Amyas Wade, design director at Kinnersley Kent Design, is one of the speakers at the Design Talks series during the INDEX exhibition (March 26-29). He shares his thoughts on the prevalent industry themes with CID.
Designing with the end user in mind has always been central to our approach and the design philosophy of our studio. When taking the brief from new and existing clients, we always start by asking questions, and carrying out our own research to understand the customer, the market, and our clients’ aspirations.
This ensures that each project has its own unique design response, with strong design principles, an expressive identity and design language. This is evident in our most recent project, the Aloft Al Ain hotel with interiors that embrace the spectacular surroundings of the Jebel Hafeet mountains and the striking Hamza Bin Zayed Stadium. While trend sounds transient, there are new directions to be seen in the design industry that are brought upon by different factors.
Multi-faceted hybrid spaces
We are seeing a more dynamic mix of tenants in new developments, with workspaces, retail, leisure and hospitality brands all co-existing, and creating new communities where people want to live, work and socialise.
As part of this trend, more and more flexible co-working office spaces are already popping up around Dubai. We expect the demand for co-working spaces to mushroom in 2018, as they help businesses to become more flexible, allowing companies to expand or shrink workspaces based on demand.
Boundaries are blurring across all sectors from retail, restaurant and hotels to leisure and culture. This is now so endemic that new developments will evolve to accommodate this with hybrid spaces that blend retail and hospitality.
E-commerce is growing rapidly in the region, with such major developments as the acquisition of Souk.com by Amazon, the launch of Noon last year and drone-delivered parcels catering to a tech-savvy, young population.
As the UAE moves towards omni-channel retail, with customers able to shop seamlessly whether on- or offline, innovative retailers will start to reassess the role of their stores. Expect to see more experiential stores, which are as much about communicating the personality of the brand as they are about selling products.
While the UAE is known for its international aesthetic, in the run up to Expo 2020 we expect to see more designers exploring the local culture. This will mean more concepts that draw upon the Middle East’s rich heritage and identity.
Downplaying industrial aesthetic
The industrial aesthetic was ubiquitous last year and has been overplayed in the region. We anticipate a move towards lighter colours and timbers, with a more sophisticated use of colour, materials and FF&E, and less ad-hoc combinations.
It’s here to stay. We expect to see sustainable initiatives becoming much more visible, whether through recycling waste, electric vehicles, or solar power. This is already starting to influence concept design, for instance, the use of recycled or re-appropriated materials is more pronounced.