The home interiors trade show calendar kicks off this weekend in Paris - with Maison et Objets trumpeting "anti-gloom" concepts for "better living". According to research, most residents in the UAE chose to stay at home or attend a house party to see in 2010. Perhaps, better than any decorating scheme, a party is the best way to turn a house into a home. Nightspots - such as London's Bourne & Hollingsworth and The Back Room in New York - are fighting back, by serving cocktails in teacups with accompanying dinky sandwiches, so that people feel cosy and comfortable - more at home, so to speak. As I always say, living well is the best revenge.
A new site for architects - a hybrid of Linkedin and Flickr - has recently entered cyberspace. One wonders what took them so long. Developed by architects for architects, Architizer flags up projects, company profiles and jobs - making it very timely, given the closure of magazines and the ever-increasing competition for clients: architects need to find new ways of getting their work out there. The site's interactive map is inspired - great for archi-tourists. Looking at the People section, Architizer could also become a cool dating site. (Oops, scrap that. We don't want Etisalat blocking it.)
Coinciding with the launch of Dubai's architectural splendour, Burj Khalifa, Brand Dubai (an offshoot of the Dubai Media Affairs Office) organised Dubai Forum - a day of architectural talks (which, disappointingly, was under-publicised). Financial woes aside, Dubai has been particularly vilified by international architectural critics, so one panel aimed to discuss the role and responsibility of the architectural press. After the Fox News commentator Judith Miller pleaded for more open debate, Francis Matthew, the editor of Gulf News, justified the lack of architectural criticism on home turf by the fact that, until recently, the size of the UAE population didn't merit it. Hmm... never mind that the buildings, more than anything, are what put Dubai on the map. It was fascinating to witness such a free-flowing discourse (and a very feisty Mishal Kanoo) and the reactions of the audience. Brand Dubai should have jumped on this debate as a credible, positive story about Dubai and made sure it got plenty of mileage.
Back to the main lineup at Dubai Forum, and it was down to Salameh Abdul-Hadi, the former media advisor to Amman's Royal Palace, to remind us that architecture brings people together; he found it inspiring, he said, to witness the multitude of nationalities gathered where he had dined the previous evening. He also explained that Dubai is simply attempting to do what Muslims did hundreds of years ago: create another golden age. Amen to that.
Design buffs with some spare cash might want to pick up a Charles Rennie Mackintosh original - namely the new £100 bank note (Dh600) that Scotland's Clydesdale Bank has released, featuring the legendary Arts & Crafts architect. How wonderful to see that Mackintosh has now joined the exalted ranks of Le Corbusier and Thomas Jefferson (who appear on Swiss and US notes respectively).
Yvonne Courtney is the co-founder of designtastic, a design/ publishing consultancy and ezine