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Design Diary: The diverse creative space of Al Quoz

Dubai-born creative brands are lending a new kind of cool to Al Quoz’s burgeoning repute as the region’s creative heart

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Tabloid

As they morph forgotten areas, warehouses, shops and districts into creative hubs and incubators for the next generation of design super brands, the might of creative entrepreneurship is most evidenced in how they revitalise communities.

It is not a coincidence. You see, in most cases, creative start-ups don’t have endless pockets to lease premium real estate or A-list support. They rely on their unrelenting vision, the word of mouth and the creative community’s knack for fostering a nurturing environment in the truest sense. Together, these elements grow creative business, bringing new vitality, even relevance to their physical address. We don’t need to look to Shoreditch to see how this organic path led to fruition. Let’s just take a drive through Dubai’s industrial area, Al Quoz.

From lone art galleries to a buzzing art and design scene, in less than five years, Al Quoz has rebranded itself as the authentic centre of cool in the UAE. Today, the industrial district is home hipster coffee shops, community spaces and off the radar brands that explore furniture, food and everything in between.

EXPLORING TASTE

This is Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for grownups. Chocolate is serious business at Mirzam, the Alserkal Avenue based artisanal chocolate makers. Their success demonstrates how authentic concepts can build a community around a product. At their in-house, industrial-chic chocolate factory, one can experience every aspect of chocolate making from roasting cocoa beans to hand wrapping each bar. Their single origin collection is crafted from beans originating from Vietnam, Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and India.

The incredibly smooth texture is a result of the granite grinding wheels. Don’t take my word for it; enrol in one of their many chocolate workshops to learn the tricks of working with this precious ingredient, including chef feared techniques such as tempering. Or, order your own custom-made bars.

From bespoke flavour profiles to one-of-a-kind, brilliantly illustrated wrappings, you’ll never be satisfied with high-street chocolate again.

EXPLORING GRAPHIC DESIGN

If you have a soft spot for graphic design and stationery, you have to experience the buzz at Toil & Tinker. From the latest digital print presses, to more specialist techniques like screen-printing, risograph, letter press and foiling, the brand fast outgrew its original home in Dubai Garden Centre to a gleaming new warehouse space in Al Quoz.

Their in-house design team offers creative advice and branding guidance to individuals, homegrown start-ups and larger businesses, helping to make your creative vision leap from screen to paper. A boutique style operation means a hands-on approach to any project — wedding invitations, framing, merchandise or even mug printing — where you get first-hand experience of each stage in the creative process.

In addition to independent prints, magazines, and books from around the world on stands, Toil & Tinker incorporates pop-ups and workshops that reveal the inner workings of the printing world. This is, your friendly neighbourhood print shop that is bringing people together for the love of print.

EXPLORING INTERIORS

Designitch is the new Al Quoz based go-to for urban interiors in the Emirate. A modern and contemporary home concept store, it features more than 75 of the finest brands covering the most comprehensive offering for interiors; furniture, homeware, lighting, rugs, living systems, art and unique architectural components.

Setting itself apart from the competition, Designitch features a la mode furniture and home accessories that go beyond trend cycles to celebrate artistic uniqueness and creativity. However, it is their e-commerce platform that is taking the good word on contemporary design to the entire GCC audience.

Aimed at making online shopping for interiors more inspiring, the site hopes to be a one-stop destination for design enthusiasts, architects and designers. Meanwhile, enjoy their 743 square metre curation of international design gems at their warehouse show space.

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