Raffaele Saporiti, CEO of Saporiti Italia, discusses the brand’s relationship with d3 and the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), and how the ‘Saporiti Design Experience’ will provide an exclusive platform to a select group of DIDI students.

What did you think of your experience at Dubai Design Week and the feedback you received?

Saporiti Italia has a direct presence in Dubai since year 2002. Since then, I have been here many times and I have experienced the energy that has shaped the city as it is now. Dubai Design District (d3) and the Dubai Design Week have given another strong contribution to the growth of the UAE, especially from a cultural point of view.

Could you tell us more about your collaboration with DIDI and the competition?

Our idea was to mark our presence at d3 (we are here in Dubai since 2001, but we just moved there this year) with a cultural initiative. Rather than proposing a “commercial” event during the DDW, we wanted to offer a “design experience” to the local design community. Working with the students, for us, means working with and for the future.

How do you envision the famous ‘Miamina’ being reinterpreted after the winning design is selected, and what do you expect from the students?

We expect that the DIDI students will re-design the chair with their new and young sensibility towards sustainability, technology, social interaction, etc. And with a touch of “local expression” because they live and study here, in Dubai.

How will this competition assist shape the futures of the chosen students, especially their exposure to the world?

The results of all the DIDI students research will be displayed in Dubai in March 2024.
The most interesting (and feasible) chairs will be also manufactured as prototypes and displayed at d3, with a special event dedicated to this project. The prototypes will be displayed also in Milan, during the Milan Design Week, in April 2024. The entire team behind the design for the “best chair” will be offered an educational trip to Milan. In any case, all the students, winning or non-winning, will learn from their interactions with Saporiti Italia and they will have an international exposure of their studies and works. In fact, Saporiti Italia will create those two special events in Dubai and in Milan, and it will also strongly communicate this laboratory internationally.

With the brand’s office located in d3, how do you plan to capture a portion of the market share where competition is fierce?

The key point of the Saporiti Italia international activity is the creation of a direct “Saporiti base” in a very interesting market. The Saporiti bases (in Milan, Montecarlo, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai and Lagos) are not simply furniture showrooms, but project management offices, with qualified technicians and designer, who help the Italian headquarters to propose and to execute completely customised projects.

This is the key to our work and success: We do not sell furniture or interiors. We create bespoke solutions, totally tailor-made to the needs and to the personality of every client. Saporiti Italia has a unique business model, offers a mix of historical traditions, unique craft skills, advanced technology, and total customisation. It’s a process very difficult to implement, but it offers very special results.

What are your latest offerings for the Middle East clients?

We have done some interesting projects in the Middle East. Among the most interesting projects, the First and Business Class lounges at Hamad International Airport in Doha and Volante Tower in Dubai. Volante is a very sophisticated residential tower in Dubai Business Bay.
After completing all the interiors of Volante Tower One, Saporiti Italia was awarded this year the contract to design and to supply all the bespoke interiors of Volante Tower Two. This included the fit-out, decoration and furnishing of approx. 20.000sqft of public areas (lobby, lounge, private restaurant, gym, spa, business centre) and three show-flats ranging from 5.000 to 10.000sqft of net area. The project has just begun and will be completed by mid 2024.

How distinct are this region’s choices and expectations from those of other regions?

Saporiti Italia has done projects in many areas of the world. Every country has a different need, a different culture, a different taste. What we try to do is to infuse our Italian traditions and style into the specificity of an international project, to create a perfect blend for our clients.
I must say that in the UAE the recent development of interesting and very advanced architectural projects, has facilitated our proposal of innovative interiors, more than in other regions. I believe that this trend will continue also in the coming years.

Who would be your biggest clients in the region and how do you intend to build a long-term relationship with them?

We work easily with important real estate developers and with private clients, for their residential projects. We work with international corporations or with local companies, to do their offices or their showrooms. Once again, the key in the Saporiti Italia business model is the flexibility and the capacity to understand the clients’ needs and to propose them the most appropriate solutions. In terms of long-term relationships, if you work successfully with a client, the client will likely return with another request in the future. Or, even better, the client refers you to his contracts and friends. And I must state that the majority of our sales stem from this point: the majority of our clients are repeat customers or clients recommended by previous customers.