Emirates Woman - May 2024

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emirateswoman.com DHS25 RO2.70 BD2.60 KD2.10 SR25 A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION MAY 2024
Colourful Life


Obaid Humaid Al Tayer


PUBLISHER/EDITOR Amy Sessions amy.sessions@motivate.ae




FASHION EDITOR Camille Macawili






Chaitali Khimji chaitali.khimji@motivate.ae SALES MANAGER

Daniela Mihai daniela.mihai@motivate.ae



Joëlle Albeaino, Izzy Turner, Mark Mathew, Ahmed Abd El-Wahab, Varun Godinho


Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE, Tel: (+971) 4 4273000, Fax: (+971) 4 4282261, E-mail: motivate@motivate.ae

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LONDON Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK, E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae

Welcome to The Creativity Issue.

Editor’s Letter

For this cover, we partnered with Tiffany & Co, a brand which combines lifetime relevance with a fresh approach to fine jewellery in The Icons on page 14.

In this issue, we speak to Mary Katrantzou, Bulgari’s firstever Creative Director – Leather Goods and Accessories in A New Creative Chapter on page 32, Jacquemus takes creativity to new heights with a collection of contemporary accessories subverted with an absurdist twist in The NonConformist on page 40, Nina Briance, founder and CEO of Cult Mia, shares how working with the left and right side of your brain builds a brand in Creativity & Commerce on page 60 and we deliver an edit of vibrant pieces for SS24 in Riot of Colour on page 28.


Lifestyle wise, Haya Jarrar, founder and creative director of Romani and Romani Home, shares the path that led to a new creative pursuit of launching a home collection in A Born Creative on page 98, Emirati Film Director, Sarah Alhashimi, expands on breaking stereotypes through her creativity in the region in Behind the Lens on page 104 and Nat Morcos, creative, entrepreneur, and co-founder of multidisciplinary luxury brand Goshá and SKOONI Arts Foundation & Residence, opens up her incredible new location in Personal Space on page 108. If you’re looking at escapes to inspire for summer , Cala Di Volpe is a creative’s dream stay in The Wanderlust on page 122.

You can conjour whatever you can imagine, so go create…


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Leather sandal with inclined heel Dhs900 VB X MANGO Cutout high-rise wide-leg jeans Dhs2,981 Maison Margiela available at MYTHERESA Hamsa 14-karat gold, cord and diamond bracelet Dhs 990 Sydney Evan Godets dress with decorative stitching Dhs1,200 VB X MANGO The Lip Volumizer –Sheer Coral, 7ml Dhs314 La Mer
8 emirateswoman.com The Monitor Monitor News p.12 Social Listings p.13 The Icons – Cover Shoot with TIFFANY & CO. p.14 CONTENTS May 2024

The Edit – Creative cuts for

A Creative Force – Co-founder of REFY, Jenna Meek, on combining creativity and commerce in the beauty industry p.78


Riot of Colour – An edit of vibrant pieces for SS24 p.28

A New Creative Chapter – Mary Katrantzou, Bulgari’s first-ever Creative DirectorLeather Goods and Accessories p.32

The Non-Conformist –Jacquemus takes creativity to new heights with contemporary accessories subverted with an absurdist twist p.40

Gilded – Schiaparelli’s surrealist aesthetic p.44

A Creative Eye – Monica Sordo, founder of SORDO, on the artistic roots that honed her creative eye for design p.36

Beauty / Wellness

Metal Craft – Loewe taps creative genius Lynda Benglis for an artistic collaboration of wearable sculptures p.50

The Refresh – Colourful additions to add to your Samba collection this season p.54

Creativity & Commerce

– Nina Briance, Founder and CEO of Cult Mia p.60

Creativity and Ingenuity – Roksanda p.64

Cult-Cool Status –GIABORGHINI p.70

Hot New Buys p.76

Paintbox – Hermès p.80

Down to Earth –Byredo p.82

Mindset Matters –Simone Gibertoni, CEO of Clinique La Prairie, on achieving optimal brain health and how it can unlock creative potential p.86

Beauty Shelf –Lilian Afshar p.88

AM/PM Beauty –Jenna Meek p.90

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SS24 p.26



Create – How these inspiring women fuel their creative spirit p.92

Luxe Drapery – An exclusive interview with Nicoline Durup, founder of DURUP p.94

A Born Creative – Haya Jarrar, founder and Creative Director of Romani and Romani Home, shares her path that led to a new creative pursuit of launching a home collection p.98

Behind the Lens – How Emirati Film Director,

Sarah Alhashimi, breaks stereotypes through her creativity p.104

Future Fusion – An exclusive interview with Future Bedouin p.106

Creative Pursuits –Nat Morcos on how SKOONI is shaping the artistic landscape in the region p.114

Modern Elegance – Managing Director

Personal Space – In the office with Nat Morcos, creative, entrepreneur, and co-founder of multidisciplinary luxury brand Goshá and SKOONI Arts Foundation & Residence p.108

A Honed Eye – Emirati artist and designer Yasmin Al Mulla on bridging the gap between heritage and modernity across her creative disciplines p.102

of ONE52, Sasan Mostajeran, on the importance of investing in timeless pieces p.116

The Lifetime of Creativity – An interview with Elie Khouri, Founder & CEO of Vivium Holding p.118

Creative Hotspots p.120

The Wanderlust –Hotel Cala Di Volpe is a creative’s dream stay p.122

More Than Meets The Eye – An exclusive interview with Cédric Grolet p.126

Creative Roots –How Café Kitsune has created the magic recipe for experimentation p.128

A Creative Feast – Chef de Cuisine at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Tom Allen, on how he’s brought creativity in the fine-dining table p.130

An Artistic Vision –Josette’s head chef Rory Duncan on heralding a new era of culinary decadence p.134

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A New Approach

The latest launches, new openings and hero buys



Confidential, is bringing a whole new meaning



SPF launch born to redefine sun protection with




12 THE MONITOR emirateswoman.com
Leather Woven Boomerang Tote Bag Dhs2,271 Elleme Wool Oversized Blazer Dhs6,838 Carven Wool Tailored Shorts Dhs2,963 Carven Lauryn Bosstick, founder of The Skinny to beauty with her Caffeinated spirulina maxima Hera Patent-Leather Belt Dhs4,815 Tom Ford Lip Suede Matte Lipstick Dhs187 Westman Atelier
Gingko Gua Sha Dhs512 Sisley
Patent Leather Vidya Pumps 90 Dhs3,724 Ferragamo



13 emirateswoman.com THE MONITOR
of creative accounts to #follow on Instagram
A curated guide
@cliniquelaprairie A creative approach to longevity. @flos Cult pieces. @maisonkitsune Parisian cool at its best. @dinnerbyhbdubai A pioneer in culinary creativity. @skooni The creative residence for artists and events. @nourhammour_paris Effortless luxury outwear. @refybeauty The coolest beauty brand with creative branding at its core. @sarahmalhashmi Emirati Film Director creatively breaking stereotypes. @romanihomeofficial Functional art designed by Haya Jarrar. This page: Tiffany T Hinged Bangles and Narrow Ring in Rose Gold with Pavé Diamonds


Tiffany & Co delivers elegance with creatively stacked HardWear, Lock, T&Knot for hacienda style cool



16 emirateswoman.com COVER STORY
17 emirateswoman.com COVER STORY
Left page:Tiffany Knot Earrings, Double Row Hinged Bangles, and Ring in Yellow Gold with Pavé Diamonds; This page: Tiffany Knot Double Row Necklace and Ring in Yellow Gold with Pavé Diamonds Left page: Tiffany Lock Bangles and Rings in Yellow, Rose, and White Gold with Pavé Diamonds; This page: Tiffany HardWear Graduated Link Necklace in Rose Gold with Pavé Diamonds; Tiffany Lock Necklace, Bangles, and Rings in Yellow, Rose, and White Gold with Pavé Diamonds Both pages: Tiffany HardWear Graduated Link Necklace in Rose Gold with Pavé Diamonds; Tiffany Lock Necklace, Bangles, and Rings in Yellow, Rose, and White Gold with Pavé Diamonds
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Both pages: Tiffany HardWear Large Link Earrings and Bracelet in White Gold with Pavé Diamonds; Tiffany T Hinged Bangle and Ring in White Gold with Pavé Diamonds; Tiffany T True Ring in White Gold with Pavé Diamonds
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Both pages: Tiffany T Hoop Earrings in White Gold with Pavé Diamonds; Tiffany HardWear Limited Edition Green Dial Watch in Sterling Silver with Pavé Diamonds and Large Link Bracelet in White Gold with Pavé Diamonds


Creative cuts for SS24

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Cutout bodysuit


Christopher Esber available at MYTHERESA



Asymmetric Drape

Top, Ivory Dhs363

Source Unknown

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Alger draped linen-gauze top Dhs1,310 Le Kasha Folgore Bag, Suede Brown Dhs484 Source Unknown Top left: Stretch Halter Top Dhs169 Zara; Right: Stone Scythe Tank Dress Dhs3,305 Christopher Esber Alocasia Kitten Heel Dhs3,305 Christopher Esber Novalis satincrepe blazer Blazé



The best edit of vibrant pieces for SS24

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+ Fernando Jorge Roma mini embellished suede shoulder bag Dhs9,058 Métier Pablo asymmetric cotton-poplin shirt Dhs3,460 Jacquemus Suede Bucket Bag Dhs499 Zara Tor pleated woven wide-leg pants Dhs6,532 The Row Marina oversized woven blazer Dhs14,748 The Row


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Triquetra cutout silk-satin maxi dress Dhs3,718 Christopher Esber Wool and silk-blend twill skinny pants Dhs6,330 Tom Ford Bronson aviatorstyle acetate sunglasess Tom Ford Eyewear Ixia 95 velvet point-toe pumps Dhs3,300 Jimmy Choo Satin Shirt with Ties Dhs169 Zara Slingback Shoes Dhs429 Zara
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How does it feel to be appointed the creative director of Bvlgari Leather Goods and Accessories? It’s an honour and a big responsibility to be appointed to this new role, to be in the position to build on the incredible heritage and codes of Bvlgari. I view the category as a connecting link, between the magnificent beauty of this Roman high jewellery house, and different facets of everyday life. That inspires me to craft new ways of experiencing the Bvlgari universe. One of the values Bvlgari was founded on is an idea of cultural openness – to allow people to connect to the brand in different ways. What also excites me, as part of my role, is to find the space between a piece of jew-

A New Creative

ellery and a functional accessory. What’s the distinction between a bag being a piece of jewellery or a piece of jewellery turning into a bag? That fascinates me – and at Bvlgari, more than any other brand, we are in a unique position to explore that space. The foundation of the leather goods and accessories category has historically relied on the icon of Serpenti – but there’s such a rich history of symbols such as Tubogas, Monete, and icons such as Divas’ Dream, Bvlgari Bvlgari and Cabochon to explore. There’s an incredible opportunity to build on new pillars. What interests you about Bvlgari, and what attracted you to the house? Bvlgari is a brand I have always been inspired by. It’s been part of my formation as a designer. My work has always referenced points outside of fashion – looking to objets d’art, interiors, and to jewellery – to symbolism and filtered beauty

found in design. Growing up in Greece, I instinctively felt connected to Bvlgari designs because of their sense of symmetry, their sense of harmony and their importance around narrative, around this idea of alchemy and syncretism. I think automatically, before even studying Bvlgari’s archives, those were codes that I recognised in terms of my own aesthetic, my own methodology. At Bvlgari, there is the idea of cultural and artistic eclecticism – of eternal transformation, of inspiration being drawn from diverse cultures and traditions to create their own distinctive design aesthetic. Bvlgari is undeniably a master of colours, fusing diverse elements, shapes and materialities. That is very close to the way I work. I feel connected to the founder, Sotirio Bulgari – perhaps because we both have roots in Greece. It’s something that is not so tangible. Harmony,


colour sensibility, and this idea of alchemy. They’re all notions or disciplines that I grew up around. Sotirio was a pioneer of his time. As a Greek immigrant who settled in Rome, he was attracted by its cultural and artistic energy. The ‘Roman-ness’ of Bvlgari is filtered through his eyes. I feel the same way when I’m in Rome, amongst history, given the opportunity to discover the richness of Bvlgari’s design history. I recognise the codes, the archetypes, the aesthetic sense. In their designs, you discover magnificence through the ingenuity of design and the exquisite craftsmanship and sensibility. How and when did you first began to collaborate with Bvlgari? The first time we collaborated was for my first couture show for Spring/Summer 2020 at the Temple of Poseidon - a love letter to Greece, and a homecoming of sorts. I’d never done a fashion show in Greece before, and it was for the benefit of the Elpida cancer charity, so it was significant on many levels.

I was already speaking with Bvlgari about collaborating on their ‘Serpenti Through the Eyes Of’ collection, and Bvlgari saw a connection, both between their heritage in Greece and also between my work and their designs. They loaned us incredible pieces from their Heritage high jewellery collection – the jewels were literally laid out on the ancient rocks surrounding the temple, like treasure, being placed on the models as they walked the show.

I think both Bvlgari and I felt a strong connection, a mutual appreciation of values that made that first collaboration, that first moment, make sense. From there, our


on utilising her creative sensibilities to funnel a unique expression of creativity for the iconic house
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relationship evolved naturally. It’s been over four years since that moment and since then, we’ve collaborated on three different collections. I don’t think you often have the opportunity to build a relationship with a brand in that way, to build trust. For the Bvlgari ‘Serpenti Through the Eyes Of’ collections, you drew inspiration directly from the archives. How important do you feel archive pieces are to your role now, and to the development and evolution of leather goods at Bvlgari? Finding a connecting thread between history, the present and the future is very important in my work. And there are so many codes and icons of Bvlgari that have their own significant part within history that have been untapped in leather goods and accessories. To see those pieces in reality - from the Fifties and beyond - is incredibly inspiring, and they all feel so modern. There’s an interview where Andy Warhol

tunity to work with these incredible pieces of industrial design and give them a different meaning, really enhance the way you perceive them. It’s beyond just being decorative – it can influence the architecture of the bag, its proportionate scale, its wearability. It’s not about transporting pieces from the past to the present or the cross pollination across brand categories, it’s about the ever-evolving nature of these designs. It’s about being a creative lab for endless metamorphosis. How has working with the Bvlgari artisans influenced your designs? All Bvlgari bags are handmade. Bvlgari silk in Como is handfinished. There’s something to be said in this day and age that you would think some of these processes would have been industrialised. Nothing is. Everything is done by hand, painstakingly so. You can see that in our atelier in Florence, the attention to detail and how skilled all the craftsmen and

“What also excites me, as part of my role, is to find the space between a piece of jewellery and a functional accessory”

talked about Bvlgari in the 1980s, and said “When I am in Rome, I always visit Bvlgari, because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.” These objects tell the story of Bvlgari. The archive of Bvlgari, honestly, is mind-blowing. For me, the archives are so rich and so layered, with so many ideas – significant brand codes, but also smaller details. It’s limitless inspiration. It’s hand in hand with the freedom that I feel I have been given to reinvigorate, to re-establish, to reinvent certain codes of the house but equally to build on new brand codes that have been established in recent years and are part of the Bvlgari high jewellery collections today.

