this land behind the institute for proposed work,” he shares. “It was very difficult for me to understand what I wanted to propose but [I] had to go with what I was most familiar with, and that was architecture. I proposed to make the trail house [although] no-one really asked for a house. That helped me understand that I can be an architect and still work with a certain autonomy.” Holtrop’s body of work is motivated by making, a research process which he calls “material gesture” and fundamentally involves experimenting with materials and methods of production. His studio, located in a typical heritage courtyard house in Muharraq, somewhat resembles an exhibition space. The central courtyard is ever-developing, featuring ambitious large-scale models that are architecture within themselves and which are often produced using the same methods that are used to build the final structures, in order to understand the process of construction – a smaller-scale mock-up of sorts.
Holtrop’s work is always presented with the documentation of the material and production process, as well as images of models, images of places of production, drawings and site documentation. “I think we show the process because we want to show the engagement that is the journey itself. And that journey is inclusive of many people that work and contribute to the project. The process gives a notion for an understanding of the place,” Holtrop explains. “I find it interesting to see something as a process and not only as some kind of fixed ends.” While the work itself often appears to be accidental or ‘by chance’, most of these chances are, in fact, calculated and studied with a preconceived idea of the outcome. Holtrop describes it as throwing paint on the wall and creating a splash: when done 100 or 1000 times, the outcome is somewhat known but still expected to include a certain level of ‘newness’. “The work deliberately does not want to be defined or too precise; it is more of a step-bystep process,” Holtrop says. “This is not only in the design phase – we also bring it to the construction site. We allow for the outcome to have a certain possibility for variations. With that ambition, the process allows [for] being more inclusive for other agendas that raise important questions – for example the sourcing of materials, environmental issues, issues of locality, or if this place has a specific meaning in making this project. So, these are agendas that can be addressed. I think if you keep too much just within the design or within the studio, the outcome can be very closed-off.” Within the many works of the studio, one can observe a thread of themes – or ‘series’, as Holtrop calls them. Be it freeform drawing, cutting or casting, the varying approaches all fit within the wider theme of material exploration that is inherently central to his work. While the approaches may vary, the process always remains intact. One may observe these categories as specific chapters that Holtrop closes and moves on from, but the reality proves that he is a lot more fluid with the process – always going back and forth, always returning and adjusting. We can see the free drawing in the trail house project, the cuts of the Bahrain Pavilion and Murad House, and his furniture designs and the casting in Batra, Green Corner and Qayssariyah Souq, in addition to other approaches that are all part of his process of actively working with materials and building techniques. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
This spread: The Green Corner building in Bahrain, photographed by Anne Holtrop
“The nice thing about making more work is that it starts to become a mass of work. There is a critical weight in continuing to find ways of escaping it, but not destroying what you have achieved. They are different approaches, but they all deal with the same topics in a way; the same interests. The challenge is that we don’t want to make the next Green Corner building or the next Souq because that is not interesting. The interesting part is to know how to use that as a critique, [and] to be able to escape it by producing something new.” Throughout Holtrop’s practice, the studio has dabbled between a variety of endeavours, from furniture to installation to pavilions, to commercial spaces, to permanent structures. However, Holtrop’s approach to arriving at any project is always the same: it is always architecture, but the scale differs. The studio is currently working on creating cosmetic bottles for a brand, the first time that it was possible for Holtrop to see the final scale of a project in its design phase. “I think when the work is temporary – for example, an exhibition – you can take more risks. But I also take a lot of risks in the building,” Holtrop confides. “And we often have
situations where we are at the border of experimentation failure; but in these cases we try very well to control our experiments. And we try to get the best people on board to help. But there’s always the chance that what you do is just not going to work.” Even though, since the start of his practice, Holtrop’s projects have been situated within domains of culture and the arts, he is open to different types of projects that may spark his curiosity. When I suggested that perhaps social housing could be an interesting next step, Holtrop responded that he agrees but it might not be within the core of his work currently, that commissioners often go to architects with a certain level of experience in a subject, which can sometimes get tricky when, for once, you take on a project in an entirely different sector. The studio is currently working on its largest project to date: an art institute in Riyadh. “When I get asked the question ‘What would be your ideal next project?’ I have no clue. But if someone comes with an interesting question, or let’s say an engagement with something that I think I can work with, that would be nice too. It is not always about the topic, but the conditions as well.” THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
Holtrop’s works often have an atmospheric quality to them, one that is not necessarily attached to its context but somehow creates a context within itself. In the case of the recently-completed Green Corner building in Muharraq, the building does not respond to the site contextually, but has a more metaphorical response which sees its walls and ceilings as cast elements on sand reliefs from the site itself in Holtrop’s “imaginary landscape”. “It is how to condition your interest… A drawing doesn’t depict anything, but it is the projection of our imagination; that [is when] we start seeing something.” Holtrop confesses that his relationship with his completed work is quite an awkward one and charged with self-criticism; always questioning whether the work is in its best form and whether what is produced represents the best possibility of an idea. Because of that, Holtrop has started photographing his own work, in an attempt of continue its process and not reach the endpoint just yet. “... that way I’m still able to continue to work on it, to get an understanding of it, to read it, to literally frame [it],” Holtrop explains. id
Top: Murad Boutique Hotel model. Bottom: Bahrain National Pavilion, photographed by Bas Princen. Opposite page: Maison Margiela Avenue Montaigne, photographed by François Coquerel
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Waterfront modernism WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY OCULIS PROJECT
Selected as the show apartment for the highly anticipated One Palm by Omniyat, Studio M’s Residence 402 proves that a beachside lifestyle is possible even in a high-rise tower
et on the waterfront of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah and designed by New York-based architects SOMA, One Palm by Omniyat has become one of the city’s most highly anticipated residential developments. Featuring dramatic cantilevers that boast double and triple-height spaces inside, the interiors are designed to celebrate the effortless luxury of a beachside lifestyle and come complete with ample natural light, outdoor spaces and high-end materials and finishes. Dubai-based Studio M’s show apartment, Residence 402, further reflects these precise qualities. Responding to the developer’s brief of creating a warm reinterpretation of modernism that would resonate with a discerning and cosmopolitan clientele, Studio M envisioned a sanctuary that exudes effortless luxury living, relaxation, entertainment and wellness. Taking cues from contemporary tropical Brazilian architecture, the residence interweaves indoor and outdoor spaces, complete with terraced pools and lush foliage. Landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic created a timeless outdoor environment, using simple gestures that are minimal yet monolithic, featuring unfilled Italian travertine – both on the walls and the pool decks – while allowing the sea to take centre stage. The floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows retract to merge the interiors with the outdoor spaces, opening up to massive terraces and entertainment areas. Maximising views was an important consideration for the design, and this has been realised across all rooms of the residence, whether they look out towards Dubai Marina, the Palm or the open sea. “Elegant and comfortable, the residence is a model for living under the sun, taking full advantage of the richness of an indoor-outdoor lifestyle,” explains Studio M’s founder, Abboud Malak. Covering approximately 380 square metres of interior space, the four-bedroom property features a light neutral colour palette combined with a selection of natural materials that further ties the interior spaces with the architecture of the building. Other strong features are the seven-metre-high ceilings in the living room and master bedroom. THE INNOVATION ISSUE
