Wooden toys and date palm wardrobes: Five sustainable home products at Index 2024

Plastic bottle caps, recycled construction materials and tree that fell during recent storms are among the items on display at three-day trade show in Dubai

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Sustainability and social responsibility are major themes at this year's Index exhibition, which gathers the world's interior designers, retailers and contractors under one roof at Dubai World Trade Centre.

The annual three-day trade show, which opened to the public on Tuesday, is 40 per cent bigger than last year, with a huge range of textiles, materials, products and more on display in several halls.

Here are some of the most exciting innovations on show, from skateboards made out of plastic bottle caps to wooden toys from Romania, plus stylish items fashioned from post-consumer plastic waste gathered on the Brazilian coastline.

Amik

The Romanian company, founded in 1996, has been working with UAE distributors for the past few years, supplying its beautiful beechwood toys and furniture to preschools across the country.

It stems from Amik Gavril's passion to create wooden toys for children, allowing them to spend time in a healthy and eco-friendly environment. With the help of two nuns from Germany, he started a programme to train young people from disadvantaged social backgrounds in production techniques, which resulted in the brand's first solid wooden rocking chair and cube set.

Today the brand has everything from tables and chairs to toys such as rocking horses, kitchen sets and household items for plenty of imaginative play.

Colab

One of the most exciting stands is Colab's digital materials library, which showcases a range of eco-friendly materials from across the world, including the UAE.

“The future of sustainable design lies in embracing local, innovative materials,” says Colab founder and creative director Richard Wilson, while showcasing a skateboard made out of plastic bottle caps.

“While classic materials like travertine have their place, prioritising locally sourced options like desert sand, concrete or date seed composites reduces our environmental footprint and unlocks exciting design possibilities.”

Alchemy is a case in point. It is the first 100 per cent recycled panel locally sourced and produced from marine and construction waste in the UAE. This waste includes buoys, dredging floats, road barriers and water tanks, and the idea was developed last year during the Tanween programme in collaboration with local art hub Tashkeel.

There's also Caracara Collective, which turns biowaste into art and design, promoting a new wave of Nordic design. Fishy Filaments, engineering-grade Nylon 6, is made from recycled fishing nets.

Blocks and samples of each material that can be handled by the public are on display, resting on a booth also made from DesertBoard's Palm Strand Board.

DesertBoard

“The owner wanted to save the planet,” sales executive Mohamed Shawki explains when asked what DesertBoard is all about.

The booth stands out because it is built entirely from what the brand is promoting – boards made of upcycled date palm fronds that can be used in home construction for everything from kitchen cabinets to wardrobes and flooring. These fronds would otherwise have been burnt or thrown in a landfill.

The company was founded by Hatem Farah in the UAE in 2022 and operates from a factory in Khalifa Economical Zone, Abu Dhabi. There, the team have harnessed technology to prune residue of date palm trees to create what they call Palm Strand Board, which is incredibly strong and packed tight full of thousands of fronds.

It's also free of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing, flammable chemical found in many other construction materials.

Ou

Brazilian brand Ou sells all manner of organisational products for the home, from laundry and bathroom requirements to items for the kitchen, home office and garden.

Its latest Grid line is among the products on show at Index. They combine a sense of minimalism and modern design with pieces made of recycled plastic.

The raw material comes from waste collected on the Brazilian coastline. That prevents this plastic from reaching the sea or rivers of the region, says export manager Vanessa Ferreira, who has flown from South America to Dubai for the show.

Material from plants such as bamboo and paulownia, both highly renewable, is also used.

The Boardroom of the Future

“We're not selling a product, we're selling a dream,” Apoorv Sharma, lead designer at Motif Interiors, says of his team's stand.

It spans 775 square feet and is part of the Workspace area, sandwiched between the halls of Index. It showcases a working meeting room and other office set-ups made of materials such as reclaimed wood, recycled metal, bamboo, terracotta tiles and more, all complemented by modern technologies including interactive touchscreens.

The team also used a tree they picked up on the road after the recent storms that hit the UAE and turned into an eye-catching table and stools.

The company doesn't sell these products yet, but it is showcasing the concept at Index this year and plans to make it a permanent line within the next five years.

Updated: June 07, 2024, 9:24 AM