I think my role as a creative director of Leather Goods and Accessories is, in a sense, to tell the story, to educate, to inspire, to present a rich vocabulary to clients who want to discover all the different facets of Bvlgari, and also introduce our universe to people who come to Bvlgari and buy a bag before they buy a piece of fine jewellery. I want our collections to talk about the story of Bvlgari, the layered narrative, the codes, the symbolism - the values Bvlgari stands for.

The archive extends to the present day. I am inspired by Bvlgari today. The incredible engineering of Bvlgari jewellery pieces provide endless inspiration - inspiration that no other house has at their disposal. Usually, you work on leather goods, and the hardware is secondary – here, there’s an oppor-

artisans are. It’s also fantastic to have a dialogue with the jewellery – that exchange between the high jewellery and the leather goods is so important to me and has opened my mind to what’s possible. In our high jewellery bags, you witness the epitome of excellence in design and craft alike. Your first Bvlgari collection is going to debut later this year. What can we expect from that? When I came to Bvlgari, I knew that I wouldn’t have the chance to have a fully realised collection immediately, but I also knew that there was an opportunity for a pattern or a symbol that can work alongside the iconic Serpenti, yet also stand on its own. Something emblematic – that is deeply connected to Bvlgari and its Roman roots and that can take the place of a logo. Something to assert the Bvlgari identity.

This is something I wanted to introduce – a design that is beyond a seasonal animation. I also wanted the symbol to have the versatility to evolve into its own new pillar, a new architecture for Bvlgari leather goods. I also wanted to examine the heritage icons of Bvlgari – archetypes for the future but presented in the most authentic way for the brand. It’s almost about laying out the vocabulary that can then allow us to write this new chapter. I am excited to explore this space, between an item being considered a piece of jewellery and a functional accessory to hold your possessions. I’m really interested in the space between function and adorn-

ment – trying to occupy this space that no one else does. Something that can be unique to Bvlgari. One-of-a-kind pieces, unique pieces that other brands cannot offer with the same authenticity or the same excellence. What are you most looking forward to in this role? Since I launched my own brand, I was always very open to collaboration. In fact, at a time when designers were shying away from collaborations, I embraced them because I felt they challenged me creatively and they increased my bandwidth as a designer. But I always felt the limitation of time. I’m most excited about being able to be part of a brand that has such a rich design history, symbolism, narrative, and having the time and space to really evolve a creative vision intrinsically linked to its design ethos and aesthetic. With short-term collaborations you draw on instinct, you draw on whatever captures your attention first, but you don’t have the time to equal their depth of heritage.

I feel a deep connection to the aesthetic and values of Bvlgari. Leather goods and accessories are part of daily life, and I look forward to expanding the Bvlgari universe, elevating the everyday and creating new ways of experiencing the contemporary Italian art of living.

Who do you feel is the Bvlgari woman? It isn’t about age, or gender, or culture. It’s a person with confidence, audacious and free-spirited, who knows themselves, who is able to assert themselves. To wear a symbol as powerful as Serpenti, you need to be in a position of confidence – to be able to feel empowered by it, you need to have the power to ‘tame’ it. Bvlgari is bold – it is not shy and retiring. Historically, Bvlgari jewellery adorned icons of their time - charismatic women like Elizabeth Taylor, Anna Magnani, Anita Ekberg, Sofia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Monica Vitti and Diana Vreeland were drawn to the brand – and that continues up to now. Bvlgari speaks to an audience who appreciate and value craftsmanship, timeless craftsmanship, and excellence. They come to Bvlgari for that What does the name Bvlgari mean to you?

How would you describe Bvlgari? There’s a weight to a brand like Bvlgari. There’s gravity. It’s a name that so many people recognise and there’s a universal quality beyond just excellence in design. There’s the cultural and artistic heritage, the importance in terms of the history of design. And the DNA of Bvlgari is entirely unique. Bvlgari isn’t quiet luxury – but our values, our cultural openness, our pioneering spirit and our embrace of artisanship and excellence - are eternal. I love the idea that Bvlgari brings the same level of perfection to a handbag, to the way we handle our fine leather, as we do to a piece of high jewellery. We afford it with the same preciousness.

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A Creative Eye

Monica Sordo, founder of SORDO, on her artistic
roots that honed her creative eye for design and her distinct approach to crafting jewellery

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? A little mindful movement routine is mandatory before coffee. I normally do some sun salutations to stretch and breathe and set my intentions for the day. We are coffee lovers at home so we have our little ritual of grinding our beans and do a slow pour, it’s so relaxing… but I also love to go for an early walk to our local coffee shop and see people walk by, specially when travelling, is a fantastic way to absorb the mood and energy of the place, it makes me feel on syntony and ready for the day ahead.

How would you describe the ethos of your eponymous accessories label? Bold and sophisticated creations in fluid dialogue with design, artisanship and culture. What was it that drew you to work in jewellery design in the first place? It was a sixth sense, an intuitive and organic research of my own language through the exploration of small sculptures that with time became wearable objects – it was never planned. Growing up I saw my dad inventing, creating and solving design flaws in his workshop, this was his zen space away from work. With him over time and later in life I discovered my passion for innovation in manufacturing

and solving design challenges became sort of an obsession. My mom after retiring from banking became a silversmith. She created a hub of local artists where the use of fire as their main tool was the common thread. Here my curiosity about artisanship began, followed later on by a trip to Peru that soon became a long but life-changing journey looking for the masters who would craft my designs into reality and over time my mentors into social sustainability.

Monica Sordo is rooted in a modernist-maximalist aesthetic. What drove this decision creatively - was it a gap in the market or do you naturally gravitate towards this style? I naturally gravitate towards this style I believe due to the strong influence of my Venezuelan background. I was born and raised in the fascinating, lush and romantically chaotic Caracas, the Latin American mecca of modernist architecture, design and art, the port of the arrival of modernism to the South Land. Also, a country geographically gifted with some of the most beautiful and diverse natural wonders. To mention one of the many landmarks that were part of our daily lives, the Aula Magna amphitheater at the Universidad Central de Venezuela designed by Carlos Raul Villanueva who com-

missioned Alexander Calder to create the the “clouds” that will artistically and architecturally provide the perfect acoustics for the space. I have so many wonderful memories of going to concerts and shows as a kid with my mom under these massive, colourful, floating organic shapes. What fascinates me most nowadays about projects like this is how to solve problems through beautiful and functional design. Now let’s add my time spent by the beach, where mountains and cliffs break into the Caribbean Sea, islands we used to navigate around with love ones (its shapes have been imprinted in my mind that I can draw them without looking at any references), the breeze, the salt foam and the tropical rains… All of these feelings and memories I get to encapsulate in a design and share. For me it’s such an intuitive way to tell stories and to talk about our culture and heritage.

Over the years, all these influences had fully evolved into a very unique and personal language. At SORDO, we are very proud of having achieved a strong DNA that is recognisable and that always stays true to itself no matter what the trends are.

Where does your creative process as a designer start? It starts with a blurry idea in the

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“Collaboration and creative exchange, in shared feelings, stories, and emotions as part of the essence of living, is a strong part of our philosophy. It broadens the dialogue that brings value and depth to the creative journey across all design disciplines”

back of my mind. It's like I can almost see it and touch it, but I have to entangle it by fragments, bringing in all sorts of references from my “library”. As mentioned, before I’m fascinated by nature, but another big mojo for me when creating is movement, exploring and traveling and merging constantly with different cultures and places get me in the right mood to create and, of course, to enrich that “library” mentioned before. These references can be more literal like the island shapes, volumes and textures mentioned before, but most of the time they are more intangible and personal, the light creating shadows, natural shapes and the different colour palettes it creates at different times during the day, the breeze reshaping the ocean water at full speed, the sound of the waves breaking into the beach and overall the feeling of being in the presence of so much beauty. I will say contemplating and being is a big part of my process. Does having a work routine help or hinder your creativity? It hinders it, sure. As women, we are cyclical and overtime I have learned to connect more and more with myself and with my femininity. When I feel more introspective and like designing, I dig in, but it is also important to spend time doing what my body and my mind are connecting with at the moment: it can be researching, nesting at the studio or organising and updating my workspace. I can be feeling more social, so it’s a great time to socialise and do some PR, think about new partnerships and marketing strategies. And very important when I need to rest and take a break, I go for it! How do you approach translating those inspirations and ideas to a larger team? Is a good follow up to the question above. For me, it is important to communicate with my team about inspiration, ideas and new designs when I’m already at an advanced stage, when I’m excited and sure that this

Your visuals are impactful. Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics? The Nineties with its blend of rebellion and innovation and fashion leading the vanguard of pop culture and art. The highly glamourised fashion shoots were gone and are replaced with intimate snapshots of day-to-day life. There was a new approach then that extended to the early 2000s when I went to Milano to study fashion styling and merchandising. This was one of the periods in which I was most influenced by pop culture – Hans Feurer, Juergen Teller, Nan Goldin, Corinne Day and publications such as I-D and The Face

What are your tips for styling your pieces? This is one of the things I love the most about our pieces, they are so much fun to style, versatile, and even though it sounds cliché you can really wear them day to night, they are the perfect traveling accessories. You can make a more formal or even a black-tie ensemble look younger and cooler by adding our Cubagua Earrings and even layering with some ear cuffs or wearing as a set with the Cubagua Choker. You can elevate an everyday look by adding chunks of metal. I particularly love a white crisp oversized button down and denim or a turtleneck with the chokers layered on top and framing them with a blazer. For the summer, I like playing with a sarong and use our chokers as collars, and add a cuff and a ring for a summer cocktail look. Also, our inlaid stone pieces are great to create colour blocking looks. I love wearing our mother of pearl Nautilus Earrings with a white total look - so fresh and chic - or the patchwork version in multicolour stones for a print-on-print look.

idea will work one way or another. Then the innovation phase kicks in and each of the members of their team will apply the skills towards this new challenge.

I also make sure to surround myself with talented creative minds that bring fresh points of view to the table. Specifically for our visuals we have been collaborating with the talented creative duo Malos Habitos, based in Caracas, Venezuela. It is impossible to create a universe by yourself. Collaboration and creative exchange, in shared feelings, stories, and emotions as part of the essence of living, is a strong part of our philosophy. It broadens the dialogue that brings value and depth to the creative journey across all design disciplines. What are your potential creativity blocks and how do you overcome this? Not recognising and accepting the days I’m not connecting with my creativity has been my biggest block. I love a good run or a spicy yoga routine to clear my head and ground myself and see where I’m standing and move on from there.

What’s on the horizon for Monica Sordo? We recently rebranded into SORDO (before Monica Sordo) in the aim to detach from the jewellery persona and open space for new design projects. We are currently exploring bigger volumes and dimensions and leaning towards collectible design for interiors. We are also exploring the right formula to collaborate or mentor other designers and brands that wish to produce in responsible and sustainable ways, to share our know-how after so many years of research and training in the field of hand-crafted jewellery.

This is The Creativity Issue – what do you associate with that term and how do you hone it? The gift of aesthetic significance. That being said beyond an ability or a skill, creativity ultimately has to do with our state of being. Creativity awakens us in the power of now and brings value and meaning to every aspect of our lives.

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“At SORDO, we are very proud of having achieved a strong DNA that is recognisable and that always stays true to itself no matter what the trends are”
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This page: Les Grandes Creoles Ovalo Mismatched Hoop Earrings; Right page: Le Calino Ring Handbag, all Jacquemus

The Non-Conformist


For SS24, Jacquemus takes creativity to new heights with a collection of contemporary accessories subverted with an absurdist twist

This page: Les Doubles Sandales Double Sandals; Right page: La Pochette Rond Carré Clutch, all Jacquemus



Schiaparelli’s surrealist aesthetic is based on random encounters of trivial objects transformed into extraordinary creations


Metal Craft

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Loewe taps creative genius Lynda Benglis for an artistic collaboration

of knotted, pleated, poured and extruded wearable sculptures for SS24

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The Refresh

54 emirateswoman.com FASHION Colourful additions to add to your Samba collection this season PHOTOGRAPHY: MARK MATHEW
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Nina Briance, Founder and CEO of Cult Mia, on how creative thinking has landed her at the helm of a fast-growing online fashion marketplace of her own

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? From the moment my alarm goes off, I am fully on – I’ve learned to optimise my day to look after my two babies (my 10 month old daughter and Cult Mia!). I throw on my robe, some soothing eye patches and trot to the kitchen to prepare Isabella’s morning bottle and my first of many coffees of the day. These first 30 minutes are a special time in the day for me to spend with Isabella before kicking off my work schedule. I never check my phone during this small window as part of my ritual to find a balance between my personal and professional life.

What was the catalyst to launching Cult Mia? Tell us more about the concept. When I look back, now that we’re four years in, there are three key lightbulb moments that sparked Cult Mia.

First, when I was working at Moda Operandi, it became very clear to me that the model for online luxury fashion that had been so successful in the 2000s and 2010s was starting to lose steam. Simply getting access to luxury brands online was no longer a novelty: growth was stagnating, as shoppers began to desire more than just the aggregation of established brands. Simultaneously, the more I spoke with designers, the more I realised that many brands that were on the cusp of rapid growth were looking for space on a platform that would give them the spotlight with global visibility, rather than getting lost behind a multitude of product pages featuring the known luxury brands first. However, these designers were unable to access the existing platform, for a wide range of reasons, ranging from working capital challenges to meet inventory requirements or unsustainable marketing spends to be featured in high visibility customer touchpoints.

Second, when I worked at the United Nations in the Women & Trade team, I noticed that the designs and products of the artisans that we supported were too frequently replicated or purchased with giving full credit to the original talent. The need to bolster independent fashion designers became glaringly obvious to me.

Third, whenever anyone ever asked me about what I was wearing, it was never about my high street boots. Instead, it was always about my handmade enamel earrings from Mexico. I used to have to disappoint and say that you needed to travel to Oaxaca to get them. Now, I can point you to Cult Mia: we connect independent fashion designers to our global luxury shoppers who seek exactly what our platform offers from a values perspective (sustainably sourced, ethically produced), as much as the product we sell (unique designs and a differentiated curation). We’re the

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only platform that brings you exclusive and independent luxury fashion from around the world, vetted for style, ethics and values. In terms of the buy, Cult Mia offers statement hero pieces. What drove this decision creatively – was it a gap in the market or do you naturally gravitate towards this style? Cult Mia is a marketplace, meaning we don’t buy or hold any inventory. This has allowed us to be very creative and agile with our curation and brand/product mix. We have vetted over 1,500 designers, testing a wide range of designs and categories, and delisting the collections that have not seen ample traction to keep the curation highly relevant for our shoppers. We’ve taken a data-driven and customer-centric approach when it came to refining our assortment and landing on a curation spearheaded by a standout product offering. We believe that ‘Cult Mia is no ordinary Cult. So why should your wardrobe be?’ Meaning that we do naturally gravitate towards this standout style and see-and-be-seen hero pieces as part of our business mission and USP, but we also have the data to tell us that there is clear appetite and a gap in the market to back this commercial decision.

