I have been told I am not easy to shop for. And I, for one, abhor gift cards; so in an attempt to avoid receiving one, I’ve mastered the art of leaving subtle hints. I’ve also found letting my friends in on my favourite boutiques to be constructive towards me receiving something I’d really love. From uber high-end, to the more under-the-radar outlets, here I share some of my favourite design destinations to shop at. So if you are still in the market for some really chic presents, here are some options.


This Jumeirah hotspot has a very distinct French flair courtesy its founder Emma Swako’s Parisian DNA; her inimitable style shines at this beautiful converted villa that still reeks of its ’70s Californian style. Feted in international travel guides and fashion magazines, Comptoir 102 curates eclectic mix of fashion, interior design and furniture from around the globe. Trendy, unconventional pieces from A-listers sit beside finds from travels and collaborations with the founder’s cherished designer friends. This Boho chic design destination with a global soul also showcases heart stopping jewellery. And if you need respite from retail therapy, they even have an organic café nestled in the courtyard.


Design, Art & Lifestyle come together at this a unique concept store which houses creative, luxury, and modern design products all at once. Launched in 2008 in Riyadh, KSA, and as one of the very first stores in Riyadh to offer such an eclectic collection, Cities was influential in encouraging a break away from the prevailing classical styles in the region. In the UAE, Dubai Mall and The Galleria Mall are home to Cities’ special brand of creative expression that stocks some of the most exciting regional and international names. Expect to see Tom Dixon candles brushing shoulders with Nada Debs’ east-meets-west home accessories and Polart’s polyurethane furniture!


Co-founders Hashem Montasser and Hany Bassiouny wanted to create a destination that brought things that bring us joy — food, shopping and friends — together in a beautifully appointed environment. Located in Dubai Design District (d3) and designed by Anne and Alexandra Cantacuzene of the Dubai-based AAC Interiors, the venue invites guests to enjoy a coffee or bring their laptops and work on the mod-inspired Beetle Chairs. Home to more than 30 international design brands and curating an eclectic collection of design pieces including lifestyle and tabletop accessories such as Ettore Sottsass vases by Bitossi, glass and serving ware, books and papeterie for adults, you are sure to find that perfect gift for your creatively inclined loved ones.


Also in d3, this lifestyle store derives its name from a village in Europe, thought to be a part of the ancient Silk Route. Montroi was envisaged to aid those who enjoy the trip as much as the destination and choose nomadism as a lifestyle. The result is a rugged collection of leather case goods and bags, fragrances and travel accessories that make for the most stylish travel accompaniments. Designed in Paris and produced in Italy, France and Spain, Montroi products speak of the highest quality materials and workmanship honed over centuries and generations. Their unique personalisation services offers hand-painted monograms, artistic depictions of the nomad life and travel induced memories.


A little brown bag can bring a lot of festive cheer. Bloomingdale’s home and decor section offers one of the most diverse selections of design — iconic, eclectic, classic and all round timeless. Bedding from the likes of Calvin Klien and Vera Wang, no less, heirloom worthy crockery from Bernardaud and Wedgwood, home accessories from Micheal Aram, even designer notebooks from Denik — their big brown bags might fall short, but gifting options don’t. What makes this a one-stop destination is its mix of high-end brands and names that are a bit left of the middle. Add to that the ease of being able to pick stellar design-led gifts for everyone, from your grandma to a school kid, at one place. My pick? L’Object’s contemporary ceramic ware!