Rumana Nazim founded The Edit – a concept store in Dubai – in 2018, bringing fashion, beauty, homeware, a tea bar and a gallery into one combined space. The first of its kind in Dubai, the space recently reopened after a brief hiatus this March in Dubai’s art district – Alserkal Avenue – during Galleries Night in the run-up to Art Dubai. Moving The Edit in a more sustainable direction, the concept store is exhibiting more eco-conscious brands to reduce its negative impact on the environment, all while providing its customers with a beautiful gallery while browsing for clean beauty products. We spoke to Rumana about her current exhibition, sustainability and the art scene in Dubai.
How did you come to set up The Edit?
A few years ago, I was working as a lawyer at a multinational company when I began to realise that there was a gap in the market for concept stores in Dubai. The way we shop has evolved over the past decade and we now want a more personal, curated and engaging experience. I couldn’t find anything like this in the city so I started to formulate ways to create a space that would hold contemporary labels, an art gallery, a coffee bar as well as a space for events and workshops.
What prompted you to first introduce art into the space?
It was part of my initial concept to have a gallery in a non-traditional environment and I created The Edit around this idea. I’ve always been interested in collecting art and I had a pretty strong idea of wanting to create a concept store that incorporated a boutique as well as a contemporary art gallery.
You’re moving in a more sustainable direction, why is sustainability so important to you?
Fashion is one of the least sustainable industries, but the fact remains that the demand for fashion will always be present. Consequently, it is important for us to take ownership of the impact that we have on the environment and mitigate the negative aspects. At The Edit, I’m doing this by bringing in more eco-conscious brands that hold their environmental impact at the forefront of their ethos without compromising quality, aesthetic or efficacy (for beauty brands).
Can you tell us about your current exhibition with Artvisor and Francesco Patriarca?
“Sling” is a solo exhibition by the Italian multimedia artist Francesco Patriarca and is his first time showing in the Middle East. The exhibition marks the second collaboration between The Edit and Artvisor, a London-based art advisory and curatorial consultancy, since the opening of the Edit’s gallery space in 2018.
Sling offers an intimate look at how Patriarca works with painting and music to explore and react to the world around him. In his painterly practice, the artist uses abstraction as a form of expression. By playing with texture, impasto, and colour Patriarca creates an immersive world within each work and his canvases draw on the same energy as artists like Willem de Kooning, using strong flowing brushstrokes and bold hues to bring viewers in and tell a story in a language beyond words. While his works are not figurative, forms do seem to emerge and the play of light and contrast in the paintings give the sense that an obscured scene lies somewhere in the picture plane.
How would you describe the art scene in Dubai?
The pandemic has, of course, brought about many difficulties for galleries, artists and creatives and with that, the classic challenges that impact all. While there has been a lull, Art Dubai 2021 kicked off the first art fair in pandemic times and that in itself has been a huge achievement for Dubai. On that basis, I think the art scene in Dubai is definitely active, interesting and growing. Having said that, art is an integral tool to connect and engage with a society and I hope to see Dubai bring more focus to regional artists as well as those from our South Asian neighbours.
Which artists do you have on your radar?
I recently acquired works by Claudio Verna, Monika Grabuschnigg and Apnavi Makanji and am thoroughly enjoying them! Artists I currently have on my radar are Salman Toor, Thiago Rocha Pitta and Iván Argote.
What are your hopes and plans for the future?
My main priority is to launch our e-commerce website which will also have a dedicated space for art. With regard to the exhibitions, I’m planning to work with more emerging and mid-career Arab and Indian artists. More generally, I shall continue to identify and promote eco-conscious brands and, hopefully, work more with regional designers.