ICEX’s Fiesta and Design at Jaleo by Jose Andres

On a sunny June 1st afternoon, well-known designers from Dubai stepped into Jaleo by Jose Andres at Atlantis The Royal in Palm Jumeirah with their competitive spirit and creative cadence in tow. Together with best-of-the-best Spanish brands, these designers were about to go head-to-head into a culinary battle. The scene was set, and the anticipation was palpable; who would emerge victorious?

Spanish design has seen an inspiring trajectory in the UAE. The eclectic style seeped into the region through shared political and cultural history and steadily made its nuances ubiquitous. Alongside, even Spanish cuisine has gained connoisseurs. Jaleo by Jose Andres at Atlantis The Royal in Palm Jumeirah is a paragon of this status, making it the ideal venue for ICEX Interiors from Spain’s latest action-packed event, Fiesta and Design. 

Agenda and Sponsors

ICEX Interiors from Spain works relentlessly to promote Spanish design worldwide. Throughout the year, the entity participates in international trade shows (most recently, 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen) and puts up a well-curated display of upcoming and established Spanish brands. 

After all, design is incumbent to Spain’s lifestyle, especially in Valencia. Awarded ‘World Design Capital’ in 2022, the city also hosts the country’s leading design exhibition, feria Hábitat Valencia, set to take place this year from 19th to 22nd September. Following feria Hábitat, Interiors from Spain will return to Downtown Design during Dubai Design Week 2023 to leverage UAE’s multi-cultural design scene.

While trade shows and their enormous turnouts acquaint brands with designers, a slew of competitors share the focus. If quality products form the foundation of a thriving business, sound business relationships are the branches for its growth. To stir conversations and camaraderie amongst the UAE design community, ICEX Interiors of Spain concocted Fiesta and Design, an irresistible formula of Spanish culinary challenges and creative endeavours. The entity partnered with Love That Design to set their strategy into motion and extended exclusive invitations to over 40 designers for their first Fiesta and Design. As many as ten Spanish brands onboarded as sponsors and were copious in their contributions and participation. Here are the names of the moment:-

Bover Barcelona Lights fuses illumination with experiential qualities and curates collections that can add to the ambience of a space. The brand does not conform to a dedicated style or aesthetic and bolsters a wide range of themes and palettes for designers to choose from.

Equipo DRT designs and manufactures textiles to accentuate and layer interiors. Their speciality pertains to producing good-quality, dynamic curtains and upholstery fabrics. A passion for textiles and technical knowledge underpin their collections and 30-year-long ascent.

GANDIABLASCO is a maven of outdoor furniture that fuses architectural elements with minimal materials such as aluminium to produce contemporary, Mediterranean-style pieces. Durability, sustainability and timeless design are hallmarks of the brand’s essence. 

From left: Hirofumi Kuraoka, Export Manger, Bover; Arantxa Porter, Marketing Manager, Equipo DRT with Silvia Sanchez; Sergio Galisteo, Sales Manager, Gandia Blasco

Presenting a new take on outdoor furniture, iSiMAR uses industrial materials such as galvanised rods to revolutionise its approach. Not only are their collections sturdy and resistant to corrosion, but they also have a chic, industrial meets Mediterranean outlook. 

For Lzf Lamps, lighting products revolve around forms. The brand patented ‘Timberlite,’ a process of making wooden veneer sheets super-malleable and yielding to fluid shapes. Unique and ageless, Lzf Lamps hold power to metamorphose a room.

Pattio uses colour, light and warmth to re-humanise workspace furniture. By focusing on patterns, fabrics and forms, the brand brings a collection of contemporary pieces that inspire conversations, collaborations and panache in corporate environments. 

PORCELANOSA Group, a pre-eminent name in ceramics, produces floor and wall tiles, mosaics, natural stone, laminate, parquet, countertops, bathroom equipment, and more. The secret to remaining relevant decades after their impetus is a considerable emphasis on innovation, diversification and design. 

From left: Luis Unceta, CEO, Isimar; Sandro Tothill, CEO, Lzf Lamps; David Oyon, Managing Director Middle East, Forma 5 & Pattio; Ayah Hayani, Sales Manager and Nuño Arcusa Gil, Regional Director, Porcelanosa Middle East

Punt Mobles leverages craftsmanship to manufacture exquisite furniture pieces for corporate and residential premises. Existing at the confluence of art and design, Punt Mobles prides itself on elegant, sculptural products – especially their ingenious storage repertoire. 

Todobarro are neo-artisans that bring clay ambitions to life. The brand’s offerings include a premium range of handmade tiles and mass-manufactured tile collections. Like clay’s pliancy, Todobarro also offers clients customisation in colour, texture and formula.

