Kicking Off the Design, Dine, make a Difference 2021

It’s that time of the year, when the design community starts stirring, and the hum and buzz of Surge begins. This year’s designer workshops kicked off at the stunningly minimalistic setting of Firetti Contemporary Gallery in Al Serkal. Many hopeful designers gathered, eager to sit with the advisory committee and talk about their potential submission.



The Surge Designer Workshop this year had a beautiful and unique setting in the Firetti Contemporary gallery at Al Serkal Avenue. Founder Mara Firetti is a keen proponent of sustainable art and design, and opened her gallery doors to an eager A&D community, ready to launch into yet another Surge cycle of creativity for a cause.

The workshop kicked off with a welcome note by Surge’s Executive Director, Marita Peters, who talked us through the Surge ethos. “The global water crises entails 2.2 billion people who do not have access to clean water. Surge works on providing drinking water and sanitation, as well as hygiene solutions and a full blown menstrual health program. One of the most exciting things happening this year is that we are branching out into Indonesia, with a pilot project underway. We continue to work with new communities to bring safe, clean water and sanitation.”

The theme for this year is GAIA (you can read more about it here), and designers are challenged to capture the changing planet and humanity’s role in this change by considering all four dimensions of sustainability – the social, ecological, economic and worldview.

The advisors hail from a rich background of academia, art and design, and of course, sustainability. Dina Storey, Director of Sustainability at Expo 2020, Kevin Sullivan, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jacobs, and Chadi El Tabbah, Associate Professor of Interior Design, along with Mriganka Travasso, Creative Director at Surge for Water, sat with each design contestant and discussed their proposal and ideas in great detail, in the hopes of paving the way for an inspiring end result.

Clockwise from top left: Rohit Baretto, COO and Amal Baretto, CEO, Surface Eleven; Sridhar Santhanam, General Manager, Al Naboodah Interiors; Marita Peters, Executive Director ME, Surge; Mara Firetti, Founder, Firetti Contemporary; Steve Jardin, General Manager, Acoulite;

The Headline Sponsors

Surge’s headline sponsors were present to offer their support as always. All parties wholeheartedly agreed on the need for raising awareness for the cause of providing clean water, and recognising the current plight of the planet in this sector.

“Surge is an organisastion that we really believe in, and this year we want to get actively involved for our own education and to truly understand Surge’s impact,” says Surface Eleven’s CEO, Amal Barreto. “Continuous support is the key to making a big difference.”

When we embarked on the journey of sponsoring Surge last year, we decided that this would be something we would do for the long haul,” says Rohit Barreto, COO, Surface Eleven. “As a company, we are very conscious about the global impact. The majority of the products that we consult on, supply and install, come from companies that we have carefully vetted to ensure that they have sustainability as their ethos.”

“We have been associated with Surge for almost eight years, and believe this to be our corporate social responsibility,” says Sridhar Santhanam, General Manager, Al Naboodah Interiors representing Milliken. “Every year, we see more products, greater design, and more sustainable methods, which is inspiring and makes Surge not just an event but an experience!”

“Acoulite has been involved with Surge from inception,” says Steve Jardine, General Manager, Acoulite. “Acoulite is a lighting and acoustics solutions provider working within the design community, so with Surge, there is a good synergy between what we do and what the industry as whole is trying to achieve. Year on year we’ve seen that there are still 2.2 billion people on this planet without clean water. We have to make significant changes, not just for ourselves but for our future generations. I’d really like to see the designers embrace mother nature, how they can use materials that are sustainable in their designs, to make sure that what we’re starting to do is change everybody’s mindset to what sustainability really means.”

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