We interviewed Omar Madi, General Manager of MODA LINE General Trading LLC, a professional from Dubai who works daily with designers and architects from the United Arab Emirates. We talked to him about trends and the use of materials.
What are the current trends in interior design in the United Arab Emirates and specifically in Dubai?
The UAE is a melting pot of cultures as it is home to over 200 nationalities. As a cosmopolitan city, it is more for innovative designs — either contemporary or more modern — with special attention to novel material solutions and applications that are environmentally friendly oriented. What is truly remarkable is that even though the European contemporary style is very much appreciated and used, there is always the presence of the local culture and heritage interwoven in the designs, thus preserving the UAE’s rich cultural heritage that is simply amazing
How have customer tastes evolved in recent years?
Customer tastes have become more selective and quality oriented. This has been a natural progression mainly influenced by the cultural diversity of the people living and working in the area. With the UAE’s strategic positioning, where East meets West, travel to different corners of the world (be for pleasure or business) has become the norm, both for expatriates and locals alike.
It is therefore not surprising to meet people who when you talk to them seem to be more knowledgeable about your own country. Their taste in fashion, food, design, art is so international that it is easier to propose to them what is the latest, for example in our field, that ranges from architectural to interior design materials. With them being well versed with the trends, the first question usually asked is: “What new concept can you advise and why?”
Do you think Arab designers and architects take influences from Europe and America or have they created their own style?
It’s a mixture of creativity, influenced by American … mostly European styles. At any rate, this is the case all over the world whereby a truly creative person has the inherent curiosity to observe and be inspired by others … setting their own standards and thus creating their distinctive style.
If we talk about architecture, Dubai has become an exponent of a risky, spectacular architecture… does the same thing happen with interior design?
It should go hand-in-hand and this happened approximately in the last couple of decades. Previously, there were beautiful architectural projects, yet the quality of the interiors are not at par with the exterior. Now, it’s a natural process to have design coordination – at the onset – between architects, interiors, lighting designers and landscape designer. The design intent has become more homogenous, thus enhancing the overall design right down to the finer details.
The UAE market offers more possibilities for premium materials and products for design and architecture… Which are the most appreciated?
That is true. There is a sensitivity towards the latest material solutions especially in terms of hard finishes (such as floorings, walls finishes and wall claddings), either for exteriors or interiors. The same goes for materials for hardscape. They became the essence for architectural and interior projects. The “standard” marbles became “exclusive” marbles, in terms of laser, water jet, and surface finishes. Wood, metal and innovative quartz materials are very much appreciated, especially when they come in big sizes as they have become the preference of discerning clients.
Are there differences in the use of quartz and marble by Arab and European professionals?
When it comes to selection of material, beige remains a predomenant color in the Gulf área, mixed with accent brown colors, whereas Europeans tend to steer to shades of grey and whites.