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Q&A with Gareth Phillips, Futureglass

BCFA Member Futureglass exhibited alongside Design Insider/BCFA at Index Dubai during May. We sat down with Gareth Phillips, Managing Director of Futureglass to talk about his time at Index, inspiration behind the products showcased at the event and advice to other companies looking to exhibit in the Middle East.

1. Firstly could you give us a little background on Futureglass and what you do?

Futureglass designs and manufactures products using glass as the primary material. We bring together components we design from mixed materials to create utterly unique products. To give differentiation techniques are developed in house for decorating glass to customer requirements, or new finishes to make really unique products. This is especially important when we offer this resource as a sub contracted manufacturer. All of this is with the aim of making products people love being around in their environments.

2. What are the products you are exhibiting here at Index Dubai? 

Wire Meeting Table- A creative wire and glass construction built for the modern conference room

Tensegrity- A modern wire framework, ideal for offices or reception areas.

Cornflake Cube- An innovative and unique take on reception coffee tables.

We also displayed a new product that has an innovative fitting which will give us a whole range of new possibilities. A classic example of design ability and flat pack ingenuity with a keen eye on Export.These were chosen as the feedback proved… they are totally unique and showed people that we are a business with the DNA of perennially producing innovative new products rather than selling an isolated range.

3. What is the inspiration behind the products?

Some products are utterly customer driven. These tend to be less radical. The more distinctive products are the result of ‘solving a puzzle’ and making structures that are as impressive as the buildings they are designed for. It is the desire to own and produce a product that get inspiration from whenever it is used. After spending time in the environment our customer live and work in we will be sure to drawn on the experience of their material finishes and use them as the ingredients of apply our new ranges. With global travel and shared media / films / recreation it is no surprise that we think alike.

4. How have you found the market in the UAE? In what ways would you say it is different to the market in the UK?

We were delighted to find a generically positive outlook in both markets for our new products. This being said, I might be making the mistake of believing that the UAE market which I was briefly exposed to is less fragmented with far fewer brands and less availability of Niche brands. This may be a lack of experience, but the positive reception from the high end shows a maturity in design literacy as opposed to my initial experience of it being a brand loyal rather than product loyal following.

This I am learning as the interest in products show a greater level of design awareness and decision making on individual products. A trend towards minimalism and a younger consumer favoring contemporary products is perhaps a result of wanting different products to the generation above. It may be a smaller sector, but one that is growing and tomorrow’s mainstream. I think that this is driven from a generation of educated, travelled and ambitious consumer backed by the ability to buy product they can get these values from.

5. What advice would you give a company exhibiting for the first time in the Middle East? 

Check the regulations as the proximity to China has seen an expectation and awareness of price, yet I am told a failing in quality in critical areas of construction – for whatever reason seen a real diligence on testing quality.

We are all the same wanting to make the best for our lives. We all need to have confidence before purchasing. With a ‘major’ brand this can come in the brand, if not then the representative. Almost universally an office in the area to service the customers was asked for. Now we have partnered to get this and a showroom then confidence is there whether people visit it or not, it offers perhaps the reassurance to take the first step.

Remembering what makes your business successful in the domestic market needs to be demanded in the export market. Practically start small and keep listening to the right people and network with experienced exporters to that market. The BCFA is a fantastic resource for this.

Click here to contact Futureglass