GCC shows strong confidence in Italian designed elements

Creativity and unique craftmanship skills to distinguish Italy’s national pavilion at Downtown Design

Carlo Ferro, President, Italian Trade Agency, with representative from Promos Italia. — Supplied photo
Carlo Ferro, President, Italian Trade Agency, with representative from Promos Italia. — Supplied photo

Muzaffar Rizvi

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 6:29 PM

The strong confidence in Italian designed elements for both residential and non-residential use is vivid in the GCC, especially in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, a top diplomat and executives said.

Talking to Khaleej Times at the inauguration of the Italian Trade Agency pavilion at the Down-town Design Exhibition on Tuesday, the officials said the GCC is a favourable market for Italian exports given its rapid population growth combined with high purchasing power, and a relative-ly undeveloped local furniture-manufacturing sector.

Italy returns to Downtown Design with some of the country’s finest creations in furniture, dwelling space accessories, stylish acoustic panels, lightings, and many more. The pieces show-cased by 32 Italian exhibitors are true representations of the Italian narrative as a purveyor of culture and design innovation.

Creative expression

Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, said Italy has shown time and again how creative expression is an integral part of our lives.

“At Downtown Design, we are given another opportunity to show our love for all things creative. Our strength is in showing beauty even in the most ordinary thing and sharing it to the world. Specifically, in the Gulf region with great appreciation of beautiful things, we are pleased to share Italian design and craftsmanship during this five-day fair,” Lener said.

Through the Italian Trade Agency, Italy’s participation at Downtown Design is held in cooperation with the Embassy of Italy in the UAE and the Consulate General in Dubai as well as Italian associations Confartigianato Imprese, the National Confederation of the Craft Sector and Small and Medium Enterprises (CNA), CONFAPI and the Italian Association of Cutlery, Flatware, Hollowware and Cookware Manufacturers (FIAC).

“With an increasing demand from the construction industry, we are confident that more and more architects, interior designers and direct consumers will continue to prefer designed furni-ture, interior furnishings, accessories and lighting coming from Italy,” the ambassador said.

“Downtown Design allows us to show the power of design and creativity, highlight the Italian technologies developed for these sectors and promote our environmental sustainable and social responsible models of production. So, it also speaks to our Expo 2020 theme, ‘Beauty Connects People. And Italian design connects people’,” he added.

Resilient Italian exports

While a general economic slowdown caused by the pandemic has affected the construction industry, Italian exports to the GCC has seen an upward trend as its total exports to the Gulf surged 31 per cent to €231 million during the first half of 2021. Total Italian exports to the GCC region amounted to €415 million in 2020.

Construction is also picking up again for both residential and non-residential use increasing the demand for imported furniture and other fixtures that are not locally met, according to the exhibitors. While the GCC represents only 1.5 per cent of the world market, consumption has grown significantly in recent years, recording an average annual growth rate of 10 per cent.

A global force

Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner to the UAE, said Italy is a global force when it comes to artistic and functional design products notably furniture, lights, interior panels, ceramics, tiles, stoneware, flooring, to name a few.

“In 2020, we registered a turnover of €39 billion in the furniture market alone. Total furniture exports reached €15 billion or a 39 per cent share. Amongst the product categories that en-joyed the most growth in 2020 are bedrooms and beds (+27.4 per cent), living area (+9.4 per cent), sleeping systems (+9.2 per cent), and upholstery (+3.2 per cent),” Scarpa said.

In the UAE, Italy is the first supplier for luxury furniture and second biggest for general furniture. The first half of year has witnessed a 27 per cent increase in Italian exports compared to the same period last year. Products related to interior design are expected to result to €1.4 billion, followed with €162 million on home lighting, and €85 million for outdoor furniture. Even the residential lighting sector in the UAE has shone brighter in the recent years, taking 53 per cent of the consumption share in the GCC.

Over the last decade, Made in Italy also became synonymous with sustainable design. The Ital-ian wood interior decoration industry is first in Europe in terms of circular economy: 93 per cent of materials come from recycling; 26kgs of CO2 emissions per .000 euro produced com-pared to 43kgs of the second-best country in the same chart.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com

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