West Elm now in Dubai…

West Elm has now opened in Dubai Mall, so it will be on my list of things to do this weekend….I am dying to see the new store and I am hoping that it will offer something a little  different from Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.

dubai mall west elm

Looking through the latest catalogue , I have to say I think they have some lovely items for sale….here’s hoping these will be available in store!!

west elm catalogue 1

Love these chairs….yellow seems to be coming through very strongly, as does green….

image via westelm.com
image via westelm.com

These hexagonal tables are divine….I may have to pack them up and take them home!

Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah………

image via juneirah.com

A couple of months ago , I had the opportunity to visit this amazing hotel for a cup of coffee with my sister and a friend.

Situated on the Palm Jumeirah, it is designed with an Ottoman inspired theme. As with most 5 star hotels in Dubai, it is really over the top luxurious ,with acres of marble floors, gold leaf on every surface and intricately painted domes with chandeliers to rival those of a palace.

main lobby and entrance

Huge gold leafed columns dominate the main lobby with a lovely fountain which creates a soft bubbling sound as you enter the hotel.

I loved the choice of  colours in the tea lounge ceiling..a delicate duck-egg blue with gold leaf…it looked like something Faberge might have designed…just exquisite.

corridor leading off from the main lobby

The corridor leading off from the main lobby has soaring double volume ceilings with,yes, you guessed it, even more elaborate chandeliers…I particularly liked the grey and white marble laid in stripes on the walls…

image by adesigndiary
image by adesigndiary

The detail in the arches of the corridor…..

image by adesigndiary
image by adesigndiary

This regal room is one of the restaurants…it truly looks like something from a movie set…the waiters who were setting up for dinner when I stuck my head in to take photos, must have thought I was mad because I was wondering around with my head tilted back to see the ornate ceilings….

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image via adesigndiary

Details of the spectacular ceiling….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

As you can see, the detail on the ceilings is mind boggling….actually the attention to detail all over the hotel is mind boggling. It is a must see for someone like me who works in decorative finishes as almost every wall, dome and ceiling is has some kind of pattern work on it.

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

Column details with gold leaf application….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

Looking down the length of the restaurant….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

An interior fountain….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

The entrance to the Turkish Restaurant..this was my favourite …the decorative painting was unbelievable and just blew my mind!

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image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

Amazing detail on the ceiling and walls…apparently done by Turkish artists specifically brought out to do the work.

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image via adesigndiary

The walls of the restaurant..again lots of detail and gold leaf….beautifully executed pattern and design.

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

A more detailed view of the central lobby dome…

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image via adesigndiary

Detail of the dome at the entrance to the main restaurant….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

One of the many domes in the hallways….

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

The entrance to the Talise Spa…I did try and get in to take some photos but they were busy and politely declined!

image via adesigndiary
image via adesigndiary

A view of the magnificent marble floors in the corridor leading to the main lobby dome.

Our visit to this hotel was almost an overload on my senses  and by the end of two hours, I felt a bit overwhelmed…I would love to go back again just to try and see some more of the detail which I missed on this visit….my sister and I have decided that we want to go back for a spa visit, so hopefully I will be able to take some photos of the interior of the spa and see some more of the rest of the hotel!

Changes…

image taken by me
image taken by adesigndiary

I did mention in an earlier post, that my business will be going through some changes this month and I can now confirm that I will be moving premises and getting a new studio to work in! I will be hiring some additional staff to help out with work and I will also be travelling a bit more to source and execute work-the company I am working with has offices in  a few countries outside of Dubai , which is very exciting for me because I have never had the resources to expand like that before!

All in all, I think this will be a very exciting new direction for my business and one which I am ready to take….what I do is extremely specialised , and in most cases, very much part of a luxury, niche market. The company I will be aligning myself with has a lot of contacts in this market and I hope that my business will be adding value to theirs and theirs to mine.

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I will be focusing on a very select type of project and providing a very high level of service and quality. This is going to require intense training for my staff and a LOT of supervision and direction once they get on site. I also plan to train someone to be “me”when I am out of the office and checking on other sites …this should free me up somewhat and allow me to actually have a life!

My main goal over the past two or three years was to recover from the massive hit I took during the collapse of the construction and property industry in Dubai, but  now that we are in recovery , I feel like I can finally focus on balancing my life more…more exercise, more socialising with friends  and family, and more time to do some things I love- like painting for myself and not just for clients!

image by adesigndiary
image by adesigndiary

All in all, I feel very positive going ahead and I hope to have some amazing projects to feature on my blog this year, particularly projects outside of Dubai!

A New-ish blog…

My wonderfully talented friend(whose wonderful African  wedding I featured here) has started a blog which I discovered quite recently…she is an incredible artist, takes amazing photographs and can apparently write too…is there no end to this girl’s talents!

image via http://www.paperbrush.com
image via http://www.paperbrush.com

She and her lovely husband travel extensively, and her blog features photos (and tales) of the fabulous places they visit. Sometimes she includes her sketches which are just adorable….

image via http://www.paperbrush.com
image via http://www.paperbrush.com

Isn’t it amazing how talented,creative people are so often talented in other disciplines such as photography or styling…L and I actually attended college together and studied Textile Design and she is an extraordinary artist who has exhibited in Europe and the US!

image via http://www.paperbrush.com
image via http://www.paperbrush.com

Do take a look at her blog...she has promised to start posting more regularly…and we would love to see more sketches please Ms Paperbrush!!

Happy Valentine’s Day….

