TAKKYA: The Emirati designer modernising a UAE interiors staple

Emirati furniture designer Luluwa Al Mehairbi is making it her priority to modernise one of the country’s most recognisable and historic pieces of furniture.

Takkya – the Arabic word for cushion – is the traditional name for the low-seating sofa-style pieces that Luluwa, and her Takkya entitled brand, has a passion for creating.

A former graphic designer, the Abu Dhabi entrepreneur incorporates that skill into her beloved craft of modernising the seating structure used traditionally by Arab families and royals.

What were once makeshift sofas are – under Luluwa’s watch – modern, chic representations of old meets new.

She explained: “For the whole time I’ve been a designer, I’ve always wanted to preserve something, from a heritage point of view. That’s what I do with Takkya. Takkya have always been designed as very low seating, a humble way of seating, designed to be shared by families and friends. Sheik Zayed was routinely phorographed doing business on Takkya, so not only are they historically comfortable and cosy, but also for getting work done and making big decisions.

“Every person who had one of these takkyas in their house would know it as a traditional type of seating but not particularly modern. I wanted to change that.

 “I have always been good at designing at seating. I’ve always felt if you’re designing a good seat, it has to be unique, eye-catching, something that people remember and relate to. With takkyas, I wanted to take that tradition and modernize it.”

Using her love of design across both the graphic and furniture fields, Luluwa does just that, using her own signature traits to apply original finishes to her seats.

She continued: “The signature elements of these takkya are the embroidery – they always have exceptional quality embroidery. I then add to them with the likes of new sizes and new colours to make them more modern. And, with my experience in graphic design, I then add a design to every piece.

“I started with cushions and takkya and then moved into outdoor seatings and swings. All of these types of furniture have always been historically quite bland colours – whites, browns and beige. I like to think that through my design I bring colour to these pieces, give them a little more life.

“I’m very proud I can keep this tradition alive. When I design the embroidery, I can go more organic, but feel that will cheapen it. I always make sure that all of my pieces have a clean-lined design. The sizes, the fabrics, the colours, these are all specifically chosen. I want to keep it simplistic and feel that’s what works best.”