Lighting design practice Nulty+ opens in Dubai

Lighting design practice Nulty+ has opened a new Dubai office, headed by director Mark Vowles.

The Nulty+ team is currently working on various retail, residential and hospitality projects within the GCC market including three department stores, a shopping mall, a restaurant and several high-end private residences. It expects to see the portfolio of work continue to grow with the launch of the new office and the expansion of the Dubai-based design team.

The decision to expand into the Middle East comes after a successful year for the lighting design studio. 'This is an exciting opportunity for us to launch into the Middle Eastern market,' says founder Paul Nulty. 'We are a young, dynamic and hungry practice and I believe our offer and skillset aligns with the development of these countries. We’re really excited by Mark joining the team as he has the experience, charisma, talent and commitment to head up the new office and I believe that if we can apply the same design and service philosophies we have developed in London, we will see every success within this dynamic market.'

The practice believes that the timing is right given the major events taking place in the region in the coming years. 'The Middle East is currently in a very buoyant growth period in terms of development and construction,' says director Mark Vowles. 'With the Expo 2020 in Dubai and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the design community is a hive of activity in preparation for these giant events. Not only are there opportunities in the primary design of the buildings such as stadia and pavilions, but they have also generated a new demand for infrastructure, hotels, restaurants and retail opportunities.'

Projects move very quickly here once they get the go ahead. We will be able to respond quickly and turnaround projects. Customer service is key.”

Mark Vowles

Nulty has previously managed international projects from the London office but now feels that a local office is needed to progress. 'It will be a massive advantage to Nulty to have a local office,' says Vowles. 'Projects move very quickly here once they get the go ahead. We will be able to respond quickly and turnaround projects. Customer service is key.' Vowles aims to have four or five designers on the ground by the end of 2016.

The hospitality sector will be a big target market. 'There are a lot of five-star hotels here in Dubai. What’s missing is the middle market and we envisage that many four- and three-star hotels will be required as Dubai broadens its scope for the Expo,' says Vowles. In addition to Dubai, Vowles and his team will be looking at markets across the region and beyond into Africa.

Vowles’ career spans time on both the lighting design and product sides of the fence. He is well versed in the potential pitfalls of working in the Middle East. 'On the design side, it can be difficult to get the client to confirm the budget. So you might come up with a creative design only to see elements value engineered out due to costs. Contract administration is also important. There’s a tendency to want to take your design and manage it, but by giving away that control you can open up Pandora’s Box.'

The harsh environment can also be tough on products. 'Exterior lighting manufacturers need to prove their products can withstand 50°C temperatures and 95 per cent humidity, strong UV and dust. You can’t afford to have products fail and there are not too many manufacturers I would trust.'

Paul Nulty and Mark Vowles will be among the speakers at the inaugural LuxLive Middle East show. Top lighting designers will give keynote presentations and take part in debates in two custom-built arenas at the show and practices will exhibit milestone projects in the Gallery of Wonders.

LuxLive Middle East takes place on Wednesday 13 April and Thursday 14 April 2016 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. To register for a free pass, visit