Eastern influence

The Middle East is very good at drawing on the best of international influences, whether that is to build infrastructure or develop designs.

COMMENT, Design

The Middle East is very good at drawing on the best of international influences, whether that is to build infrastructure or develop designs.

Figures released recently by Dubai World's statistics department helped to illustrate where a growing amount of this influence is coming from. It revealed a 47% surge in non-oil trade with China. Nestled inside many of the shipping containers Dubai World is counting are custom made furnishings designed locally and manufactured in China.

Many projects here feature furnishings and fittings that have been created especially for the job. These customised touches are what help set local projects apart and would not be seen so frequently if it weren't for Chinese manufacturers. That country's ability to cost-effectively produce the designs penned here gives designers greater freedom to develop the look of an interior.

Asia's influence on Dubai isn't restricted to imported goods. The names of architects and interior designers working out of Singapore crop up more and more in the local market.

DBTA International and Ministry of Design are just a couple that have completed major projects or concepts for the hospitality sector. DBTA has reworked the established look of Wagamama to meet regional needs and Ministry of Design's Colin Seah will be presenting his hotel room concept work in Dubai shortly.

Visit Discovery Gardens, a development nearing completion in new Dubai, and you'll see signs of a Japanese influence too. The Ziqoo Hotel Apartment, owned and operated by Japan's Space Design, have been designed into a building that, from the outside at least, looks like several others in the surrounding Zen area.

Inside it's a different story. The design features modern Japanese touches and again, plenty of custom pieces manufactured in China. It is the company's first venture in Dubai, but given it's design is already attracting bookings, probably not the last.

Stuart Matthews is the Senior Group Editor for ITP Business' design group.

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