Dubai-based consulting editor, design journalist and interior architect Pratyush Sarup curates the key trends emerging from Downtown Design 2017.
The fifth edition of Downtown Design is a showcase of the latest innovation in design, materiality and production technology. Threading together this diverse universe of exceptional interior brands is a high regard for artisanal culture and the deft craftsmanship of master makers.
An antidote to mass produced, impersonal design; a revival of the humanity in the creative process sees a growing number of design brands turning to traditional crafts to apprise their vision. This creative direction brings artisan communities that were edged out by industrialised production back into the fold, reviving centuries old crafts for a new generation and imbuing these communities with a new sense of relevance in the modern world.
The impact of this return to the crafts is most visible in the luxury rugs market. Ferreira de Sá, Hands Carpets & Rugs, and Illulian celebrate weavers with generations of expertise, channelling their skills into contemporary design. The finest wool and most luxurious qualities of natural silks inform their creations that anoint exclusive hotels and homes. Dubai Design District based artist Cecilia Setterdahl’s paintings inspire floor-art that is hand-knotted in India.
For over 60 years, the family run art porcelain brand Lladro has sustained a sculptors’ approach to creating its fine chandeliers and figurines. The artist’s sketches are developed by artisans, impeccably refined by hand and fired in state-of-the-art kilns to present modern-day masterpieces. Elad Yifrach founded L’Objet in the USA in 2004. Working with the finest porcelain artists and seeking new expression – through hand-applied 24kt gold and Swarovski crystals, for example – L’Objet has garnered repute for a timeless yet unmistakably modern application of Limoges porcelain. Mosaico, the Ras al-Khaimah based manufacturer lends both visual and textural impact with its hand-made tiles using natural pigments, marble powder and cement.
Known for its evocative light installations, Melogranoblu strikes an effortless balance between cutting edge lighting technology and artisanal crafts. Each of their made to order pieces are unique, made with passion by craftsmen and brought to life as light illuminates hand blown glass.
A symbol of superb French craftsmanship, Baccarat stands on a storied history spanning over 250 years of developing infinite possibilities for sculpting crystal. Its chandeliers are a fine example of the atelier’s ever-evolving spirit. Marrying Baccarat crystals with hand-made Murano glass under the supervision of some of the most brilliant designers; these one-of-a-kind, timeless works of art illuminate exceptional residences and palaces.
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Pratyush Sarup, a Dubai-based Consulting Editor and Journalist specialising in architecture, design and art, is one of the most regarded analytical authorities on design in the Middle East. Follow him on Instagram @pratyush.sarup.