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“The use of natural materials brings warmth and texture to the penthouse,” Malak says. “Smooth plastered walls and light, wide-board oak floors soften the rooms and evoke an immersive sensory experience – one that is reminiscent of Mediterranean living.” The bespoke, honed Calacatta marble fireplace and cabinetry enrich the space with meticulously crafted detailing, while the raw brass accents are allowed to naturally patina with age. The smaller family room is separated from the main living area using two adjoining porous display cases that replace the more traditional approach of using walls. The furniture selection in the penthouse is greatly to be envied. Carefully curated to feature works by internationally renowned designers, the pieces in the collection include the iconic Freeform Curved Sofa by Vladimir Kagan that
anchors the vast double-height formal living room and entices visitors to the private pool terrace, where the studio has selected minimal and plush outdoor furniture with a tone-ontone colour scheme, all set low to the ground as a statement of classic casual living. The floating Libelle bookcase by Pietro Russo seamlessly separates the family area from the formal living space, without disrupting the visual continuity of the Great Room. The mastery of Japanese and Brazilian woodwork can also be observed in the collection – such as with the Dinamarquesa lounge chair (by Jorge Zalszupin) and the Marcel chair. Renowned New York-based lighting designer Lindsey Adelman created two custom fixtures for the project, and the intricacy of the workmanship and poetic movement of the pieces blur the lines between sculpture and design.
Celebrated regional artists such as Safwan Dahoul and Thaier Helal from Ayyam Gallery adorn key walls and add yet another layer of calm and sophistication to the interiors. “We worked closely with the best in the industry, from furniture and lighting designers,” Malak shared. “These designers are masters in what they do, and we learned a lot from working with them.” All the various components, from the interiors to the landscaping, come together to celebrate and elevate the stunning surroundings of the property. “We envisioned Residence 402 to honour its environment and exist in harmony with the modern building architecture and stunning panoramic sea views,” Malak describes. It is a resonant interior designed to be experienced and deeply felt.” id
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House of curves Visually both delicate and powerful, this Sydney penthouse reflects the perfect flow through its calming yet energetic environment
WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ
Julep sofa and chaise lounge from Stylecraft. Laurel side table from Criteria. TS coffee table from Ownworld. Despres custom rug, designed by Greg Natale for Designer Rugs. Bilia table lamp from Radiant Lighting
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANSON SMART
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aving ‘plenty of curves’ was the key element in the brief for this striking penthouse. Situated in a harbourside suburb in Sydney, Australia, the apartment – which sits within a redevelopment of historic structures combined with new buildings to make residential dwellings – was transformed by Greg Natale for a couple with two teenage sons. Both the iconic location and the owners immediately convinced the interior designer to embark on a journey that not only included the creation of a new aesthetic for all the spaces within but also structural work. Among some of the bigger changes was the staircase, which now occupies a corner of the living room. It was previously located in the middle of the three-bedroom apartment; its move has allowed the master
suite to be expanded to become a comfortable refuge. Organised across two levels, the interior spaces comprise a 145-square-metre ground floor and a 52-square-metre upper storey, plus 75 square metres of exterior areas (57 for the ground floor terrace and 18 for the first-floor balcony). The use of curves is prevalent everywhere; including in the new staircase and the fireplace, as well as in the built-in low bench and the cabinetry that wraps around the walls in the living room, which is furnished with two Tacchini Julep bouclé sofas from Stylecraft, a Gubi Pacha lounge chair from Cult and a Gubi TS coffee table from Ownworld, which all sit on a custom round Despres rug by Greg Natale – influenced by the work of painters Sonia and Robert Delaunay – from Designer Rugs.
The kitchen features a Carrara marble island and Strike counter stools from Ownworld THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
“I was primarily inspired by the curves we created architecturally in the home,” Natale says. “This directly informed our furniture and decor selection.” The Gubi dining chairs and hand-carved grey Carrara marble kitchen island also emphasise the presence of the smooth curves, resulting in a feminine and delicate look. “We wanted to show how interior design can create its own language of line to shape a home’s character,” says Natale. “The curves that wind their way in the living area set the scene for a cocooning design that seamlessly connects spaces and enhances the apartment’s flow. This continues in the lines of the ceiling and floor in the master en suite, in the bathroom walls, where the curves are highlighted by the
mosaic finger tiles, and in the softly rounded furnishings.” A Gubi Revers sofa from Cult, an E15 Enoki side table from Living Edge with the Laguna 37 table lamp from Artemide, the custom Rateau rug by Greg Natale from Designer Rugs, the Aerin Corvo table from Palmer & Penn and the Flos Mini Glo Ball sconces from Euroluce, as well as the Ava freestanding stone bathtub, are just some of the stylish pieces that make the main bedroom and its bathroom a peaceful oasis. In terms of colours, Natale focused on warm tones throughout the penthouse. Grey, pink and yellow touches perfectly complement the white walls and ceilings, as well as the blond solid oak floors. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
Mos bench and Paule Marrot Feathers artwork supplied by Natural Curiosities in Brooklyn
“We wanted to convey a light, bright and contemporary feeling in the spaces,” Natale shares. “Natural materials like Carrara marble and oak were used as an added luxurious layer. This project showcases how a delicate palette can make a subtle yet powerful impact.” Natale also took into consideration the increasing necessity of designing in an eco-friendly manner. “Sustainably sourced materials contribute to an
environment stripped of harmful emissions and toxins,” he notes. Featuring modern European furniture and reflecting an Australian eye, this young and refined apartment has a unique character that fits the open spirit of Sydney. “Elevated by the gleam of brass accents, the design is a celebration of sophisticated colours and contours,” Natale concludes. id
Beetle dining chairs from Otherworld and Lunar dining table from Living Edge
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Sculpted luxury Having opened just a few weeks ago, this Italian boutique hotel was inspired by the richness of its past yet reflects a contemporary aesthetic thanks to French studio Point3architecture WORDS BY KARINE MONIÉ PHOTOGRAPHY BY FILIPPO BAMBERGHI
or Benjamin Macaire, Thibaut Julien and Victor Jauvin, the trio behind Parisbased architecture practice Point3architecture, Paradis Pietrasanta was a premiere for two reasons. It is the studio’s first hospitality project and its first in Italy. Macaire, Julien and Jauvin, however, were already very familiar with the country, as they used to travel there frequently. Events like Milan’s Salone del Mobile and La Biennale di Venezia, and many cultural trips, drew the trio back again and again. The French owners of the property, who now live permanently in Italy, trusted Point3architecture to transform what was originally a historic house from the 18th century – formerly home to a countess – into a charming boutique hotel with 12 rooms, plus a restaurant and lounge bar. “It is said that at that time the property extended to the sea, which is located four kilometres from here,” says Julien. “This traditional Tuscan palazzo is situated at the corner of a 15th-century fortification called Rocca di Sala. Famous sculptor Fernando Botero lives at the highest point of this wall.” Inaugurated in July, the boutique hotel is an ode to the creative place in which it sits. Pietrasanta – known as the ‘Little Athens of Italy’ – has a long tradition of sculpture, as the town is on the way to the Carrara marble quarries of Florence. “The renovation consisted of giving a new life to this palazzo while reflecting the history of the place and its original materials,” says Julien. So, both the old house and the ramparts that go through the site were not only preserved but also restored and highlighted. In the restaurant, the architects recreated the atmosphere of a sculptor’s workshop and invited natural light inside via skylights.
