There’s no denying that Dubai’s local talent is drawing the attention of international brands and the latest household name to join forces with a regional concept is The Rug Company.
The designer underfoot go-to has teamed up with home-grown furniture boutique The Odd Piece, owned by Arwa Hafiz, opening a dual showroom in Al Quoz’s creative hub Al Serkal – and the brands’ products are a match made in interiors heaven. “We both love design and quality,” says Christopher Sharp, CEO and co-founder of The Rug Company on the duo’s decision to team up. Christopher says,
Arwa Hafiz and Christopher Sharp at the showroom for The Odd Piece and The Rug Company in Al Quoz
The showroom that the partners now share is a perfect representation of their mutual creativity. The raw, industrial aesthetic of the Al Quoz warehouse is softened by piles of hand-woven rugs and brightly coloured trinkets, making the space feel cosy and welcoming. The custom-made marble kitchenette and bespoke dining table, made specifically for the showroom, also help to soften the atmosphere and create the impression of having wandered into someone’s house. Furthermore, it is a sociable idea from the pair, who are keen to invite interior designers, buyers and clients into the showroom to discuss their projects over a homemade breakfast or lunch. A sweeping staircase and galleried first floor invite visitors to admire the interplay of playful prints and hand-sourced furniture on the ground floor – and the sight is spectacular. Jonathan Saunders’ colourful chevron floor runners work brilliantly underneath The Odd Piece’s signature vintage dining chairs, upholstered in mismatching fabric by Arwa.
Saudi entrepreneur Arwa launched The Odd Piece boutique in Al Wasl Square three years ago after a sell-out exhibition in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). “I believe that you have to start gradually and climb up the business ladder. It was a passion at first, reupholstering furniture, but the exhibition was such a success I launched an e-commerce company and then opened the boutique with mid-century modern furniture I source from all over the world.”
The Rug Company also started retailing in the UAE in DIFC, an area that was initially tipped to be a hub for high-end fashion and design – but the popularity of its restaurants and art galleries altered its direction.
Details in the stunning showroom
“Things sometimes change and one needs to be prepared to make changes too,” comments Christopher, who launched The Rug Company with his wife Suzanne in London 27 years ago. “Al Serkal is more relevant for us. It has been at the head of Dubai’s development as a city that nurtures art, design and culture in the Middle East, which makes it an ideal location.”
“There is a wonderful vitality and energy that comes from lots of creative businesses sharing the same area and a common desire to create. The types of client that visit the area are the sort of people who will appreciate our rugs, which are not only great decorating pieces but also collectable items,” says Christopher. Arwa is in agreement. “I’m very happy with the new showroom as we now have more space, and you see how the furniture looks with complementary rugs.”
New collections by Vivienne Westwood, Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Saunders for The Rug Company will provide a fresh backdrop to Arwa’s most popular pieces – which include Fornasetti accessories and those dining chairs that she lovingly restores with her carpenter in Lebanon. For this design duo, the future is certainly bright. – Eleanor Joslin
Photography: Efraim Evidor
This article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors