The upside down world of design

Designer, Mark Marin, discusses bureaucracy and paperwork and why Government departments need to move towards less paper-based documentation

Mark Marin set up his interior design studio in 2009, in Dubai, just as the aftermath of the global financial crisis took hold. He saw that time as a real milestone in history and a turning point for many in the industry.

“Although I could technically go almost anywhere, I made a conscious decision to stay here in Dubai and make it work,” he said.

“Despite the downturn, Dubai still represents a substantial opportunity for designers, architects and others who see its potential.”

With a career spanning more than 25 years, Marin graduated from interior design in his native, Sydney, Australia.

It was here his career started in 1985 on the prestigious New Parliament House in Canberra for architecture firm Mitchell Giurgola & Thorp.

That experience of a high quality public building lay the foundation for a strong attitude and approach to design that continues to this day.

After seeing the project through to its finale, Marin returned to Sydney in 1989 and worked for some other major practices at that time.

Frustration followed and that led to the designer going out on his own in 1990. A variety of assignments ensued over the years and over time, Marin gained a reputation as one of Sydney’s established independent designers specialising in corporate offices or ‘workplace’, as it is more popularly called today.

His work for George Patterson Bates, a prominent Australian Advertising Agency in 2001, was a landmark venture that redefined workplace planning principles by utilising a large bench-type desk for the entire office.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
The world is full of amazing people, places and goings-on. You just need to be able to tap into it. Travel and photography are a constant source of inspiration for me. We are fortunate in Dubai to have so many interesting places relatively close by so travel is mandatory.The art, photography and design scene generally in Europe, US and elsewhere is constantly inspiring – there is so much activity and new ideas.

I also draw inspiration from European architects and designers. Nouvel, Van Duysen, Gabellini and Silvestrin for example, all produce iconic work.

Their approach, design intent and attention to detail as well as consistency across many typologies is unrivalled.

What are you currently working on?
I have been working on premium residential apartments for developers, including a dramatic entrance lobby in the Marina which is drawing to a close. Like many other practices, I have done a fair bit of work on submissions that amount to absolutely nothing.

Furniture design continues to be a focus of activity for me. I have designed many pieces over the years – both for production and as one-offs and am currently working on an executive desk system. However, the main focus right now is on my own flat – designing for myself for a change.

It’s a loft type apartment in the Marina with a big volume of space. It has been a real challenge to do one’s own residence. Normally with a client you make design decisions as to character or culture based on a brief or an observation but, to do your own project means turning yourself inside out and analysing who you really are.

Conceptually the design is very contemporary as is all my work, with a neutral tonal palette – darker, moodier, not white. Despite the challenge it’s been very rewarding and I look forward to moving in very soon.

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