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The building is organised over three levels. On the ground floor, the public areas include the lounge bar and the restaurant, which opens onto a large garden with marble fountains and a collection of citruses planted by landscape architect Jean Mus. The first and second floors are home to the 12 rooms – each with its own interior design – and the lobby, which opens to the grand terracotta terrace. Point3architecture has created a haven of peace rooted in its context – with spaces throughout the hotel inspired by Tuscany, and Milan providing the inspiration for its terrazzo floors. “We worked exclusively with natural materials, including marble, terracotta, ceramic and wrought iron … to blend as much as possible with the surroundings and give the feeling that the hotel has always been here,” notes Julien. Natural colours such as ochre and earthy tones prevail throughout, favouring a visual dialogue with the vernacular materials.
The architects worked with craftsmen for almost all the project’s various aspects, and collaborated with Moroccan artist Khalil Minka, who designed the wall tapestries in the rooms and the lobby, bringing a unique character to the spaces. “The eclectic decorative style is the result of the interaction between the owners’ design and art collection on one side and our selection of lighting fixtures and pieces of furniture inspired by the ’70s in Italy on the other,” expresses Julien. Despite being a hotel, the atmosphere of Paradis Pietrasanta is more like that of an old family house, which is what gives it its charm. Thanks to the clear vision of the Point3architecture team, who perfectly understood the importance of respecting the past while enriching it with a subtle contemporary interpretation, this project reflects the spirit of its city, discreetly imbued with simplicity and elegance. id
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he past year has been an exceptionally challenging one for all businesses, as economies worldwide struggled to navigate their way around the uncertainty created by the pandemic. And yet many organisations were able to adapt and excel thanks to persistence and innovation. At the seventh edition of the Property Finder Awards, the panel of judges sieved through a large number of shortlists to narrow down the winners of the best brokerage. The winners – chosen from across the UAE – stood out because of their sheer commitment to the betterment of the industry by offering exceptional service, high-quality listings and demonstrable success. The criteria for judging included: overall structure of the company; adapting to market trends; leveraging technology; future plans; customer experience; and customer feedback. Based on this, the Property Finder Awards for the Best Quality Brokerage were given to: • Espace Real Estate [Dubai large brokerage] • Exclusive Links [Dubai medium brokerage] • Nationwide Middle East Properties [Abu Dhabi] • Hunt & Harris [Ras Al Khaimah] We had a chat with the winners to understand how they have adapted to the Covid economy, what their future plans are and what this award means to them.
John Lyons Managing Director, Espace Real Estate
What is your reaction to winning the Property Finder Award? I think it’s really important. Everyone in the industry recognises that Property Finder does a great awards ceremony and that it’s very objective. There have 58
been years where we obviously haven’t been in the winning position and we have recognised that we have to go back, reassess and work harder to make ourselves a better company. Everybody – whether they win or lose, or come second or third – knows that the decision is objective and not subjective. There are various different points, obviously, that the judging panel looks at and we just try to make sure that from one year to the next we get better. When we put in so much work taking the feedback from previous years and then get the win, it’s really encouraging for everyone in the team. With the real estate sector picking up, how is Espace ensuring that it stands out? We are trying to diversify our revenue stream – so for example we have set up a mortgage division to vertically integrate that business. We’re also trying to make the business look better from the front end. We’re doing a big project to renew our website, which should be completed in a couple of months. We are also looking at improving our CRM system – we have been working on it since the start of the year and are changing the way it looks and making it more intelligent and more predictive by putting artificial intelligence behind the system. So, when we roll that out in a couple of months along with the website, we’ll have two really big improvements within the business. One is the front end, how we look from the outside, and the other is the main tool that makes us successful as a business in terms of the operations, connecting all the brokers and making that marketplace really efficient. We’ve got about 130 people in the business in total, out of which about 90 of them are brokers across leasing and sales. What are your plans ahead? We’ve set up a team at Downtown Dubai and they have
The seventh edition of the Property Finder Awards honoured the top brokerages in the UAE, who raised the industry standards thanks to superior service and brilliant performance despite the challenging circumstances done really well. They have added a huge amount of value to the company and sold some great properties. We also are now spending more time focusing on the luxury sector. We always did luxury – we have sold some great properties in communities like Emirates Hills over the last 10 years. But now there’s more of a focus going into luxury, so we have a dedicated team, and we have meetings on a weekly basis discussing luxury real estate. And since the market has picked up, we’ve sold a lot of properties – including some of the highest value properties in Dubai in recent years – and it’s making a big difference to how we operate.
Louise Heatley Managing Director, Exclusive Links
What does winning the Property Finder Award mean to you? I think it’s a benchmark, a goal and something to strive for. To be recognised by all of your peers – who are amazing and have great reputations – that’s something else. For us, 2020 in particular was a hard and challenging year. It’s great when you’re on a wave riding high, but when things are tough and challenges are there, just to actually put it all out and do different things and strive and work [is a big achievement]. The staff stepped up and you want the award for them. I am so proud of them and they really impressed me. We are always saying the ‘Exclusive Links family’, and they were that, they really had each others’ backs. So, winning the award in 2020 was just the icing on the cake; it couldn’t have been better to thank the staff for everything they had done. As the property sector improves, how is Exclusive Links ensuring that it stands out?
