Designing homes and furniture with Arabic influence and incorporating a taste for opulence can be interesting and diverse. George A. Foster, Design Team Manager at Ethan Allen in The Dubai Mall, speaks to us about how his job, his clients and his design work in the UAE is different from the US and the importance of understanding the lifestyle in Dubai so that the living space can be a reflection of this.
1. How do you meet and work with clients here in Dubai? Do you approach meetings in a different way from how you did in the US? When meeting with clients in Dubai, I go about meetings with then in same ay I did in the US. However, the one key difference is that I have a talented sales staff that provides me with all design information about our clients before my design team and I meet with clients. This approach is fantastic, so that my team and I are all prepared prior to going into a meeting to know the specific design tastes and preferences of that specific client. In the US, I was the only professional interior designer assisting the clients and I had to multi-task.
I am grateful that sales staff here at Ethan Allen, The Dubai Mall support me so that the design team and myself can focus on developing designs for clients and meeting with them at there home to bring the designs to life.
2. Is there a particular style that is popular here in Dubai that you had to get used to? No, I would not say that there is a particular style that I had to get used to. It was more getting used to working with clients with a different lifestyle. For instance, here I have spent a good among of time designing homes that will entertain large groups – from family and friends as well as business partners and I love it! I enjoy designing a space that is used for entertaining. Additionally, my creativity gets to reach levels in this region since I get to work with a different culture, style and region of the world.
3. Moving towards the Majlis room in many homes here in the region, was it an adjustment getting used to designing this room since it plays an important and central role here in homes? Yes, it was an adjustment but not in terms of creativity on designing a large space, but rather how to introduce a different approach and design concept for this room to my regional clients. As we all know, the Majlis is a traditional room in the Arab culture to welcome and entertain guests. Coming from the US, I have an outside approach on how to spice up this room from a décor standpoint to make it welcoming, yet with a comforting lived in feel with a modern twist. After 9 months of living in Dubai, I can say that when it comes to implementing new design concepts to the Majlis room, I have become a pro!
4. What are some of the popular home design trends in the region? Is it vastly different from The US? It is definitely different from the US because the approach to life and living is different in this region as compared with the US. When it comes to popular design trends, I would have to say that my clients are the one that establish the design trends. In being an interior designer, it is important for me to get to know clients not only on a professional level but also personally. It is important for me to understand their culture, family and interests and I love being able to connect with them. This information is what allows me to drive my design concepts to the right spot! I believe that every family home reflects a true story of the people that live in it.
5. Are there any products for Ethan Allen that have been made/introduced specifically for this region and are not available in the US or elsewhere? Ethan Allen is a global design company so the introduction of products tailored to the region will be accessible globally by everyone who likes Arabic design, of course with an Ethan Allen twist. The idea of introducing items that will be tailored to and inspired by the Middle Eastern culture and way of life, while still incorporating the Ethan Allen standard of quality, is in the process.
6. Does Ethan Allen make all the furniture locally for the Dubai outlet? No we import everything from the US, which is why the delivery time is longer compared to furniture made locally. We also offer customers the ability to customise their furniture.
7. Is Ethan Allen expanding in the region? We definitely are expanding in the region… It is our main goal.