Ever since I set foot in this region, I’ve been hearing how Dubai is one of the greatest cosmopolitan centres of the world. Attracting thousands of us to its shores each month, it doesn’t take much to realize that it’s also the city of great contrast as modernity collides with traditional Arabic heritage.
The idea of “keeping it local” is not a new one, nor is it strange to other communities worldwide that are desperately struggling to preserve the elements of the history of their everyday life. However, Middle Eastern heritage, in all of its richness, stands alone against hundreds of national identities and cultural habits that we all brought along in our suitcases.
And when it comes to local design, all of us can pitch in with some support. With the title of editor of Commercial Interior Design comes the responsibility of acknowledging creativity, embracing innovation, disapproving imitation, and above all respecting difference – objectively and accurately, without getting overexcited about it.
Designers Khalid Sharan and Ceebo Shah take great pride in their interiors being designed in-house and customised by local craftsmen. Labelled “Made in fabulous Dubai”, some may find their pop-infused pieces over the top, but it would be “fabulous” to see more designers follow the path of Zaha Hadid, Karim Rashid, Khalid Shafar, Nanu Al-Hamad, Nayef Francis, Mohammad Ghaderi…
“If you’re young and talented, it’s like you have wings.” Haruki Murakami
Sharan and Shah recall how challenging it is to make that first step in their careers when no one knows you and everyone questions your talent and capabilities.
It is crucial to expose interior design students to industry and get them involved in real-life projects as early as possible. How business can support academia and vice versa is one of the questions posed by Asil Al Baghdadi, a lecturer at the Interior Architecture & Design Department of University of Sharjah. She has just waved goodbye to a new generation of future designers.
With high expectations and diplomas in their hands, they seem to be ready to conquer the world. And they will be soon knocking on your door.