How has thinking out-of-the-box serve you as an entrepreneur - have you always been able to think this way? Thinking outside of the box is a key growth mindset for an entrepreneur: I am constantly looking at ways to push our boundaries and challenge our status quo. We’re still early in our journey and out-of-the-box thinking is central to remaining agile, lean, defensible and ahead of the competition. I had a unique interdisciplinary mix of engineering, psychology and international relations in my course load while I was an undergraduate student at Stanford. Wearing various intellectual hats I believe taught me to think this way from an early age, combined with my first stint at entrepreneurship at the age of 19, which further cemented this way of thinking for me.

Which brands and pieces are driving sales in the Middle East – were there surprises or is this as predicted? Dresses, and in particular evening wear, drive sales for Cult Mia in the Middle East. Three of the top performing designers last quarter in the region were Vietnamese couture-master Tracy Studio (the Long Sleeve Orchid Body-Con Dress has been hugely popular), UK-based, sustainable elegance by IHF (our Trapeze Dress with Shoulder Cape has been a favourite in green), and influencerfounded Deme by Gabriella (the Brown Draped Full Sleeves Gown in particular has flown off the shelves). Not many surprises in the brands and products at the top of the sales leaderboard: we’re seeing strong appetite for beautiful and well-constructed silhouettes, high-quality materials and finishings (a love for embellishments), along with modest covering (long sleeve floor length dresses). What does it take to spot an independent talent or a great piece - is there a data-backed process or is it gut-led and instinctive? The spotting of the unknown brands that deserve to be known is a combination of a criteria-driven, data-backed selection process and our partnerships (and my) instinctive taste for what is and will be on trend. Honing in on the Middle Eastern market scouting process, three data-led criteria that we consider are outlined below. Note that the selection process, including a much wider review from quality controls, to sustainability assessments, to name a few.

1. Category: Our Middle Eastern shoppers are predominately looking for pieces for events. We therefore hone in on occasionwear designers and focus on spotting top talent in evening wear, with a seasonal consideration for the warmer climate.

2. Style: Our Middle Eastern customer prefers long sleeve maxi dresses and gowns in black, gold, red/burgundy, beige. We look for designers offering these style and colour variants, as indicators for bestsellers.

“We’re the only platform that brings you exclusive and independent luxury fashion from around the world, vetted for style, ethics and values”

3. Price: All selected pieces take into account our product price analysis by market. We select styles for the Middle East (conservative) at around Dhs2,761-Dhs9,172 (£600-£2,000) mark. Then comes feeding in Cult Mia’s tastemaker opinion to make the final selection for which brands and products to list. More difficult to put down criteria for this on paper, we do have a ‘gut’ feeling for which designers will resonate best with our customer and will cut through the very crowded online fashion luxury landscape: this is where we see our standout and exclusive product offering shining through. How do you balance both the creative and commercial sides of the business? Planning for and creating the right structure to balance the business and creative sides of my work at Cult Mia has been hugely important and part of the recipe for the growth that we have seen to date. I have focused on setting clear goals, priorities and a workflow that has pre-planned blocks of time for innovative and creative thinking. I believe it’s so important that your goals must genuinely excite you, these are not laborious tasks, but a clear vision of something that will bring huge value and benefit into your life. Goals that you will continue to strive for, particularly when you hit obstacles and come up against challenges. What are some of your personal favourite up and coming brands on your radar for SS24? We launch new designers on the Cult Mia platform weekly, so it’s difficult to handpick a few! Here are my three latest designer obsessions going into spring: Podyh: Ukrainian-born, architecturally-inspired RTW collection with fresh pastels and interesting textures. Touchless: Bahrain-based handbags that combine the traditional touch of artisans with cutting-edge digital technologies and software. Innovative and original designs in spring tones – an exclusive capsule of bags in Cult Mia colours is in progress. Stay tuned! Le Thanh Hoa: Not surprisingly and A-list favourite, exquisite Vietnamese eveningwear will be my go-to for spring and summer wedding guest dressing. As an entrepreneur, how do you encourage creativity within your team and company culture? I like to remind my team that while I’m the founder of Cult Mia, everyone in the team is an entrepreneur in their own right, during this building and rapid-scale phase of the business. Every week in our all-hands team meeting, we have a joint blue sky brainstorming session, with the prompt to think creatively on how to unblock barriers, speed up growth, improve the customer experience and so on. An open and trusted forum amongst the team is key to encouraging creativity, while maintaining a mindset that we can always improve on what we have already built.

This is The Creativity Issue – what do you associate with that term? Creativity to me within the business context of Cult Mia is about inspiring my team, innovative problem-solving and the discovery of opportunities where others have not been.

“We’re still early in our journey and out-of-the-box thinking is central to remaining agile, lean, defensible and ahead of the competition”
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Fluidity and refinement define Roksanda’s SS24 collection rich in colour and inspiration from the monasteries of Gračanica, Studenica, and Žiča, and their exquisite fresco paintings

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Previous pages: Ninette Suede Open-Toe Boots; Both pages: Annette Croc Open-Toe Boots; all GIABORGHINI
This page: Perni 04 PVC Pointy Toe Mule; Right page: Octavie Croc Pumps; all GIABORGHINI

Hot New Buys


An edit of the latest beauty buys crafted with creative ingredients

Radiant Skin

Formulated with pineapple enzymes to leave your skin clean, soft and bouncy postrinse. Pineapple Refresh Cleanser Dhs103 Rhode


This dry shampoo provides a high-performance clean without excess buildup. AirWash Dry Shampoo Dhs176 K18 Biomimetic Hairscience


With Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Clay, this tint meets powerful sun protection. Protec(tint) Daily Skin Tint SPF50 Dhs162 Supergoop!

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Micro Beads Exfoliation

The world’s first lip care treatment for naturally fuller lips. Lip Buff Dhs67 REFY

Healthy Hydration

The serum can be used by itself or as a conductor with the micrcurrent devices. Supercharged Serum Dhs266 Foreo


A multi-action formula that combines powerful actives to visibly illuminate, balance and smooth the skin. Nude Glow Peptide Serum, 25ml Dhs212 NudeStix


The never-before-used cold processed system filters out unwanted metals, chlorine and impurities. Shower Filter Dhs580 ACT+ACRE


Enriched with nourishing and strengthening squalane, this lotion cares for your hair pre-styling. Anti Frizz Crème Full Size, 177ml Dhs130 OUAI

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A Creative Force


Jenna Meek, co-founder of REFY, discusses combining creativity and commerce in the beauty industry and what it takes to scale a brand to global success

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? Usually, I am up with my daughter enjoying the morning before I get ready for work! I do try and get up a little bit earlier and love to do breathwork or listen to podcasts to get me ready for the day. How did you know it was the right time to launch REFY and what were the steppingstones to success that came before this? Honestly, the idea for REFY came about so organically and as the pieces started to fall into place, we knew we had to launch it as soon as possible. However, the pandemic hit, and this forced us to slow down considerably. Our first products were ready to go but during this period, we made so many tweaks to the brand and our overall strategy that I think really make REFY the brand it is today. I am grateful we took that time and waited until it was right to launch as I do think the changes we made during this period are what made us so unique within the market. So, my answer would be to trust your gut, you’ll know when it’s right! REFY was born out of a concept Jess and I created when we met on a shoot. It took three months to take that idea and turn it into the first sample of Brow Sculpt! From then, we tested and trialed the product and went through rounds and rounds of amends until it was perfect. While working on this, we were developing our go-to-market strategy and the brand image which again took time and dedication to get exactly how we envisioned it. I think our stepping stones to success were to trust our instincts and always look for improvements as well as focusing on the purpose of what we’re doing! What is the DNA of the brand? Our mission is to simplify beauty. The market is so saturated with brands that offer a wide range of products which we found to be overwhelming, often requiring multiple steps and products to achieve a single look. We knew there was a way to condense these processes and achieve the same look and results with fewer, high-performance products that would become makeup bag essentials. This is at the core of what we do and is why we only focus on bringing out innovative products that don’t already exist on the market! What does being based in London give you in terms of creative input? Our HQ is actually based in Manchester which is such a massive creative hub with so much talent! It’s great to be easily connected to London as well so we can get out and explore both cities to get inspired, as well as meet our customers in real life!

What/where or who else inspires you creatively? The REFY customer inspires me creatively as they present a challengee. What and how could we do better? What problem can we solve for them? How can we

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engage with them and give them an experience they will truly never forget? Customers are at the heart of every creative and business decision I make at REFY, they are my main inspiration!

What have been the biggest challenges today and how did you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges for us has been keeping up with our growth. We’ve grow phenomenally quickly so making sure we’re doing the right things at the right time for the business to continue growing sustainably has been a challenge! I overcome this and all challenges by not being afraid to ask questions and reach out to other founders and see how they handled similar situations. How do you approach scaling without compromising on quality? The team are focused on giving our customer the best experience and quality always, and it’s this shared focus that means we don’t have to compromise on quality while we continue to scale. We make sure we’re all super aligned on the goals and how we’re going to get there so it’s easy to approach when you’re all focused on the same thing!

Creatively and branding wise REFY stands out. Who leads this and how do you stay ahead of the curve launch after launch? I work with Jess and our internal teams to drive our brand and creative marketing. We all love to sit in a room and come up with new and fresh ideas, and I think it’s the best part of the job! I think we manage to stay ahead of the curve because we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else and we draw inspiration from everywhere rather than within our own industry. This keeps us innovative in our approach and definitely keeps our community engaged! Is it important to have an abundant mindset in business and how do you cultivate this when you’re not feeling that way? It is super important to have an abundance mindset in business! I really believe in positive thinking and shifting your mindset helps incredibly, especially as it can be stressful launching your own business. If I ever struggle to feel that way, I try to practice gratitude and really reframe my thinking to cultivate that mindset. How has the business evolved and scaled and has this been an organic slow growth or have there been key times you saw it peak and if so, why? This is difficult to answer as the business has grown organically but really rapidly over the last three years. We’re constantly evolving and growing as we learn more as a business and our customers’ needs, which is something I think is really important in order to remain relevant to your audience. As your customer evolves you need to evolve and continue to meet their needs, and I think it is our agility and ability to adapt quickly to these changes that have driven this rapid, organic growth.

“Customers are at the heart of every creative and business decision I make at REFY, they are my main inspiration!”

How important is trial and error in business? Trial and error is not just important in business, but in life too. You need to try things to learn and adapt, otherwise you’re constantly basing decisions on assumptions rather than data. Testing and learning is essential for growth! Your team is as wonderful as you – do you believe character and culture always filter down from the top? One hundred per cent character and culture always filter down from the top. We work hard to really drive a great culture within the business, and I think this is reflected in the team and all their successes! It’s important to make sure you find the right cultural fits as you grow and start to build out the team to ensure everyone is supported. What has been the biggest part of the business you’ve had to invest in and how did you decide to take the leap? We’re completely self-funded and we’ve been able to continue

to reinvest money into the business to support our rapid growth, and I think that is why the biggest investment is staff. It’s essential to get the team right and ensure you have the right skill sets to drive sustainable growth. Have you had any mentors in your journey and if so, what was the best advice they imparted to you? So many different people inspire me daily, I couldn’t name one. But one of the best pieces of advice I have been given is to do everything with purpose and the rest will follow!

This is The Creativity Issue – when are you the most creative? I feel like I am constantly creative in my life whether it’s at home or at work. I am super lucky to have founded a business that allows me to be creative every single day in order to continue building a brand that will be just as innovative in twenty years’ time as it is today!

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Cased in a sleek graphic packaging, Rouge Hermès lipsticks and Les Mains Hermès nail enamels deliver a high frequency of mood-boosting pigments making them instant beauty icons






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Mineralscapes Eyeshadow Palette Dhs414 Byredo


Simone Gibertoni, CEO of Clinique La Prairie, on achieving optimal brain health and how it can unlock

creative potential

You’ve introduced the Brain Potential Programme. What are the most common issues you are seeing with clients today that can be solved with this? Many of our guests today experience stress, difficulty sleeping, memory recall issues, difficulty concentrating, etc. Our new programme – Brain Potential – was borne out of the necessity and desire to address cognitive decline and these other very common issues. Carefully designed to unlock the potential of a sharper and more resilient mind by inducing positive and structural changes in the brain, the programme offers a truly transformative experience making it the most advanced brain enhancement programme in the world. What does the experience look like, and where do you start when it comes to working with a new client? Following Clinique La Prairie’s four-pillar philosophy, Brain Potential combines medical care, nutrition, movement and wellbeing. Guests receive science-based assessments, treatments and care across these four pillars.

In practical terms, the programme is divided into three phases: assessment, intervention and follow-up. The first phase involves a comprehensive assessment that allows our specialists to capture the cognitive profile of each guest, which will then be analysed in order to tailor the subsequent interventions and induce positive and structural changes in the brain.

What happens after the programme and how fast do we see the benefits? The programme consists of a seven-day immersion that focuses on interventions and treatments aimed at boosting one’s resources for brain health and brain maintenance. While a guest may leave the clinic feeling healthier and more relaxed, protecting one’s brain health is a long-term matter, and we recommend that guests integrate positive lifestyle habits (such as following a healthy balanced diet, being physically active, paying attention to their sleep habits and to their

stress levels, and performing regular medical checkups) into their daily lives and maintain them in the long run. The programme aims to unlock the brain's full potential – can this eventually boost creative thinking? We believe that the benefits of the programme are general and could benefit all brain functions, creative thinking included. We don’t hear a lot about brain ageing. Is there a specific age when brain health starts to decline? Our brain changes throughout our entire life. Some of these changes can be positive, some are barely noticeable, while others are associated with decline in brain functions later in life. The extent and rate of these changes varies drastically among different individuals, and depends on many factors such as genes, diet, physical activity, sleep habits, and cardiometabolic health. What does this look and feel like, and should we be worried? In general, as we age, we lose volumes of brain tissue. These changes might start in our late 20s or 30s and are very subtle at first. The loss of brain tissue tends to become more pronounced in our 60s or 70s. Some brain structures show slow declines all our lives, while others like the hippocampus, a brain area that is fundamental for declarative memory, tend to accelerate their volume loss sometime around the seventh decade of life. Along with these changes, white matter lesions might appear because of a compromised cerebrovascular health.

