Meet The Judge: Alexandra Cantacuzene

 Alexandra Cantacuzene
Alexandra Cantacuzene, interior architect at AAC Interiors
As we gear up for this year's awards, we speak to the interior architect behind Dubai-based AAC Interiors about who she thinks will make the cut and the season's hottest design trends

Harper’s Bazaar Interiors: What are the trends that you are currently witnessing in the global design industry?
Alexandra Cantacuzene: The field of interior design is always evolving and some new trends are making their way forward. Furniture lines have become much softer with more rounded shapes, less angles and sharp edges; there has been a reconnection with natural/raw materials such as oak, cement, unpolished stones, and generally, matte finishes are replacing glossy ones; and soft, diluted, pastel tones are coming back with a trend for earthy, nature-based colours. The total neutral beige and off-white scheme is less evident as colour returns with a mix of natural materials. Combined with the earthy tones and natural materials come the warm metals such as bronze and copper. All the cold, polished chrome and nickel metals are out. Velvet fabrics, printed or plain, are back on the scene, used in either a casual or formal way, but always elegant and timeless.

A project by Alexandra Cantacuzene 

HBI: What projects are you currently working on?
AC: We are working on several projects at the moment, both in Dubai and abroad. In the residential sector, we have a few renovation/interior design contracts in the new Bvlgari Resort development but, as the site is not ready for hand-over yet, we are only in the design process for the moment. One project abroad is the construction and interior design/decoration of a chalet in the Austrian mountains. In Dubai, we have different ongoing projects in Dubai Design District, and are also working on the refurbishment of a clinic in Jumeirah. We have corporate and residential projects in the pipeline, some located in other Emirates.

HBI: From where do you source your creative inspiration?
AC: Creative inspiration comes from everything around us! It's about observing all the everyday things with a critical eye but, very importantly, travelling, attending trade shows and being sensitive to all that’s out there. For me, it always starts with a blank canvas, then after taking the time to think, talking to people from different professions and analysing the client’s needs, it all comes together. A concept can be set in motion by a mood picture, a conversation, something remembered from a trip… it’s a combination of so many details.

A residential project by Alexandra Cantacuzene

HBI: What are your thoughts on the design scene in the Middle East?
AC: The design scene in the Middle East is rapidly growing in importance and, in this sense, it is becoming a creative hub. Its strategic location between East and West facilitates this growth and, with major events like Downtown Design in Dubai, those in Beirut and Saudi Arabia, design has become more accessible to everyone. The region has always attracted international design brands/art galleries but the local artists/designers are the real emerging talents.

HBI: What do you think the Harper’s Bazaar Interior Awards mean for the region?
AC:  Harper’s Bazaar Interiors Awards is a very prestigious award in the region and gives good exposure to the Middle Eastern design scene as a whole in this fast-growing design community. Very importantly, it offers great credibility to the nominees as Harper’s Bazaar Interiors is synonymous with luxury interior décor, discovering new design trends and identifying the best designers and brands. It recognises the achievement of all the nominees in their categories, chosen within a high level of competition, and sets a benchmark for upcoming talents.

A residential project by  Alexandra Cantacuzene

HBI: Can you name the most crucial traits you’re looking for in the nominees across the 10 categories this year?
AC: Firstly, I would like to be surprised by the proposed projects from designers/brands in terms of functionality of design and use of materials. Creative minds that are not afraid to push design boundaries should be rewarded. Originality and the ability to set a trend, rather than follow existing ones, is crucial in the decision making. Designers should be innovative but should not forget the comfort nor the quality aspects of the daily living experience of their design.

HBI: What would a win at the HBI Awards mean for the nominated brand/designer?
AC: The HBI Award is a prestigious prize as it would give the winner credibility and recognition not only on the regional but also international design scene.


Winners announced at Downtown Design (14-17 Nov) and in the Winter issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors, out now.

BY

 Alexandra Cantacuzene
Alexandra Cantacuzene, interior architect at AAC Interiors