The first edition of designMENA quiz is just around the corner, taking place on 10 May 2017, at Mint Leaf of London restaurant in Dubai and it’s time to meet our sponsors.
The companies sponsoring the event are Kohler, Interface, Mas Paints, Fagerhult, Draw Link Group, Steelcase and OFIS, with Pallavi Dean Interiors joining us as the Social Media sponsor.
designMENA has gathered all of our sponsors to share their expectations, but also to deliver their messages to all of our readers.
READ MORE: designMENA Quiz: Meet the teams
The global leader in the design and production of carpet tiles, Interface, joins the designMENA Quiz Night as one of the round sponsors.
“The designMENA Quiz gives us the perfect opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support and allows us to have some fun at the same time. Work hard, play hard,” says Matt Hall, regional director at Interface Middle East.
Describing the region as culturally one of the most diverse places, Hall says that finding ways to connect people, places and spaces is a constant challenge for architects and designers working in the region.
He says: “It’s vitally important that as a design community we deliver spaces that enable employees to thrive, be more creative, productive and find a real sense of wellbeing.”
Innovation, design and sustainability are at the forefront of the UAE design and architectural community and that is everything that Interface stands for.
The company continues to lead the way with its latest Level Set Collection, which features 36 luxury vinyl tile floors.
“These designs are a sophisticated addition to any space and can be paired alongside our modular carpet tiles for more harmonious and unique style,” says Hall, adding that the new collection offers other benefits such as sound absorption, glue-free installation, zero volatile organic compounds and durability.
“Climate Take Back”, as the new mission has been named, is the successor to “Mission Zero”, the name given to a vision articulated in 1997, which set the goals to eliminate any negative impact Interface has on the environment by 2020. Its new vision is based on four key commitments, including: to bring carbon home and reverse climate change; to create supply chains that benefit all life; to make factories that are like forests; and to transform dispersed materials into products.
The designMENA Quiz sponsor Fagerhult is an international lighting manufacturer, known for supporting academic research and promoting lighting as a versatile medium. John Carruthers, Fagerhult’s Middle East MD, says that the designMENA’s quiz night concept immediately drew his attention.
“It is a fun way to implement that ubiquitous networking by putting the wits of the leading designers and architects against one another,” he says.
Fagerhult recent projects in the region include commercial offices for Amun Capital and Eversheds, Arcadia Preparatory School, Corcel Concept Store at d3, Concepts NYC at City Walk, and the Fred Perry and Jordan flagship stores in Dubai Mall.
Carruthers says that the design industry in the Middle East has become very competitive over the past years.
“The competition challenges each and every designer and architect to try harder to find their own voice,” he adds. “The use of technology for creating both innovative styles and recreating cultural objects is a major trend, and one has to be at the forefront of the latest developments.
“We look at lighting as being one of the building blocks of design, as it creates the visual environment for aesthetic experiences. We at Fagerhult are always happy to see designs, which push the boundaries and use light as the raw material for a very personal form of expression.”
As a group of companies, Fagerhult operates a number of brands originated in Sweden (atelje Lyktan), UK (Whitecroft and Designplan), Belgium (WACO), Turkey (Arlight), Germany (LTS and LED Linear), Australia (Eagle Lighting) and Finland (iValo).
Fagerhult’s Sweep and Scoot product has been honoured with a Red Dot Design Award.
For Kohler, the designMENA Quiz Night is an opportunity to increase its brand awareness among interior designers in the region.
“Design runs in Kohler DNA, and we cherish the relationship with designers around the world,” says Bassel Ozon, area sales manager. “Kohler has design studios in USA, UK, France, India and China, which give us fluency in local culture and the ability to understand the relevance of local products to people globally.
“London is our base for design for the Middle East region and we are very clear about its strategic importance. You will see more specific products for the Middle East launched. We have been absorbing cultural needs and influence and have created The Silk Road Collection of Artist Editions vessels, our range of PVD finishes now includes Rose Gold.”
The company has recently launched a collection of faucets – the Avid, Composed, Beitou and Loure.
“Also, we have been focusing on sustainability and connectivity. We have launched 3L flush toilet in the Middle East and we launched the Kohler Konnect system in Shanghai last month,” says Ozon, adding that this system allows for easy control of smart bathroom gadgets through a mobile app.
Kohler recently opened its showroom in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and will be opening a new showroom in Muscat, Oman.
One of Kohler’s latest project in the region is the Al Habtoor City in Dubai, which comprises three hotels – The Westin Hotel, the W Hotel and the St. Regis Hotel.
“The challenging part for the developer, Al Habtoor Group, was to find a single manufacturer that could provide a full bathroom solution for three different bathroom design styles. The bathrooms in the Westin Hotel had a contemporary design, those in the W Hotel had a modern design and the toilets in the St. Regis followed a traditional design style,” says Ozon.
DesignMENA Quiz sponsor Mas Paints was founded 20 years ago in Saudi Arabia, distributing wood and decorative paint. It established a paint manufacturing facility in Italy in 1990 and four years later set up its factory in Jebel Ali Free Zone – Mas Paint and Chemical Ind. Using Italian know-how and European raw materials, within few years Mas Paints became a glittering success in the world of paints.
Its managing director Abdullah Al Atrash shares his reasons for sponsoring the quiz.
“The interior design industry is growing relentlessly and the designMENA Quiz is a big opportunity for professionals within the industry to share ideas, be inspired and strengthen relationships as well. We are honoured to be part of this event in the name of art, innovation and design, which will help to develop further the design scene,” he says, adding that the design industry is highly demanding and always looking for something innovative.
Along with its new larger factory in Sharjah, the company has a presence in the major cities of Saudi Arabia with stores, showroom, deposits and full technical services. MAS Paints has a wide distribution network across the Gulf region and in India, Egypt, Yemen and Kazakhstan.
“The region continues to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. Stunning shaped buildings, and amazing projects are emerging from the creative and visionary minds of really talented people not afraid to dare,” says Al Atrash, recommending Mas’s latest product Alba, which combines a silky and velvet effect.
Steelcase and OFIS
US furniture manufacturer Steelcase is one of the brands OFIS, a Dubai-based office solutions provider, represents in the region. The two companies join forces to support the first edition of the designMENA Quiz.
“The DesignMENA quiz promotes creativity and we are big advocates of creativity and innovation at Steelcase. We believe that creativity helps people generate new ideas, innovate and move forward, it’s integral to growth and success,” says Hania Arafat, workplace consultant at Steelcase, adding that the designMENA Quiz aligns well with Steelcase’s ethos of promoting knowledge sharing in a creative and fun environment.
Commenting on the design industry in the region, Arafat says it a relatively young, but it is growing at an unprecedented rate.
Sustainability and staying relevant with technology are some of today’s fundamental business challenges, according to Arafat.
“At Steelcase, we understand how the integration of place and technology can unlock creativity and provide spaces that bring together place and technology to help people generate new ideas and move them forward.”
Steelcase has recently partnered with Microsoft Corp. to develop a range of technology enabled “creative spaces” designed to help organisations foster better collaboration.
Arafat continues: “These spaces seamlessly integrate the best of Microsoft Surface devices with Steelcase architecture and furniture, offering a range of postures, varying levels of privacy and collaboration, access to the latest technology work system, and encourage quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration.”
As the lines between departments and tasks are blurred, the desire for flexibility in the office is driving a shift toward spaces that offer more than the traditional desk-and-task-chair combination, so this is something Steelcase will continue to focus on throughout the year.
Draw Link Group
Dubai-based architecture, interior design and fit-out company, Draw Link Group, joins the designMENA Quiz Night as one of the round sponsors.
“Draw Link Group has a solid relation with the ITP Media Group and participates yearly in many of its events. We believe it’s important to support the first edition of designMENA Quiz and we are confident it will be a successful and fruitful event,” says Daousser Chennoufi, Draw Link Group CEO, adding the event is also a good networking opportunity.
Describing the UAE as the creative hub of the Middle East, Chennoufi adds that different initiatives such as Design Days Dubai and the recent launch of Dubai Design District, show the growth and maturity of the design landscape in the UAE.
While the company is anticipating the launch of Rosemont Hotel and Hotel Apartments, a five-star project in Dubai, expected to be delivered in 2018, Chenouffi looks back at one of Draw Link’s recent projects – The Act hotel in Sharjah.
He comments: “Draw Link Group was brought in to manage the delicate task of creating a hotel, which would contribute to the development of the tourism sector in Sharjah and would add value to its leisure and wellness facilities. As a result, Draw Link brought another intriguing, themed hotel The Act, which revolves around the concept of a theatre where each space and subspace is provided with its own subtle identity.”
The Act is the firm’s second themed hotel in Sharjah, the first being the five star 72 Hotel.
Social media sponsor: Pallavi Dean Interiors
Dubai-based boutique design firm, Pallavi Dean Interiors (PDI), joins the designMENA Quiz as a social media sponsor. Alongside its team, PDI will make sure to tweet and share and spread the buzz throughout the night.
“We love supporting events that bring together the community,” says PDI’s managing director, Richard Dean. “The design community in the UAE is very closely knit – any excuse to hang out with our fellow creatives and design mates.”
Commenting on the main challenges facing designers and architects in 2017, Dean says that delivering projects that meet client expectations tops the list.
“Anybody can design a pretty visual – translating this into reality within a set budget and limited timeframe – that is where real design happens. We love visionary clients, but often times the budget doesn’t quite compare,” he comments, adding that creating grand design gestures is all well and good, but urges consideration of factors like return on investment and construction timeline.
Dean is optimistic about the scale of development, building up to 2020.
“I love what is happening regionally. Our neighbours in Doha have created some flagship architectural delights and healthy competition is what generally drives the industry. I feel like we are creating deep design roots, with neighbourhoods such as Dubai Design District and its new education opportunities,” says Dean. “Our design team is creating a very special experiential space for Interface at Downtown Design this year.”
PDI’s team is currently working on a flagship development for Paramount in Doha, the Edelman offices in the region, and two new F&B concepts for Shurooq in Sharjah.
“We are also commercially launching the prototype of the ‘me+mine’ chair [designed by Pallavi Dean] produced in collaboration with AHEC during Design Days Dubai,” he says.