She’s one of us. An “Interconnector of Faces and Places” for the art and design world.
Nina Parvaresh, the brains behind the fabulously creative operation Concept-Me, is a woman on a mission and a true talent scout. Concept-Me is an architectural and design office that was created in Paris and has since spread to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Concept-Me’s latest Dubai warehouse extravaganza (which I eagerly explored!) opened in April of this year.
When I heard about a warehouse in the back of Al Quoz filled like Aladdin’s cave with unique pieces by emerging designers, I was of two minds. One side was thinking “Here we go. Let’s get lost in Al Quoz…again”. Because let’s face it, sat nav isn’t particularly great in this area and even Google Maps can get lost within the rabbit warren of warehouses here.
But the other half of my mind? It was super excited! We all want to have “that” piece which is uniquely its own and doesn’t have dozens of duplicates sitting around in other people’s homes, so I was game to go exploring and find out more! Plus, hey, I’m the biggest advocate of spotting talent and bringing it into the spotlight, hence why we have an “Influencers” section and an e-shop on TCS.
And that’s how I found myself navigating through Al Quoz one day, on the way to chat up Ms. Parvaresh.
After inevitably getting lost and then finally arriving at the place where Google Maps says is your destination, you’ll still need to walk down a small alley of warehouses before you discover Concept-Me on your right. Don’t be fooled by the industrial look of the area because upon entering, you’ll have an expanse of gorgeous design pieces to feast your eyes upon. I was greeted by the most super fabulous chairs—a diptych, the pair of chairs featured the front end of a cat on one and its backside on the other. I LOVED them!
I did a quick 360 of the chic converted warehouse space and my initial thought was “Hey, it’s Al Quoz but my goodness, this could make a great pad!!” Clearly, my creative senses were already being stimulated and beginning to tingle and ooze out!!
Then Nina bounded down the stairs to greet me and we settled into a lusciously comfy Pierre Frey sofa as we got down to business and I picked the brain of this creative genius.
Let me just say, if ever there was a lady to epitomise taking the bull by the horns, Nina is it. She did exactly this, saying ‘yes’ to something and then working out the logistics afterwards, much like Sir Richard Branson always promotes. Nina is my kind of gal—a fearless creative warrior!
Born and bred in salubrious Paris, Nina completed her architecture studies at École d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais, during which time she worked on a project called “Eye of the Storm” that focused on KSA. Her work was published in Paris and from there, she received an invitation from one of the Saudi princesses to come to KSA for 3 months as a part of the first female architects group.
Keep in mind that Nina was more or less the same age as these graduates. In one fine swoop, she transitioned from student to lecturer. Of course, she took up the offer with the plan to move to NYC, one of her favourite cities, upon completion. Having been educated in such a stunning city like Paris, Nina was shocked to find the KSA market incredibly commercial.
The “Adventures in NYC” chapter of her life was put on hold when a new adventure presented itself—her first contract in KSA! This potential contract was for doing the top-to-bottom architecture and interior design of a villa for one of the top 10 families in Saudi Arabia.
Nina had 10 days to prepare the proposal. Now at this point, you could say that any given person in this position could respond in 4 different ways:
Of course, she chose option 3 (otherwise, we wouldn’t be telling this story, would we?).
With a few frantic calls to her industry friends back in Paris, some of her own Euros, and buckets of team effort, Nina pulled together that proposal. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The 2,500 square metre villa is (unsurprisingly) absolutely stunning with clean, modern lines and calming neutrals. Cue complete house swoon!
From the word ‘go’ on that 10-day deadline, Nina has been so stacked with projects acquired through referrals that she only just launched a website a year ago! Residential, commercial, you name it and she’s been doing it.
One of her recent successes was the complete brand overhaul for Creative Closets, which originated in KSA and has a total of 8 showrooms across the GCC, including the new Jumeirah showroom opening at the end of the year. The updated minimalist feel and vibe that Nina created for the company have been very well-received by clientele. The importance of interior spaces and design shouldn’t be underestimated because it can have a huge impact on customer experience and, ultimately, retail success.
So where did the concept of the showroom come from? Just the simple combination of Nina’s humility and brains, really.
Of all places, it might seem curious as to why Nina would choose an old warehouse in the maze of Al Quoz over a sparkly, shiny Design District office but once you get to know her, it all makes sense. Above being an architect, she’s a true arty at heart; a creative genius who would no doubt feel stifled in the same old, flashy, cookie-cutter offices where many other creative gurus are likely feeling the same way. Al Quoz, whilst being difficult to find the first time around, allows creativity to be activated like a key turning in a Ferrari.
The two-level blank canvas space, covering about 600 square metres, was completely transformed over 40 days and went from your typical, run-down warehouse to a design den of unique treasures. (High fives all around to a power team!) Dubbed DiaA-gram No. 4 because it ties together the interdisciplinary areas of design, interiors, art, and architecture, the warehouse is a creative hub that acts as a drop-in shop, the actual studio for Concept-Me’s architectural and design work, and a general fountain of inspiration.
The unique pieces found at DiaA-gram No. 4 are an eclectic mix of talent that she has made a mission to help promote and designers she’s worked with over the years, all under one roof. This is Concept-Me’s own Zero collection – sourced, limited objects and furniture pieces that are available for viewing and purchase at the warehouse, with plans for an e-shop coming very, very soon!
Everywhere you cast your eye, you’ll find something new to admire amongst the carefully curated selection. The aforementioned Pierre Frey, with their fab wallpapers and sofas; tongue-in-cheek doodles by artist Nadim Basna; exquisite Persian rugs by Golran. Everyone has a story to tell and I imagine DiaA-gram No. 4 is the designer’s equivalent of Jackanory—roll out the sofa, blanket, and hot chocolate, and get ready to take in all of the designers’ tales!
Aside from being a showcase of pieces that you can ogle and shop, the warehouse plays host to superb events like yoga classes, dietician showcase meetings, and general networking. It’s a space for people who not only wish to avoid the humdrum of bog standard networks but also have an eye for exquisite designs.
Nina and her power team have somehow managed to successfully create the vibe of NYC’s Meatpacking District in the middle of Al Quoz and as word spreads, this warehouse will be the hub of many exciting things. It’ll go from being in the back of beyond to being the hot spot to hang out; where you can meet other like-minded folk whilst grabbing priceless pieces along the way!
Al Quoz Industrial Area 3
Warehouse 4 – 13 10b Street
Dubai, United Arab Emirates