This past month was a wild one for us at Commercial Interior Design. From Paris to Valencia, we felt as though we travelled the world and with us come our readers.
Maison & Objet, one of the world’s biggest trade fairs, went on from January 24 to January 28. While there were plenty of French exhibitors, we also met with Belgian, Scandinavian, American, British, South American and Japanese designers. It was an international event that saw the likes of thousands of visitors.
Even with the various large halls, I couldn’t help but notice how familiar everything seemed. From the multiple products brands that displayed their ranges at small kiosks to the internationally acclaimed names like Tom Dixon, I didn’t feel as alien at the exhibition as I was anticipating and I can only attribute that feeling to the cold hard fact that the GCC is a major game player today.
Not only do cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi reach international standards for designers who are interested in making global names for their brands, but they are now setting them.
Dubai, for example, has its own identity, and while there has long been criticism that it’s ‘fake’ or ‘artificial’, I can say that I wholeheartedly disagree. Dubai’s design identity is sleek, minimal and futuristic, and that sense of smoothness and fluid motion is something that I’m seeing a lot from interior designers.
Fady Chams, the subject of our interview piece this month, told me: “At the end of the day, [Europeans] used to be ahead of Middle Easterners, and Middle Easterners were always trying to catch up, but not anymore. I don’t think you can say this today because Dubai is really on the map in terms of design.”
Even companies like Souvignet Design that has a bit of a grunge vibe in its product designs remains polished, and even if there’s a loss of antiquity in such forward movement, I will say there’s a bit of the GCC in that.
The Middle East has long been considered politically ‘backward’ by much of the international realm, and to see that we’re ahead of the curve is a wonderful way of speaking against that notion.