x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The past is right at home

q&a Ghada Kunash is the Jordanian-born owner of Vindemia, an antiques shop and gallery in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai.

Ghada Kunash at her antiques shop at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai.
Ghada Kunash at her antiques shop at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai.

Ghada Kunash is the Jordanian-born owner of Vindemia, an antiques shop and gallery in Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai.

My interest comes from long ago. I have a very big family, but they're not originally from Jordan. We're from the Caucasus, so we are a minority in Jordan, and my grandparents and parents are always talking about who we are and where we come from, our traditions, our food and our old furniture. We have a few pieces from my grandmother, so I got attached to these things. And the fact that I was born and lived in Jordan... The whole country is practically a museum. So you just live among the past.

It's always been a dream to start such a place. I did architecture at the University of Jordan and I had my own studio back home, about 14 years ago, where I used to design furniture.

I travel a lot as a hobby, and wherever I go I have to see the antique shops and the flea markets. Some of the important flea markets happen only once a month and some are at specific times of the year. I like to go to France and Italy as well as London. Brussels is fantastic, as is Antwerp. Syria is a place with a very old civilisation, so you find old things there - glass, brass, furniture, mother-of-pearl pieces. Every place has its own thing, its own style. There is always a story and a history, and you end up making friends. Many of these people you invite over for lunch when you're buying - you always have to share a meal with the Italians.

Almost 90 per cent of what we have is late 19th century. It's an affordable era - though some pieces are more expensive depending on how rare the item is. I don't really tend to stick to a certain style: it's more eclectic. Dubai is such a mixed society and you have all kinds of nationalities and interests, so I'm trying to cater for many tastes and cultures. Maybe in the future my clients will direct me and we will specialise in a certain era or style.

The first time I saw a polyphone was in someone's house in Hungary. He clearly didn't want to sell because the price was astronomical. But it was fascinating - the way he changed the discs, the sound. Then, walking around Camden, in London, we passed a shop that specialised in these mechanical musical boxes, and we bought four pieces. Later on a gentleman walked in, looked around, and he was like, "Where did you get these from?" I told him, and it turned out that he was Swiss and owns a huge collection of mechanical instruments. He knew the guy I had bought them from. We went to Switzerland and now I'm trying to bring all these pieces in for an exhibition, if we can find a sponsor.

Dubai is all about the contemporary, the new, the very modern, and it's mostly franchise stores and big names. I guess it's a good time to start something with a bit of an old image.
gchamp@thenational.ae