1. Eclectic energy
Design is moving away from the clinical, ‘showroom’ feel, to more of a rule-free hotchpotch. Mix it up with a combination of antique and contemporary, high-cost and low, and natural and synthetic pieces to bring a rich, tonal feel to your space. A show-stopping rug is a great place to start. Visit Treniq’s curated rug showcase (stand 5C240), where designs from around the world include Gerard Pukhe’s award-winning Yuu rug and Rachel Bates’ luxurious peacock creation. But remember, take your time: accrue pieces gradually from your travels or as gifts. True eclecticism can’t be rushed.
2. A nod to mid-century
The hunger for all things mid-century modern continues apace. Think Mad Men, rather than G-Plan, with clean, geometrical lines and brass and leather accents. Again, the key is in the mixing. You don’t want to look like you’re hiding an avocado bath suite back there, so combine the odd statement piece with more contemporary styles. Ebarza (stand SS2F101) has truly ridden the mid-century wave, with its huge selection of fabulous Eames-style chairs and 50s-inspired lighting fixtures giving your space just enough of a nod to the era without tipping it into I Love Lucy.
3. Bring the outdoors in
Cacti motifs may be everywhere at the moment, from t-shirts to lilos, but don’t be put off. The real deal is still worth having, especially individually potted and displayed in large groupings – even going as far as to create a ‘living wall’. In fact, the entire succulent family (which includes cacti) is your friend: they are excellent at cleansing the air and removing toxins. Visit My Green Chapter (stand ArC235) to learn about how you can adopt the ‘urban farming’ concept in Dubai – from hydroponic growing kits to cultivation tables. And if you don’t fancy all that watering, botanical prints are seeing a resurgence and can create an interesting mirrored effect.
4. Urban nomad
Done to extreme, this concept can seem like the height of pretension – almost like a scratch-off map of the world. But in a city like Dubai, where so many cultures collide, it’s a perfect fit. Mixed in with contemporary pieces, a carefully curated collection of artisanal ‘objets’ can say more about you than your Instagram feed. Combine antique bedspreads from India with family heirlooms and, yes, the odd African mask (if you must) to tell your own personal story. Lotus Arts de Vivre (stand ArA273) has a fabulous selection of ethnically-inspired, slightly eccentric pieces that won’t fail to get your guests talking.
5. Sustainable spaces
With environmental concerns increasingly on the agenda, using natural, sustainably-sourced materials is a great way of joining the movement. Think lots of wood, stone and indoor plants (see ‘Bringing the outdoors in’). Unfortunately, this look doesn’t come cheap, but clever old nature is built to last, so it’s an investment worth making. Even small touches can make a difference. Mango Beat’s (stand ArC234) sleek, innovative speakers, made from mango wood from Thailand, are a great way of combining natural materials with contemporary comfort.
6. Bespoke colour
Personalisation has moved beyond accessories to homeware, with people seeking an ever more individual look and feel to their homes. Bespoke paint colours are an easy starting point to avoid joining Elephant’s Breath ubiquity. Meanwhile, custom-made furniture is a great way of adding a personal touch to your space, while truly meeting your domestic needs. Bold Bespoke Design (stand SS3E69) has made a name for itself in the sector, with its luxurious, custom-made furniture made in the UAE. Stick with timeless designs that won’t date, to give your bespoke pieces plenty of life.
7. Wallpaper fever
Wallpaper hasn’t been this popular since the 19th century – and requires commitment. We’re talking full coverage, not mimsy accent walls. Truly bold designs work brilliantly in smaller rooms such as bathrooms or studies. But don’t be afraid to embrace a contemporary graphic print somewhere unexpected, like the kitchen. If you’re shy of too much colour, a kid’s bedroom is a great place to start. Art Source Gallery (ArA235) has a fabulous selection of classic and contemporary styles, and can even customise their designs according to your requirements.
8. Understated luxury
Disposable consumerism is out; timeless, quality pieces that will last a lifetime are in. Bespoke designs fit the bill here, as do classic styles that aren’t necessarily the focal point of a room, but will work in any space. ‘Made in the UAE’, a section of the show dedicated to local craftsmen using traditional design and handicraft methods, is a fantastic place to source original, beautifully-crafted pieces that will stand the test of time. Equally, the designer Yasmin Farahmandy’s (who won the Rising Star Award in 2017) new furniture range for Provasi is well worth a look.
9. Bold kitchens
Bright, white kitchens now only belong in Ikea catalogues of yore. Use a strong colour palette – dark blue, teal and slate are everywhere at the moment – to really bring your kitchen up to date. Or simply repaint existing units as a budget-friendly option. Surfaces should be the best quality you can afford while also being practical. Technistone by Buamim Marble & Granite Factory’s (stand SS1B170) engineered European quartz is a hard-wearing surface that will not only withstand almost all domestic hazards, but also add to your contemporary look.
Statement floors – in particular bright tiles and mosaics – are a fantastic way of bringing bold, contemporary design to your home without going full technicolour. Just check out the Instagram account @ihavethisthingwithfloors for proof: the account is littered with feet selfies to satisfy the floor-lovers among us all. As with bold wallpaper, the look works best in small spaces such as bathrooms – or even just in the shower. Mosaics in particular offer a classy nod to the Arab world’s Moorish design heritage and can also be customised. Now all you need to do it snap it and post it. Just don’t forget to include your feet!
Katie Boucher is an arts, culture and lifestyle writer with m ore than a decade’s experience in the UAE. She has written for titles including Vision magazine and The National