As a result of these brain changes, some cognitive functions such as speed of processing, memory, or working memory (the capacity to manipulate information mentally) tend to decline over time, while others, like vocabulary and world knowledge, are kept relatively stable over time and they might even show improvements. These changes can vary greatly from one person to another, depending on genetics, lifestyle, and social and environmental factors such as stress and pollution. While some risk factors might be more difficult to avert, focusing on lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and sleep routine can help us to maintain brain health and to compensate for age-related changes that might occur during our lives. What lifestyle changes can make a difference to enhance brain health and which ones have you implemented in your life? Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balance is key to enhancing brain health. This involves many factors including nutrition, sleep, exercise, physical and mental health. I personally have a downtime morning routine that helps me drive my day and intentions: 6:30am wake up, hot water with lemon, a short session of yoga, a mental review of my day goals, and then I go to the office. To reset my mind and body,

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I also do 20 minutes of transcendental meditation twice a day, every day, no matter what happens! It is a great practice to build balance. As an entrepreneur, how do you encourage creativity within your team and company culture? Mindset plays an important role in the way we view what surrounds us. As leaders, role models, it is crucial to understand the responsibility we have towards our companies, communities and society. So essentially, we need to be present and mindful in our everyday lives, in order to be aware and seek the right kind of opportunities,

allow space for creativity, change and adaptability to change, therefore, creating positive momentum all around. This is The Creativity Issue – what do you associate with that term and how do you hone it? Creativity is directly connected to wellness. Prioritising wellness often results in improved concentration, focus, creativity, and overall work efficiency. The adage "health is wealth" holds true. One of the pioneering practices at Clinique La Prairie, ‘Transcendental Meditation’, comes highly recognised for its abundance of benefits. Regular practice helps train the brain to let go and helps us connect to our creative side and internal sources of energy. Transcendental Meditation is a particularly efficient tool for unlocking creativity!

“Creativity is directly connected to wellness. Prioritising wellness often results in improved concentration, focus, creativity, and overall work efficiency”
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The Beauty Shelf

Lilian Afshar, founder and designer of L’Afshar, shares her top beauty picks

Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising

Masque, 500ml Dhs385 Aesop

Aesop’s Rose hair mask is the best home mask I’ve ever tried. You can apply it from your roots till the ends. It makes your hair silky and soft, and the smell is so subtle and natural.

Lash Sculpt Dhs94 Refy Beauty

As someone who occasionally enjoys getting a lash lift, after trying this product I no longer feel the need to get one. The brush is perfect.

The Ordinary Serum Foundation with SPF 15, 30ml Dhs29

The Ordinary

The texture is so light with great coverage, natural and not heavy at all. It’s best to be paired with their silicone primer.

Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift, 3ml Dhs169 Trish McEvoy

I really like Trish McEvoy, but this is magic. I no longer use concealer after discovering this product and it genuinely does lift the eyes. I always refill when I’m travelling.

Dior Addict Lip Maximizer

Dhs180 Dior

Gives you the fresh summery look we all desire, cherry tint is my favourite.

Kaya Jungle Firming Body Oil, 100ml Dhs360 Costa Brazil

It’s lightweight and has a lot of natural active ingredients. Plus, I’m a big fan of anything with nice packaging and branding.

Pommade Concrète, 75ml

Dhs130 Officine Universelle Buly

I love this brand so much. I’m happy that they are available

at Harvey Nichols now. I am always on the hunt for good hand creams, and this has shea butter which makes it so nourishing.

Stylo Yeux Waterproof

Dhs160 Chanel

As someone with dark hair, I find this the best alternative to

black eyeliner. It will instantly freshen you up and perfect for a smoky eye.

Multi Moisture Mask

Dhs176 Sonsie

It acts like a rescue mask especially if your skin is dehydrated after a flight.

Teint de Neige Hair Mist, 50ml

Dhs295 Lorenzo Villoresi

I have a thing for hair mists plus I love scents with a powdery note, this is so fresh and very long lasting.

Foamer 15 Intense

Exfoliating Foam, 100ml Dhs169


If you want bouncy skin then you need this product. The glycolic acid really exfoliates the skin. It’s a staple in my skincare routine and probably the best face wash I’ve ever used.

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Elevate your content strategy mmgsocial.com


Co-founder of beauty brand REFY, Jenna Meek, shares her morning to evening beauty routine

Talk us through your morning routine. I like to get up early and have a little time before my daughter wakes up! I love listening to podcasts and getting my body moving by walking outside so I try to get out each morning, often with my daughter, to get inspired! In terms of beauty routine, I keep it super simple and make sure my skin is hydrated and I am wearing an amazing SPF every day. How does your evening routine differ? The evening is usually when I get most of my ideas so I know it is cliche but I spend a lot of time

getting those down in the evening. In terms of skincare, I will double cleanse and go for a more nourishing moisturiser. I am a fan of anything quick and simple yet effective. What are your go-to skincare products? For me the REFY face primer, as it is a 3-in-1 product with amazing skincare ingredients and benefits. I use it every day, even on no makeup days, and the roller applicator is amazing for depuffing and just feels like really indulgent self-care when you’re applying it!

Are you a fan of masks? I do love the benefits of a mask, especially for hydration, but I don’t indulge in them often. I just really love having a simplified routine that is quick, easy and effective! How would you describe your approcah to makeup? I love makeup but my relationship with it has really evolved over the years. Now, I am really focused on a simple routine with minimal products that give me an elevated finish. Again, it’s a cliche but my entire makeup bag is just REFY

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Face Primer Dhs111 REFY; ShadeDrops Mineral Milk Sunscreen Dhs181 Summer Fridays; Conditioner, 500ml Dhs36 Shrine available at lookfantastic.ae; Lip Blush Dhs74 REFY; Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum, 50ml Dhs770 Byredo; Brow Tint Dhs74 REFY

products. We’ve always worked to fill gaps in the market and to only bring out products that really meet the needs of our customer, and I feel like over the last three years we’ve successfully managed to innovate in every beauty category and create the products that were missing!

What can always be found in your makeup bag? The REFY Brow Tint, Mascara and our Lip Blush are my makeup bag essentials! Which fragrances are your current signatures? I am a big fan of BYREDO fra-

grances, I have a few as I really think their scent profiles are fantastic! I’ve started using Gypsy Water more frequently lately, it’s such a gorgeous scent.

How do you select your evening fragrance? Based on my mood really! I think fragrance is almost like an extra accessory so you can tailor it based on the look or feeling you’re going for!

Talk us through your hair routine. I have always applied the same ethos I have to makeup to haircare, making it simple for

everyone. I also founded the haircare brand SHRINE, which launched a world-first Drop It during the pandemic so you could get a salon finish at home. I used to bleach my hair a lot so I focus on hydration and my holy grail is the SHRINE conditioner! What is the most unusual item in your makeup bag? Probably some of the REFY samples that are yet to be launched! Some have been highly requested but others are so unique and innovative I can’t wait for everyone to try them!

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Clockwise from top left:
“Creativity is a state of mind. I find creativity moves alongside curiosity.


How these inspiring women fuel their creative spirit


What inspires you to be creative? Creativity is a state of mind. I find creativity moves alongside curiosity. If you are inherently a curious person, then you will constantly be calling things into question and wanting to understand the world around you. Your understanding will be whatever is projected out into the world and so the ‘inspiration’ is the ‘interpretation’ of that curiosity. Exploring this curiosity allows you to form new ideas and see things from different perspectives, transforming ordinary observations into creation.

In which space do you feel most creative? I feel the most creative when two completely unrelated constructs collide in a space. That space could be hypothetical, if you were to picture it as a Venn diagram, it would be the part that intersects, the middle ground, which is unchartered territory. This intersection is often described by Carl Yung as the integration of the shadow or rather the reconciliation of the ‘third’. You have the first construct, the second construct and then the third, which is how both collapse into one another to form this new normal. That ‘sweet spot’ is the space where I feel is the most creative. How do you refuel your creativity? The most important thing you can do for yourself is keep your head down and focus on your craft. I also find that stepping away from work and engaging in completely different activities can replenish my creative energy. Whether it’s reading, drumming, or spend-

ing time in a new environment, these experiences refresh my perspective and motivate new creative insights. You need to take time for yourself in order to regroup, and sometimes that means doing nothing at all.



What inspires you to be creative? My creativity is deeply rooted in nature and biology. The vibrant trees, delicate flowers, and dynamic wildlife in my surroundings constantly fuel my imagination. In my dental practice, this translates into a quest to mimic nature’s intricacy and beauty in every case I handle. My approach integrates the precision of dentistry with the aesthetics of the natural world. Additionally, my Instagram presence is influenced by other content creators, where I strive to blend scientific insight with visual appeal, creating content that educates and fascinates. In which space do you feel most creative? The place where my creativity thrives the most is in my dental clinic, which was exquisitely designed by my sister, Tanya Eskander. Drawing inspiration from elements like enamel and bone, she has created a space that embodies beauty and tranquillity, enhancing my ability to focus and innovate. This serene environment is pivotal in my creative process. Additionally, I find creative solace near water; walking along the canal in Warwick Avenue is a ritual that helps me clear my mind and gather new ideas. How do you refuel your creativity? To replenish my creative energy, I make it a priority to

step away from urban settings and immerse myself in tranquil, natural environments. This detachment from the hustle of city life allows me to reconnect with my creative sources and return refreshed. Whether it’s a quiet retreat into the countryside or simply a day spent by a serene lake, being in nature is essential for rejuvenating my creative spirit and maintaining my mental well-being.



What inspires you to be creative? As the founder and CEO fo a fashion brand, my inspiration for creativity comes from the intersection of passion and purpose – a desire to create an exceptional platform that celebrates unique fashion, underpinned by the right values. Every opportunity and challenge that I have encountered as an entrepreneur has been an opportunity for innovation. I’ve taken inspiration from a wide range of sources: discussions with entrepreneurs that I admire, insights from industry leaders, and moments of introspection. As a leader, I’m committed to nurturing a culture of creativity within our team, with the aim of empowering them to push the Cult Mia boundaries. Together, we share the passion for building a purpose-driven business that ultimately is what propels my creativity.

In which space do you feel most creative? As a founder, I feel most creatively charged in dynamic environments that pulse with energy and innovation. Whether it’s the buzz of our office during brainstorming sessions or being challenged by our advisors on our growth plans, I thrive on the excitement and

If you are inherently a curious person, then you will constantly be calling
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exchange of ideas. I’ve discovered that my creativity comes to life most when I’m navigating uncharted territory, challenged to unearth bright spots, and asked to tackle fresh problems. Being able to wear different hats and knowing that no day is the same in my role gives me the most energy and is the space where I feel most creative.

How do you refuel your creativity? Refuelling my creativitiy has been essential for sustaining momentum and innovation. I’ve found that immersing myself in experiences completely unrelated to Cult Mia, whether it’s exploring art galleries or simply spending time outdoors, sparks refreshed perspectives and renewed inspiration. I also try to carve out time for introspection and self-care. Whether it’s through exercise, or just disconnecting from my phone, some down time allows me to recharge mentally and emotionally, refueling my creativity.



What inspires you to be creative? The success stories of people who have done it before me. It maps out the possibility of who I can be. It sometimes takes one sentence in a book or one story of someone’s journey, to ignite a little fire in me that opens up my creativity. When I’m feeling stuck or uninspired, without fail, a new book, a new course, or a new success story opens my mind to new possibilities. In which space do you feel most creative?

In building a brand and its story from the ground up. And as a writer and speaker, finding the right words and message to motivate the power of adopting a growth mindset.

How do you refuel your creativity? A really good book. A really good podcast. A great adventure trip where I reconnect to earth, out in the wild, in the jungle, the dessert, the mountains, or the beach. Take me out of the city and I’ll find my fuel.



What inspires you to be creative? Everything – from beauty, my family, nature, my experiences - good and pain, grief and loss and all the emotions in between. A lot of my first music was inspired by personal loss and pain into growth and blossoming as a woman. My second project was more about heartbreak and also standing for my beliefs with a kind of aggressive tone, and my latest project is so much about the world as I see it. It really just depends on where I am in life and what I’m experiencing. Now that I’m settled as a wife and mother I feel I’m making music from a more grounded place. Creativity fuels me and makes me feel so much elation and release. I guess it’s so much a part of my DNA that if I’m not being creative in one form or another I start to feel stifled.

In which space do you feel most creative? The studio – be it a music studio or a dance rehearsal space where we create our shows. I recently traveled to an amazing music residency studio in the South of France called Limusic and produced five songs in four days - that kind of setting is ideal and being in nature surrounded by the most amazing talents is so good for my soul and freedom of expression, but I don’t always have that time, space

and luxury so I have learnt how to work from wherever possible. Being home is just the biggest challenge as I get distracted by my son and wanting to play with him.

How do you refuel your creativity? Travel for sure. Experiencing new cultures and elements of culture like music, dance and visual arts is so inspiring for me and ignites creativity within me. I also feel really recharged when I get space and time to relax and reflect on my thoughts and what I want to express. Michaelangelo and other great artists/thinkers used to carve out up to four hours a day just for creative thinking, so I try to draw inspiration from the greats and look for moments where I can explore concepts in my mind and share these ideas with my nearest and dearest creators I collaborate with to bring these ideas to life. It’s also important to have daily practices like journaling and play to keep the spark alive.



What inspires you to be creative? I have this innate drive to weave together sources of inspiration and transform them into tangible creations. Creating is simply my passion. In which space do you feel most creative? Specifically at Paul Bert Serpette, an antique market in Paris.

How do you refuel your creativity? By feeding my curious mind either by going to a museum, diving into a topic that interests me,and the opera. When I’m in a new city that element of discovery and the unknown instantly refuels. I will never forget my first trip to Tokyo, it’s my favourite city to get lost in.

things into question and wanting to understand the world around you”
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LUXE Drapery

Founder of DURUP, Nicoline Durup, is

bringing Danish chic to the Middle East with a bespoke approach to luxury drapery

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What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? Being a mom to a five-year-old means my day often starts early, around 6am. If it’s not too hectic a morning, my first 30 minutes starts with the essentials: coffee and jazz. I love how jazz can awaken your body and fill your mind with positive vibes for the day. Most recently, I’ve had a crush on the Icelandic jazz singer Laufey and while she is playing in the background, I’ll sip my black coffee in the kitchen, make breakfast for Edith, check my e-mails, and repeat my self-invented mantra: ‘Chaos makes the muse’.

What inspired you to launch your own interior brand? My career began in the fashion industry. I was lucky to have worked with incredibly innovative and fashion-forward brands, including Stella McCartney. And that early experience evolved into a love and appreciation for the broader world of textiles and interior design, which was why I founded Durup. I still apply that haute couture sensibility to my work. In a sense, Du-

“Drapes and other home textiles –including rugs and wall coverings –create a powerful foundation for the home, the cornerstone of good design”

portant part of the process: everything from their lifestyle, hobbies and interests, sensibilities and, of course, their personal sense of style. I always say, dress your home like you would dress yourself. And what I mean by that is, it’s not just about fabrics and function. It’s about an ever-evolving lifestyle that invests in the beauty of things - in quality and considered luxury. The drapes set the scene in the home and tell a story about its inhabitants. Getting to know my clients on a personal level helps me to create a bespoke interior experience that truly expresses their individuality.

