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Sun 23 Mar 2008 04:54 PM

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Silk road leads to design destination

It is worth noting the design industry's contribution to the recent surge in non-oil trade with China.

In the week that Dubai World's statistics department announced figures showing a 47% surge in non-oil trade with China, it is worth noting the design industry's contribution to the boom.

Many projects here feature furnishings and fittings that have been designed and manufactured especially for each job. These customised touches are what help set local projects apart and would not be seen so frequently if it wasn't for Chinese manufacturers.

That country's ability to cost-effectively produce the designs penned here gives designers greater freedom to develop the look of an interior.

It is a trade boom that is felt in other parts of Asia too. The names of architects and interior designers working out of Singapore crop up more and more in the local market, as they clamour for a piece of the action.

DBTA International, IMA Interiors and Ministry of Design are just three that have completed major projects or concepts recently, all within the hospitality sector.

Visit Discovery Gardens, a development nearing completion in new Dubai, and you'll see signs of a Japanese influence. The Ziqoo Hotel Apartments, owned and operated by Japan's Space Design, have been designed into an apartment building that, from the outside, looks like several others in the surrounding Zen area.

The design features some modern Japanese touches and again, plenty of custom pieces manufactured in China. It is the company's first venture in Dubai, but given it's already filling up, probably not the last.

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