Dubai: With a commitment to contextual architecture and design that is modern, minimal and functional, Dubai-based LOCI Architecture + Design, reimagines global design cues into contemporary projects and products that are for the region by the region.
Having been chosen to design the ‘Abwab’ pavillions at Dubai Design District (d3), for the first Dubai Design Week, Made. Journal chats to LOCI’s Hamad Khoory, who gives us a little insight into what is inspiring the team.
Photograph: Khatt by LOCI
Congratulations on being selected to design the inaugural Dubai Design Week pavilions! What was your reaction when you were first contacted by the Festival?
It was definitely a pleasant surprise. Our design team is used to out of the ordinary projects, so we felt quite comfortable with taking on this challenge. It is a very exciting opportunity to challenge the norm.
Tell us a bit about LOCI Architecture + Design – your team, where are you based and what type of architecture and design do you focus on?
LOCI has a relatively small design team but a very well rounded one nonetheless. This keeps the chains of communication quite short and allows us to be agile in direction and decision taking.
We try to maintain background diversity within the team. As a direct reflection of Dubai, LOCI is a melting pot of cultures ranging from UAE, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Philippines, India, Spain, France and Korea.
The team includes architects, interior designers, digital artists, photographers as well as a product designer that tackle design opportunities in tandem. This has resulted in a strongly meshed team with team members crossing over from one project to the next where their support or expertise is needed.
At the heart of LOCI’s ethos is the belief that design is not an imported technology but rather one that sprouts from its location. With that in mind, we approach each design opportunity with deep focus on its location, culture, history as well as climatic and geographical context.
design is not an imported technology but rather one that sprouts from its location.
Photograph: Native, Oman
What about your background – how did you originally get into architecture and design and what led you to launching your own firm?
Both Partners at LOCI are of Arab origin (Hani Fallaha – Jordanian, Hamad Khoory – Emirati) who studied in West with an initial passion for art and design. Both partners agree that architecture as a discipline has a good balance between art and science.
One of the main reasons Hani and I set out to create LOCI was our frustration with the un-contextual and passionless design we commonly see scattered around our region. We aimed to utilise a design team’s global experience and knowledge to promote regional design that relates to a project’s place and immediate local context, hence our motto “Think Glocal”.
How would you describe your work generally and what influences your style?
With location and geographical context at the heart of each of our projects, each project adopts a certain style that does not feel too alien to its environment. Nonetheless, minimal, modern and functional design are all terms that overshadow each of our projects.
What have been one or two of your favourite projects and why?
One of our favourite projects would be “Native”, which is a commercial building designed to be implemented in Muscat, Oman. One of the reasons I particularly enjoy this project is the way in which the design took shape by focusing on how traditional Omani architectural elements were reinterpreted for in a modernist sense.
Another favourite project is LOCI’s first product “Khatt”. Khatt is a regional valet stand that came about to answer a real need. With function as its main design driver, Khatt took form. Similarly with our other projects, Khatt was designed with minimalism and modernity in mind. In its early stages, we took the conscious decision to avoid falling into the trap that many regional designers fall into making it look “Arabic” by simply plastering on an Islamic pattern but instead we reimagined global design cues into a product that is for the region by the region.
Photograph: Native, Oman
Photograph: Khatt by LOCI
With regard to the Dubai Design Week Pavilions, what’s inspiring you as you work through the design process for the project?
Without giving away too much at this point and time, our main focus will be material use. We have also opted not to include any of the typical patterns or elements that you usually come across when designers push to make something regional. Its main focus will be one of the few abundant materials that the region is known for.
Finally, how would you describe the Dubai design landscape and which architects, designers or creative people do you think are doing really admirable work here at the moment?
The answer to such a question is not as clear-cut as it seems. On one side of the spectrum Dubai is proving its self as an emerging design centre, a mixing pot for artists and designers from many different professional and cultural backgrounds. Nonetheless, I believe the lack of an artistic identity poses a character crisis to a city trying to cement its self as a regional design hub. That being said there are designers that we really admire and have managed to stand out from the crowd by them respecting their context.
LOCI’s Projects In-depth
- – “Native” a commercial 5000 sqm building in Oman:
Scattered across the Omani landscape, massive forts stand the test of time as a symbol of what once was. Reinterpreting the interlocking volumes of a fort to complement the 21st century cityscape allowed the building to divide its spaces while giving off a stance of weight and authority.
Traditional Omani architecture, and Islamic architecture in general, has been influenced by the continuous scuffle between the public and private space. Coupled with courtyards and Mashrabiyas, Native is able to seamlessly separate the building’s executive quarters from the rest of its commercial areas.
- – “Khatt” Product design:
Driven by its locus, “Khatt” came into realisation to answer a regional need using local design, knowledge, and handcraft. Its minimalist dematerialised design approach allows Khatt to adopt its surrounding seamlessly. With a focus on authentic materials, Khatt generates an exceptional interaction between wood, leather, and stainless steel.
Feature photograph: Stilts, Zanzibar. Photograph below: Khatt
All photographs and images supplied by LOCI Architecture + Design.