From left: Neema Kataria, Ameen Al Qudsi, Louise Heatley, John Lyons
It’s not just about what happened last year – you always have to strive to think outside of the box and be innovative. We are doing a lot with changing and revamping our website and we’re revamping our CRM systems to be able to help with more lead management for the agents. [This will help us] automate some processes and help the agents be more productive. We also increased our Property Finder package now that growth is there. We utilise the community topspot in Dubai Marina because that’s where one of our strengths is – we have a shop there and it’s a great marketing tool for us, as listings are extremely hard for the staff at the moment. We also introduced Louise’s Lounge, our property talk show. We’re always saying to our agents, push yourselves, push your boundaries and go on videos. You have to sell yourself, the company and Dubai; property is just the last thing that you need to worry about. So, we are doing introductions and personal sales pitches on videos. What we want to do is to emphasise that Exclusive Links is about personalities – we always say ‘people, profit and personality’. We do it once a month and I’m enjoying it.
Ameen Al Qudsi CEO, Nationwide Middle East Properties
Why is winning the award so important for Nationwide? The team at Nationwide has worked tirelessly to provide our clients with high-quality services, despite the challenges that have been caused by Covid-19. We believe that it is commendable and worthy of an accolade. How are you looking to upgrade and expand your operations? It has been a good year for us at Nationwide, with over Dhs1m worth of sales recorded in the last year. Although it has been a challenging time, we strive to turn a crisis into an opportunity. The company has also continued growing as we have increased our staff, despite some competitors in the market downsizing their operations. We have never stopped our efforts in engaging potential clients through marketing campaigns on our website and social media pages. This has helped us capture significant sales deals. Due to the pandemic, there has been a shift
in consumer behaviour. Residents have shifted from apartments to villas, since many have been working from home and are looking for more space and amenities such as a garden and an office space. Our focus has shifted more to selling villa units to satisfy this new trend. We have expanded our operations into Dubai and Al Ain and our offices are serving a new clientele in these cities and engaging with stakeholders for investment opportunities. With the upcoming Expo 2020, there has been a growth of more than 10 per cent in the economy and a rise in development infrastructure and related projects. As a result, the real estate sector has grown substantially and we at Nationwide are committed to meeting this need. Also, as we prepare to hit the international market, Nationwide has begun engaging with international investors and encouraging them to purchase property in the UAE for move-in or investment opportunities.
Neema Kataria Managing Partner, Hunt & Harris
Why is the Property Finder Award so important for Hunt & Harris? For us, it’s not so much the win – although we do like seeing the trophies in the cabinet – but rather the recognition it provides the team in terms of the effort they put in on a day-to-day basis. It just means that we have done something right throughout the year and maintained the high level of standards that we have. It was also really important last year because it gave us something to look forward to at the end of the dreadful year that we had. For me, I felt that, given that we won the award for three years, Property Finder would give it to someone else. So, for the whole team it was just a nice surprise that we won again.
Property Finder does actually value the process. I look at the stats every single day to make sure the listings are at 100 per cent. We are always on top of it, because for me listings are always top priority. They are the shop window of our business. So, it’s always about professional photography and making sure that the listings are of the best quality and have the right information. We strongly believe that as soon as something is rented or sold, it’s taken off immediately. What are your upcoming plans as the UAE’s real estate market grows? We believe in consistently training and monitoring our staff to try and do better. They are very good at what they do, they qualify clients, they go out on viewings and they know how to close deals. But for us it’s delving a little bit deeper in terms of how we can assist them a bit more and provide them with the support that they need, whether that’s just additional conversations that the management might have with the buyer or a seller to finish off a transaction at the negotiation stage, and possibly even stepping in when somebody goes on holiday to complete the transaction. So, it forms a whole process that we feel needs elevating a little bit, where management support can really assist our clients as well as the agents. THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
THE NEW FACE OF WORKSPACES Five designers share their thoughts on what we can expect from the evolution of workplace design, give examples of their own projects, and share some of their favourite office furniture and accessories
Belt by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos
NIYA NIKOLOVA, INTERIOR DESIGNER AT ROAR As we spent the last year dealing with uncertainty, both in our personal and professional lives, our office dynamics have evolved and are taking a completely new form for 2021 and the years to come. The elusive idea of ‘work-life balance’ now has a whole new meaning after we have experienced the benefits of working from home in a safe and comfortable environment. We know that the office space will continue to be crucial, but the question many organisations are asking themselves now is: How do we entice people to come back to the office after months of working from the comfort of their homes? It is clear that now, more than ever, a human-centric focus on employee’s physical and mental wellbeing needs to take centre stage. This is directly related not only to talent retention but also to increased productivity, work morale, empowerment, creativity and, as a result, company profitability. There is enormous potential for making a positive impact on employee wellbeing by creating a hybrid model of the office as we know it – something we ourselves at Roar are taking into account extensively for our brand new studio that is coming up by the end of this year! For example: an open layout and modular, stackable furniture that [together] encourage collaboration and inspiration but
also provide the opportunity to tuck everything away for a weekly team yoga session. At the same time the space should offer great acoustics and the privacy we often need for our video calls or the more focused tasks – with work pods and quiet zones catering to the multitude of personalities we find in any office. Why not take an afternoon power nap? Research shows that a 30-minute snooze helps us to recharge and refocus on the tasks at hand by improving our alertness and memory. This is why we are also implementing a nap room in our brand-new studio. Biophilia, natural light and air ventilation are the other crucial aspects of wellbeing-focused spaces that we cannot overlook. As we spend most of our day indoors, incorporating elements of the outside world in the office design is instrumental in fulfilling our fundamental need to connect to nature. But let’s not forget ‘the heart’ of every ‘home’: the kitchen – or in this case the pantry and that great cup of morning coffee. Creating a comfortable and inviting space for the team to eat together is crucial to bonding and further nurturing the meaningful relationships our human brains so crave. It is all about those simple and thoughtful solutions that really make a world of difference in our work life! And, keeping along the lines of bonding together in a flexible and acoustically serene space, the piece of furniture I have been drawn to recently is Molo’s soft collection of space partitions, seating, tables and lighting – they’re so much fun [and] all of them come in beautiful colours and are easily foldable!
