‘Scandustrializing’ Dubai with The Bowery

This post is also available in: Français (French) العربية (Arabic)

It’s great to learn all about the creative work taking place across the region, be it art, music or even tech. At Infographic.ly, we find inspiration in the success of others and wanted to share that with our network. That’s why, each month we’ll feature a profile of someone, as part of our new ‘Creative Industries’ spotlight. Our first chat was with Christiane Daou, founder of The Bowery Company, an ecommerce site dedicated to Scandinavian furniture and home accessories for the region.

Daou was one of the first to break the predominant bricks and mortar mold in 2015, paving the way for fellow interior design businesses to curate and sell online. Her highly regarded ‘Scandustrial’ concept brought international and emerging designers to the region, offering affordable luxury paired with good design to her range of clients.

Also credited as being one of the first to bring the light box and letter board trend to the UAE, her impressive portfolio of designers from across the globe ensures a unique offering for those looking for eclectic and thoughtful pieces, as well as serving as an inspiration to entrepreneurs and designers alike, to make the leap into unfamiliar territory.

Starting your career in finance and then shifting to something more creative, seems to be turning into a norm in this region. How did you land on such a unique, hybrid concept of blending New York’s Bowery Avenue aesthetic to the preferences of the region as the core of your business?

I was in New York in September 2014 and walking along Bowery Avenue – an area that separates the East and West village – transitioning from industrial to posh and a prevalence of, ‘scandustrial’ pieces. I loved the idea of bringing the same aesthetic to the region; the unique blend of both industrial and Scandinavian. There were hardly any online concept stores at the time, as the focus was very much on having a physical space. So, when I came back to Dubai, in February 2015, I launched the idea with nothing more than a gut feeling, while still working my full-time job in finance.

In addition to the ecommerce business, you also added an offline extension to the Bowery offering; a free design service, where customers could use an interior designer to reimagine their home using Bowery products. How did this come about?

We had a lot of requests for advice, with customers sending in photos of their home, asking if they were to buy one of our products, would it go with what they already had, so it was very much driven by our customers’ needs. Once we saw the demand was there, it pushed us to expand the scope of the site and offer this service, which has proven very popular with users.

I think the process has a lot to do with its popularity as well. We work with an interior designer in-house, who will then do a site visit to see the space, following it up with a mood board and a few sketches of the concept they think will work for the consumer. 90% of the time they go with our suggestions, which is great. It’s very much a personalized service, driven by a tailored shopping list of items based on answers from a completed client survey.

The timeliness Scandinavian style has been embraced across the region since your company’s launch. From your experience, what do you see as the emerging interior design trends for 2019 and beyond?

In the past year we have seen a lot of colorful palettes, however now we are returning to more earthy tones, with indoor greenery complementing this trend. Fabric wise, linen will be a popular choice, with consumers more committed to making sustainable choices, while in flooring, we’ll see terracotta and terrazzo taking the lead.

Interestingly enough, both ends of the color palette will be catered for next season as well, with the ‘all black’ look continuing in popularity, simultaneously with ‘everything pastel’ style. This is fast replacing grey as the tonal of choice, with pastels now considered the ‘new neutrals’, gaining in status with every season.

In terms of finishing touches, the sumptuous elegance from previous seasons surrounding art décor – the metallics, gold, brass, velvet and the roaring 20s – will be here to stay as well.

It’s clear that the region is flooded with extremely talented and creative individuals. We’ve also seen a growing interest from the younger generation to look outside of the ‘formal’ career paths using tech as a means for support. In your opinion, what should we as designers be doing in the UAE/GCC to support new, emerging local and international talent?

I think we need to create a stronger ecosystem that supports design. There is a lot of this already for tech in the region, but this hasn’t translated across to our industry, despite big initiatives such as D3 and the Design District, which have cropped up over the last few years.

Big groups need to support the smaller businesses, making access easier for emerging talent and start-ups to be able to afford to grow. There needs to be more initiatives from bigger companies to create scholarships and provide a platform that gives support to these smaller companies, which in turn will fuel this ecosystem.

Finding inspiration can come from anywhere. Where you do find your inspiration day-to-day?

Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration I find day-to-day, with the latter just edging ahead for me. Everything is so readily available online, so people have so much choice at the touch of a button to discover something new. On the flip side, you can easily get overwhelmed in the digital space, so being specific when you search, using the right hashtag or keyword, is great for filtering through the things you don’t need to see.