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DOMOTEX Middle East returns to Dubai after a 13-year hiatus

Here are exclusive insights from Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Manager of DOMOTEX on the evolving landscape of the carpet and flooring industry in the Middle East, sustainability, and overcoming industry hurdles

DOMOTEX Middle East returns to Dubai after a 13-year hiatus

Despite global economic challenges, the construction sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has shown resilience and continuous growth. The region is forecasted to be one of the best-performing regions for construction activity in 2023 and beyond, according to GlobalData’s report.

Specific construction projects in cities like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and KSA are driving this growth, with developments like Dubai Creek Harbour, Saadiyat Island, Yas Island, NEOM, The Line, and Gidori contributing to the region’s booming construction industry. This positive outlook is also benefiting related sectors such as real estate, interior design, furnishings, and flooring, and there is a growing demand for carpets and floor coverings in the region, leading to a projected CAGR of 7.2 per cent from $ 8.6 billion in 2022 to around $ 14.55 billion by 2030.

Against this backdrop, DOMOTEX Middle East, a premier showcase for the carpet and flooring industry, is taking place from 23-25 April 2024, and Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Manager of DOMOTEX, spoke exclusively to CW Property Middle East on the sidelines about the major trends shaping the industry.

What makes DOMOTEX Middle East unique?

DOMOTEX Middle East in Dubai is the first event to feature leading global brands like Merinos, Oriental Weavers, Solomon Carpet and Al Abdullatif in one show. Visitors can expect top exhibitors such as Solomon Carpets, Farrahi Carpets, and Indian Art Gallery to showcase their latest products and innovations. The event will offer a wide variety of flooring products, styles, and materials, from handmade and machine-made carpets to antique carpets and floor coverings, showcasing the vibrant spirit of the industry.

How has the market transformed?

The trend of modernising traditional carpets is gaining popularity in the design world. This trend involves updating classic designs with new aesthetics and innovative materials. By combining different sources and styles, designers create a rich mix of visual language that can be appreciated in historical and contemporary contexts. The Middle East is particularly embracing this trend, showcasing its traditional craftsmanship to a global audience while also allowing for creative freedom and interpretation.

Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Manager of DOMOTEX

“The graphic language of ancient textiles comprises a rich glossary of motifs specific to particular tribes and regions of the world. Many of the symbols and patterns woven into their design – from basic shapes and marks to complex and intricate decorations—have become easily recognisable to the non-expert, telling the story of the rug and the movements of people across the world,” explains Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Manager of DOMOTEX.

“In recent years, leading carpet designers and manufacturers have combined antique designs with the latest materials and techniques to create unique pieces that bring traditional design into the modern world. It is important to note that this trend does not refer to a particular look, but rather to the adaptation of traditional designs using modern materials such as recycled or man-made fibres, new techniques and design elements such as dissolves, overlaps and similar effects, which can be either hand-made or digitally manipulated,” adds Wedell-Castellano.

Not only traditional patterns provide scope for new interpretations. With a wealth of innovative materials and new weaving machines, dedicated manufacturers are making traditional motifs accessible to carpet lovers worldwide.

“Created by field research in authentic and traditional bazars, and historical and touristic monuments of the Safavi era, the Atlas collection of Almas Kavir Carpet aims to keep the history of Iranian art and culture alive by combining traditional and modern elements with modern acrylic and micro-modal yarns. The colour palette is inspired by Safavi architecture, with its mix of classic Iranian brickwork and tiles, Tabriz fluff and silk carpets. Another great example of the adaption of tradition is the manufacturer’s Teana collection. Neo-classical and traditional design elements such as spring flowers are combined with modern dyeing techniques to create a new unique style,” she mentions.

Wedell-Castellano continues, “Originally handmade by Baluch nomads on the border of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Iranian company Zartosht shares the rich tradition of the province of Baluchestan through its new carpet collection made from acrylic yarns. Royal Gold Carpet, with its Qom Silk Jamshidi collection, is another manufacturer bringing traditional patterns to modern carpet production. Qom Jamshidi rugs are known for their colourful and unique designs that look like paintings at first glance. All rugs in the Qom Silk Jamshidi collection are woven on a four-metre wide, 1,500 reed loom using high quality, environmentally friendly modal yarn,” she adds.

Key challenges faced by the industry

The carpet and flooring industry, along with other markets, is experiencing uncertainty due to global crises like the pandemic, climate change, and the war in Ukraine. Consumers are more cost-conscious and hesitant to spend, impacting businesses across the board. Many smaller and medium-sized companies are facing challenges in sustaining their operations in this unpredictable environment.

What can be done to mitigate the uncertain climate? “These challenges offer a great opportunity for businesses to evaluate and adapt their portfolio. Companies must now focus on their best sellers, discontinue collections and products that are not performing well and complement their portfolio with products that promise long-term success. In a world where resources are becoming scarcer and the consequences of the climate crisis are a matter of concern, those who offer sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions will stand to gain,” says Wedell-Castellano.

Trade fairs like DOMOTEX Middle East also offer a reliable business platform, especially in challenging times. “At these shows, visitors can experience carpets and floor coverings through their senses, including touch and sight. This allows them to assess the quality and haptics of the products firsthand, while also being able to obtain information directly from the manufacturers,” she adds.

Where are we headed?

Sustainability is becoming a key focus in interior design as resources dwindle and the climate crisis looms. People are gravitating towards eco-conscious products for their living spaces, prioritising naturalness, quality, and sustainability. Designs now incorporate a mix of old and new items, with a renewed appreciation for traditional craftsmanship. Natural materials are being embraced, particularly in carpets and floor coverings, as the industry shifts towards more mindful and conscious choices. Besides, recycled and recyclable alternatives are also becoming increasingly popular.

“In the flooring industry, wood and stone finishes, cork flooring, and parquet are currently popular choices. Larger carpets are becoming more popular globally, with carpets playing a significant role in interior design and room atmosphere. Trends in carpets are influenced by current interior design trends, with rugs in soft and muted shades and natural textures being timeless choices. However, carpets and rugs in intense colours are gaining popularity recently, thanks to their mood-lifting properties and the desire for change in challenging economic times. Adding a colourful rug is a quick and simple way to refresh and add character to a space without overwhelming it,” advises Wedell-Castellano.