Viccarbe, an international furniture manufacturer, ascribes Valencia’s sunshine-bursting locale as an inspiration behind their avant-garde designs. The brand boasts a disparate portfolio of collaborative furniture for contract, hospitality, educational, healthcare, and residential environments.

From left: Lourdes Prieto, Commercial Director, Punt Mobles; Pedro Rosa, Founder & CEO, Todobarro; Roberto Garcia, Middle East & India Regional Director, Viccarbe

A Glimpse at ICEX’s first Design and Fiesta

Over 40 designers and brand representatives filled Jaleo’s buoyant interiors as the summer sun shone brightly even late into the afternoon, drenching the venue in natural light and lustre. Curious attendees were heard ‘cooking’ up plausible scenarios about the upcoming competition and the mystery of the different coloured badges handed to them until the gregarious Oliver Baxter took over the mike to inform them of the impending state of affairs.  

Each player was assigned a badge whose colour indicated the team they would be batting for – namely Barcelona (blue), Sevilla (yellow), Valencia (orange) or Pamplona (red). The brand representatives would play advisors and steer the team in the right cultural direction as the designers unleashed their gastronomical aspirations onto the plates (and sketchbooks). 

The four teams had to go through four rounds each. Every quest would be helmed by two judges who would begin by explaining the challenge and finish by marking the work at the end of the 15-minute timer. The teams would work simultaneously on different challenges and keep moving on to the next until they’ve completed all four.

Mikel Padilla, Specialty Sous Chef at Jaleo demonstrating Tapa-making for Round 1; Juan Roldan and Siddharth Peters marking participants based on their sketches for Round 2; Chef Mariano Andres, now also Director of Operations and Development at Jose Andres Group illustrating the culinary procedure for Round 3; Judge for Round 3 Alvaro Angulo, Trade Attache at the Embassy of Spain later pictured with contestants; Pablo Conde, Director of Design, Fashion and Cultural Industries at ICEX, and Miriam Llano, Founder and CEO of Amphora co-judging round 4.

As the competition began, clamour and collegial spirit became an overriding theme. The venue saw designers in a frenzy; some laughed off the tension while others furrowed their eyebrows. Brand representatives revelled in pride as they informed their team members about their heritage and culture. Colours, concepts and ingredients whisked a convivial ambience that mitigated professional boundaries between brands and designers. For those glorious 60 minutes, acquaintances from other offices were confidants, and age-old colleagues from the same entity were nemesis. 

After shedding considerable amounts of sauce, sweat and spices, team Barcelona managed to rise to the top of the leaderboard. Team Valencia was drawn in as a close second. As the evening progressed, a roulette system revealed 12 lucky winners who would bag gifts from generous sponsors.

Anna Carandang from GAJ Architects wins a trip to Spain to visit Porcelanosa’s factory; Michelle Eid from Say Studio bags Viccarbe’s Season Chair; Tres Stone from Keane Brands acquires Bover’s Nans Lamp; Carna Maravic from Kristina Zanic Consultants won two Bika Chairs from Pattio; Kathryn Athreya from Roar took back the Bow chair from Pattio; Regina Matthew from AAID pocketed a dinner voucher for two from Jaleo; Francesca Patti from Bishop Design bagged the Mitjorn Chair from iSiMAR; Mariam Kamel from Al Tayer Stocks wins LZF Air Lamp; Peter Mishreky from Al Tayer Stocks acquires the Botijo La Siesta from GandiaBlasco; Yose Suprayogi is presented with a tote bag from Equipo DRT; Marco Maximus from Keane Brands and Carina Lima from SBID took with them copies of  ‘Made in Spain…’ and ‘Tapas, a taste of Spain in America’

Once the congratulatory speeches and prize distribution came to a close, the crowd settled into an unhurried and nonchalant pace. Professionals mingled with each other, giggling at how the usually dextrous designers fumbled with sauces, deep-dived into Spain’s rich historical stories and even lightly grazed the topic of business. The smell of paella and Jose Andres’ unparalleled tapas wafted through the air enveloping the guests, as the sound of sizzling pans and incessant chatter caused quizzical passersby to peep in. The expected lull towards the end of the work week never touched the venue, and everyone left the doors, not realising how time flew by. 

We’d dare say, if there’s a chance of another one of these, we’d have to brace ourselves. A refreshed iteration would mean a lengthier guest list and a more animated venue. But that’s our concern. Such events enable industry peers to bond over something other than trade and commerce. After all, who can say no to fun, food and design?


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