Early Childhood Authority, designed by roar Molo’s soft collection by Stephanie Forsythe + Todd MacAllen THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
RABAH SAEED, FOUNDER OF STYLED HABITAT We did not choose the past year; we were forced to live through it. Today, with eyes on the future, and while looking towards the ‘new normal’, we are pondering two central questions: What is sacred about the office? And what do we like the most about working from home? Creating the post-Covid-19 workplace is about designing an effective work ecosystem: one that encompasses physical, emotional and spiritual health. The results of the pandemic have inspired new outdoor solutions. Climate change is driving transparency around production methods and materials. Social unrest is evident in colour choices (brighter colours to boost morale or muted tones to reflect sobriety). The workspace, more than ever,
meaningful connections and spontaneous encounters. Open-air spaces democratise what we experience on a human scale. It is about creating spaces that people enjoy. New outdoor spaces in the workplace will focus on flexibility and adapt to many uses, be it small groups, informal meetings, pathways, cafes, gyms, social distancing, or simply a place to decompress. Climate, of course, is a challenge. How do you design shading for the summer months? How do you create outdoor spaces that implement indoor factors such as textiles and ubiquitous connections for Wi-Fi? The bigger question, however, is how do we build a better relationship with nature?
Archè by Verter Turroni for imperfettolab
is about connections and innovations. We are no longer going to the office to do ‘heads-down’ work; we are coming together to collaborate. The pandemic has led to a boom in outdoor spaces, both in workplaces and educational institutions. The physical and psychological benefits of the outdoors is nothing new. Marble-clad ‘mausoleum’ lobbies are a thing of the past. Lobbies are now shifting into open-air spaces which make for a better community with
Styled Habitat’s office in Dubai Design District
JOYCE JARJOURA, ASSOCIATE AT GENSLER With the current shift towards hybrid work, we are all curiously questioning what that means for us. The reality is that most companies have been working in the background for the past year, trying to find the right balance for their employees – [one] which de-blurs the lines between work and our personal lives but brings back culture and community. Since March 2020, research from the Gensler Research Institute has explored how work was evolving during the pandemic, how worker expectations were shifting, and the impact the pandemic was having on the physical workplace. This global research surveyed 15,000 respondents and during our surveys about half of office workers were working from home. One finding that has been highly stable over time and across multiple countries is that most office workers don’t want to make a binary choice between the office or home. Instead, they say they want a hybrid work model of both in-office and remote locations as they look to the future. In addition, all respondents we surveyed reported that the office is still the best place to connect, collaborate and socialise with others. The Middle East is a high-growth market for many companies looking to consolidate back-end development and support teams. There has been a major shift towards employee strategies that focus on workplace experiences and overall wellbeing. Companies are reaching out to their employees and want to understand their expectations to ensure they return to an environment that makes them comfortable; an environment they want to return to. Culture, collaboration and community are at the core of the new workplace experience. Prioritising community and connections makes
for a more interesting experience and, more importantly, it’s a mindset we can carry with us as we continue to explore what it means to ‘work from anywhere’. There is no ‘one size fits all’, but there is a common thread emerging and that is this: the workplace is becoming a destination. There is a mindset shift towards a ‘work from anywhere’ culture. New work typologies have emerged which encourage [the] multifunctional, organic use of spaces. The workplace transforms into one hub which encourages social interactions, team meetings, coffee breaks with colleagues and quiet moments, and does not force a delineation between “this is where I do X” and “this is where I do Y”. The post-pandemic workplace must consider choice and flexibility for all user profiles, promoting an inclusive culture as there is no ‘average user’. As flexibility and adaptability within our new workplaces become crucial elements of a great experience, the seamless integration of technology is more important than ever. Technology bridges the gap between people and their workplace. As some employees come into the office to simply use technology they do not have at home, others will want to have a more immersive experience within their workplace, merging together virtual and in-person collaboration. Defining a plan for technology integration is key to a successful employee experience, whether it be a complete digital ecosystem or a quick way to connect to a meeting room. One thing is for sure: the pandemic has encouraged new forms of non-traditional work and collaboration, which has forced everyone to adapt. As we emerge, rebuilding our sense of community and belonging is vital to cultivating a culture around change.
THE INNOVATORS ISSUE Gensler’s Dubai office in Alserkal Avenue
TARIK ZAHARNA, FOUNDER OF T.ZED ARCHITECTS Today’s offices reflect the need to find a functional balance for a variety of office-type work – and our approach to designing RLAB for the Dubai Future Foundation reflects just that, including executive meeting rooms, open-plan offices, sound-proof meeting rooms and – most importantly – a robotics lab. Our interior architecture is a craft-science that responds to human needs and social behaviours while looking to the future regarding finding new methods and techniques to fabrication. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, our way of working and living continues to be challenged. Our task, therefore, has never been more crucial: to create safer, more flexible and, absolutely, more inspiring spaces to inhabit. As safety and wellbeing adopt a new meaning in this epochal time, the quest for designing corporate offices and creative spaces also assumes a new faculty and a more pronounced awareness of what today’s ‘hybrid’ form of work consists of. Modularity and flexibility; the use of greenery; more sophisticated light, ventilation and technological systems; open spaces / pod spaces; a wide and diverse array of materials; furniture inclined to be
R Lab, designed by T.ZED Architects
more residential in an office environment; [these] are our tools. In RLAB, the architecture steps in and steps up with a much more intriguing and sensible offering. We asked ourselves: How we can convey or even further enhance, within the current and transitory circumstances, an office’s identity, their ethos, [and] their current as well as future vision beyond the Covid-19 era with design? Creating a successful space is designing for creativity, collaboration, efficiency and elasticity – both for the individual and the collective. Given the rich and diverse programme of RLAB, we needed to find the right note to strike between refined accessibility and clinical fabrication. Richness is brought to the forefront through materiality, detailing and lighting. While looking back towards a rich heritage, we needed to transition smoothly into the tech-focused future. Flexibility is paramount. One day RLAB is the setting for international delegations, the next it’s a pure fabrication hub. Both are interesting programmes, both are vital in the continued story of Dubai, and both operate harmoniously without disruption to the other.
