CID has handpicked 50 people that have helped shape the interior design industry of the Middle East in recent years.
These include interior designers, industrial designers, design academics, heads of interiors, design managers and principals.
We have tried to focus on the local design community and laud the most active and quality designers in the GCC over the past few years.
As our CID Awards honour design excellence within the industry, many of the people on the list are past winners, while others are up-and-coming stars.
1. Isabel Pintado, managing director, LW Design
A familiar face to everyone in the Middle East design industry, Isabel Pintado is now managing director at LW Design. She says her introduction to interior design came through working at her grandmother’s studio in Spain, developing a passion for design. She moved to the UK to study art and design in Brighton, following a degree in interior architecture from the University of Wales. In the last years of her studies, she started working part-time for architect Patrick Williams on the redesign of Aberystwyth University Student Union in Wales. Pintado moved to Dubai 11 years ago, and was appointed associate partner at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), having worked on projects such as The Wave, Muscat, and various properties in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt as well as the extension of the Palm Tree Court, Jebel Ali Hotel, Dubai. Pintado was part of the GAJ team that won the Interior Design Firm of the Year title at the CID Awards 2011.
2. Kevin McLachlan, Head of Interior Design, GAJ
Kevin McLachlan is the head of interior designer at GAJ, one of the most successful and respected firms in the region. He was appointed in spring 2012 bringing with him a strong Middle Eastern work portfolio. Previously McLachlan played a key role in the development and expansion of RMJM’s Dubai office. He originally led RMJM’s interior design group for the MENA region with a holistic and considered design approach, integrating interior design with the architecture and engineering of buildings. The group, under McLachlan’s direction, won many large-scale projects around the region. McLachlan parted ways with RMJM in late 2010 and went on to form his own multidisciplinary design practice THINKSPACE. He has led various projects with GAJ including Hyatt Regency, Dubai; The Millennium, Muscat; The Chedi Khorfakkan; Polo Resort in Marrakech; GEMS schools; and Cranleigh School, Abu Dhabi.
3. Marcos Cain and Karen Hay, co-founders, Stickman
Cain and Hay have been at the helm of the boutique style design consultancy Stickman, since establishing it in Dubai in 2009. The firm recently opened a second office in Hong Kong, catering to Asian clients and projects such as the Nadaman Japanese restaurant in the China World Tower in Beijing and the Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai. Stickman is currently working on projects in 6 countries including the Fairmont hotel in Fujairah, the new Conrad Hilton hotel in Dubai, and Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hong Kong. Cain remarked: “The key to our success is turning it on and off when needed and most importantly being able to listen while having our finger constantly on the pulse.”
4. Pallavi Dean, founder, Pallavi Dean Interiors
Pallavi Dean is an active member of the UAE design community; she is a regular contributor to industry publications and key trade fairs, and also teaches interior design at the American University of Sharjah (AUS). This India-born, Dubai-raised, London-experienced designer combines these eclectic international influences into her work. Her portfolio includes hospitality, commercial, retail, and residential projects across the Middle East, North Africa, and the UK. In the year since she established her own boutique design firm, it has completed projects for telecommunications company Tunisiana in Tunis, and the Hideaways Club at The Address Downtown Dubai, and is currently working on event facilities for the InterContinental Group in Dubai Festival City.
5. Steven Charlton, Principal managing director — Middle East, Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will
Steven Charlton arrived in the Middle East six years ago after an illustrious career in central London with blue-chip clients such as Credit Suisse, Pepsi, and Latham and Watkins. He became principal managing director for the Middle East office of Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will in 2010 to lead a small team of two designers. The firm has since significantly grown into a leading interior firm of more than 18 designers and architects. His focus has been to drive the development of the Middle East’s commercial interiors sector into a mature and globally respected market. For Pringle Brandon Perkins+Will this task has included the refurbishment of Abu Dhabi’s Municipality building as well as projects for Google, Microsoft, Coutts, and Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi.
5. Paul and Ellen Bishop, founders, Bishop Design Associates
Since 2004, Paul and Ellen Bishop have developed a varied portfolio of commercial, hospitality, retail and residential design. The duo are currently involved with three highly profiled restaurant chains: Caramel, KOI and BOA. Bishop Design Associates has successfully completed the Gurdwara Sikh Temple in Jebel Ali which won Interior Design of the Year: Public Sector & Institutional at the CID Awards 2012, 12 venues for Fauchon Paris and several award winning villas and penthouses in Emirates Hills, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa. They describe their design style as “edgy yet timeless; avant-garde yet elegant”.
6. Jason Roberts, Senior design manager, Bluehaus Group
Originally from Norwich, UK, Jason Roberts joined Bluehaus in 2009 as a design manager and was later promoted to senior design manager in early 2011. Moving away from a previous UAE-based job in design and build, Roberts came to Bluehaus looking for a consultancy-focused role. He worked on key projects such as Dubai Chamber, which has received many awards, and also received plaudits for the McLaren showrooms across the region. Some of his other works include the Dubai Airport corporate offices, Siemens Masdar corporate offices and Al Tamimi, Sowwah Square. Roberts’ balance of professionalism and humour makes him tick with the design world.
Managing director, Samuel Creations Dubai
The Swiss-born managing director of Samuel Creations Dubai obtained a degree in interior design and then qualified as an interior architect. He then went on to work in the USA and across Europe. While based in Geneva at a firm he started, Merieau was selected to spearhead the renewal of Samuel Creation’s Middle Eastern business, injecting a fresh commercial approach and new management style. A strong believer in communication as an integral part of the creative process, Merieau has been based for the last six years in Dubai, overseeing a team of cutting-edge designers focusing on innovative hospitality design. The team counts the Hyatt, Starwood, InterContinental, Marriott, and Accor Groups among clients.
Marie-Noelle Swiderski, director, Blanchard
After diverse roles in Paris and Montreal, Marie-Noelle Swiderski joined the Blanchard team as a senior designer in London, where she was also a member of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID). She arrived in Dubai in 2006 to launch the Blanchard interior design studio, adding architecture consultancy to the business in 2009. Blanchard, with Swiderski at the helm, garnered high commendations at the CID Awards for its interior projects in 2010 and 2011. Swiderski’s close collaboration with each client and ability to harmonise choice materials into elegant and timeless designs have led to much of Blanchard’s success with key projects that include large private villas. Swiderski moved to Canada in mid-2012 but retains her role as director of the company.
Karim Rashid is an Egyptian-born industrial designer with a studio in New York. Receiving a Bachelors in Industrial Design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Rashid then completed his postgraduate studies in Italy. Having created over 300 designs, Rashid’s projects delve into interiors, furniture, art, music, fashion and installations. Designer of the Marimoto restaurant in Philadelphia, Semiramis Hotel in Athens, as well as the Switch restaurant in Dubai, Rashid is a guest lecturer in universities worldwide. Renowned for wearing pink and white suits, Rashid has been named Time magazine’s “Most Famous Industrial Designer in All the America’s”.