My trip to Paris provided both an education and the inspiration to think broadly about how I can interpret the design concept for my apartment in Sharjah. The high-quality furniture from the 1920s and 1930s that I came across there gave me a greater understanding of the scale, materials, finishing and details of the period. I noticed the eclectic composition of characteristics, including wood veneers, unorthodox finishes and textiles, that can be successfully combined. On my return to the UAE, I find I can consider a wider range of possibilities for the major furniture pieces I am looking for.
My first destination was the Poltrona Frau (www.pfgdesigncenter.ae) showroom in Abu Dhabi, which stocks high-quality classic and contemporary furniture, including collections by Cassina, Cappellini and Thonet. The store has the kind of seating, storage and tables that align with my expanded goals.
In many stores, pieces are available off the showroom floor at a discount, which worked out well for me. I was able to get a distinctive Zig Zag chair, created by the Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld in 1934. I intend to use the chair as a small table on which to stack books. It can also serve as an art piece with a distinctive form and profile.
On my drive back towards Dubai, a stop at Mall of the Emirates gave me the chance to visit Crate & Barrel, which offers a broad range of styles, with many furniture pieces based on historic examples. In the UAE, Crate & Barrel stocks most of what it displays on the showroom floor, so products are usually immediately available.
Walking through the store with a new outlook, I found many great furniture options for my apartment, including the Tailor rolled-arm sofa, inspired by a turn-of-the-century men's club. Stocked in a standard neutral grey, black, taupe and white striped fabric, it can be paired with any colour of cushions and accent items to provide character to the living area of my apartment. That's my second major piece of furniture found.
I also chose the Crate & Barrel Vaughn armchair and ottoman in a monochromatic, dark grey wool textile. The scale is ideal for the seating area, relates to the sofa and will be easy to move.
A second stop for me at Mall of the Emirates was the contemporary furniture store IDdesign. It has a frameless, curved glass table that will serve as my coffee table and a place to display art books.
Paris inspired many finds in the UAE, leading to four purchases in one day.
Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.