MESHARY ALNASSAR, FOUNDER OF STUDIO MESHARY ALNASSAR
Gesture chair by Steelcase
The traditional workspace environment has been in constant change throughout the years, with the consistent growth of modern technology. As humans we continually try to explore different ways to enhance the way we function to increase productivity, while creating a healthier and more up-to-date environment. Although design trends come and go, some trends are here to make a change to a healthier, more versatile human experience. Choosing between cubicles and partitions or open spaces has always been the debate in office designs, but the concerns around how open a space should be are dependent on the type of business or environment one is trying to create for a company. Many international design manufacturers have studied this aspect and have been able to introduce furniture solutions that allow the buyer to create the space they require using modularity and transformable ergonomic designs. One of the first brands that crosses my mind when I think of the office space is Herman Miller. Yes, it is known for its iconic chairs, but it’s the placemaking designs and workstations that, to me, are extremely impressive. The satisfying factor about the Herman Miller workspace solutions is that they’re designed for humans to help them succeed. The company’s sit-stand desk is one of the musthave pieces in a creative work environment. But what’s a good office space without chairs that are ergonomic and help improve your posture? Steelcase, the competitor brand to the American Herman Miller, makes one of my favourite chairs. The Gesture ergonomic model with the adjustable arm rests is such a great investment; a chair for any work environment. A very neglected part of the office is the sound insulation and acoustics. I love to integrate a beautiful acoustic panel that blends in with the design while acoustically enhancing the space. The Swedish brand Zilenzio comes to mind. It offers a wide variety of acoustic panels in the form of wall cladding and ceiling suspended elements, as well as furniture. My selection would be the Focus Floor, a floor screen that provides
privacy through textile and padded insulation, as well as the Dezibel Ceiling, which is suspended from the ceiling and provides a visual and acoustic effect while helping to reduce echo and reverberation. Lighting design is what makes a space, and there is nothing better than a statement lighting piece that cascades above a beautiful communal table or meeting room and adds the right amount of boldness to an office. Designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have designed a beautiful ceiling-suspended light called Belt. Made from extruded aluminium and covered in leather, the dimmable suspended lighting piece is perfect for both decorative and task-focused lighting. As for entertainment, the Beosound Balance wireless speaker by Bang & Olufsen is my choice for an aesthetically pleasing design. Conceptualised by Benjamin Hubert and made in a natural oak finish, the smart speaker doubles as an accessory that can work in a composition with other objects and is styled for any space. id
Beosound Balance by Bang & Olufsen
Focus Floor by Zilenzio
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H A club like no other Vitra is laying down the framework for the future of workspaces with its bold new Club Office concept 66
aving joined Swiss furniture company Vitra in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic when remote working took precedence, Christian Grosen (now the brand’s Chief Design Officer) quickly understood that the space his staff were returning to was no longer the same space they had left behind. In the 15 months that passed, needs and behaviours had shifted, affecting internal innovation, collaboration and productivity – qualities that are integral to a future-facing brand like Vitra. “The main workspace was dominated by ‘focus work’,” Grosen writes in Vitra’s e-paper about the future of shared spaces. “This means that most people adhered to an unspoken code of silence to avoid disturbing others, which made even the slightest noise seem very loud. All collaborative work was invisible, forced to migrate outside of the shared workspace, to smaller meeting rooms. “This makes no sense today, when people mainly come to the office for the purpose of collaboration and creative teamwork,” he adds. Cue the Vitra Club Office – a shared working concept focusing on values that are similar to those of group activities such as chess societies or sewing circles, formed by like-minded individuals who get together on their own terms as part of a larger goal. Customisable to the needs of whichever company it becomes home to, it becomes a space that represents values and purpose. Vitra CEO Nora Fehlbaum describes it as “the simplest, and often only, physical manifestation of a company’s identity”, and so it becomes a place of belonging. First developed at the company’s headquarters in Birsfelden near Basel for its own Research & Design team, the beauty of the Vitra Club Office is its agility and flexibility. So, practically speaking, no two Club Offices are the same.
Alcove Plus, designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
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The Club Office at Vitra’s headquarters in Birsfelden
Decades of responding to workplace transformations has resulted in the brand’s most cohesive concept to date, complete with new and existing furniture solutions that satisfy the hybrid nature of contemporary work. As a workspace that promotes adaptability, the Club Office is divided into three areas – public, semi-public and private – with each zone working in concert to supply different environments for different tasks. Rigid typologies such as desks and task chairs have given way to dynamic products that ensure a more agile nature. The public area is open to all, from staff to external collaborators, and is designed to encourage spontaneous encounters and easy informal collaboration. The space offers comfortable and inviting designs such as the brand’s Soft Work modular sofa system (designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby) with ergonomic functions that make it ideal for collaboration, alongside the new launched Alcove Plus sofa by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec that is characterised by its side panels and extra-high 68
back, now with greater privacy functions. The semi-public area caters to project work that is time-sensitive, with furniture chosen for its flexibility to allow for quick reconfigurations to adapt to various group activities as required. This space features the flexible partitions of Stephan Hürlemann’s Dancing Wall, stackable stools by Konstantin Grcic, and the ergonomic Tip Ton chair by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. Finally, the private zone is designed as an extension of the home office, and is best suited for concentrated individual tasks. Here we see ergonomic furniture take centre stage, including the new ID Cloud chair designed in collaboration with Antonio Citterio, as well as the ID Chair Concept range, complete with 100 per cent recyclable configurations and highly breathable PU-foam-free seat. The Club Office is now being rolled out globally, with the Gulf region already on its radar. “We are witnessing a rapid upsurge in contemporary design and lifestyle in the
Middle East – specifically in the GCC, where the pursuit of new methods and state-ofthe-art technologies is seeing consistent investment to advance the countries on all fronts and is often subsidised by the respective governments,” shares Salim Khoury, Regional Business Manager – Middle East at Vitra. “This reality translates into prioritising and adapting new methods of working and living. Vitra happens to be proficient in this language and this is why we are witnessing an unprecedented welcoming of the Club Office concept in both private and governmental sectors.” As more and more staff members return to physical offices, many will begin to reflect on their work environments. Club Office aims to answer the many questions that may arise around the quality of our workspaces. “By making even a small change to your workspace, you are sending a signal to everyone as they return. You are letting them know that even though things may have changed, they will be okay,” Fehlbaum says. id
Soft Work modular sofa system, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
A human touch Sabine Marcelis’s innovative intervention at the Study Centre in Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut reuses its existing USM furniture while creating a more humanised environment
WORDS BY AIDAN IMANOVA
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utch designer Sabine Marcelis has transformed the Research Centre of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam by utilising existing furniture as well as several smart interventions, resulting in a completely revitalised space that prioritises openness and connectivity using a sustainable approach. The Research Centre is literally and figuratively the heart of the building where the library, with approximately 70,000 books and a very extensive magazine collection, can be found; it also houses the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning. While the original set-up was primarily aimed at facilitating academic research in the National Collection, the new design accommodates a host of possibilities when it comes to use. Visitors are now encouraged to meet, work and socialise. Marcelis, who is known for her works in glass, light and resin, has given the formerly heavy, dark space a colourful and human-centric facelift, creating a light and vibrant environment. With the new interventions, the former Study Centre (which was primarily designed for concentrated ‘studying’) will also be transformed into a Research Centre in terms of atmosphere, comprising several zones that additionally provide space for non-academic forms of research and knowledge sharing.
One of the main components of this transformation entails reusing the existing USM furniture, which has been part of the Study Centre since the institute’s opening in 1933. The designer reconfigured the USM Haller cabinets which previously defined the space, integrating panels of coloured glass into the steel structure of the furniture that, while maintaining its enclosing function, creates a sense of transparency and a renewed vibrancy. She has also introduced resin elements, in addition to opening up the walls to allow more light to enter the space. Originally designed for storage, the new layout leverages the USM Haller system to help define the spaces within the broader building space. “Modular designs allow for adaptability and personalisation, offering an opportunity to change a space without having to reinvest in new solutions,” says Eric Berchtold, director – Middle East, Africa & India for USM Modular Furniture. “Design classics such as the USM Haller system are iconic because they offer not only agility in design but [also] longevity as a result of the materials they are created with. To be able to completely transform a space using the foundations of furniture that is over 30 years old, and to have it create a modern, inspiring space for visitors, is unique.” id
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Kitchen consciousness WORDS BY SAMIR RANAVAYA
n 1898, Hermann Häcker laid the foundation stone of a humble carpentry workshop in a quaint farming community in the northwest of Germany. Unbeknown to him, over a century later his name would mark one of Germany’s leading manufacturers in the field of luxury kitchens. Those traditional family values of authenticity, integrity and excellence remain the cornerstones of the company, as does its entrepreneurial spirit and a determination to innovate and courageously shape the future of the industry, resulting in exceptional quality from design and production through to installation. Fast forward to 2009, which is when I founded Häcker Kitchens Dubai, sensing that the city was on the verge of a rapid evolution in kitchen culture, seeing its inevitable transformation from a room dedicated to cooking to becoming part of the living space. With this shift in mind, Häcker Dubai opened the doors to its flagship showroom and kitchen design studio on Sheikh Zayed Road; it was the first of its kind in the city, with the aim of revolutionising Dubai’s kitchen retail scene. Combining international experience and local knowledge, Häcker continues to lead the way, offering bespoke kitchen design that is underpinned by excellent quality and sustainability.
BIAS FOR WELLBEING
Always ahead of the curve, Häcker has long understood the importance of using natural materials in the kitchen, not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also as the result of a deeper, holistic insight into wellbeing. Something at the top of mind for the Häcker design team is the science of ‘biophilia’ – the innate attraction of human beings to the natural world. We have evolved over thousands of years of living off the land and have formed deep-routed connections with nature. However, the rise of urban living and man-made materials has put our connection with the natural environment at stake. Stress-related illnesses due to cardio-vascular diseases are escalating, and studies show that this is
largely due to our loss of connection with nature. Incorporating biophilic design is becoming increasingly important to our design philosophy for this reason. By encouraging the incorporation of natural wood and stone into the built environment we know we can, subconsciously, have a positive impact on wellbeing by reducing stress, increasing the feel-good factor and nurturing creativity in the kitchen space. Häcker offers customisable kitchens, whether using completely natural wood surfaces, subtle accents of wood grain or natural stone patterns on the worksurface or doors – all of which can have the desired natural effect.
DUBAI’S SAFEST KITCHEN
Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling, colourless gas used in the manufacturing of pressed-wood products, such as modular kitchens. The chemical has been proven to cause terminal illnesses and it is further activated by heat and humidity. Häcker has led the effort to rid the industry of this harmful chemical from our kitchens and has achieved the Carb 2 standard, meaning all Häcker kitchens are practically free from harmful emissions.
ON A MISSION
Häcker continues to lead the evolution of the region’s kitchen culture by providing clients, architects and designers a unique showroom experience, with a consulting approach backed by industry-leading knowledge and experience. We want to help clients make informed decisions so they can better judge what makes an excellent quality kitchen that is elegant and part of a functional living space that promotes wellbeing – which is ultimately what people want more of. Samir Ranavaya
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Interiors in an era of pandemics
Vanessa Northway, Deputy Vice-Principal for Learning & Teaching and Associate Head of the School of Textiles & Design at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, speaks about how the pandemic is shaping the future of interior design
hile the reality of Covid-19 still looms across the globe, the drop in local cases means we are finally beginning to adjust to life with an eye towards a post-pandemic world. 2020 certainly saw major changes across global economies, with travel restrictions and lockdowns. While the restrictions have eased, there are many lessons that the interior design sector has learned. From tuberculosis (TB) shaping clean, neutral-coloured, sun-filled, open-air modern architecture to plagues bringing in an era of indoor plumbing and wider open spaces, pandemics have always shaped interior design and architecture throughout the ages. As we now look optimistically into the future and hope for a better post-pandemic world, designers and architects are witnessing a surge in desire to relook at how interiors are designed. Innovation is key to creating homes, offices and other spaces in this new world, with a newborn need to reshape our spaces. Globally, every industry has been affected by the pandemic, either directly or indirectly. In the midst of panic-driven decisions and business model changes, what truly stood out in every industry was the ability to adjust and make changes. Creatively speaking, designers have had a huge task, from reimagining spaces that support the well-being of inhabitants to utilising flexibility of space across the board, from residences to retail.
Multifunctional designs are most sought-after in home interiors. Spending more time at home instead of long hours at the office has changed the way most people view their living spaces. One of the most important things we have looked for in homes is open space that can be converted into a functional area like a home office, a workout nook or a flexible space that is multifunctional. Specifically for the home office, a space that can isolate us from the rest of the household is necessary in order to conduct online meetings, create presentations
or take client calls. Architects and designers are now looking at spaces that can seamlessly change from a private room to a social one for the family or guests. Some changes can include repurposing spaces for multifunctional uses, while others can use multipurpose furniture, maximise exposure to daylight and fresh air, and create green areas inside the house.
