Everywhere our eyes can see, as we walk into 34-year-old Dana Farouki’s spacious, beach front apartment, there is art. Whether it’s in the form of a painting, a photo, a sculpture, an installation or simply a table, each piece has been acquired with meaning. For Dana, the world of art is her career. Life for the Palestinian-American revolves around “keeping up-to-date with what’s happening in the art world: seeing as many museum and gallery shows as possible, reading criticism, attending public programs and visiting art fairs,”she explains. If all of that sounds exhausting, her CV reads even more so: chair of the board of the New York-based organisation Creative Time, member of the selection committee for the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, a member of the Board of Patrons for Art Dubai, member on the board of trustees for MoMA PS1 and the founding chair of the Guggenheim’s Middle East circle. Although she frequently travels between Dubai and New York, Dana, her husband and their two children, have called Dubai home since moving from New York four years ago.
When we ask what it is she and the family love most about their four-bedroom, four-bathroom home, Dana answers without skipping a beat. “We love living on the beach, nothing beats this view! The light is incredible.” When it came to decorating the space, she says there was no one theme in mind. “We just wanted to create a young and fresh environment. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we like furniture that is contemporary without being too slick or minimalist.”
Given her apartment location, entertaining is an integral part of Dana’s social calendar. “We entertain a lot. There is always someone here from out of town and we enjoy hosting them and introducing them to our friends here in Dubai. Our favourite things to serve are my grandmother’s home cooking, Iranian BBQ and pizza!” She admits that the patio is their current project. “We’re always in search of outdoor furniture to make the terrace more inviting.”
With so many incredible pieces, from the Peter Beard book by Taschen at the doorway to the cartoon cabinet “from the legendary design store, Moss, in New York”, we suggest that it must be impossible to pick a favourite piece and Dana admits she can’t narrow it down to just one. “I love the light sculpture by artist Olafur Eliasson, he is magic. The sofa by Hella Jongerius is also a favourite. Hella’s minimal designs always incorporate a fun, quirky element that gives them the perfect amount of whimsy. My husband and I are also huge fans of the Lebanese artist Walid Raad. His work deals with the most serious subjects but he also has an incredible sense of aesthetics.”
A piece that catches our eye is a beautiful sketch of Dana’s wedding dress with a familiar name scrawled in the corner. “Zac Posen is an old friend,” she explains.
“When I got engaged, I immediately asked if he would design my wedding dress. He drew this for me to show me how he imagined the dress. We got married in the South of France and he was inspired by the coast line.” It is clear that fashion is also an important part of Dana’s life. Her closet is as carefully curated as her art collection, with structural pieces by Balenciaga hanging alongside floaty skirts from Isabel Marant and minimalist vests by Rosetta Getty. Could she ever live in just one label? “That’s a hard one but if I had to pick, I’d choose Stella McCartney or Thakoon, who is also an old friend. Both make great classics but also have an incredible sensibility for the moment in terms of colour and print.” When it comes to a can’t-live-without-it item, it has to be “cross-body bags. They’re so convenient that it’s hard for me to carry anything else.”
With Art Dubai underway this month, Dana’s schedule is set to be busy. “I am a great fan of Art Dubai and have been involved since the fair’s inception. I try to help in any way I can. This means encouraging international visitors to attend, opening my home to collectors and patrons as well as being a vocal ambassador for the great initiatives the fair brings to Dubai.” Young, cool and visibly passionate about the local art scene, we can’t think of a better ambassador.
Styling: Charlotte Blair. Words: Maddison Glendinning. Photography: Aasiya Jagadeesh. This article first appeared in the March 2014 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia