Time Out enters the world of Designer Shaik to find out what this Bahrain perfumery has to offer
Time Out Bahrain staff
Recent Middle Eastern history has been tainted by the fears of terrorism and war – the mystical days of the Arabian Nights seem to have turned to dust. Yet from this dust emerges a story inspired by the romance of the desert, of a Shaik, his beautiful princess and their four palaces.
Designer Shaik creator Mohamed Al Asfoor grew up in Bahrain from an Iraqi heritage and is known for his imaginative and luxurious designs. He began working on the Designer Shaik concept in the early ’90s. The brand, company structure and technical know-how were in development for eight years whilst a range of perfumery products were initially launched on the market. The perfume and accessory house, which has flourished in the regional market, is now ready to go international.
Arriving at the offices of Designer Shaik in Media Village Bahrain, one is immediately immersed in an Arabian tale with the splendour of an almost complete Andalusian village that is guarded by its protective clock tower. The village sets the scene, creating the rich cultural heritage of Arabia with a European influence emerging from the company’s four palaces: Nature, Jewels, Fashion and the Palace of Instruments. These four palaces represent the four constituents of the Designer Shaik empire.
On entering the building, one is struck by the contrast of the building’s exterior to the state of the art office interiors. It’s difficult not to think of being on a movie set; perhaps Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory with its magical inventions. With 150 staff, including designers, jewellers and watch makers, it’s quite a striking scene, with giant porthole windows next to heavy wooden, full length doors. The glass floors add to the creative environment – people busy in meetings below, and there is activity up and down the spiral staircases.
The Palace of Nature is home to the ladies’ and gents’ perfumes and beauty products. Opulent Shaik is the formal, signature scent for the more sophisticated clientele, providing a separate scent for men and women, combined with citrus, musk and vanilla for men and a hint of rose for women. The oils are four or five times stronger than your normal perfume, providing a fragrance that is much longer lasting. Chic Shaik is lighter with a different scent for men and women, aimed at the younger, more informal buyer. Jewelessence Blue is the new collection, which is a theme that represents the colours of the Shaik’s Desert Kingdom. The blue range will be represented across each of the four product lines, inspired by the blue skies of Arabia and the waters of the Gulf. Every few years a new colour from the desert kingdom collection will emerge and thread its way across the product range in each palace.
The Palace of Jewels not only creates fine jewellery and accessories, but is also engaged in the custom bejeweling of the Designer Shaik perfumes flacons (the ornate and decorative perfume bottles). The Designer Shaik fine jewellery is in demand across the globe. Each Designer Shaik flacon is treated as a piece of art, designed to offer a refill service for the fragrance. You can order handmade bottles with silver, diamonds and other precious stones in place of the more standard bottles available on store shelves.
The Palace of Fashion has a range of fashion accessories including ties, scarves, handbags and leather goods. The ties and scarves are currently on the market with the handbags and leather goods still in pre-production. Designer Shaik is exploring a number of unusual materials associated with the desert for the creation of future products, with one such rarity being camel leather. It’s a house of perfection, with the prototypes spending much time in the design studios until the quality has met the exacting standards of their creator.
The Palace of Instruments which houses sophisticated tools and technology of horology is for the precision manufacturing of exclusive and original ladies’ and gentlemen’s watches. The development of this technology and their designs are at the forefront of the company’s current efforts, and its foundation will become the first watch-making company in the Middle East.
Mohamed’s vision is continually inspired by the early Orientals, who came to Arabia and captured the fantasy and mystery of Arabian legends in their paintings and blended this with the harsh life of the desert. In 2010, Designer Shaik will launch a number of new products including the unique watches, handbags and the blue range of perfumes. Currently Designer Shaik products are available in leading international department stores, via mail order, online, in duty free outlets and at corporate events. Designer Shaik, PO Box 5643, Media Village, Al Hajar, Bahrain (17 598 088; www.shaik.net).