What elements define your style as an interior designer and artist? Curating exquisite fabrics are my starting point as an interior designer. Simply put, I want to change the conventional way people think about drapes as something functional or as an afterthought. For me, it’s the starting point because, when done well and with consideration, drapes and other home textiles – including rugs and wall coverings – create a powerful foundation for the home, the cornerstone of good design. Like a haute couturier, my approach is completely white glove and bespoke. I use fabrics that have historically not been used much for drapery and other home textiles, rich expressive fabrics like wool, textured cotton, silks with vivid patterns etc to bring to life the unique stories and sensibilities of my clients, and to help them form a deeper connection to the spaces they inhabit.

rup is not your parents’ curtain company. I started this journey with a vision to breathe new energy and life into what had historically been a staid and old-fashioned industry by bringing high-end fashion into the home. Since then, the company has evolved into a multidisciplinary practice that works with global clients to create bespoke interior experiences built on Durup’s founding principle that custom drapery is the cornerstone of good design.

How does the design meeting ensure a personalised touch for each client? Getting a deeper understanding of the client is an im-

How has the UAE according to you become an important part of the design world? Right now, I’m living between Copenhagen and Dubai, and from the start I have felt this endlessly inspiring and creative energy in the UAE that is so well suited to the Durup approach, which has always been about bringing a new point of view to an established perspective. I have found my clients here to be endlessly curious and open and, more broadly, I have encountered the kind of exciting creative experimentation in design here that I think will have a bigger impact in the design world in terms of taste making and trend setting.

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Your wallcovering pieces are meticulously crafted – how does the process begin? Wallcovering, and especially fabric wallcovering, has become a go-to-interior element and a thing not to miss when decorating your new space. Like drapes, wallcoverings are a foundational element in interior design, and can set the scene like no other element in a space. Imagine a room with walls covered in pure wild raw silk, which is spun, dyed and woven by hand. Not only does it create a gorgeous atmosphere, given the rarity of the fabric, it also creates a truly unique luxury experience in your home.

Each textile element is carefully sourced –talk us through the creative process. Durup is pioneering a new way of working with textiles. We think beyond drapes to reflect the sensibilities and lifestyles of our clients.

I source and curate the fabrics myself from every corner of the world, and only work

with fabrics that both reflect the Durup vision and commitment to quality, but also bring something unique and extraordinary to the table. That said, Durup fabrics are a wide range, everything from beautiful and delicate cashmere from a small supplier in France to our sustainable drape collection which we launched under the name “Unbottling Beauty.” That was a very special project, created from upcycled plastic that was carefully collected from the ocean’s beaches by impassioned volunteers.

The Al Quoz Curtain Collection is inspired by the Emirates – tell us more. I have found travelling in the UAE to be a magical experience.

The vibrant colors, the golden light, the intricate level of detail in the architecture and the careful and considered way women here approach beauty – all of it inspired me to do a limited-edition curtain collection that we called “Al Quoz.” For me, this was also

an opportunity to beautifully bring together our two cultures, fusing the muted Nordic colour palette and minimalist design approach with the Emirati love of texture and heavier materials. I’m very proud of this special collection as it brings together two of my favourite parts of the world.

In terms of trends, which fabric is most popular? Linen never goes out of style and for a good reason. Bringing in linen gives any room a natural feeling and with linen, there are also many different variations in terms of weight and texture, which means that you can truly create a specific mood in the room.

More recently, I’ve noticed a new trend among textile suppliers of using not just one but two different patterns or fabric compositions in one curtain. So for example, you can source a fabric that has soft Chanel-esque bouclé on one side, and a printed coarse silk fabric on the back. This is a cool trend, and one that allows me as designer to create an even more personalised experience for my clients, creating drapery that like good art will reflect the refined sensibilities of my clients. This is The Creativity Issue – where do you find your creative inspiration from? I live on an airplane these days and find a lot of creative inspiration while travelling for work. I love to people-watch and to truly experience local life in the different cities I travel to. I also find huge inspiration in art, and I rarely leave a place without a visit to at least one contemporary art gallery. But above all, I find inspiration in fashion. I love exploring the connections between fashion and interior design. These two worlds are so intertwined for me that I think of drapes as the foundational outfit of any space. My design approach is centered around self-expression and an investment in timeless luxury – that’s why I always say, dress your home as you would dress yourself.

“I love exploring the connections between fashion and interior design. These two worlds are so intertwined for me that I think of drapes as the foundational outfit of any space”
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Haya Jarrar, founder and Creative Director of Romani and Romani Home, shares her path that led to a new creative pursuit of launching a home collection


What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I wake up and have my breakfast and then start replying to emails. Other times I meditate or go straight to the beach and start tanning before I go ahead with my day.

What pillars of DNA define Romani as a brand and what inspired you to launch Romani Home? What inspired me to launch Romani home is 1) my obsession with interiors and furniture and 2) it was when I started designing my house and designing furniture for it, that’s when I knew I was ready for the launch of Romani home. How many pieces did you launch with and how has it been received? I launched with a lot of pieces. It’s not a small collection and people fell in love from the day we launched.

Where does your creative process as an interior designer start? It really depends. It starts with client interactions sometimes or space planning or even my sources of inspiration.

In terms of design, what’s more important, having good ideas or having the confidence to put forward your ideas whether they’re perceived good or bad? What’s a good idea without confidence? I think they go hand in hand.

Is it sometimes difficult to then translate those inspirations and ideas to a larger team? Of course, sometimes no one gets your vision besides you.

What was it that drew you to work in design in the first place? I think it’s something that I was born with… I love creating, and I’m always thinking of new creations in my head – nonstop literally! I think I was born to design. Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics? I love Gabriella Crespi – she’s someone I look up to!

The Romani Home showroom adds to Dubai’s growing design landscape. Are there bespoke services being offered currently? Yes, I opened this showroom with the intention for people to visit and immerse themselves in the pieces, gaining an understanding of my vision. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the items, customise as they please, and truly experience the space. Appointments are required for this personalised service, which will be available at all times.

What are your potential blocks and how do you overcome this? Just keep moving forward and stay motivated.

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With an innate artistic sensibility, Emirati artist and designer Yasmin Al Mulla bridges the gap between heritage and modernity across her creative disciplines

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“I aim to bridge both cultures, creating connections that celebrate and honour the rich heritage of the UAE while embracing the global influences that inspire me”

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? My morning routine is a revitalising start to each day. I begin by drinking 500ml of water to hydrate and refresh my body. After a refreshing shower and skincare routine, I savour a warm matcha while planning my day and checking messages. This ritual energises me, ensuring I'm ready to take on whatever the day brings before I head to the office. What is your design philosophy and how do you approach it? My design philosophy revolves around creating meaningful and impactful pieces that resonate with people on a personal level. I believe that design should not only be visually appealing, but also tell a story and evoke emotions. Drawing inspiration from the captivating culture of the UAE and the Middle East, my art creations seamlessly blend with the remarkable legacy of the brands I collaborate with. I make sure my work pays homage to the UAE while embracing and merging with the rich Emirati culture. Infused with a profound appreciation for the surrounding beauty and the intricate details found in traditional Emirati art and design, my vision encompasses a contemporary and artistic approach, resulting in elevated and luxurious art and fashion. Where does your creative process as a fashion designer start? My creative process as a fashion designer and artist starts with inspiration. This could come from nature, art, occasion, architecture, or personal experiences or anything in between. I sketch and brainstorm ideas, exploring different concepts and styles. Next, I research and develop my ideas, considering materials, techniques, and practicality. Are you more intuitive or more analytical when designing? How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one over the other? In my design process, creativity is key. I balance intuition and analysis, believing that thinking things through enhances creativity. When managing my two companies, YNM (the clothing label) and Yasmin

From a young age, I have been drawn to art, design, and expressing myself creatively in various forms. This passion has stayed with me throughout my life and continues to drive me in my work today.

How do you curate a creative environment for yourself – are there mindfulness tools and practices that help you fuel your creativity? Creating a beautiful environment for my creativity is crucial. I achieve this by curating inspiring spaces in my home and office and surrounding myself with meaningful sources of inspiration and intriguing objects. Additionally, I use mindfulness techniques to enhance my creativity. Activities like working out and practising pilates, and yoga help me clear my mind, improve my focus, and access my inner creativity.

Al Mulla Design Firm (the art firm), creativity is my focus. While the commercial side is important for business, I prioritise creativity as the driver of innovation and uniqueness. Is it sometimes difficult to then translate those inspirations and ideas to a larger team? Sometimes, translating inspirations and ideas to a larger team can be challenging. However, I never pay much attention to the difficulties as long as I have the passion and drive to pursue my vision.

Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics? When it comes to aesthetics, I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including nature, architecture, and cultural influences. I admire the way these elements effortlessly blend form and function, creating beauty and harmony in their own unique way. Is travelling regularly also an important aspect of your creative process? Absolutely, travelling regularly is an important aspect of my creative process. Experiencing new cultures, landscapes, and ways of life provides me with fresh perspectives and inspires new ideas. Have you always been a creative soul in this way? Yes, I have always been a creative soul.

You’ve had multiple inter-industry collaborations. What’s on the horizon for YNM and for yourself? YNM (the clothing label) and Yasmin Al Mulla Design Firm (the art firm) are two different entities, and I am pleased with the direction each company is taking. YNM continues to innovate in the fashion industry, while Yasmin Al Mulla Design Firm focuses on bespoke creative projects. My ultimate goal with my collaborations has always been, and will continue to be, to connect the beauty of international brands with the legacy of my culture. I aim to bridge both cultures, creating connections that celebrate and honour the rich heritage of the UAE while embracing the global influences that inspire me.

This is The Creativity Issue – how do you push yourself out of your creative comfort zone? In the world of creativity, artists often step beyond their boundaries to explore new mediums and techniques to expand their creative footprint.

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Behind the Lens

How Emirati Film Director Sarah Alhashimi

is breaking

stereotypes through her creativity in the region

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I try to control myself by not jumping straight to my phone as it can be distracting and wasteful. However, I usually fail to restrain myself as I use my phone to check my email and schedule for the day. I then get ready for the day and head to my favourite coffee shop to work from, which is To The Moon and Back. Can you talk us through your career? I started my filmmaking career with my graduation project back in 2017, which was a documentary about an autistic adult living in the UAE and his struggles with finding proper development centres specifically for adults. I believe I wasn’t fully still aware of what I was doing at the time, but I learnt how important it was to share local and regional stories, alongside how films are tool to showcase certain issues within the society we live in. I then joined the AFS program by imagination to develop my second documentary film “Why is grandfather’s bed in our living room”. The film follows the story of my mother’s family loss to their ancestral home to community development plans aimed at modernising the city. I then have worked on my recent short experimental film “NO Caller ID” which I have screened at Cinema Akil. And I’m currently working on experimental films that would be introduced in different spaces, while I lead a curation that would enhance the film experience. What inspired you to enter the world of filmmaking? My father is a Film Director himself. I grew up naturally around his sets and being introduced to a camera and production sets at a young age and I just fell in love with the idea of storytelling but also the idea of being behind a camera directing a scene or a story. The more that I grew the more I felt a need for us to share stories and films and art from the region and to have our representations be represented the right way. What have been some of the hurdles you’ve experienced in your career? I would say the biggest hurdle I have faced within myself at least is the idea of being a filmmaker and how sustainable but also attainable it is? I believe we lack an empowering filmmaking and filmmaker’s scene and that makes it realistically hard to try to call yourself a filmmaker and make a living off it. I’m very proud of my journey and I am fortunate to have had support, guidance and knowledge to have built my foundation about filmmaking. But at this point I question whether I will be able to make a long-lasting sustainable career out of being a filmmaker here. You’ve crossed the barrier of what an Emirati woman is perceived as –tell us more. I believe that we all in some way shape or form have grown up around or seen an Emirati woman that’s crossed multiple different barriers, be it our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters or

cousins. They have existed around us through time, therefore I never consider myself to have been the starter. I am the way I am and able to have crossed these barriers because of the inspiration I have seen around me to guide me into the right way.

What are your hopes for the future of women in this region? I hope they don’t take for granted the simple things that our women have achieved through our history and how pivotal their roles and contributions have been in shaping us all generation after another. I hope they hold on to our identities and culture in the rich tapestry of our culture. Their empowerment isn’t just a goal, it’s a testament to the region’s progress. What have been the key milestones in your career? I would say being able to share our stories internationally and have my films be included in film festivals across the region.

“Being outside of the city often always gets my creativity ignited, whether it’s overhearing a conversation, or a scene that I came across”

Your latest film “NoCallerID”is nostalgic of the Eighties – talk us through the creative process of making this film? While creating “No Caller ID” I was in a phase in my career where I loved experimental films and hidden messages that would help tell a story without it being in plain sight or screaming at the viewer. I wanted to give the film an Eighties feels to dramatise the situation of the girl in the story where she is living in present times in the age of technology with communication being a tool that’s so easy to grasp, her situation of waiting by the phone is romanticised by her in a way where it’s forcing her to live in an age of waiting with uncertainty. How important is messaging in your storytelling? Do you make a conscious effort to convey something to the audience through your films? Yes, I like the idea of having audiences either make their interpretations or guide them through it. But regardless of the direction I choose, a message is always present in my storytelling.

Where do you see the future of film heading towards in the region? Saudi has become leaders when it comes to film in the region. I think a lot of great filmmakers and storytellers have emerged to make a scene for themselves regionally, but also internationally, so it’s only a matter of time expanded on a global scale. I’m excited to see where it’s heading. This is The Creativity Issue – where do you find your creative inspiration from? Places I go to, people I surround myself with, films/videos/art galleries I see. My scene and circle are intertwined with different creatives who also happen to be my friends who I often gather to work with, take advice from, and spend a lot of time with and that inspires my creativity constantly. I also love going on road trips along the country. Being outside of the city often always gets my creativity ignited, whether it’s overhearing a conversation, or a scene that I came across. I love writing them down on my phone to be able to incorporate these moments in my work.

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Futuristic Fusion

Future Bedouin – where ancient cultures inspire technological artistry

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What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I simply handle emails and any pending tasks before my daughter wakes up. What inspired you to blend traditional art forms with technology in your artistic journey? Living in the UAE for the past couple of years, I’ve observed the cultural melting pot and the influence of Arab culture and heritage. I’ve always wanted to blend this with modern technologies and futuristic thinking. That’s what Future Bedouin does. Can you elaborate on how your fascination with Bedouin culture led to the creation of Future Bedouin? To me, it was always fascinating how quickly the tribes transitioned from desert life to the most modern and advanced giga cities, with Dubai as a world leader. Initially, when I started creating, I just wanted to share my personal view and the way I see the surroundings through the eyes of an expat. I never intended Future Bedouin to be a way of living, but it quickly became a full-time job. Could you walk us through your creative process in crafting otherworldly content, such as your euphoria-inducing physical installations and phygital artwork? It usually begins with an observation or a thought. I often make sketches or clay models that I later transform into 3D models. Then, we spend countless hours rendering and photoshopping. Sometimes, I use artificial intelligence for the conceptual stage, but I prefer old-school tools. When it comes to physical projects, we translate the 3D designs into material breakdowns, mockups, prototypes, and actual fabrication.

