Downtown Design Champions Regional Designers
An international fair of discovery, Downtown Design balances iconic design brands with best-in-class emerging design brands and this year provides a commercial platform to a record number of brands from the region.
Apical Reform (India)
Established in Ahmedabad, India in 2011, Apical Reform functions as a multi-disciplinary design studio that works in architectural design, interior design, products design, customizations and functional art, under the aegis of Amrish Patel and Architect Darshan Soni. At this year's Downtown Design, Apical Reform present their iconic Betula Chair, a sinuous structure made entirely out of birch ply that is both aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic.
Beba Creations (UAE)
Beba Creations is an organically homegrown design brand from Abu Dhabi, founded By American artist Tariq Riaz. The entire process from idea, design sketch to the final finish of a piece is completed in the design studio with almost all materials used in itscollections sourced from within a 100 mile radius. From the camel leather used for in its furniture to the beautiful red sand from Al Ain desert, metal from the local scrap yards to the recycled wood, Beba Creations utilizes locally available materials in a responsible and sustainable way. At Downtown Design, the brand will exhibit a variety of unique hand-crafted light fixtures as well as new concrete and camel leather furniture pieces.
Cecilia Setterdahl (UAE)
Dubai-based Cecelia Setterdahl’s began her creative career painting abstract, geometric artwork, but an invitation to attend an Indian wedding in Mumbai and a chance meeting with a carpet company resulted in two original paintings being made into bespoke carpets. She went on to launch her company Canvas Carpets Cushions which only produces limited editions of ten for each design. Clients can book private consultations to commission bespoke pieces to suit their space, then orders are sent to India where these exclusive pieces are knotted and trimmed by hand with New Zealand semi-worsted wool and the vivid colours fixed by the heat of the sun. Setterdahl will debut a brand new collection of rugs hand-knotted in Afghanistan at Dubai Design Week.
Etqaan, which in Arabic means “perfection” or “mastering”, specializes in exquisite haute-interior projects using timeless Arabesque handcrafted pieces and rare craftsmanship inspired by the rich Arabian heritage of the Levant and North Africa. The design house combines age-old traditional techniques with modern global trends and is an artistic collaboration between Iwan and Hossama, a fourth generation family business that goes back to the early 1900s. Hossama’s impressive restoration projects include the Hanging Cathedral in Old Cairo, Amr Ibn Alas Mosque, Al Ghoury Market, the Mena House and Marriott hotels amongst others.
Green Road (UAE)
Green Road takes the living wall trend of yesteryear and brings it inside the home with a selection of stunning, hand-made plant pictures. These living collages of mosses and ferns will reduce noise levels and require neither water nor light thanks to a natural preservation process based on water, food colouring and glycerine. There’s a range of styles from forest floor to jungle to suit any interior.
Hands has woven carpets for some of the world’s most prestigious palaces, luxury hotels, institutions and residences for 135 years. A dedicated, in-house design team tracks global consumer trends in the ever-evolving world of interior design and introduces new collections every season that span Transitional, Contemporary, Art Deco, Floral, and Traditional styles. Beyond these core collections, Hands Bespoke Design creates carpets that are completely custom-made, designed, sized and crafted around a unique, personal idea or expression.
Hands prides itself on the quality and finesse of the final product – each carpet has an incredible 4900 knots per square inch and is hand-knotted and hand-tufted by weavers with generations of expertise. Materials used are amongst the finest, from New Zealand wool to the most luxurious botanicals and purest silks.
A decade ago, Prateek Jain and Gautam Seth, known as the ‘lighting boys’, launched Klove, with a collection of simple, beautifully hand-crafted lights. In ten years of travel, experimentation, training and adventure, they have built a progressive and sustainable design business with huge potential for growth that combines art and commerce. In 2008, Klove literally lit up the market when the brand became known for its blown glass chandeliers, which later evolved into larger installations and highly customized products. Their recent collections have signaled a return to their original, simpler designs.
Muriel Kai (Lebanon)
Muriel Kai graduated in product design from the Académie Libanaise de Beaux Arts in Lebanon and throughout her studies learnt the timeless process of design. For Muriel, product design is not just about making an object pretty, it is about creating new experiences with known products and identifying new ways to improve lifestyles by reducing or completely eliminating negative environmental impact. She uses fruit leather, an innovative material made from a mix of fruit and vegetable waste. Because this 100% organic material is flexible, translucent, and has a smooth finish, it can be applied to a variety of products, including tea lights and jewellery boxes.
NM Collection (UAE)
NM Collection, founded by Abu Dhabi-based designers Fouad Mirza and Ritchie Nolasco, is a new line of contemporary furniture that reshapes the past with a unique and fresh feel, effortlessly integrating modern luxury with traditional Islamic Art. By integrating local artisanal craftsmanship and Arabesque design elements with modern design, NM Collection strives to represent the UAE as a leading source of high-end design on the international stage.
Pallavi Dean (UAE)
Pavalli Dean’s mantra is that interior design is not about fads, trends and fashions: every space should be built around the people who use it. The interiors of the interior design practice’s hotels, offices and homes combine the efficiency of German production and a unique feel that seeks to inspire experiences that hit you the moment you step inside, striving to recreate the first time you heard Mozart or saw a Picasso. At Downtown Design, Pallavi Dean debuts a first product collection, working with highly-regarded manufacturers Stellar Works and Preciosa Lighting.
Paola Sakr (Lebanon)
Paola Sakr is a Lebanese product designer and photographer. Through her passion for innovation, she aims to make the world a better place. Morning Ritual is a series of biodegradable containers made of coffee grounds and newspaper waste inspired by the designer’s childhood memories watching her father sip Arabic coffee while reading the newspaper. The collection draws our attention to the fact that we often generate waste before our day even begins.
Samovar Carpets (Kuwait)
Samovar Carpets and Furniture, a family carpet business founded back in the 1920s by Alaa Hindi and Sons, defines refinement and hospitality. The brand has become synonymous with luxury and quality by providing their clients with exceptional handmade carpets, furniture and antiques from around the world, impeccable pre and post sale customer service and a personal learning and buying experience in a comfortable setting without pressure or haste.
Samovar presents the traditional and timeless beauty of the past with a modern flare while also providing a luxurious and leisurely experience, and is the Guinness World Record Holder for the Largest Handwoven Carpet made in Iran in 2009.
Tamara Barrage (Lebanon)
Beirut-based product designer Tamara Barrage engages in exploring the tactile and sensorial characteristics of various materials. Using an array of experimental techniques, Tamara aspires to better articulate how forms and textures provoke our senses, emotions and memories.