Designer profile: For Canadian interior designer/architect, Abboud Malak, founder of STUDIO M, pure materials, light, space and luxury are all terms that encapsulate his studio’s philosophy.
Having started his career in Los Angeles, STUDIO M, is now transforming Dubai with its less is more approach, having built a reputation for creating environments that reflect today’s Gulf region…innovative, modern and aesthetically luxurious. Abboud’s success has come from his ability to recast the regional vernacular in a modern framework, coupled with his unique notion of elegance.
Ahead of Dubai’s Downtown Design, the most influential commercial design event in the MENA region (October 27-30, 2015), STUDIO M has been engaged by the fair to create this year’s visitor experience. Made Journal talks to Abboud to discover more about STUDIO M and what’s inspiring the team ahead of Downtown Design.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – what path initially led you to interior design, and to launch your own studio?
I grew up in a family of General Contractors. The world of construction sites, factories and workshops is an all too familiar scene. In California, after a failed attempt at a Finance Degree, I shifted my focus to my passion: Fine Arts and Interior Architecture. I opened my first Studio in Los Angeles at the age of 27. Seven years later, and after a series of successful award winning projects, I transplanted from Los Angeles to Dubai in 2004 – initially to oversee the interiors of the then monumental and now iconic DIFC project. In 2006, I established Studio M, a boutique interior architecture firm committed to enhancing life through design.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Contemporary, warm, pure and thought-provoking. Focus on an emotional experience as much as a visual one.
You’ve worked in the US and UAE, how different have you found the two markets?
Dubai is a younger market requiring more experience, dedication and skill from a designer to achieve the detailed results. In the US, the design world is mature and therefore the technical skills are all established. The execution of complicated design details have been worked out.
You work on a great variety of projects, from residential to retail, commercial and hotels/hospitality. What have been one or two of your favourite projects?
I would say that Al Khan Resort has been the most site/country specific project. It incorporates the local vernacular with my view of interior design. The balance between the two aesthetics has been creatively very rewarding.
As an interior designer you spend so much of your time making other people’s spaces beautiful. How would you describe your own home?
A serene, calm uncluttered environment enlivened by my art and music and key furniture pieces. Less is more.
And finally, what and/or who is inspiring you right now, especially as you consider concepts for Downtown Design’s visitor experience?
The Sculptor, Richard Serra, for his large-scale mono lithic metal works. John Pawson for his pure minimalist aesthetic. Mario Nanni for his lighting art installations.