How does the rich cultural history of the UAE influence your work, especially in exploring the interplay between past and future themes involving Arab heritage? I feel that Arab heritage, with its love for nature, symbols, and poetry, is an endless source of inspiration for me. Everywhere in the region, you look around, and there is an element, a person, a tree, or a building that inspires me to create artwork. As someone who transitions seamlessly between the digital and physical realms, what challenges do you encounter in preserving your designs’ essence during fabrication? Even with the achievements of the 21st century, I still face a lot of material limitations. My designs are so surreal that sometimes it’s just impossible to build them. While 3D printing has improved the process, there are still areas I can’t explore due to the lack of technology.

With AI constantly evolving, how does it influence your artistic style, and how do you integrate new tools and techniques into your creative process? While AI can offer exciting possibilities, I focus on how it can enhance rather than replace my creativity. I might use AI tools for inspiration or to experiment with new ideas, but ultimately, my artistic style remains rooted in my own vision and expression. Could you share insights into your upcoming collaborations with local and international brands in the luxury market? I can’t share too much due to the sensitive nature of those projects, but I can say that there will be two big projects in the US, including a collaboration with a world-renowned fashion brand house. Additionally, there are plenty of projects (both digital and physical) in the region, so stay tuned. How do you draw inspiration from the desert landscapes, oasis, and traditional Bedouin textiles and architecture in your artwork, and how do you infuse them with futuristic elements? I blend desert beauty and Bedouin culture with futuristic ideas in my art. By mixing traditional elements like textiles and architecture with modern touches, I cre-

ate something new and exciting. It’s like combining the old with the new to make something fresh and different. What are your thoughts on the intersection of AI and art? Do you believe AI has the potential to replace human artists, and how do you see the role of human artistry evolving in the age of technological advancements? I don’t think AI can replace human artists. AI might help in some ways, but it can’t capture human creativity and emotion. Our art comes from our experiences, feelings, and imagination. Even with technology, human artists will always bring something unique and personal to their work. Looking ahead, how do you envision Future Bedouin contributing to the evolving artistic landscape, and what can we expect from you in the future? I am currently working on even more immersive art installations (both temporary and permanent), and at the same time, I am preparing a limited edition of oil paintings and bronze sculptures as there has been insane demand from my collectors. Then, vacation! This is The Creativity Issue – where do you find your creative inspiration from? The desert landscapes, traditional textiles, architecture, and the stories of the Bedouin people all fuel my imagination. Their timeless beauty and unique traditions inspire me to create art that pays homage to this rich cultural tapestry while also exploring futuristic themes and ideas.

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Personal Space

In the office with Nat Morcos, creative, entrepreneur, and co-founder of multidisciplinary luxury brand Goshá and SKOONI Arts Foundation & Residence

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How long have you been in this space? SKOONI was renovated within five months and opened its door in October 2023. Have you custom-built any bespoke pieces? We completely redesigned an old villa. How do you think the interior reflects you? I love minimalism with focus on proportions, material and symmetry… I dress the same way.

Describe your taste in three words. Elegant, luxurious with a touch of unexpected artistic exploration.

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Nat Morcos, creative, entrepreneur, and co-founder of multidisciplinary luxury brand Goshá and SKOONI Arts Foundation & Residence, on her new business endeavour, the power of aesthetics, and how SKOONI is shaping the artistic landscape in the region

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What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? My daily morning routine is a very important part of my life, it’s more of a religious, sacred ritual and I often feel if one element of my routine is missing, the day is not going in the right direction.

I am up at 6:30 am. I start with a twominute ice cold shower, five minutes of somatic movement and a self-lymphatic massage with an LED mask on my face. Then five minutes of grounding where I stand bare feet on the grass facing the sun in my garden, followed by a self-made “magic potion” of three salts of water with lemon juice. Then dog walking with my favourite music or podcast on and coffee after and then off to a morning 45-minute workout or

class - usually Reformer Pilates or cycling followed by an hour of beach time. That’s my church.

What was the catalyst to launch SKOONI? Since we launched our interdisciplinary creative studio/agency/collective Goshá Buro back in 2021, we often thought it would be great to create our own space too where we can host people, brands and talents we love, within a set-up we created.

Together with my husband Michael Morcos, we have a passion for architecture and design and transforming spaces into something completely new and exciting. We are also very passionate about performing arts and always wanted to have our own “say” in supporting talent in the arts field, so SKOONI combines all of it under one roof.

Tell us more about the concept and the inspiration behind it, and how has it been received? SKOONI is an arts foundation and residence with event spaces for showcase and intimate performances, as well as three independent residences for international artists to reside with us and showcase their talent as well as get inspired by the Middle East and bringing their vision and interpretation of our culture, traditions and mentality back to the parts of the world where they are based and practiced. SKOONI is part of a global artistic exchange and it’s absolutely a dream come true for me and Michael. We got tremendous love from the community and our partners from luxury fashion and lifestyle brands, and we are yet to tell and shape our story and mature in our vision of how SKOONI could be a valuable cultural institution with a global voice.

The place is very transportive. Where does it take you? SKOONI was dreamed, envisioned, designed and built by myself and my husband, Michael. SKOONI is our vision of what Dubai contemporary architecture could be. We want our visitors to feel they are in Dubai... they are in the Middle East but it’s yet to get familiar for them as a look and feel. So, it’s Dubai as you get to fall in love. It’s its own universe.

Who do you look up to when it comes to those aesthetics? Art, poetry, cinema, theatre, and my dreams.

How has your love of travel influenced your creative process and overall brand aesthetic? I am inspired by nature, human creativity, and expression in the form of art, architecture, design, cityscapes as well as history. I travel to stop my mind from the day-to-day routine and open my eyes for new.

How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business, and do you feel more drawn to one than the other? As our business grows and expands, my husband started to play the role where he oversees business operations and I am mainly focusing on the creative process, vision for our businesses and strategy for growth and the direction we take.

You’ve always been able to think outside the box. Have you always been a creative soul in this way? You have to train your eyes and brain to travel. I often need to put myself into a “pain” state, where I bring the most tragic parts of my life experience forward and face them over again to be in creative mode. When my soul cries, the most beautiful things are born. I read sad poems, watch sad movies and overall make myself “feel’’. Often creativity takes me two days of silence – not talking to anyone and not seeing anything. Silence and solitude bring beautiful ideas out to the world. In general, I can never describe my creative process. It just comes out of nowhere with “Hello, that’s the one you need”. How do you consistently innovate as a business? You have to progress, reinvent and stay relevant. It’s important to educate yourself and collect information from different industries and individuals to understand and spot trends to know what will be the next need and collective obsession. Constant innovation from minimal to drastic in every business is essential. The secret is to bring new talent into your team and let them bring a little revolution into how things worked before them.

This is The Creativity Issue – what do you associate with that term? Creativity means innovation and change to me… Things and dreamers who are not stuck and have no fear and in constant search of what’s new, different and beautiful.

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Modern Elegance

Managing Director of ONE52, Sasan Mostajeran,

on the importance of investing in timeless


What inspired you to venture into the world of high-end furniture design? The inception of One52 Furniture was a confluence of vision and circumstance. After a series of enlightening visits to global design fairs, I realised that the Middle Eastern market, particularly the UAE, harboured a latent desire for distinguished, high-quality furniture design that needed to be adequately met. Inspired to bridge this gap, One52 Furniture was born to introduce a palette of design that intertwines contemporary elegance with timeless aesthetics, offering something uniquely impactful to the region.

How has your background in art school and photography influenced your approach to curating the collections at One52? My art school and photography background profoundly shape how I curate our collections. This training honed my eye for detail, composition, and the interplay of light and space, which are crucial in selecting and positioning pieces within our showroom. Each item is not just functional, but a piece of art intended to evoke emotion and transform the space it inhabits.

Could you elaborate on how you navigate the balance between honouring iconic designs and embracing modern innovation? At One52 Furniture, we strive to balance honouring iconic designs, such as those by Charles and Ray Eames and embracing modern innovations exemplified by designers like Zieta. For instance, the Eames Lounge Chair represents a timeless design emphasizing comfort and

collaborations with iconic brands, ensuring that each partnership is deeply rooted in shared values and a unified vision for design excellence.

Education about investing in timeless pieces seems to be important to One52. How does your brand educate customers about the value of authentic, original pieces, especially in a market where cheaper replicas may be prevalent? At One52 Furniture, we emphasize the value of genuine, authentic design. Here’s what we guarantee with each purchase, exemplified by the Eames Lounge Chair:

∙ Charles and Ray Eames indeed designed the chair.

∙ It is manufactured by Vitra in Europe and Herman Miller in the U.S., the exclusive producers of authentic Eames designs.

∙ A royalty is paid to The Eames Foundation. Our partnerships are with manufacturers authorised to produce original designs. By choosing authentic pieces, customers invest in quality, heritage, and the legacies of groundbreaking designers. Our commitment is to uphold the traditions of iconic designers and support emerging talents by providing them with a platform for their work. Buying authentic means contributing to a legacy of design excellence and integrity while rejecting imitations that undermine innovation and are often illegal.

aesthetic durability. We respect this by maintaining its original design specifications in collaboration with licenced manufacturers.

Conversely, incorporating pieces from Zieta, known for their innovative use of metal to create fluid, sculptural forms through the FiDU process (inflation technology), allows us to introduce modernity and innovation into our collection. This juxtaposition of classic and contemporary pays homage to the past. It embraces the future of design, providing our clients with a diverse, dynamic range of furniture that speaks to heritage and progressive design thinking.

The partnerships with internationally acclaimed brands like Vitra, Flos, and USM are integral to One52’s offerings. What criteria do you use to select brands? Partnering with iconic brands such as Vitra, Flos, and USM at One52 Furniture is a meticulous process of alignment and mutual understanding, like forming a significant relationship. This partnership model is applied across all our

Could you walk us through the creative process of selecting furniture pieces for the One52 showroom? The selection process for our showroom is both intuitive and strategic. It begins with understanding the current design trends and local preferences, then selecting pieces that align with these trends and push aesthetic boundaries. The final curation is a thoughtful assembly to inspire our customers, encouraging them to see their spaces as canvases for personal expression. What factors do you consider when curating the collections to ensure they resonate with your clientele? In curating collections, the primary factors include quality, design integrity, and the potential of each piece to resonate with our customers’ lifestyles and aspirations. It’s about creating an aspirational and attainable environment, encouraging clients to envision a richer, more aesthetically pleasing daily experience. What sets One52 apart from other furniture retailers in the region? One52 Furniture distinguishes itself in the market through a steadfast commitment to quality, authenticity, and a profoundly customer-centric approach. Our showroom isn’t just a place to display exquisite furniture; it’s a dynamic environment designed to enrich every aspect of the customer experience. Each client interaction is meticulously tailored to be personal, educational, and memorable, ensuring that every visit is more than just a shopping trip – it’s an immersive journey into the design world. We’ve integrated cutting-edge tools like the USM 3D Configurator and augmented reality (AR) technology

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to enhance the decision-making process and make it as seamless and engaging as possible. These tools allow customers to visualise how pieces will look in their spaces, tailor configurations to their precise needs, and interactively explore various design options. Technology empowers our clients, giving them confidence in their choices and a deeper connection to the designs they’re bringing into their homes. At One52, it’s not just about the products we sell – crafting an experience that resonates personally and elevates the aesthetic dimensions of our clients’ lives. How does One52 cater to the diverse needs and tastes of its clientele in Dubai while maintaining a cohesive brand identity? In Dubai, a melting pot of cultures and tastes, One52 maintains a cohesive brand identity by care-

fully balancing universal design appeal with local preferences. This involves a dynamic approach to our inventory and presentation, ensuring we cater to a broad spectrum of aesthetic and functional needs without diluting our brand ethos.

Which are some of the upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re particularly excited about? Aspiration for One52 Furniture: Coperni Pop-up at LEVEL SHOES, Dubai Mall. One of the exciting projects for One52 Furniture is the envisioned delivery and installation of a Coperni pop-up within LEVEL SHOES in Dubai Mall. This project will draw inspiration from the Coperni x USM initiative, aiming to merge high fashion with high design in a retail environment renowned for its luxury offerings. The pop-up will utilise modular

elements similar to those used in the Paris installation, ensuring a flexible, chic, and immersive shopping experience that aligns with Coperni’s and LEVEL SHOES’ brand ethos.

This is The Creativity Issue – where do you find your creative inspiration from? My creative inspiration often comes from the intriguing blend of everyday experiences and the unique capabilities of design materials. For instance, during my travels, I was inspired by a 44.2-foot-tall Burj Khalifa chocolate model created for the UAE National Day celebrations. This sparked the idea to conceptualise a model of the Burj Khalifa using the USM Haller system, utilising its standard tubes and ball connectors. This project showcases the endless possibilities of combining artistic vision with modular design elements.

“In curating collections, the primary factors include quality, design integrity, and the potential of each piece to resonate with our customers’ lifestyles and aspirations”
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Elie Khouri, Founder and CEO of Vivium Holding, the company behind Cassina’s maiden store in the UAE discusses design, detail and creativity

What is the DNA of Cassina? Cassina is a historic brand that sits at the intersection of art, design and craftsmanship. Its DNA is steeped in the values of pure design excellence, authenticity and a commitment to research and innovation. This is what drives the brand to create timeless and functional works of art - a pursuit that has been consistent over the last 100 years. How does the Cassina store in the UAE select the pieces which are dispayed in store? The Cassina store presents a holistic view of the brand’s offering, covering everything from living to dining, bedroom and outdoor pieces. It is also a space that embodies The Cassina Perspective, an eclectic framework that blends classics from the iMaestri collection with contemporary creations. When curating pieces for the store, we focus on striking a balance between three main criteria: showcasing the versatility and depth of the brand’s collections, highlighting novelties (new releases) and catering to the taste of regional clientele. Unlike other furniture providers in the Middle East, we showcase a lot of bold colours and designs. By doing so, our attempt is to push boundaries and tempt customers to be more playful with their interiors; get them to take creative risks by pairing, for instance, their beige essentials with a bold statement piece from Cassina. This is important for us because we don’t think of ourselves as just a store. Our role is that of a catalyst that infuses the interior design scene with a fresh outlook. Cassina has not only pushed the boundaries of design but also created designs which feel modern decades later. How do you think their approach to design has been able to do this so succesfully? Cassina has mastered the

art of timelessness through collaborations with greats who have written design history. Since the 60s, the brand has faithfully reproduced some of the most iconic pieces of 20th-century furniture by masters including Le Corbusier, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Charlotte Perriand. And even as they do so, they innovate by introducing new materials and fabrics. This is the magic of Cassina – the ability to add new dimensions to an existing design and keep it fresh, relevant and contemporary. The Utrecht chair by Gerrit Rietveld and Soriana by Afra and Tobia Scarpa are fine examples of how Cassina has prolonged the longevity of iconic designs and revived them into modern classics. When selecting key pieces that last a lifetime – is there a rule of thumb/ what should we be considering? My top rule of thumb is to invest in a brand that has history and heritage, because with it comes the guarantee of

“Creativity for the sake of creativity is meaningless. To me, creativity is about enhancing human connections and finding solutions that make life better”

quality and reliability. The second thing to look for is who the brand is engaging with to design their pieces. Good designers create products that combine simplicity of form, functionality, aesthetics and longevity.