This really has become quite a controversial day….if you’re dating someone, the pressure is on…if you’re single the pressure is really on not to feel like a loser because you’re alone, and let us not start on the expense of the whole day! I feel terribly sorry for the poor men who have to organise an evening for their ladies…here in Dubai, the price for dinner is sometimes double and even triple the normal cost for an evening out….it is quite scary. While I understand the basics of business (supply and demand) I still find it abhorrent how people are fleeced on this day in particular…I wonder if the Victorians had the same problem….

image via http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/
image via http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/

A beautifully intricate (and one would assume hand-made) Valentine card…..

I personally try to ignore the day entirely and just pretend that it doesn’t exist but I did want to mark the occasion by posting some images of romance, or at least my interpretation of romance…..something I  think is rather sadly missing in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives….

image via oneandroyalmiragedubaiuae.com
image via oneandroyalmiragedubaiuae.com

A romantic place to stay…nothing says romance like an exotic five star beach front hotel lit up at night…..

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image via the weinstein company

A classic and timeless love story….Wallis and Edward

image via tumblr
image via tumblr

Dining under the stars with a real tablecloth and a chandelier (of sorts!)…….

image via http://www.thisisglamorous.com
image via http://www.thisisglamorous.com

The utterly decadent romance of St. Petersburgh in the snow…..images of Anna Karenina spring to mind, with sleigh rides under mounds of fur blankets….

scrapbook1

A glamorous pair of heels…………

image source unknown
image source unknown

And , a fabulously romantic bathroom, with the most lush wallpaper……

image via ralph lauren
image via ralph lauren

Last but not least..the ultimate romantic perfume, Romance by Ralph Lauren….the love story of Nacho Figueras and his lovely wife Delfina, adds to the mystique of the perfume of course! It was literally a case of love at first sight for both of them when they saw each other at a polo match…..whatever the story, it is one of my favourite scents….

Enjoy the day of love….whatever you end up doing.

 

Recycled Furniture….

I wanted to share a few pieces of furniture we finished recently….my client wanted a white beach-y look,  distressed and aged, with a bold colour used on the interior of the armoire and the drawers…I think it worked out really well and she was thrilled with the results!

Armoir with bright painted interior
Armoire with bright painted interior
Detail showing the inside of the drawer
Detail showing the inside of the drawer
Small bedside cabinet with drawers
Small bedside cabinet with drawers
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Detail of bedside cabinet

I am always happy when I re-do furniture for clients – it is eco-friendly, works with the whole philosophy of recycle and re-use and best of all, it saves clients a lot of money. Refurbishing old or existing furniture costs about half of what new furniture would cost and is so much better for the planet! Painted furniture is also hugely popular at the moment and is really on trend, so one piece will update the look of the decor in a room completely.

I always use non-toxic water based paints and wherever possible, I use waxes and not varnishes as a sealer. Painted furniture adds character and texture to your home and the fact that all of our finishes  are  hand done, adds an artistic feel to the home.

Then and Now…

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Dubai back then….. that large patch of sand at the top left  of the image is where the Burj Khalifa now stands.                      image via http://dubaiw.net

Today, 13 years ago, I arrived in Dubai off a flight from Johannesburg, to work on a 6 month project….many  years later..I am still here!

Dubai back then was a very different place to what it is now…, there was no Palm Island, no Burj Khalifa, very few high rise buildings and to get from our hotel (which seemed to be miles out of the city) took a 20 minute drive in a taxi! Sheikh Zayed Road, our main highway, was only about two or three lanes wide..it is now 7 lanes wide each way!

There were two shopping Malls-City Centre and Bur Juman Centre…imagine that! Only two….now we have about 10 to choose from…and we had to freight in all of our paints and glazes and even some of the brushes , because no one had heard of the materials we used!

There were very few beach front  hotels, (and no Dubai Marina) and we (four artists from South Africa) came out to decorate a new tower being built in one of those 5star hotels. We lived in the operational part of the hotel for about 8 months and it was quite an experience, I can assure you!We had a suite and our own valet who used to arrive each day to change our bed linen and towels …well, that lasted about two days and we had ask the poor guy to reduce the service to just twice a week..now I look back and I wish that someone would change my bed linen every day so I could get into crisply ironed sheets every night! What luxury…. You would be surprised how quickly one tires of hotel food….after about a month of eating the rich hotel food every day, we longed for a simple salad and food with no sauces!! Yes, I know I sound like I am whining, but it became a little too much at times….we would work for about 6-8 days flat out and then they would give us 5 days off while they got another section of the project ready for us and we would spend all of those five days lounging on the beach working on our tans..it was a tough life, I tell you!!

It was a really interesting experience , working with so many different nationalities and trying to deal with the cultural differences. At times, we were the only women on a building site of over 1500 men, and we were asked numerous times why we were doing the work of men…in fact one man asked me why I was not at home looking after my children and husband…yikes, I was not happy with that comment! I have learned over the years not to react in a negative way to such comments, but rather to explain that my culture is different to theirs and neither way is wrong. As a result of living with such a culturally diverse community, I have learned so many things about how people all over the world do things, and yet we are all basically very similar…we all want to love and be loved, take care of our families and want  our children to be well educated and safe.

Dubai is a very unique place in that  Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists etc all live together in harmony, mainly because we are all here for the same reason…to make a good living in a safe and prosperous environment. I love the fact that at any given time, one can sit at a dinner table and eat with Germans, British, Australians, Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese…..it is the United Nations in practice and it is one of the main reasons I love living here!

Dubai now...image via http://www.funonthenet.in
Dubai now…image via http://www.funonthenet.in

I am not sure that I will be here for another 13 years, but however long I stay on here, I feel very lucky to have been a small part of the development and growth of this amazing city.