Dubai-based homeware brand 24:35 does it simply
‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci, a man who knew a thing or two. And yet, as any designer will attest, doing simplicity well can be one of the hardest things of all.
Which is why we’re delighted to have discovered 24:35, a fledgling, Dubai-based homeware brand that takes its cues from nature and does simplicity very well indeed. Stocked at Concept-Me in Al Quoz, 24:35 made its official debut during this year’s Dubai Design Week – a quiet, unassuming launch befitting of a company built on holistic principles and Sufi-inspired philosophies.
“The name, 24:35, is a reference to chapter 24, verse 35 of the Quran, the Surat Al Nur, which talks about the source of light,” 24:35’s founder Hiba Nadeem explains. “The brand is inspired by nature and inspired by the universe – and this will always ground our design ethos.”
Nadeem gave up a full-time job in marketing and communications a year-and-a-half ago to “try something new”, although she wasn’t exactly sure what that was at the time. “I wanted to do something that wouldn’t cost me too much, but that I could make, market and distribute, from A to Z,” she explains.
Candles came first. “I’ve always loved nature and have always been inspired by the idea of holistic healing,” she says. “I came from one of those homes where Mum would always reach for the homoeopathic medicine before she reached for anything else. I only learnt to appreciate that later in life; as a child, you just want a quick fix, you want the Calpol or the Panadol. But life teaches you a lot of things.”
Nadeem started educating herself on the candle-making process, then began experimenting with her own blends. “I decided that I wasn’t going to use anything synthetic, because the whole premise behind this was healing,” she says. “All of the oils that I use and the blends that I make centre on that.”
Naturally, there were challenges involved in learning something from scratch. “I always had essential oils in my cupboard and always liked them – but you’ll go to an organic store and think you’re picking up something “right”, and often it’s not what you think it is. A lot of what you buy is very diluted, for example.
“There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet,” she admits. “You really have to filter through it when you are learning. That was the process. Trying to understand it and trying to work out what the truth is. It’s not always about right and wrong and good versus evil; it’s about working out the right thing in the situation you are in. Otherwise, you’d never eat, or you’d never leave your house.”
Nadeem’s choice to use a mixture of food-grade paraffin wax and beeswax rather than soy wax in her candles is a case in point. While soy wax is often touted as a “cleaner” option, Nadeem’s research suggested otherwise.
“All candles emit soot,” she says. “Soy is produced using significant amounts of agro-toxins and is mixed with hydrogen to create the final product. Paraffin, meanwhile, is a pre-existing by-product of crude oil, simply extracted by skimming the waxy surface of the oil during the refining process. According to the World Health Organization, there is a high mortality rate caused by acute pesticide poisoning in the developing world because of insufficient regulations and the aggressive growth of soy farming. This is a definitive factor behind us opting to use a blend of food-grade paraffin wax and beeswax for our candles.”
The beautifully complex blends, which are handcrafted by Nadeem and come in vessels made from either marble or Himalayan salt, include Hu, which combines elements such as frankincense, Damascene rose, amber and myrrh. “This is a more meditative, clarity-enhancing scent. It’s quite traditional, in essence, but clarifies the mind at the same time,” Nadeem explains.
Jugni, an energising blend of citrusy scents mixed with pink peppercorn and myrrh, is designed to ignite creativity and energy; Junoon is a warm, comforting mix of cocoa, rose, cardamom and tobacco; and Nafs blends vetiver, bergamot and patchouli.
“Vetiver is an essential oil that will be prescribed to you if you have experienced some kind of trauma, whether mental or physical, so this is a very healing, comforting scent,” Nadeem says.
Once her collection of candles was complete, Nadeem moved on to furniture, again employing nature as a key theme. The Wood + Marble range consists of sections of tree trunk inlaid with slabs of marble – both exposed to a series of intriguing treatments, so that the veins of the marble sometimes appear to almost mimic the grains of the wood. White-sanded rosewood is topped with the delicate gradations of rough pink Beluchi marble, while a birchwood finish is complemented by brilliant blue Brazilian sodalite. “We wanted to revive the real feel of everything – marble is only shiny once you’ve polished it,” she says. “And that is beautiful, too, but how else can it be beautiful?”
Larger pieces of furniture include the imposing Daddy Cool box table, which is crafted from 19th-century cedarwood. The wood’s knots have been glazed with powdered Gabon ebony to emphasise its grain and weaves. “The old GPO from colonial times in Lahore, Pakistan, was being torn down, and there were these magnificent wooden beams being taken out and auctioned off,” Nadeem explains. “The wood is 300 years old, and you get these long slabs with no joints. This wood has its own story; its own vibrations; its own DNA; its own fingerprint.”
For every piece of furniture made by the brand, it plants three trees. And as this is a grass-roots, family-run operation, trees are gifted to friends or planted in gardens and parks across the UAE. “That’s our way of giving back to nature; our little ode to nature,” says Nadeem.
For the Heirloom Collection, which features platters, trays, candlesticks, frames and coasters, Nadeem “wanted to create pieces that were modern-day collectibles and that could, one day, be considered heirlooms”. She was inspired by those beautiful antique pieces that belong to your parents and that you hope, almost guiltily, will one day be passed on to you.
The platters are particularly striking, incorporating semi-precious stones such as serpentine, which is hand-inlaid onto onyx.
“Some of these materials may not even be available in the future, so it’s about preserving them and highlighting their value and integrity,” Nadeem points out. “You can buy a modern-day heirloom for between Dh950 and Dh2,800. What else can you buy today for that price that will potentially increase in value?”
Updated: December 15, 2016 04:00 AM