If you are looking for a piece that will endure, expect to pay a premium. But this premium will be worth every cent because the piece will not only embellish your home, but also become a heirloom that can be passed on to the next generation. You will never get that with regular furniture, because it is meant to be functional and a last a season or two. Good design is that which fills your life with beauty and memories for a lifetime. When have you had to be creative in business? Right from the get go! I have been working in a creative business since the start of my career in Advertising. Creativity in Adverting is about producing content that sparks a connection, evokes emotion and moves your audience to action. With that background, when I dedicated my life to full entrepreneurship and set up my family office, I began to define creativity as a means of problem solving. It is about multiperspective thinking, mitigating issues and getting the best out of people. Being creative in business is about converting a No to a Yes. It’s something I believe in and practice every day and I empower my team to do so too. What does creativity mean to you? Creativity for the sake of creativity is meaningless. To me, creativity is about enhancing human connections and finding solutions that make life better. Being creative is not something that can be taught. It is an attitude one has to cultivate in everyday situations. It is about being agile, positive and not taking No for an answer.

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Creative Hotspots

Embark on an enticing exploration into Dubai’s hidden gems

TODA is the UAE’s first 360° hub that strives to enrich the cultural landscape, combining art and technology. From classical masterpieces to various digital shows and wellness sessions, guests can art like never before with its various interpretations. Located at Souk Madinat, Jumeirah, the ticket prices range from Dhs72 to Dhs350. toda.ae


The fully-fledged arthouse cinema brings people from all around the world together to enjoy films ranging from classics to regional films. As the GCC’s first arthouse cinema, it opened its first permanent

location in Al Quoz, Dubai, which platform showcases directors and filmmakers across the decades. It’s located in Warehouse 68. Ticket prices start at Dhs50 exclusive of VAT and can be purchased online, with movies focused on different themes each month. For a snack break, Project Chaiwala serves a variety of teas including their signature and Karak tea. cinemaakil.com


If you want to unleash your inner Picasso, this is the place to visit. By contributing to Dubai’s art scene, thejamjar is a community arts space that engages audiences, promotes local artists, and supports the

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development of Dubai’s art scene through extensive art programmes, community projects and educational initiatives. It’s open from Mondays to Thursdays 10am to 7pm, Fridays from 2pm to 8pm and Saturdays from 10am to 7pm and is located in Unit H74. Canvas’ start at Dhs100 for the small one with supplies such as paintbrushes and paints. thejamjardubai.com


This quaint wellness space offers a series of stimulation sessions on different thoughtprovoking topics each month. Known as Matcha Mornings and Chai Chats, guests can engage in conversations with different individuals to expand their understanding on each topic. Each session is priced at Dhs35 per person and can be booked online along with a complimentary matcha. pausdxb.com


In the mood for creating your own fragrance? Use the Oo Fragrance Table to select ingredients and build up your own fragrance formula. Several thousand unique olfactory combinations can be crafted. From workshops to collaborations with luxury fashion brands, Oo La Lab hosts several sensorial workshop sessions for people to enjoy with friends, family or even alone. Located in Warehouse 58, it’s open from Wednesday to Sunday 12pm to 7pm. The candle mixology workshops are priced at Dhs400 per person and the fragrance design and mixology group session is priced at Dhs400. oola-lab.com


This independent institution is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. Positioned as a new creative destination in the

city, and a hub for educational initiatives and cultural events, Jameel Arts Centre includes an open-access research library dedicated to artists and cultural movements of the Arab world, plus project and commissions spaces, a rooftop terrace, writer’s studio, members’ lounge, and a chic café known as Teible along with a sculpture park. jameelartscenter.org


Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned potter, there’s no end to pottery making at this one-of-a-kind studio. The experienced staff will take visitors through each step from centering and wedging to pulling and trimming for the wheel throwing class and they will guide you through each step of the process, from

Pinching and Coiling to Slab Building and Slump Molding for the hand building class. Located in Warehouse No. 2 in Al Quoz Industrial 3, behind Dubai Garden Centre, it’s open on Tuesdays from 2pm to 8pm, Wednesdays to Sundays 10am to 8pm and is closed on Mondays. Prices for a single session start at Dhs210 per person. mudhousestudio.com

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Left page: Oo La Lab; This page (from top): thejamjar, Mud House, Paus; Wellness + Community


Hotel Cala di Volpe surrounded by the unsurpassed waters of Costa Smeralda is an eclectic coastal oasis of old-world chic


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123 emirateswoman.com LIFESTYLE


Hotel Cala di Volpe is where the James Bond film ‘A Spy Who Loved Me’ was filmed in 1977. A haven of thoughtful comforts and exquisite local design, each of the 121 guest rooms celebrate the region's natural landscape and distinctive Sardinian artistry. Simple whitewashed walls are decorated with whimsical trompe l'oeil paintings, unique to each room. Accents of soft pastel colours echo the landscape's spring and summer palette. Handcrafted furniture is painted to match each room's singular theme, complemented further by vibrant ceramic tile work on the floors and in the bathrooms. Linger on your private terrace in a plush bathrobe and slippers, while soaking in the stunning panorama of land and sea, before retreating into the marble bathroom, where our premium bath products await. The Harrods Suites are superbly modern and refined yet rooted in local traditions and materials - by far the most magnificent in Costa Smeralda.


With exceptional restaurants and bars situated in beautiful spots across the hotel, gourmands can expect a bounty of cosmopolitan dining options, from exceptional Japanese Nobu-style cuisine of Matsuhisa to Beefbar’s intriguing creations. While sumptuous Sardinian and Mediterranean buffets await at Cala di Volpe Barbeque, award-winning Le Grand invites guests to indulge in fine dining experiences, engulfed in the restaurant’s timeless allure. The culinary journey extends with a delightful array of choices: from an aperitif with a ravishing view on the extensive terrace of The Atrium to international classics and the traditional

flavours of Sardinian cuisine at the panoramic Ai Due Mari, situated at the nearby Pevero Golf Club, just to name a few for a true feast for the senses.


Nourish your body and soul at the awardwinning Shiseido Spa. Shiseido’s approach takes a holistic perspective, offering treatments and products blending scents and textures, as well as traditions and philosophies from Eastern and Western science and technology. Guests can access a range of signature treatments including unique Spa Journeys, featuring the use of Kuroho, an exquisite fragrance treasured by Japanese ar-

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Dhs1,453 Loewe, available at MYTHERESA

istocracy in the 9th century, which provides soothing effects thanks to its traditional bouquet reflecting the idea of Japanese richness.


From a helicopter tour to a boat excursion, dive into Sardinian heritage and discover La Maddalena Archipelago Natural Park or uncover the hidden coves of marine grottoes. Alternatively, undertake a shopping session at the designer boutiques in the artists village of San Pantaleo, or go for guided tours in the hinterland to discover local gastronomic cuisine, or a visit to the famous Nuragic complexes and prominent archaeological sites. caladivolpe.com


Ruslan Baginskiy


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Chain Strap Gambler Hat Spoiler Aviator Sunglasses Ingrid Balconette Bikini Top Dhs405 Juillet Swimwear, available at MODA OPERANDI The Geranium Rose Body Oil, 100ml Dhs405 Augustinus Bader Edie Contrast-Trimmed Bikini Bottom Dhs405 Juillet Swimwear, available at MODA OPERANDI Kyoto Drawstring Cotton Wide-Leg Pants Leset Vamizi Embellished Suede Sandals Dhs1,285 Amanu


With a dedication to creativity and quality, Cédric Grolet’s eponymous patisserie has garnered cult status for its skillfully crafted bakes – online and offline

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? My morning routine is very sacred and is an essential part of my day – I start the morning with a one hour-long workout, for that boost of creativity and mental clarity.

There is a growing appetite for independent bakeries and artisanal bread and pastries. What is driving this? Consumers are increasingly seeking handmade and locally sourced products with a unique flavour profile and higher quality. The result is not only a delicious product but one that is visually appealing. The artisanal element is the main pillar in baking when it comes to preparing such delicate yet beautiful pastries. That’s why we have chosen to incorporate laboratories in each of our shops, to ensure we master and preserve the craft with a precious human touch. How have you found social media has supported (or hindered) scaling the business and personal brand growth? Social media has become a powerful tool, especially nowadays with its ability to connect people from all over the world. I run my personal Instagram page myself, with flair and spontaneity, and it has allowed me to share my passion with a global audience and collaborate with renowned international artists and chefs. I have found it to be an essential way to not only build and expand my business, but also connect and engage with my audience and like-minded people, by creating compelling content doing what I love.

In terms of artistry, you’re known for incorporating fruits and floral flavour combinations.

How do you consider each element and ingredient that goes into a pastry and where do you get inspiration from? I draw inspiration from my environment, nature, travel, culture, and design...everything is a source of inspiration for me. The fruit and flower cakes are mostly inspired by the seasons and have a very special meaning to me. Fruit in general played a big role in my upbringing as I was a given a piece of fruit before I set off to school each day, and I picked fruit for pocket money during the weekends, while the flower cakes are inspired by my mother, who used to say, “With a simple flower, you can conquer the world”. How do you balance your business side and creativity? Creativity is the very essence of my profession and plays a big part in driving the business. Having the time to reflect and be creative is what allows for the disruptive work and ideas to come alive. It’s an on-going process, and there would be no business without creativity.

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What have you learnt in the brand building process and what advice would you give to those wanting to carve out their own pioneering career path?

Each stage in my career has taught me so much at every level. Some of the people in my team have been with me for over 10 years, and I’m extremely proud and appreciative of that. My advice would be to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that can support and guide your growth during every step of the way.

The culinary journey experience at Cédric Golet at The Berkeley is exceptional – can you expand on how you’ve achieved this in such a location? The approach we took with the patisserie at The Berkeley is similar to the Parisian boutiques, offering signature creations that are adapted to the location and customers, while maintaining the consistency of quality and flavour across all stores. The overall experience is a combination of location, design, choice of crockery and materials, all working together.

The patisserie was designed by Remi Tessier and includes a pastry “lab” with stainless steel and gold detailing in the ceiling to give it that elevated patisserie experience in the heart of London. The patisserie’s walls are also carved with flowers and lemons to represent the union of the fruits and flowers that are reflected in my creations. We also crafted a special knife, which has been designed to perfectly cut through the pastries.

For guests that want more than a takeaway experience, we also created a series of dining moments that showcase the creations throughout the evolving seasons. The Chef’s Counter, which sits within the patisserie, allows guests to experience a signature tasting menu of five sweet and one savoury pastry complemented with bubbles. Where do you source your ingredients and how does this add to the experience at The Berkeley? All the ingredients I use, from flour to fruits are freshly sourced to get the best possible flavours and raw materials to ensure the best quality and authentic experience. Your social media content is engaging – did you start out creating them alone? I started creating the videos on my own because I thought it would be an interesting way to showcase the pastry-making process, but in a fun and engaging way. Up until a few months ago, I was editing my videos on my own, but then I decided to work with people internally – it’s a team effort. How does it feel to have contributed to making pastries desirable? I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished and being able to raise awareness and highlight the artisanry and mastery of French patisserie on an international scale, in a charming yet authentic way.

To you, which is the most special and creative piece you’ve created to date and how was it received? This is a difficult one for me – I simply cannot choose, it’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is. Each creation is unique and personal, from the signature viennoiserie to the viral croissants. I prefer to leave this question for my customers to answer, based on their special taste and preference.

“I started creating the videos on my own because I thought it would be an interesting way to showcase the pastrymaking process, but in a fun and engaging way”
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Talk us through the concept of Café Kitsuné. We opened our first Café Kitsuné locations in 2013 in Tokyo’s Aoyama district followed by another one in Paris’ iconic Palais Royal Garden. Since then, Café Kitsuné has grown to a network of 28 cafés in 20 cities across Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East, and it has achieved cult status amongst specialty coffee lovers around the world. Everywhere in the world, visitors will find chic and convivial venues, with a Paris-meetsTokyo feel, a clean and minimalist aesthetic, combined with locally-inspired elements. The ubiquitous fox logo is everywhere – talk us through the creative inspiration behind it on the merchandise. Kitsuné is the Japanese word for fox, a symbol of versatility. Legend has it, the fox possesses the power to change its appearance. It translates directly to our cafés as well: we don’t have one single café with the exact same interior design and atmosphere. Each of our cafés has its own identity while expressing the distinctive Café Kitsuné Art de Vivre.

As a highly popular coffee shop in Paris and Tokyo – how did the brand decide to bring it to the UAE? We really love Dubai, its lifestyle,


its modernity, its versatility and the overall vibrant atmosphere of the city. You can feel an undeniable energy. It is an inspiring and innovative city, especially for the food and beverage scene. Nowhere else in the world is quite like Dubai. We feel very honoured to be able to open our very first Café Kitsuné location at H Residence, in the iconic Jumeirah. We can’t wait to further share our Café Kitsuné Art de Vivre and savoir-faire with the Emiratis.

What are the key dishes at Café Kitsuné Dubai? The global culinary imprint of the brand is still apparent and can still be savoured even in a menu that is exclusively curated for Dubai. At Café Kitsuné Dubai, visitors will be able to taste our Café Kitsuné unique savoury and full-bodied coffee blend and to pair it with our signature pastries such as our Fox-shaped shortbread and our signature matcha eclair. The café also carries local exclusives such as a rose blossom cake and a Tropézienne tart, that will evolve according to seasons. Café Kitsuné Dubai also offers a delightful savoury menu, presenting the brand’s special recipes: the French toast, the shakshuka and our iconic sandos. The menu

features unique dishes such as the smashed burger, the breakfast sandwich and the lobster roll with homemade potato crisps. The coffee is highly sought-after – tell us more about the source and brewing process. Whether it’s in Tokyo, Paris, Seoul or NYC, the coffee served at the Café Kitsuné is a tasty and a balanced combination of two single origin arabica beans, where aromas of chocolate and honey blend perfectly with fruity flavours. It can be enjoyed in situ or as a take-away and comes as an espresso, macchiato, americano, latte, cappuccino, cortado, flat white or mochaccino. From Brazil and Guatemala, the coffee beans are roasted with the utmost care.

