DesignMENA interviews Islamic design writers at Emirates Literature Festival 2015

What will you be speaking about at the event?

Mary Beardwood: I am speaking about Islamic art and my book which is called Discovering Islamic Art. I wrote this for young readers, along with parents and educators in order for them to be able to share the joy and beauty of this art with a much wider audience.

Eric Broug: I will use this year’s festival theme of wonderment to show what still causes me to marvel in wonder in the world of Islamic geometric design. I will be focusing not only on beautiful compositions but I will also show some examples of the skill and innovative spirit.

How important is it to get your ideas across to a Middle East audience?

Mary Beardwood: It is very important to me to give access to Islamic art to a wider audience. To enable them to appreciate what they see in Dubai and the Arabian peninsula. In order to engage a young audience I have included activities, quizzes and weblinks in my book.

Eric Broug: My interest in Islamic geometric design started as an artistic pursuit but has evolved into an educational vocation for me now. I want to enable people to learn how to be creative and innovative. It is not enough just to replicate patterns that have been done hundreds of years ago.

What are your impressions of Dubai and its architecture?

Mary Beardwood: The architecture of Dubai is incredibly creative and innovative. The old part of Dubai has been renovated very stylishly, but in addition the newly created architecture has put it in the forefront of modernity throughout the entire world.

Eric Broug: I try to document as much as I can when I visit Dubai. I love the ambition of Dubai and how its architecture reflects that. I’m interested in details in architecture and Dubai seems to me to be the place where there is a desire to blend tradition and modernity in architecture.

How important is the event as a conduit for new ideas within the profession?

Mary Beardwood: By creating an event of international importance the Emirates Lit Festival has brought a wide selection of creative talented people together, and given the city a buzz of excitement.

Eric Broug: Dubai is one of the main cities in the world where excellence and ambition in architecture are given free reign. This makes it a very exciting place for anyone who loves architecture.


Mary Beardwood spent many years working as a teacher in Arabia. In 2000 her book A Children’s Encyclopaedia of Arabia was published as a new resource for children living and studying in Arabia. It was welcomed enthusiastically as essential reading, both in schools and at home, and in 2008 this book was republished as The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arabia.

Mary has long been fascinated by Islamic art and in 2005 took a study course at the British Museum and built up her own library of books on Islamic art and architecture. In recent years collections of Islamic art have been the subject of much renewed interest and museums all over the world have refurbished their displays. In addition, wonderful new Islamic art museums have opened in the countries of the Arabian Gulf, reflecting these countries’ desire to preserve their heritage.

Her book Discovering Islamic Art was recently published by Medina Publishing.

Eric Broug is a designer specializing in Islamic geometric design. He studied Islamic design at the School of Oriental & African Studies in London and for the last 15 years has made this passion his work, publishing several popular books on the subject.

His sumptuous book Islamic Geometric Design covers both its artistry and precision and reveals a long-held passion. Having changed the direction of his life first to study then research and apply his knowledge in a design business, Eric Broug has become an expert – equally passionate about the beauty and technical elements as the context from which they emerged.


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