The world of design has no limits in the eyes of founder and creative director of studio Roar and entrepreneur Pallavi Dean; She graduated from the College of Engineering – American University of Sharjah, and has a master’s degree in interior design theory from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the United States of America, and is LEED accredited (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). A prominent voice in the world of design in the UAE, she is a university professor, writer and designer, whose work straddles the line between reality and the virtual world, and she, as well as her design studio, has been awarded wholesale awards. In the following dialogue, the designer talks to “Madam” about the role of multiculturalism in its formation, and about Dubai, and the recently announced branch of her company in “Metaverse”.
Your parents are of Indian descent; You were born and raised in the UAE and are married to a British citizen. What is its effect on you?
I will give two answers to your question; The first answer is obvious, but important: Dubai shaped my character in part because I grew up surrounded by Arab art, culture and design, as well as the Emirati; Mosques, markets, deserts, calligraphy… which inevitably leaves its mark. The second answer, and perhaps the most powerful one, has to do with cultural pluralism. I am Indian, but I have never lived in India; The UAE is my home, and my husband and children are British. Dubai taught me that life becomes richer and more vibrant when cultures cross; This idea had a huge impact on my design style.
After working in design in the UAE for years; Can we talk about the rise of a contemporary Emirati design style?
Dubai is a very young and vibrant city. Throughout my career I have seen both the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab (hotel), during construction, to completion, which were two very special architectural landmarks. The UAE knows no borders and is open to experimentation to become a world leader in the field of “legendary architecture”. And I think Dubai has found its design voice and has moved from bigger and bolder architecture to architecture that is more context-aware, that is, respecting the country’s heritage and encouraging local community involvement.
I noticed that interior design projects come before product design in your portfolio…
I think interior design and architecture is my number one passion and my main field of business; With the joy of designing products, especially when the opportunity arises to collaborate with the right brands. I am currently designing a home collection; The stores are supposed to arrive in the fourth quarter of next year (2023).
She taught at the American University of Sharjah; How would you describe today’s students?
My advice to my students is to stay curious about all aspects of design and construction, and focus on what the design curriculum doesn’t teach, namely emotional intelligence, public speaking and negotiation skills. The designer plays many roles, so it is important to learn about areas other than their field of study; If bingely reads and invests time and resources in self-development.
Homes are shelters and workplaces
While the Corona virus continues to spread, the majority of people spend most of their time indoors; Are there common features of the future interior design?
People spend about 86% of their time indoors, usually.. the said percentage may rise to 95%, as we enter the third year of the epidemic, while homes continue to do their work diligently to fulfill their roles as shelters and workplaces distance. In this respect, open-plan houses do not seem well suited to those who work remotely, especially if the owners have large families. Readers should imagine the cacophony of voices as Mom and Dad make business calls, the kid joins a school debate, and Grandma calls the grocery store!
so what is the solution?
It is inevitable to allocate a room (corner) for remote work meetings; Note that the latter can be designed in any modest space in the house. There are three basic requirements for this room: a good background, strong lighting and acoustic privacy. As for the background looking through the camera, bookshelves are suitable, with the importance of adjusting the camera angle and lighting, placing the laptop on a stack of books and buying a ring-shaped lamp from any online store. It is useful to remember that natural lighting is great in this context, but experience has proven to me, after sitting in long “online” meetings that started in the late afternoon, with great lighting beaming through the window, that the work meetings ended. in almost total darkness! in terms of acoustics; If the space is small, you can buy or build padded dividers (isolators) at a cheap price, or use bookshelves for this purpose, while reducing the volume of sound, since the carpets, wallpaper, plants and books absorb the sound. It is worth noting that after acoustic panels were until recently expensive specialized products for corporate offices, online stores sell these items at low prices.
You have undertaken projects that fall under the category of Biophilic Design; Do you think said design is a recent trend due to the pandemic or will it continue?
