Go local, says Mihir Sanganee, design director of Designsmith

When the UAE government wanted to be at the forefront of supporting SMEs, it tapped into something the country has huge reserves of – national pride.

‘MADE IN UAE’ was launched by the Ministry of Economy to create a unified national mark that recognises products made in the country. Intended to create a trusted symbol to strengthen the manufacturing sector, it also encourages young entrepreneurs and businesses to launch services and products that will support the region. The initiative is part of the Dubai Industrial Strategy, which is projected to increase Dubai’s total GDP by AED165 billion ($44.9 billion) by 2030.

Impact on design

Zooming in on the design industry, the ripple effect has been a wave of new names entering the FF&E design market. These companies are able to sources materials from Europe, US and UK and hold stocks to deliver the same level of manufacturing that was previously being delivered when importing directly from the source.

As millions of consumers choose to renovate their current homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail home furnishings category has seen tremendous growth in both site traffic and spend.

At the higher end of the market, HNW and ‘luxury’ home owners are investing further to ensure every aspect of a social experience is covered. This has led to a surge in tech-filled home offices, theatre room, in-house gyms and even wellness spaces such as saunas and spas.

While it’s fair to say the COVID-19 pandemic has ruffled the design industry worldwide, at the same time it has opened opportunities for local businesses to grow. In Europe lengthy and repeated lockdowns led to empty order books for manufacturing firms, if they could operate at all. However UAE factories have been pushed into top gear to be able to step in and take a larger share of the pie.

Logistics firms, which are involved in the movement, storage, and flow of goods, have also been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As an integral part of value chains, both within and across international borders, the surge in pricing and lead times has directly affected the design industry.

Disrupting supply

It is only through the timely production of furniture that logistics firms facilitate trade and commerce and help businesses get their products to customers. With lead times increasing from the regular eight weeks to now a minimum of 12 to 16 weeks, the ability to control project timelines locally has come into play. All of this comes at a time when furniture retailers and brands are noticing a major surge in local demand.

UAE-based manufacturers have taken positives from the supply chain disruptions by not only offering economical pricing but also quality products. Supporting local projects thus positively impacting economic growth has led to prospects of local job creation. In March 2021 Dubai launched ‘Operation 300bn’ that will create “thousands” of roles in the manufacturing sector.

The Italian touch

In regard to the demand side of the business and consumer buying behaviour, Italian furniture has always been in high demand for luxury residential and hospitality projects.

At Designsmith we chose to partner with upcoming furniture manufacturer FLORENSTYLE, set up in Sharjah under the watchful eyes of Italian designer Roberto Pascalli, who brings almost 40 years of experience to our shores. The 32,000 sqft facility produces FF&E for hospitality and commercial projects using Italian techniques, materials, and quality, overcoming delayed timelines and shortfall experienced in the industry internationally. UAE-based warehouse facilities and delivery teams ensure everything is delivered quickly and efficiently.

Support and thrive

The design industry must look to support local vendors giving and sharing opportunities for an entire ecosystem to develop and thrive. ‘MADE IN UAE’ is not just a label anymore, it is the start of something revolutionary where we take our products and designs to the world.

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