x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Of Italian Zen and architects

Insider Architects beat bankers when it comes to matters of the heart and don't miss the Vitra Miniatures display at Traffic in Dubai.

Don't miss the Vitra Miniatures exhibition at Traffic in Dubai (March 6-28). Showcasing reproductions of the best chairs in modern design, it includes gems such as Favela (above), designed by Humberto and Fernando Campana.
Don't miss the Vitra Miniatures exhibition at Traffic in Dubai (March 6-28). Showcasing reproductions of the best chairs in modern design, it includes gems such as Favela (above), designed by Humberto and Fernando Campana.

Yup, boys and girls - in matters of the heart, architects are now officially more attractive than bankers (despite being undervalued and overworked). Well, we knew that already, didn't we? As reported in the UK's Daily Mail, an internet dating agency, Parship.com, polled 2,500 women to reveal that bankers were resoundingly unpopular (except in Switzerland), while architects were among the most romantically desirable. So as bankers get fixated about the size of their bonus, women are looking for someone with a sense of humour, creativity, intelligence and style. Stands to reason really - as this writer can testify having been happily ensconced with an architect for nearly two decades.

As we all know, the best things come in small packages, which perhaps inspired Traffic in Dubai to host a display of Vitra Miniatures (March 6-28). Capturing some of the most important classics of modern design, the miniature reproductions give a fantastic snapshot of how the chair has assumed a key role in the history of design and continues to preoccupy the world's foremost architects and designers.

What is not so small, however, is the price - a miniature Nelson Marshmallow sofa, for example, will set you back around Dh2,500. So not really cost-effective (if you keep your eyes peeled, you can unearth cheaper full-sized examples) - but hey, the Vitra miniatures allow for a full furniture collection, minus the spatial issues. And the profits from sales help to support Vitra Design Museum. One thing we can be sure of, though: chairs designed by architects are mostly pricey, impractical and extremely desirable.

The opening of the world's first Armani Hotel inside Burj Khalifa (on March 18) will bring some minimalist Italian style to the Emirates emphasising the importance of detail. According to the trade paper, Commercial Interior Design, the fit-out of the hotel and its residences, by Fino International, required fantastically painstaking attention to detail, not to mention tight co-ordination between the Armani and Emaar teams, with every single wall being inspected and approved by the architects, SOM, the construction project-management team, Turner, and Armani. A "brand new type of paint" devised by the Armani camp, required 24 hours drying in between the four coats applied, and all materials, sourced from around the world, had to go first to Italy, to be inspected and treated, before being sent to Dubai. It will be intriguing to see the finished result. Maybe it will be the catalyst for encouraging fewer ostentatious "me too" flourishes (who else can't tell Dubai's hotel lobbies apart?).

Italian style looks like being flavour of the month in March. A three-day showcase entitled Italian Luxury Interiors is taking place at the Emirates Palace hotel (March 4-6) - billed as an "interactive living zone across several themes, to give the real taste of a lifestyle experience". Bellissimo! Yvonne Courtney is the co-founder of design/publishing consultancy and ezine designtastic.net