The design mentioned is not a trend; It is a philosophy. Due to the amount of time spent indoors, the imperfect rustic nature of homeowners has become more desirable than ever, and it manifests itself in the texture and in the unfinished wooden furniture, accessories and rough, unfinished materials. To achieve biophilic design, carpets and blankets are a ready-to-use solution, and curtains are a permanent (though more expensive) solution. For maximum effect, it is beneficial to match the wall paint or to choose woven wallpaper or wall covering with natural materials, such as: wood, stone panels, leather, or cut marble, with the use of artificial plants; The effect that the latter has on the moods of the inhabitants is similar to that of natural plants, but the former does not cause trouble, as far as care is concerned. As for natural indoor plants, it is useful to choose varieties with stems (yucca or yucca). In addition, it is correct to cancel the boundaries between the external area (the balcony or the house garden) and the internal spaces. This sounds easier said than done, as most homes have solid partitions separating these spaces. In this context, it is correct to resort to the tricks of restaurant designers, who solve this dilemma by bringing in sliding or folding doors, umbrellas, fans and heaters, to extend the benefit of each season.
A final word on biophilic design?
This design appeals to different human senses; When implementing interior design in general, the designer first thinks about what is remarkable on a visual level, but the other senses should not be neglected; The sense of smell attracted by scented candles or oils, and the important sense of touch, when confined in the interior of narrow houses, knowing that the rough materials are wonderful to touch, and help to reduce the echo of sound to reduce.
The second most expensive property in Dubai
What are the activities that “Studio” Roar is currently undertaking, until the end of this year?
There is a group of very exciting projects, in different sectors, projects that give the joy of working in the management of a multidisciplinary company, namely: a modern hotel in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, a business hotel in the Pakistani capital , Islamabad, a house in Dubai for a beauty mogul, and the second The most expensive property in Dubai for a billionaire ranked on the “Forbes” list of billionaires of the world, in addition to the HERE-O donut chain across Dubai, ‘ a school, and a law office.
A branch of the engineering company in the virtual world
Studio Roar has announced the expansion of its works in the field of architecture and interior design to include the world of “Metaverse”; About the announcement, designer Bellavi Dean tells Madam that she has always been skeptical of the metaverse world, despite reading about the rising value of bitcoins, the sale of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in the millions, and the sale of plots of land in Decentraland (A 3D platform based on a virtual reality browser, where users can buy virtual plots of land on the platform in the form of tokens with cryptocurrency). She adds that she thought buyers and sellers were “crazy” and blowing their hard-earned money on “useless digital bullshit”! However, the tipping point to recover from her skepticism was reached when she reviewed her credit card bill for video games such as: “Roblox”, “Fortnite” and “Minecraft” for her children; She noted that for years she spent “a fortune” in “Metaverse” buying characters, weapons, and even some virtual lands (in the context of games)! That’s why I decided to invest in “Metaverse”, specifically in the domain of Decentraland, the platform founded by two men from Argentina in 2017 and officially launched in 2020. The two men set the plots in the platform at 90,601 plots; In 2017, scarcity is key in the crypto world, which is why Bitcoin is doing so well. The plot cost about $20; Currently, it sells for tens of thousands of dollars. About the virtual world, the designer explains that “her company is creating a digital twin of a retail carpet chain, as well as a showroom for Roar in Decentraland where the plots have a lower carbon footprint (total greenhouse gases from industrial, service or personal emissions).” ».
The business model of her engineering company in the virtual world takes the following form: She bought four lots overlooking the main road in Decentraland, near Genesis Plaza, for about $60,000, noting that “owning four lots can be. classified as ownership.” , and not individual plots, which place additional restrictions on height, in the architecture I mentioned the property [email protected]; The latter includes an art gallery and a bar on the ground floor, a co-working space on the first floor and an experimental hotel room on the second floor. It hopes to monetize by:
- Selling UAE-centric art pieces in NFTs format, with the first set of pieces eventually launching at $1,000 each.
- It is noted that some real estate developers copy the designs of furniture from international designers by ordering factories to implement pieces imitating them, in a way that violates intellectual property! Instead, in the virtual world, Roar offers the opportunity to buy cool, original, legal designs.
- Similar to the property developer model; The company buys land, to build apartments, offices, shops, etc. to build, and then sell it again.
- Charging property design fees in the world of “Metaverse”, in the same way that was adopted with physical buildings almost 10 years ago.
According to the designer, the test is new to everyone, and it is likely to repeat trial and error, not only in the context of land purchase, but also in its design.