The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, worship and consideration for others. More time than usual is spent at home, so this is a perfect opportunity to make sure that your interior space facilitates the coming together of family and friends.
Comfortable seating is an essential element in any of these activities, so start here. German/Swedish designer Katrin Greiling has created a contemporary interpretation of traditional Arabic seating called Bidoun, which is inspired by Bedouin culture.
The sofa system features several mattresses stacked onto a base and fixed by a cord similar to that used on original Bedouin tents. The seating height can be adjusted and the appearance can be changed by flipping the mattresses and bringing a different fabric design to the top. The upholstery fabric is chosen to reflect the random availability of patterns and is a symbol of travel and the different cultural influences in the Middle East. The design of the accompanying coffee table is also influenced by a mobile lifestyle; a handle is fixed in the centre of the U-shaped metal base so that you can move it around to suit your immediate needs. Visit www.studiogreiling.com for more information.
Accessorise your seating area with oversized cushions and textural blankets. Head to KAS Australia Dubai for some bright, boldly patterned cushions; the Tajo cushion and floor cushions have a striking geometric pattern and come in red, pink, green and blue. Complement your choice of cushion with a matching Ripple throw, which comes in a wide range of colours, including magenta, peacock, red plum, cream, orange and raspberry. Introduce some interesting contrast with the vibrant Mariah Multi Rug from Crate & Barrel, which has concentric zigzags in cream, green, blue, red and brown in an all-over pattern of overlapping disks.
Mirrors have been called the aspirin of feng shui for good reason; with proper placement, they can dramatically shift the flow of energy in any given space. Mirrors also bring a sense of refreshment and calm. A well-chosen mirror will look superb over a sofa or seating system and will reflect sunlight as well as candle light in the evenings, casting interesting shadows across your space. Soho, an unusual design from Home Centre, consists of a series of small mirrors hung in a 12 by 5 grid, with elegant bronzed metal edging.
Another striking piece is the sun design mirror. These designs are available from many stores but a favourite of mine is Thomas Pheasant's Constellation Mirror for Baker Furniture, available from Obegi Home in Dubai. Pheasant has kept the traditional convex mirror at the centre, but has designed the rays with delicate golden metal and decorated them with varying-sized discs of antiqued mirror glass, creating an elegant and graceful accessory.
Lighting is key in creating a relaxing, calming space. A combination of table and floor lamps will lend a much more inviting atmosphere than overhead lighting. Pottery Barn, now in Abu Dhabi's Dalma Mall, is my first stop in the UAE for lighting. A traditional tulip-shape standard lamp is reinterpreted in metal for its Wyatt model and the adjustable head and arm let you direct light just where you need it. This would be perfect in a reading corner, next to your favourite armchair.
To create interest after dark, Crate & Barrel's Moroccan accent lamp is beautiful, as the lights shines softly through the pierced metal of this expertly crafted piece. The intricate pattern is hand etched with an iconic "Hand of Fatima" motif, then artfully distressed with a bronzed finish to create the look of an ancient artefact.
A carefully selected scented candle will also relax and inspire. Candles from Diptyque, available at Bloomingdale's and Harvey Nichols, or Jo Malone, in The Dubai Mall, are intoxicating even before they are lit; a high perfume percentage and good quality wax ensures a long life and a strong scent. These are perfect gifts for anyone, and I think everyone would agree that you can never have too many.
The most recognised aspect of Ramadan is the act of fasting, which is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities. By creating a new, fresh and calm space in the home, all of us will find it easier to slow down from such affairs and focus on self- reformation and enlightenment.
Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends. There is also an exciting social aspect, involving the preparation of special foods and welcoming people at sunset for iftar. This is a great excuse to update your china and glassware.
Check out Villeroy & Boch's extensive collection of tableware or, if you are looking for something a little more authentic, pick a piece from the Images d'Orient range at Bloomingdale's Home in The Dubai Mall. The Snake dessert set from Zara Home is also uber chic; the coffee cup and plate are both Dh40 and are perfect for serving up coffee and dates. The Roberta tableware series comes in turquoise, pink and yellow with a gold trim that will add elegance to your dining table.
So, when that new crescent moon appears next week, make sure your home is ready.
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