Martin Fryzelka, managing director at Preciosa Gulf, talks about his recent experience at Salone del Mobile, Milan; lighting industry; and ambitious projects in the region

Interview by Roma Arora; photography by Farooq Salik

He’s beaming with pride as he is back from a successful stint at Euroluce at Salone del Mobile, Milan. Martin Fryzelka, managing director, at Preciosa Gulf, couldn’t be happier and why not, Preciosa made a splash at the Euroluce with its latest interactive installation, Carousel of Light. Based on the signature design concept—Pearl Curtain, Carousel of Light features hanging pearls, which define a circular space surrounding a rotating platform carrying rocking horses. One of the most instagrammable lighting installations looked like a dream! Fryzelka is smiling ears to ears as he discusses the newest creation from Preciosa. He says: “I am thrilled with the overwhelming response, Carousel of Light received in Milan. Its biggest highlight is that the interactive element of the installation comes to life as visitors walk beneath the curtain of light. As a person wanders through, the lights above them light up, fading away as they move on. The installation becomes a part of the visitor’s journey, lighting a beautiful crystal path as their exploration continues. This is what attracted the visitors.”

BUSINESS SAVVY: Martin Fryzelka has a wealth of
knowledge regarding the lighting industry

Preciosa has an old relationship with the UAE market as they delivered the first lighting project in the region in 1956 however, they didn’t open the office here until 1994. Fryzelka joined the Gulf office as managing director in 2016 and the brand has increased its presence manifolds since then. Fryzelka explains: “My priorities were building a local team that was able to keep up with customer demand while at the same time positioning the brand as one that brings value to our customers in terms of design, technology, and craftsmanship. In terms of the market, there was a strong focus on value engineering solutions. For us personally, historically we worked on many classical or neoclassical designs (50%), nowadays we do almost only contemporary interpretations (90%).”

Success doesn’t come easily and Fryzelka knows there’s a lot of pressure to deliver nothing but the best. He says: “It’s a market driven by price and value engineering solutions, which puts the onus on the brand to demonstrate clearly their value. Challenges aren’t so different as to what most other design companies in the region probably face. This is a market driven by price and value engineering solutions, which puts the onus on us to demonstrate clearly our value. Decreasing project budgets also means we need to position ourselves as not only a high-end brand but also one that works with our partners to complete their lighting visions.”

Fryzelka also feels that the UAE’s market requirements and payment Systems are tougher as compared to the US and European markets. So how do things work for them? He answers: “What I have noticed is that the local market’s bond requirements and payment conditions are also different and tougher here than in other markets such as the US or Europe. And of course, the global competition. We are able to change this into a great opportunity for us thanks to our global presence in major markets around the world. This presence is a great benefit to potential partners: the designer is in country A while the project is in country B. We will most likely have an office that can assist with coordination and project completion in both the regions.”

Carousel of Light installation by
Preciosa at Salone del Mobile, Milan

Fryzelka is handling the region for more than a decade now and feels that Dubai is becoming a mature market; as the design market matures there is a quest for different products including contemporary interpretations. This means that even designers and architects now considers lighting an aspect that needs to be considered from the very beginning as it offers both functional and decorative possibilities. Fryzelka comments: “Thankfully things are changing, but a few years ago many designers thought the lighting, was simply an add-on, something that could be chosen at the end of a project and installed. Not much thought was given to how important lighting and the right lighting is to the overall space. Even, the developers in the region are quite open to being experimental and they want something fresh and innovative in lighting.”

So, what gives Preciosa a competitive edge over the other brands? Fryzelka is quick to answer this, as he runs down through the process: “We are very proud of the fact that with Preciosa, everything is created under one roof. We have dozens of different craftspeople and experts to manage every step of the process. Sometimes the design for light comes from the client, sometimes, we are asked to create something in-house. No matter which it is, our design team is involved to ensure the desired result can be made using glass. The design is then prototyped and depending on what is required (dynamic, interactive element, etc.), our R&D department may be involved. The light then goes through production and a strict quality control process.” Many countries carry distinct design voices.

BUSINESS SAVVY: Fryzelka has a wealth of
knowledge regarding the lighting industry

The international vibe of the Middle East makes it a fascinating place to be a designer, feels Fryzelka. “You have inspiration coming not only from close to home but also from global designers who inject their spaces with a touch of uniqueness that makes every project memorable. When we work with designers who aren’t based in the Middle East, it is also interesting to hear where they get their inspiration from. For example, with the Canopy of Light trees in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Jumeria, DesignWilkes was inspired by the beauty of the local ghaf tree.”

Fryzelka is a busy man as there are a number of projects in different stages in the region. Fryzelka sums it up: “We are very excited to be working on one of the most anticipated properties on Palm Jumeirah, the Royal Atlantis. Also on the Palm Jumeirah, we will have lighting in both the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa and the Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah. Two other properties coming soon that will feature our lighting include the Address Fountain Views with three towers and lots of lights and the TAJ Residences JLT. Non-hospitality projects include a beautiful installation combing nature and crystal to be installed in the Bahrain Cardiac Hospital as well as fresh lighting for the Abu Dhabi airport. We have also focussed on expanding into other regions of the Middle East and Africa as well as broadening our scope beyond hospitality projects.”