The pandemic has meant adapting to different working styles, and has brought major changes to everyday life for office workers. Reimagining office interiors is inevitable in a post-pandemic world. While most offices are looking to incorporate a more flexible way of working, this would still mean significant changes in office layouts. As more people return to work in the UAE and globally, health and security measures must be put into place to ensure everyone’s safety. And while efficiency has always been at the core of creating work spaces, incorporating balanced and human-centric design is now more important than ever. Safely distanced seating arrangements, isolation rooms, single-capacity pods to serve individuals attending calls alone, large conference rooms to suit smaller groups for meetings, using surface materials that can be sanitised regularly and easily, and improved indoor air ventilation are all changes that can be incorporated in office interiors. The biggest priority, however, is to support the health and well-being of employees. Simple ideas – such as brighter interior colours, sustainable materials, smaller one-to-one seating arrangements, and incorporating local design elements into spaces – can significantly affect how offices are viewed.
for retail establishments is to bounce back after a sales slump experienced during the early months of the pandemic, it is clear that interior design for these spaces has gained prominence. For example, future retail spaces could make distancing markers permanent, with different coloured carpets to mark where each customer should stand, or include different types of flooring to indicate waiting areas. Additionally, retailers need to incorporate materials and textures that discourage bacteria and live viruses. In cafés, booths or screens may become a permanent fixture to ensure a safe distance between patrons. Designers will also need to focus on revamping outdoor seating so more people can opt to sit outdoors, depending on the weather. Pre-fabricated dividers, smaller waiting spaces and larger dining spaces, as well as secondary entrance options, are all ideas that can form the future of restaurant designs. While maximising spacial design is crucial, a common challenge when designing any space in a post-pandemic world is increased ventilation and air quality. From homes to offices, retail stores and restaurants, air circulation will be a key component of interior design now and in the future. With the weather in the UAE restricting outdoor activities for more than six months a year, everyone inevitably turns to indoor areas, be it for eating, shopping or even sports. The pandemic has taught us many design-oriented lessons, and the future of interior design can benefit from these changes and learnings.
RETAIL SPACES AND RESTAURANTS
Shopping malls, restaurants and cafés have all opened at nearly full capacity in the UAE over the past few months. However, full-capacity numbers have been reduced. While the key concern
THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
Textured layers From homeware and furniture to fashion accessories, this month is all about textured and natural finishes, from the felt hat in Hermès' A/W2021 Objets collection to to Tina Gaia's ceramic bowls
Appaloosa bed bench Bernadotte & Kylberg for Hästens Available at hastens.com
1. Arrow-intarsia wool blanket by Colville. Available at matchesfashion.com 2. Helado ceramic bowl by Tina Vaia.Available at matchesfashion.com 3. Hat in felt and Swift calfskin from Hermès A/W 21 Objets collection. Available at hermes.com 4. Black Croc phone pouch by Saint Laurent. Available at ssense.com 5. Ceramic tableware from Brunello Cucinelli A/W 21 collection. Available at brunellocucinelli.com 6. Kyoto 100ml eau de toilette and furoshiki wrap as part of Le Grand Tour collection by Dyptique. Available at diptyqueparis.com 7. Black Clyde stovetop tea kettle by Fellow. Available at ssense.com
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Creative spirit Woman Made: Great Women Designers sheds light on some of the most important female product designers of the last century
f there is one book we can’t wait to pore over this month, it is Woman Made: Great Women Designers, which artfully compiles the works of 200 designers from more than 50 countries, all of whom have created some of the most important furniture, lighting, ceramic and homeware designs of the last century. The comprehensive and fully illustrated title sheds light on the compelling contribution that women have made to the world of design, while illuminating a history in which many have often been overlooked. Author Jane Hall’s rigorous research has unearthed a treasure trove of women designers – some of whom have been written out of history – showing that design is not, and has never been, a man’s world. Published by Phaidon and presented in a mint leatherette cover designed by Ariane Spanier
Mentalla Said & Jumana Taha Said. Hizz Rocking Chair, 2016. Images courtesy of Tashkeel
featuring the designer’s signature and sophisticated typography, Woman Made is arranged by surname and includes fascinating stories of trailblazing designers. Here we learn about lesser-known figures including several unsung members of the Wiener Werkstätte and the Bauhaus school, as well as icons and pioneers past and present, such as Ray Eames, Eileen Gray, Florence Knoll, Ilse Crawford, Faye Toogood and Nathalie Du Pasquier. The book also features a number of designers from the Middle East, including Aljoud Lootah, Nada Debs and Rand Abdul Jabbar, as well as Mentalla Said and Jumana Taha Said. Each entry in Woman Made is illustrated by a large-format image of one key product, and accompanied by text. The book contains four key design categories, including furniture, textiles and lighting, focusing on design objects for the home, workspaces and items for everyday use.
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Surfaces with a purpose Dubai’s leading interiors solution provider, Casamia is home to Italy’s pioneering Laminam surfaces that have revolutionised ceramic tiles for both indoors and outdoors
talian ceramic surfaces specialist Laminam has long been hailed for its innovative approach and exceptional performance, and for breaking the traditional concept of surfaces. The brand is part of Dubai-based interiors solution provider Casamia’s impressive portfolio of surfaces. “At Casamia, we believe the inherent characteristics of a product define and reflect its heritage and quality. Laminam surfaces have always mesmerised us with their versatile yet minimal design aesthetic and are rightly renowned for being as innovative in form as in function,” the brand said. The large-format, full-body Italian
porcelain slabs with minimal thickness come in a variety of lines and are suitable for a multitude of applications across interior surfaces such as kitchens and flooring, as well as architectural façades. Their exterior surfaces not only propel the production of oxygen but also break down polluting substances – the result of Laminam’s dedication to and research into offering sustainable and ecologically conscious products. When used inside, a Laminam surface can inhibit the growth of microbes, bacteria and mould, making it the optimal choice not only for floor slabs but also kitchen counters. Featured in the scenic Mysk Al Faya
Retreat in Sharjah, the projec is close to home for Casamia and an iconic hallmark for the Italian brand. The views from Mysk Al Faya Retreat are as unprecedented as the expansive use of Laminam across its architecture, which is masked in Ossido Bruno, with colours inspired by the trunks of trees, capturing the essence of nature even in a stark desert landscape. “As the exclusive distributor of this greatly futuristic company, Casamia resonates with Laminam’s brand identity, promoting a continually developing process that combines art, creativity, technology, safety and respect for the environment,” Casamia says.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FERNANDO GUERRA
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id most wanted
Berluti’s Marbeuf collection echoes the first Berluti Club chairs, made of its iconic Venezia leather. Marbeuf features straight yet supple lines and offers a nod to the emblematic Alessandro shoe by embracing the same no-stitching principle and generous Venezia hides. Its exposed legs are made from wood while its notched details, rim and dovetail joint pay homage to shoemaker artisanship.
Marbeuf by Berluti 82
Exclusive paintings, sculptures and photography from award-winning international artists.
Painting by Jassim Al Awadhi
The 50th Anniversary Arabian Falcon Navigator Clock by David Galbraith Photograph by Anthony Lamb
Liddington Clock by David Galbraith
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