Talk us through the interiors. Kitsuné’s inhouse architecture and design studio recognised the importance of presenting Café Kitsuné with a global brand identity together with Middle Eastern aesthetics. The cafe’s minimalistic architectural design seamlessly integrates with its surroundings. Featuring Café Kitsuné's iconic herringbone pattern, the idea is to pay homage to traditional craftsmanship while adding a contemporary touch. Though not im-

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Cafe Kitsuné shares how the FrenchJapanese brand has created the magic recipe for experimentation

posing, guests can also appreciate the intricate placement of brass and Arabesque elements across the restaurant. What lies ahead for Café Kitsuné? We opened our first Café Kitsuné location 11 years ago and we only started to expand internation-

ally six years ago. We took time to learn more about coffee culture, the process of roasting, to find the good partners etc. For all our activities, the key has always been to go deeper and constantly improve the quality of our offer, our savoir-faire and propose an out-

standing service to our customers. Our customers will soon be able to enjoy Café Kitsuné in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, by the end of 2024. In the UAE more specifically, our brand has strong ambitions, with the opening of several new cafés, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“Kitsuné is the Japanese word for fox, a symbol of versatility”
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Chef de Cuisine at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Tom Allen, on the power of storytelling and collaboration plus, how he’s brought creativity in the fine-dining table

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? When I arrive at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, the first thing I do is catch up with the team to discuss key points like the evening’s schedule, health and safety and, most importantly, any allergies or special requirements we need to be aware of. This preparation is essential for a smooth evening ahead. I also spend a good amount of time on Instagram, where we engage with many of our customers. I go through messages from people planning to visit and respond to them personally, and I also take a look at some of the experiences shared from the night before. Incorporating social media into my morning routine is a relatively new practice, but it’s become crucial for me because it allows me to connect with people even when we’re not operational.

How does it feel to be working alongside an acclaimed Michelin chef like Heston Blumenthal? Heston Blumenthal has been my main inspiration since I entered the culinary world, so it’s been an honour to work alongside him. His unique perspective on cooking, along with his innovative approach to food, flavours, and storytelling, has always fascinated me. I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with Heston for more than 16 years, and it has significantly influenced my own approach to food.

In terms of culinary artistry, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal offers an unparalleled dining experience with its history-inspired dishes. How do you consider each element and ingredient that goes into crafting a new creation? A lot of our work involves exploring historical archives to discover what people ate hundreds of years ago. While collaborating with historians and delving into fascinating stories from past centuries, we consider the modern palate and try to envision how we can bring those flavours into today’s world. Some ingredients from those times may no longer be available, so we use a database of flavour pairings to identify the right molecules that connect with the historical ingredients. Our culinary intuition and refined palates also guide us in finding the right balance and reimagining these classic dishes. At the same time, we focus on sourcing seasonal produce and using local ingredients from the Middle East, ensuring that our creations are not only historically inspired but also sustainable where possible and relevant to our current environment.

The culinary journey at Dinner by Heston at Atlantis

The Royal is exceptional – how does the interior decor add to the experience? Located on the second floor of Atlantis The Royal, Dinner overlooks the stunning Skyblaze fountain via an expansive terrace and floorto-ceiling windows. Guests enter the restaurant via a panelled room, perfumed with frankincense, wood smoke, and leather, and features Victorian-style animal sculptures built into the wood. As the entry door closes, a concealed automatic sliding door opens to reveal the restaurant and show kitchen.

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The most notable part of the design greets guests upon entry and takes the form of a Pineapple rotisserie and ‘The Dinner Escapement’ (clock). Designed as a breathtaking spectacle, this installation also adds a unique layer of history and storytelling to one of our signature dishes, the Tipsy cake. Featuring a pulley system based on a 16th-century design used for the British Royal Court, the two-metre-high clock is inspired by the watchmakers of Greenwich and the royal kitchen of Tudor England, and the system powers a clockwork spit roast located in the kitchen that cooks the pineapples. When it comes to dining, we create a relaxed and informal experience, where the menu is the reimagining of Britain’s gastronomic past, with dishes bearing historical dates and stretching back as far as the 13th century. All dishes are accompanied by an eclectic selection of globally sourced wines and a bespoke range of drinks, distillations, and infusions.

Can you tell us how you find your signature style and how does it set you apart from other chefs? I worked at The Fat Duck Group for three-and-a-half years and I’ve been at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for over 13 so naturally my signature style showcases the essence of what the group’s culinary concepts create. To break it down, my style as a chef is twofold, there’s my approach to cooking and discovering dishes from the ages and bringing them to the modern pallet, and also how I manage and work with my team, boosting morale and garnering camaraderie. At heart, I am a perfectionist, and every intricate detail must be met to the highest of standards – this is across everything I do. That said, my culinary style is forever evolving and that is a testament to how I have been mentored by such an innovative teacher, that is Heston. It starts with sourcing great quality ingredients and having an amazing team to bring the dishes to life. At Dinner, we always tell the story behind each dish to give it authenticity, that point of difference, and reference. That’s why we search for historical links and work with historians, museum curators, and researchers who are passionate about food history to help bring all those components together, which we can then use when applying our techniques and methodology to provide a genuine story that that we can deliver to our guests.

Helming a Michelin-star restaurant requires meticulous attention to detail and maintaining exceptional standards. Does this limit your creativity and what you can do?

Like other high-end restaurants, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has a dedicated development kitchen designed to allow us to explore our creativity and craft new dishes. These kitchens differ from operational restaurant kitchens, which have specific systems and routines. Here, there’s little distraction, letting us focus and use our expertise as chefs with a different mindset. You can compare a chef to a singer: the operational kitchen / restaurant is the performance stage, while the development kitchens and spaces are our studios, where we have the freedom to experiment and create.

Tell us what your creation process is like. What sparks your creativity and where do you look for inspiration? We start the process by working with food historians and tapping into the world of the British Library. We visit around three times a year, diving deep into the archives from the 13th century, all the way up to

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“While collaborating with historians and delving into fascinating stories from past centuries, we consider the modern palate and try to envision how we can bring those flavours into today’s world”

now compared to 10 years ago. The longer you cook, the more you realise that thinking creatively is a gradual process shaped by your experiences and the time you put in. How do you approach translating a creative idea to a larger team? When translating a creative idea and creating a new dish, it’s always a group. However, it’s important to approach it with a balanced perspective, teamwork is great at certain stages however too many opinions can complicate things – goes the saying “too make cooks can spoil the broth”.

As I develop my ideas, I tend to bring in others for feedback at certain times. Initially, I focus on refining the concept to about 95 per cent completion, then at this stage I bring others to the fold. This way, I have a solid foundation before seeking input from. Once the dish is almost complete, their insights can be invaluable in polishing and pairing it to perfection. At this stage a very important aspect is understanding and thinking practically how this dish works in the broader context. We need to assess and consider the practicality and feasibility of the dish; can it be efficiently prepared for an operation kitchen with 150 covers per night? Does it align with operational constraints? Addressing these factors ensures a dish that’s not only delicious but also operationally sound.

the early 19th century. This allows us to take snippets of information back to our development kitchen in Bray, England. We then sit down with the development team to map out the dish in terms of flavour profiles and seasonality of ingredients. We’ll then take the dish to the restaurant and review it to make sure we’re happy with it and then train the kitchen team to cook it and the front-of-house team on how to deliver on the storytelling. We’ll then taste the dish with a sommelier to match the grape as well as non-alcoholic pairings. Heston is also involved and will make recommendations to ensure what we’re adding to the menu matches the DNA of Dinner and his vision. We’ll then go away and tweak it until it’s perfected and then present it to our guests. What are your potential blocks and how do you overcome this? A big reason for our development kitchens is to help us, as chefs, avoid roadblocks. These environments are designed to foster creativity and maintain a strong mindset, but even in these purposebuilt spaces, creative roadblocks can still occur. When that happens, there is only one option, we have to work through them. One way we do this is by revisiting other recipes to spark inspiration. If a dish is 80 per cent complete but we’re facing challenges, it can be helpful to set it aside and go back to the archives for fresh ideas. Every recipe that we attempt is recorded – no work is ever wasted. I also believe that making mistakes can be a useful way to overcome roadblocks. I view them as positive opportunities because they push you to think and understand why something didn’t work. This process of reflection often leads to new insights and solutions. How has thinking out of the box serve you as a chef – have you always been able to think this way? Being able to cook the way we do takes time, and time is something you cannot bypass. Gaining experience and being exposed to different people, scenarios, ingredients, and techniques are key paramount expanding your mindset and developing the ability to think outside the box. Over time, you also build the confidence to take risks and the courage to experiment. I’ve been cooking for 20 years, and my experience shows that learning isn’t always quick. It happens in different stages throughout your career. It’s fair to say that I approach things very differently

“Heston Blumenthal has been my main inspiration since I entered the culinary world, so it’s been an honour to work alongside him”

To you, which is the most special and creative dish you’ve created to date and how was it received? I’m very proud of the Lobster Kedgeree, a dish I created after discovering it in historical archives. This rice-based dish took nearly four years to finalise and get approved for the menu. It’s one of our most complex dishes, featuring at least 22 sub-recipes, which is why it took so long to develop. Despite its complexity, it has rivalled the sales of Meat Fruit, another popular dish on our menu. I managed to get it to about 70 per cent completion within six months before involving other senior team members to help finalise it. We’re hoping to bring the Lobster Kedgeree to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Dubai, but given its complexity and the specific ingredients required, it’s taking time to perfect it and ensure it’s just right. This is something that people might not fully understand about restaurants like Dinner; replicating dishes in different locations can be challenging due to ingredient sourcing and the attention to detail needed to maintain consistency. This is The Creativity Issue – how do you encourage a creative mindset within your team? This is an area we’re focusing on more and more, and it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of my role. To get the team’s creative juices flowing, we assign team members to specific projects. These could be about improving efficiency, creating new garnishes, or developing new dishes.

A recent standout example was the special menu we created for International Women’s Day. To honour the women in our kitchen, we asked them to design a snack that reflected their cultural heritage. We had chefs from South Africa, the Philippines, and Indonesia collaborate on snacks that drew from their personal histories and backgrounds. This was the first time our brand attempted something like this, and it was a tremendous success. With our experience and our refined palates, we understood their ideas and helped them refine their creations. We gave them guidance and added subtle touches, but the sense of ownership and pride belonged to the team. It’s a process we’re proud of. We’re excited to plan our next series of projects and can’t wait to see what our team comes up with. At the end of the day, every chef can cook, but helping them build on their talents is what redefines them.

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Josette’s head chef Rory Duncan on heralding a new era of culinary decadence

Talk us through your career. My culinary journey started in London, England, where I got my start at the Caxton Grill. As I gained more experience, I moved around the city, working in some notable restaurants. Each place taught me something new and helped me grow as a chef, including training under the guidance of culinary legends like Marco Pierre White, Pierre Koffmann, and the late Nico Ladenis. How would you describe your cooking? I would describe my cooking style as modern and flavorful, with a strong foundation in French techniques. Although presentation for me is also important, taste is always paramount.

What are the key dishes for customers to try? Among my favourites from our new menu that guests should definitely try would be our grilled octopus salad served with cauliflower textures, as well as our slow cooked duck confit. One item on the menu that we have revamped as well is Josette’s signature Entrecôte, served with a spinach salad, shallot purée, and a choice of Périgueux, peppercorn, or the special Josette sauce. The shallot purée is a favorite of mine, as you get two different textures from the purée and crispy onion on top.

The restaurant combines traditional French cooking with global influences – tell us more. The restaurant couldn’t be positioned better, to display French cooking, modern but at the same time respecting the traditions. Josette’s menu reflects this fusion, offering innovative dishes that pay homage to classic French cuisine while incorporating exciting flavours and ingredients from around the world. We’ve taken iconic elements of French cooking and reimagined them with the use of non-traditional ingredients. What Parisian dishes have you incorporated in your cooking? In our culinary repertoire,

we’ve embraced the spirit of Paris by incorporating dishes that reflect the city’s vibrant and ever-evolving dining scene. The menu will include some of Josette’s signatures with a slightly new take, including the Entrecôte (Grilled ribeye), Escargots de Josette (snails), and Foie gras terrine. Of course, Paris is also known for desserts and baked goods, so treats crafted by our talented pastry team and Parisian-born baker Peter Le Mentec feature macarons, traditional Parisian viennoiseries and breakfast classics like our croque monsieur, and new items on the menu including the raspberry cheesecake. Talk us through the creative process of curating a menu at Josette. I’m fortunate to be working alongside Burcu again – which has been a seamless and familiar experience, allowing us to draw on our shared past at LPM Dubai to bring something truly unique to the table. My style is simple but elegant. I believe that every dish should start with the freshest, most flavourful ingredients available. Once we’ve selected our ingredients, we focus on creating dishes that achieve a perfect harmony of flavors, where each component complements and enhances the

“I find that true creativity comes from developing ideas with a logical understanding of the culinary craft”

others. When it comes to presentation, we believe that the visual appeal of a dish is just as important as its taste. We pay close attention to every detail, from the arrangement of the ingredients to the choice of tableware, to ensure that each dish is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

The Josette afternoon tea experience is a class apart – talk us through the inspiration. The inspiration behind the Josette afternoon tea experience stems from a desire to create something truly exceptional, reflecting the elegance and sophistication synonymous with the brand. Drawing from traditional Parisian tea culture while also catering to the big afternoon tea culture in the UAE and infusing it with Josette’s own unique flair, the menu celebrates the finest flavours and ingredients. Each element, from the freshly baked viennoiseries to the indulgent sweet and savoury treats, is meticulously crafted to offer a memorable culinary journey – and Chef Burcu and Josette’s talented pastry team has done an exceptional job in accomplishing that. How do you experiment with the cocktails at the restaurant? While I may not be a big drinker myself, I love experimenting with infusions and incorporating different exotic juices. Our Bar Manager, Jordan Fry, has done a terrific job in crafting Josette’s cocktail menu that perfectly complements Josette’s culinary offering, taking guests on a ‘Traversée de Paris’, with signatures inspired by the flavours and rich and varied suburbs of Paris. The desserts offer an artisanal experience – which is your favourite and why? My personal favourite among our artisanal desserts is definitely the Caramel Tart. It holds a special place in my heart because it evokes fond memories of my time at Nico. There, we used to enjoy the end of the tart with a cup of coffee, creating a comforting and delicious combination.

What lies ahead for the menu? The journey ahead is all about pushing culinary boundaries and continually creating delicious, innovative dishes. We’re committed to staying ahead in the world of food, constantly exploring new flavours, techniques, and ingredients. So, I invite you to keep following us on this exciting culinary adventure.

This is The Creativity Issue – how do you stay creative? For me, staying creative is all about staying informed and inspired. I love immersing myself in books, articles, and videos to keep up with the latest trends and techniques. But beyond just following trends, I find that true creativity comes from developing ideas with a logical understanding of the culinary craft. By combining inspiration with a deep understanding of flavour profiles and techniques, I’m able to create dishes that are not only innovative but also grounded in culinary excellence.

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