Gijo Paul George (GPG): Back in 2011, during our graduate studies at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, I had an opportunity to collaborate with Hend on a competition that called for the redesign of the façade of the Pushkinsky cinema in Moscow. Our proposal, ‘Rossiya’s Flourish’, made the shortlist and was published widely on the internet. This made us realise that we work well together and that the results of our collaborations always ended up being more than the sum of their parts. We started Studio Toggle in 2011, while we were still students in Vienna, and in 2012 we moved to Kuwait to work on our first residential project. In 2016, we expanded by opening another studio in Porto.
Hend Almatrouk (HA: Like Gijo said, the effortless ease of working with each other and the fact that our architectural and ethical visions aligned perfectly, gave us the reassurance that collaborating with each other was a no-brainer. Our agenda was always simple. We established Studio Toggle to focus on logical design and problem-solving techniques. We wanted to bridge the gap between architecture and urban design, creating spaces that are accessible as much as they are beautiful. With my specialisation in experimental architecture and Gijo’s focus on public urban planning, we believed we were equipped to do just that.
What is Studio Toggle’s design ethos? What do you feel you have contributed to the region in terms of elevating the built environment?
HA: The three pillars of Studio Toggle are architecture, urbanism and activism. I would like to describe it as architecture rooted in urbanistic activism. While challenging norms and standard practices, we avoid stylistic trends and non-functional ornamentation. While not overtly subversive, our work definitely goes against the grain.
We believe that through our sense of activism towards positive and responsible design, Studio Toggle has been instrumental in raising awareness of the importance of design thinking in the region. We believe that design thinking should go hand in hand with the construction process. We have demonstrated that theoretical research translates into tangible improvements in the energy efficiency and user-friendliness of buildings. To that effect, we have also championed the deployment of Building Informational Modelling (BIM) and digital fabrication techniques to improve architectural design quality and construction processes.
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Finance professional-turned-designer Shima Samaei is behind the heritage-inspired brand Chapter-101, whose pieces bring together the evocative beauty of the Middle East region
Founded by London-based interior designers Sophie Ashby of Studio Ashby and Alex Dauley of Dauley Design, United in Design is a charitable organisation set up to address the lack of diversity within the design field. Aidan Imanova speaks to the founders to find out more.
All around the world
NextSpace, founded by Laurence Dehlen, aims to introduce the Middle East market to a myriad of brands from across the globe
Three Kuwait-based designers investigate the potential of a local design identity by merging existing regional and borrowed elements in an exhibition showcased at 1971 - Design Space in Sharjah
Dubai Design Week
While many of the world’s design events went virtual this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth iteration of Dubai Design Week – a festival that has quickly become one of the most sought-after events on the arts calendar in the Emirates – presented a combination of physical exhibitions and outdoor installations, bringing together international works and regional talent in addition to an online showcase of brands and talks, making the event accessible to a global audience.
This month’s products include wish list items that will make perfect gifts this festive season. From beautifully sculptural storage pieces to home fragrances, there is something here for everyone.
Preserving the past
‘A Thobe Story’ features 10 unique garments embroidered by Palestinian refugee women that recall missing memories
Sahel Al Hiyari’s Barghouti House softly integrates into the landscape while remaining impressively monolithic
DESIGN FOCUS: OUTDOOR FURNITURE
DESIGN FOCUS: OUTDOOR FURNITURE
A Sharjah icon
The recent restoration of Sharjah’s iconic Flying Saucer returns the Brutalist landmark to its former glory – and investigates its past in the process
No Experience Needed
Experienced Plant Enthusiasts Share Their Tips and Favorite Plants
Train Hard, Train Smart and Train for Longevity
Malina Moye Means Business
RIGHTEOUS TOURING TIPS FROM A LIFELONG ROAD WARRIOR
Globally Positioned Success
Production Is Blooming at Highlands County Caladium Farm With the Use of Global Positioned System
HONEYMOONERS' TRAGIC NASCAR NIGHTMARE!
Race pit pro & bride didn’t have to die
OVER THE RAINBOW: JIMI HENDRIX TAKES A HAWAIIAN HOLIDAY.
GUNFIGHTER OF THE RISING SUN
A Zero pilot’s own story
ELIZABETH HENDRICKSON RETURNS TO Y&R
On October 5, real-life new mom Elizabeth Hendrickson returns to Y&R as a very pregnant Chloe. “Nothing is like the way it used to be,” admits the actress.
GOOGLE RECEIVES $25M TAX BREAK FROM NEVADA TO BUILD FACILITY
Google will receive more than $25 million in tax breaks after pledging an additional $600 million for a new data center in southern Nevada, state officials said.
American Academy of Arts and Letters honors Henderson
BROOKLIN—Earlier this year, Bill Henderson almost threw the letter he received from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in the trash.