CID Magazine – 2012 showroom article

28 February 2018

Inspired by Design

Paul Bishop and Ellen Søhoel, former Bishop, of Bishop Design Associates, Raise the Roof with the Launch of their Boutique Showroom in Al Barsha, Dubai

UAE: Former husband and wife team, Paul and Ellen, of Bishop Design Associates, has partnered with local suppliers to launch a showcase of design at its offices in The Pinnacle Building, Al Barsha, Dubai.

The showroom is not open to the public and is strictly by appointment only and the products are exclusively sold to clients the firm has designed for.

“We wanted our clients to get inspired by design and to be able to ‘touch and feel’ our creations, not only on a material board but in real life,” said Ellen Søhoel.

“It is often difficult for customers to visualize your design even with the help of state-of-the-art visuals, material and furniture boards. Secondly, Paul and I realized the suppliers we deal with do not get enough exposure and the chance to display their products well enough.

Often they invest money in showrooms, which the end user rarely visits. Therefore, we sat down with a selected few after we had signed 5,000 square feet and simply said: ‘Would you be interested in displaying your products with us and we will display them in ways you might not have thought of before, incorporate them in our showroom design and it would give our clients a great opportunity to see and appreciate your products/finishes/quality first hand’.”

The duo put a business plan together for the designed show space in 2008/2009 but had to put it on hold during the recession. They decided to revisit the idea six months ago and had an event to celebrate the launch recently.

“The business idea is quite simple but unique and built on a concept, which to my knowledge, has not been done before in this region,” added Søhoel.

“We were extremely pleased by the result as 10 out of 12 suppliers agreed on coming onboard with us and, of course, it was important to them to be able to have some said in what products we selected.”

The Bishops said over the years, they have managed to identify gaps in products offered in the Middle East. As a result, the pair travelled worldwide for two to three months sourcing and setting up business deals with different suppliers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, the UK and Scandinavia to offer clients products they might not have seen before and would like to have in their projects.

They also worked in partnership with Ashtaar Interiors, which did all the contracting for the showroom as well as the designed furniture pieces by Bishop Design.

“It is incredibly important for us to give our clients unique pieces and designs and not just items from a catalogue, which is unfortunately what some designers do in this region,” said Ellen.

“Once a customer pays a designer a fee, they expect to get an edge, something that will surprise and thrill them and items that the restaurant next door does not have. Therefore, Paul and I designed a few pieces of furniture which we also display in our showroom.

“This has turned out to be a great success and we are now expanding on that idea.”

The launch was attended by suppliers including Paul Galvin, MD, Ohpopsi, JAB Middle East, and interior designers, such as Marie-Noelle Swiderski, managing director, Blanchard interior design and architecture.

“The launch gave us an opportunity to showcase our partners’ products with its application in synergy with the design idea/theme. Our clients got a chance to feel and explore the intricacies of each design element showcased in the various mock-up areas,” added Ellen.

Bishop Design has since been commissioned to work on various restaurant concepts in North America, Europe and Africa, as well as continuing projects in the UAE and GCC.

It has been expanding its services to both the residential, leisure and retail sector with work including FIFA approved football arenas and classical mansions in London.

“We have also recently been taken by surprise by a number of opportunities which arose following the showroom launch. This was never in the business plan so it is very exciting for us,” said Ellen.

The Suppliers

JAB Middle East: fabrics, hand-tufted carpets & wallpapers

Ohpopsi: wall covering and selected printed artworks

Stepevi: shaggy rugs

MTE Middle East: woven vinyl flooring Bolon from Scandinavia

Casa Mia: flooring, wall tiles and bathroom finishes & fixtures

Ashtaar Interiors: interior contracting and manufacturer for all furniture pieces designed by Bishop Design LLC

Vitra : office furniture

Planika: fire places

Proj Interiors Italia: exclusive Italian lamps, backlit crystal mirror and divider