Nurturing sustainable living: Industry insights on balancing design and sustainability

Nurturing sustainable living: Industry insights on balancing design and sustainability

06 February 2024, Khaleej Times

The UAE real estate market is experiencing a significant boom, driven not only by a shift in consumer preferences towards eco-friendly and well-designed spaces but also by a fundamental change in mindset. There is a noticeable departure from building solely for investment purposes, and a distinct shift towards constructing residences that prioritise well-being and sustainable living.

This evolution aligns with an enduring demand for thoughtfully designed spaces catering to contemporary aesthetics and the desire for a higher quality of life. This noteworthy trend particularly emphasises wellness across both residential and hospitality sectors. The recent gathering at the Jaquar World Dubai Showroom brought together luminaries from architecture, design, real estate, and development, focused on exploring and dissecting this transformative industry dynamic.

In response to these evolving consumer preferences, developers increasingly incorporate eco-friendly elements into residential spaces alongside luxurious and aesthetically pleasing features. The hospitality sector, driven by a strong commitment to sustainability, is also experiencing a surge in demand for eco-friendly sanitary fitments. Notably, renowned brands like Six Senses are setting stringent requirements, propelling the market towards environmentally conscious choices.

The central theme of the current market landscape revolves around the intersection of sustainability and aesthetics, emphasizing the need for suppliers to offer comprehensive solutions that cater to evolving design preferences and eco-friendly initiatives across all sectors.

Furthermore, the discussions at the Jaquar World Dubai Showroom, led by Esra Lemmens, industry expert and spokesperson for the design industry in the Middle East, were not only confined to industry trends but also actively sought alignment with broader global goals. The emphasis on sustainability resonates strongly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as industry leaders strive to contribute to a future that is aesthetically pleasing and actively supports a more sustainable and inclusive world.

Market trends: A shift towards wellness and sustainability

In the vibrant real estate market of the UAE, a discernible shift in consumer preferences towards eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interior designs is underway. Notably, wellness is emphasised, spanning across residential and hospitality sectors. Consumers increasingly prioritise sustainable choices, particularly interior designs that align with green building regulations and certifications.

A substantial demand for eco-friendly sanitary fitments, contributing to water conservation and adhering to mandatory green building regulations in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi is evident. Integrating wellness facilities in residential and hospitality spaces is gaining momentum, reflecting a broader wellness-oriented lifestyle trend.

This includes the infusion of innovative bathroom materials and technologies, such as water-efficient fixtures and customizable solutions that elevate the overall user experience.

For residential developments, consumers actively seek bathroom designs that promote relaxation and well-being in their homes. Developers are responding to this demand by incorporating eco-friendly elements and luxurious and aesthetically pleasing features, creating a harmonious blend of sustainability and opulence.

In the hospitality sector, branded residences, hotels, and service apartments are experiencing a paradigm shift in their brand guidelines, driven by a commitment to sustainability. This shift is fueling a surge in demand for eco-friendly and aesthetically pleasing sanitary fitments. Notably, brands like Six Senses set stringent requirements for LEED-certified buildings, influencing the market towards environmentally conscious choices.

The intersection of sustainability and aesthetics is a central theme in the current market landscape, underscoring the need for suppliers to offer comprehensive solutions that cater to eco-friendly initiatives and consumers’ evolving design preferences across all sectors.

Balancing aesthetics: Challenges and solutions

The discussion delved into the multifaceted challenges of balancing aesthetics with sustainability in current real estate trends. Mennah Darwish, a key participant, commended the industry’s increasing focus on sustainability, acknowledging the rewriting of guidelines by operators and brands to incorporate eco-friendly elements.

“The increasing focus on sustainability is commendable, with operators and brands rewriting guidelines to incorporate eco-friendly elements into their developments,” remarked Mennah Darwish.

Primary challenges were identified, particularly regarding flow rates and flush rates for water closets (WCS). Despite industry awareness of various tricks and innovations, achieving optimal flush rates remains a technical challenge. Practical issues were highlighted, such as end-users pushing the flush button multiple times, leading to increased water consumption and undermining water conservation efforts. Technicalities related to colour design, tank configurations, and rimless features were also identified as factors impacting water efficiency.

Implementing sustainability measures is further complicated by the need for alignment with specific brand requirements and third-party certifications like LEED. For instance, brands like Six Senses demand minimised environmental impact and LEED-certified buildings made of silver. Striking a balance between these stringent standards and delivering aesthetically pleasing solutions poses a continuous challenge.

To overcome these challenges, the industry emphasised addressing technical intricacies in flush rates and optimising water efficiency without compromising user satisfaction. Exploring innovative materials and technologies that enhance aesthetics and environmental performance is actively underway. However, ongoing collaboration and knowledge-sharing within the industry are essential to collectively navigate and resolve these challenges. Integrating sustainable practices and innovative solutions will be vital to achieving a harmonious balance between aesthetics and environmental consciousness as the industry moves forward.

Making sustainable options the obvious choice

The conversation transitioned to the challenges of sourcing the right products, underscoring the delicate balance between forward-thinking customization and adherence to specific budgetary and commercial constraints. Angelica Romanazzi, a proactive figure in the industry, emphasised the importance of early engagement with suppliers to align design goals with materials and understand market demand.

“The emphasis is on achieving a compromise that meets design expectations without compromising financial parameters,” said Angelica Romanazzi.

The discussion extended to Lana Idriss, interior design manager at WASL, who highlighted the value of supply chains and offered comparative analyses.

“For developers and designers, having insights into how products compare in terms of flexibility, visibility, and sustainability is crucial during the specification phase,” said Lana Idriss.

Guillermo, sustainable manager at Columbia, emphasised the importance of visibility in the sustainability aspect of products, urging suppliers to promote their eco-friendly features actively. Ultimately, in pursuing exceptional design outcomes, the challenge lies in effectively navigating the complexities of the supply chain, where early collaboration, flexibility, and a comprehensive understanding of product attributes play pivotal roles.

Post-contract maintenance: Ensuring longevity and efficiency

The event concluded with a focus on post-contract maintenance, especially in commercial and residential projects. The discussion highlighted the growing concern about maintenance in fixtures and fittings, emphasising the significance of post-contract maintenance, particularly in commercial and residential projects.

Angelica Romanazzi, vice-president for FF&E Design at Sobha Realty, emphasised the critical role of easy maintenance and durability in our decision-making process. Our focus extends beyond meeting design and performance criteria; we prioritise products that contribute to the long-term functionality of our installations.

“The boardroom discussion organized by Khaleej Times provided an insightful platform for Jaguar to emphasize our commitment to sustainability, particularly in the UAE market. Engaging with leading developers, architects and decision-makers, we delved into how our sustainable practices and product features align with the evolving demands of the region,” according to Vinayak Kumar, country manager at Jaquar.

The Jaquar World Dubai Showroom event provided a platform for industry leaders to share insights, foster collaboration, and pave the way for a future where sustainable design is aesthetically pleasing and contributes to a greener, more resilient world.

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