My Dubai: Chaimae Daimoussi from Upcycle
Dubai through the eyes of Chaimae Daimoussi, the founder of creative furniture brand, known for its colourful tyre seats, Upcycle…
Where are you from? I’m from Belgium, but originally from Morocco.
When did you come to Dubai? Four years ago. I came here on holiday first, and really liked the fact that Dubai’s so cosmopolitan. And the weather. And we are so central here. You’re not very far from Asia, and I love Asia. And you’re not far from Europe, either. So Dubai was the perfect place to move to.
What do you do here? I am studying to be an interior designer, and I launched Upcycle about one month ago.
What’s Upcycle? It’s a brand I’ve created. I want to encourage people to not waste things, to try to reuse, recycle and upcycle. Upcycling is taking some old material and making it more beautiful. It’s not the same as recycling, which is using the same thing again and again. I really want to encourage people and let them know that Upcycle is really important, because there aren’t a lot of people who are recycling or upcycling here in Dubai.
What inspired you to start? I had to present a project on furniture to my teacher. I’d already had the idea of upcycling something, and one day while I was driving, I stopped at a red light and saw this big truck carrying tyres. They were all second-hand and damaged, and I wondered where they would all go. Then it clicked – I had the idea to make chairs out of them. These tyres were the first things I upcycled.
Do you make them yourself? I do all the work. All the tyres I use are second-hand, and I also use wood and foam. I customise the tyres, too, but that depends on the demands of the customer – sometimes they’ll want a plain tyre with a logo on it, for example. It really depends what they ask for.
How long do they take to make? It depends on the size of the seat, but it normally takes two days, maximum. I had a difficult request recently, where a customer wanted to give one as a Christmas gift. They wanted me to write a quote all around the tyre, and the quote was quite long, so it took me a while. I had to ask them several times to make it shorter, so it would fit.
Is there any material in particular you’d like to make things with? I have plans to use more materials like pallets, cans, old lamps, metal pipes – all the stuff that people throw away. I’d love to use pieces from some kind of aircraft, or a boat. I think it would be interesting to use those kinds of materials.
What inspires you? I get new inspiration every day. I draw a lot at the moment, because I get a lot of ideas. I think 2016 will be a very creative year for me.
Where do you make the furniture? I make them here in my flat, and I have a friend who has a place in Alserkal Avenue, so I do some work there, too.
First impressions of Dubai? It’s very cosmopolitan, and there are so many artists here. Every week or month you have big events where you can meet a lot of people. If you have a good idea, you can realise it here, and people start to recognise your work. I want people to see my tyres and think, ‘Ah, that’s Upcycle.’ That’s what I like about Dubai – it’s a city where you can climb the ladder and achieve your goals very quickly.
Have those impressions changed? No, it’s getting better and better. For example, it’s great as an artist to have a neighbourhood for design and art in Dubai Design District.
Favourite place to eat in Dubai? La Serre, in Downtown Dubai. And then Roberto’s and Wagamama.
Favourite place to catch up with friends? There are so many small cafés on Jumeirah Road. There’s a Moroccan café called Kif Kif, which is very nice. They’ve got Moroccan tea, and a terrace.
Favourite club or music event in Dubai? It’s great when the Formula One’s on in Abu Dhabi, because they have all the different concerts. I went to see Enrique Iglesias this year. It’s been a while since I actually went to a club here. I prefer concerts and music festivals.
Favourite international DJ or band? I like Simon Dunmore, from Defected – I’m planning to see him in Croatia this year, actually. I also like Alicia Keys and Beyoncé.
Favourite Dubai-based DJ or band? One of my best friends is a DJ here – DJ Emir. He’s the resident DJ at La Cantine du Faubourg, in DIFC. He’s amazing. He’s from France and he’s been here for more than ten years.
What do you do when you need some ‘me’ time? I’ll hang out with friends or go to the beach. If I have more days off, I’ll go to Sri Lanka or Oman, for a break. And I always carry a sketchbook with me, so if I have any ideas I can sketch them out.
How would you sell Dubai to someone who has never visited the city? People have this picture of Dubai in their heads – that it’s fake and full of nothing but tall buildings. But I don’t think you should judge a city if you’ve never been there. There are a lot of work opportunities in Dubai. It is also a hub, located between the East and West. We have so many things here that you don’t have in Europe, and it’s really cosmopolitan. You can meet different people, and there are so many things to do. I tell all my friends to come.
What’s the secret to success here? There’s no secret for success. You should trust yourself and give yourself an objective, and then success will be at the end of the tunnel. But you have to work hard.
What’s your top tip for getting the most out of Dubai? Wake up early – that’s important, because the day can pass by quickly. If you’re freelancing, you need to work a lot. You need to wake up early and start working straight away. Also, try to meet other people in your field. I try to go to every art gallery or art event that I can.
What’s next for you? Sell my furniture all around the world, and try to develop more furniture – not just using tyres. That’s one of my main objectives this year.