Dubai: Here’s how to design, and doll up your homes

Stick to the rules as you experiment with trends, but stay focused on creating a space that is uniquely you

Scallops and waves can be found in Custom No. 9’s latest range

Interior designer and decorator, Albert Hadley, once said, "The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilised, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what's in or what's out. This is not an easy job.” And we couldn’t help but agree. Yes, trends rule our choices, but one can’t overlook the fundamental rules of design when setting up a living space. Experts in the UAE shed light on this.


The rule of seven


An aesthetically done-up room

incorporates seven elements — balance, unity, rhythm, emphasis, contrast, scale, proportion, and details. What is the most important one according to the experts? "Each element plays a crucial role when decorating an indoor/ outdoor space. However, ‘balance’ and ‘details’ are the most important elements. Balance creates unity, and details personalise the space. Often, aesthetically finished spaces are built with three elements kept in mind: balance, the proportion of the furniture, and the appropriate scale of the products. This is especially evident in large rooms when the selection of products, colours, and finishes are not balanced," said Luiza Jodziewicz, regional interior designer leader, Al-Futtaim IKEA. “The answer to this can be very subjective. Weighing all options, the most important next to scale would be details. Adding accents and small details gives your room personality and life. The beauty of this is the story behind every carefully selected object in its given space. Details play a part in the repetition of design such as textures, colours, shapes and finishes – creating harmony in any room,” said Rhena Ahmadie, senior visual merchandiser, Crate and Barrel, UAE.


“Less is more” is the new luxury, as per Crate and Barrel's experts

"The room aesthetic, not unlike most things, needs balance which breeds positivity, translating into comfort and contentment. The most important element is visual balance, ornamented with impactful details. Balance provides a soothing aura and is soft on the eyes. Over-detailed and imbalanced rooms often tend to be jarring and a frustrating environment to walk into," said Richard Snowball, general manager, Royal Furniture, UAE. “Contrast stands out the most to us. The contrast of textures, shapes and colours is what brings dimension and points of interest to a room. Brought together in a skillful and tasteful way, the dimension creates a real feeling of depth, balance and warmth in an interior space,” said Amy Durnford, founder, Custom No. 9, a bespoke home-grown furniture and interiors brand based in Dubai. She elaborated on how dimension can be achieved through contrasting elements via thick pile rug textures combined with sleek and minimal design coffee tables, “Scalloped or rounded shapes can contrast nicely with straight lines to add visual depth, while textured fabric cushions layered on linen sofas again provide a level of dimension. The skill is in ensuring these textures match and complement rather than clash.” Luiza added how the quality of the finish is important, which is considered as a detail too, "Even a well-designed space with poorly finished interiors will undermine the final look and effect of the space."


Interior design can be somewhat of a science and every element in a room is important and complements the others. Opulence and luxury will always be a traditional Dubai trend when it comes to home furnishing, entertainment and hospitality; but now, with new shifts in the market and what’s represented on social media platforms, a new modern and minimal palette is favourable.

Rhena Ahmadie, senior visual merchandiser, Crate and Barrel, UAE

Al-Futtaim IKEA experts observed that people are looking for light-coloured furniture and similar interiors

Dubai, watch out for these trends and tips

Soft curves and round edges are the most notable trends to keep an eye out for in Dubai. Richard shared how experts believe that curved furniture can improve one's well-being and evoke emotional calmness and happiness too, "Softer curves often speak to a warm and comfortable environment giving a sense of 'home' to those in the room." Rhena shared how when dressing a room, one should pick a core piece as a focal item and then use design to frame and enhance this piece, “This core item could be a sofa, accent chair, wall art, an item you brought back from your travels or a coffee table. This touches again on the details element because, with modern or eclectic design, every piece is carefully thought out and owns its space. Almost like having your own little art gallery, where furniture becomes the focal piece.” Amy added, “We definitely keep up with global trends when it comes to interiors and furniture but there is an emerging scene of amazing designers here who are making a stamp for themselves by setting their own trends.” Rhena added, “There are three trends to look out for — mid-century modern, eclectic and minimalistic design. This includes some soft, curved and organic shapes with playful textures, neutral hues and two-toned statements.”

Social media has been at the forefront of setting trends throughout different verticals since its inception. Furniture is not any different. With the easy accessibility to the internet and cross-pollination of different videos and images over social media, it's easy to influence direct consumers of certain products and aesthetics despite geographical distance.

Richard Snowball, general manager, Royal Furniture, UAE


Strive for a balance advise Royal Furniture's experts

Now more than ever, we see people paying more attention to their homes and their interiors after recently having spent most of their time at home with their families. With this, we also see a new trend appear, which relates to the theme of togetherness.

Luiza Jodziewicz, regional interior designer leader, Al-Futtaim IKEA


In Dubai, are we more inclined to follow global trends or Middle Eastern?

"Dubai’s creative scene is flourishing as it becomes a more established city, and the creative community is beginning to believe in themselves/push themselves to come up with bolder designs. Dubai as a city is fostering home-grown creativity more and more, and the knock-on effect of that will see a growth in us setting our own trends here,” said Amy. At Al-Futtaim IKEA, they refer to global trends while maintaining the brand style across product ranges, "Dubai is a multicultural city associated with cultural diversity. Although a large majority of people in Dubai tend to prefer the more glamorous style of living, more communities now look for products and finishes that create soft, neutral, and dessert-inspired spaces," said Luiza.


A big trend we’re seeing right now is edging details in furniture pieces. There is a global movement away from minimal, sleek lines to more character and texture through small details that give a furniture piece an edge.

Amy Durnford, founder, Custom No. 9


"Simply put, social media access has an impact on what is created; and it works in favour of brands, where they can take an idea that works elsewhere in the world, add a locational twist and share it with their audiences," added Richard. Rhena remarked how Middle Eastern or Arabesque geometric shapes find their way into modern design and even architecture in so many beautiful ways, yet Dubai is continuing to grow its roots in the design community, developing its own distinct footprint as East meets West, “Dubai is such an eclectic city. With this comes the opportunity for ample creativity and inspiration from many cultures and influences. It’s an incubation of innovation and modernisation.”


Last word to remember

"Although we like to relax in beautiful hotels, we strive every day to ensure that our interiors correspond to our preferences and reflect our character. As a habit, we like to collect small decorations, sculptures, and souvenirs. In actuality, minimalist interiors are not devoid of them. Details such as a picture frame, a sculpture, or even an ordinary flower can complete an interior, making the space exceptional and uniquely your own," added Luiza.


This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.





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