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From the outside it looked like an expensive furniture shop with its reflective wall-to-wall glass window, but it was the interesting bric-a-brac that lured me into Falaknaaz The Warehouse. When I stepped inside, the space seemed to open up, while the wooden artefacts in different corners of the shop drew my attention, each seemingly eager to tell a story.
“The wood is living,” says interior designer Therese Foot, who established The Warehouse in 1996 at a time when furnishing choices in Dubai were limited and the oriental and the colonial style of decor was just reaching the region. Every product is shipped directly from the shop’s manufacturing units in Bali, Indonesia, and since there are no middlemen, prices are genuinely low.
Initially offering solid teak wood interior furniture, the shop’s range grew to include other items and handicrafts made from natural materials such as bamboo, rattan, water hyacinth and coconut. Today, The Warehouse also ships synthetic rattan and teak garden furniture, designer furniture, gazebos, umbrellas ceiling fans, lighting as well as accessories.
What sets it apart? As an artist, Foot’s creativity is reflected in every material she sources from Bali. Different styles of wooden birds, each handcrafted to perfection, dot the space inside. Foot tells me that in Indonesia there are villages that specialise in these products — each community is known for crafting a certain bird or animal. One can also find at the shop delicately crafted rice bags, showpieces created with intertwining vines from the jungles of Thailand, root tables and sofas made from natural roots of teak trees and Hunter ceiling fans with wooden blades.
A treasure trove
The Warehouse is more like an art studio, gradually revealing its secret treasures as one explores. I’m surprised to learn that the shop, located in the Al Shafar Building on Shaikh Zayed Road, actually covers 6,000 sq ft.
A casual visit culminated in a long musing over the unique and unusual handicrafts, ceramic items and artefacts that include stunning solid wood lamps made of teak wood, embroidered scatter cushions for outdoor and indoor seating, natural wood salad bowls, unusual forks and spoons, vine screens, wooden root stand and more. Foot caressed some of the items and asked me to feel the texture. I followed suit and was swept off to an Indonesian village where craftsmen breathe life into each creation with skills passed on through generations.
She takes me through each piece — the tabletop carved from part of a tree trunk, the hand-painted hanging love chimes and the birds. Which are her favourites? “The birds. These are unique pieces and one of a kind. You won’t find them in the market,” she says. “See how sweet and soft [they are]? You need to feel things.”
More than a feeling
The Warehouse uses materials that can withstand the intense heat in this region. The outdoor wooden furniture are made of high-quality tropical teak wood, which is ideal for garden furniture. They are made from teak (Techtona grandis), a tree native to Asia where it has been used for centuries to build homes, temples and boats.
Styles change constantly. While a few seasons ago the preferred wood colour was teak, now it is limewashed. However, what doesn’t change is the demand for something that is unique and has a story to tell. So, Foot doesn’t believe in sourcing one-off pieces of furniture.
“The furniture that we sell here is for investing,” she says. “People don’t use them only in Dubai. They take them home [to] the UK, India and so on.
“We also believe in ethical sourcing of wood — each piece has been created with wood that has been legally permitted to be used.”
Source: Ishita B. Saha, Special to Property Weekly
Ishita B. Saha is the author of IshitaUnblogged.com, a culinary travel blog
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