iada winner pallavi dean on her design hero's and plans for 2018
Behind the Scenes: What projects are you currently working on? Can you give us an insight on the processes?
We’ve got a lot on the books at the moment. Some are long-term projects, such as The Delano Dubai hotel on Palm Jumeirah – the shell is built, and interior fit-out will happen in 2018. We’re also working on smaller projects with a turnaround time of just a few months. I’m really excited about a new restaurant that’s nearly finished in the Al Qasbah area of Sharjah: Shababeek with celebrity Lebanese chef Maroun Chedid. The new Vitra showroom in D3 is also ready for handover – it’s a huge privilege to work with such an iconic European design name like Vitra.
In terms of our process, our mantra is ‘Create experiences through design’, and we live and breathe that. The guiding principle is always the experience of the people who will use a space – the students in a school, the staff in an office etc. That means doing lots of research before a line is drawing or a brick is laid, to really understand the users of the space, in some cases better than they understand themselves. That’s not easy, so we’ve developed a research tool that we call User Experience Design to walk our clients through a rigorous, step-by-step research process right at the start of the project. It’s tempting as a designer to bypass this process and jump straight into the concept, but this investment of time pays huge dividends later on.
Who is your favourite interior designer and why?
It would be impossible for any designer to pick just one?! I have so many design heroes - Patricia Uriquloa, Nendo, Zaha Hadid, MVRDV - the list goes on. Although, someone who I keep coming back to for inspiration is Thomas Heatherwick - is there anything he can't do? From product design to architecture, he has done it all - his work is the perfect marriage between craft and design and has an ethereal quality. I think Terence Conran said it best - "the Leonardo da Vinci of our times".
What are the Middle East's biggest interior design trends for 2018?
I've never been an advocate of trends. I've repeatedly said good design is timeless - based on strong architectural principles of balance, proportion, light and material. Unlike fashion, spaces are something we inhabit for longer periods of time, trends can't be a starting point for any design as they are temperamental. I think instead of looking at trends - we can look at what the 'design focus' will in the coming years. For me, it is going to be about Biophilia - bringing the nature within the space. Sustainability looks at the human impact on nature and Biophilia is the opposite it looks at the impact nature has on humans. Research shows, spaces that embrace this design philosophy have a strong impact on productivity, mood, and general well being!