From 9/16 to 9/18 I went to Dubai to visit the Hotel show.
It was my first to Dubai and it is the first step on a new action plan that will bring me to Phoenix next week and to Jakarta in december.
It was a very nice experience and if you are interested in the daily highlights, you can check my facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/itorrini/posts/10217433854577384 and following.
I went on top of the Burj Kalifa (the highest building in the world as we speak), the aquarium in the Dubai mall, the suks in the old Dubai area and even made a quick round trip to Abu Dhabi (the capital of UAE) but what is definitely the leitmotif of this trip is the people I met. Let me be more specific.
Before leaving I announced thru the Bartok design mailing list (1413 members) of my plan and I received 2 emails from people currently in Dubai who were happy to meet me. We agreed on a having dinner with one and on a morning appointment in my hotel with the other.
It was a very pleasant feeling. I am going for the first time to a city on the other side of the world and I have friends there waiting for me!
But the nicest surprise was still to come. Before leaving, a Parisian architect who used my tubs 2 times (year 2008 and 2013) said that he might be able to come to Dubai to meet.
By the time I reached Hong Kong, another mail was saying that all flights were fully booked and it might be difficult this time.
When I reached Dubai at 6:30 in the morning, I found a message saying that Antoine was indeed coming that evening at 23:30!
I offered him to stay in my hotel room but appearently he also has a cousin working in Dubai who insited to have him staying there.
Therefore we arranged to meet in my hotel for breakfast. It was a big emotion to meet in person after 10 years and dozens of emails exchanged. But the surprise increased more and more when I started to understand the size of the man.
His family is cosmopolite starting from his grandmother generation… Antoine can speak Arabic, he graduated from the MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology), he likes to work directly on details. For this reason, he took over a wood working workshop, a metal work workshop, and creates bent glass himself. Antoine works for the president of Gibuti, Saudi tycoons and Kuwaiti princes…!
here is a link to his atelier homepage: http://klam.fr/
and here`s a link to his daughter`s japanese paper shop`s: https://www.adelineklam.com/
He overwhelmed me with his honesty, enthusiasm and passion. And the most stunning element of the story is that he come all the way to Dubai just to meet me! Appearently his Japan-enthusiast wife insisted that he should change his schedule and make room for coming to Dubai.
After the breakfast, we went to visit the Hotel Show together then we drove to the Gold souk and crossed the river with a motorboat to reach the Old souk.
In the evening we had a mint lemonade at Madinat Jumeirah and we went together to have dinner with my second client.An airline pilot and his japanese wife are considering buying an ofuro and we went to see their house.
They were really delicious people and it was very touching to be able to immerse for few moments in the daily routine of a client that suddently is becoming also a friend: checking the layout of the bathroom, having a glass of wine, the kids returning from pool, the gossip about other expats, the shortcut to reach the restaurant.
We had an eccellent lebanese food dinner all together and the conversation went on smoothly while Antoine was ordering in Arabic and talking with my clients naturally as if we had known eachother for years!
The next day Antoine joined me again for breakfast while we were waiting for another perspective client. He came at 9:30 in the hotel and we started to talk about his estate in New Zealand and plans to install a japanese bathtub.
We had exchanged some mails 3 years ago and the renovation project is still on paper as he is busy attending his business on the 5 continents. Former NY lawyer, the client now deals with companies acquisitions and M&M. He has a great sense of humour and while his background is very different from mine or from Antoine`s, we are there again, chatting as 3 old friends.
When the meeting ended, Antoine come with me to the Japanese Consulate where the commercial atachee kindly met us. A graduate from Kobe University, he was very caring and I am sure that the Japanese Consulate is very capable and dedicated in promoting the interests of Japanese companies in the UAE.
Finally we visited together the acquarium at the Dubai mall and said goodbye as I had to rush to the airport to catch my flight.
It was a very productive, life changing experience as I was talking with Antoine all the time and learning about his family, his business and his wonderful life philosophy.
I have always cultivated my independence. I think it is a value to be with other people but not to depend on other people.
When you are independent it is easier to be proactive and be less vulnerable by the circumstances.
But this trip (and once again the action of tapping in the beautiful community of the japanese lovers hiding in the Bartok design mailing list) though me that there is a higher value to be cultivated: that of interdependance.
Even if you are independent, there are just so many things you can do. But doing it together opens a miryad of new and surprising options!
Thank you Antoine for the nice days together!