Design & Architecture

In the Studio: Palm Living

Palm Living

Founders Nikki Martin & Karen Dougall chat about their journey to founding a contemporary furniture brand

Words by Aneesha Rai in Design & Architecture · Feb 5th, 2024

After finding a gap in the market for European minimalistic style furniture that was high quality yet affordable, Nikki & Karen founded Palm Living in 2020. We chat with the duo in this session of 'In the studio' on the culmination of the brand, what brought them together, their inspirations, and favourite projects.

Nikki : I have lived in the UAE now for almost 9 years, I moved from sunny Scotland searching for warmer climates and better opportunities. Karen and I both worked in the fashion industry and have been friends for over a decade. 

Karen: We both relocated to Dubai and fell in love with the city and the lifestyle. Although we’re both total opposites, we most definitely enjoy doing the same things. Nikki and I are both really into our fitness, we feel as though it gives us a break away from a fast-paced working life. 

Palm Living
Palm Living
Palm Living
Palm Living

Nikki: Almost 4 years ago now when Palm Living was born, I think we both felt as though there was a strong need for European minimalistic design here in Dubai. Karen: After making the move to the UAE and beginning the process of furnishing our own homes, we found ourselves spending a lot of time discussing different styles and trends, what we like, what we didn’t. 

Nikki: Evidently, we discovered this passion and love for designing and home styling and wanted to take it further, I think we both wanted a change from fashion. 

Karen: At the time, we found there was a huge demand in the market for affordable, luxury interior design. We wanted to create that midground, a brand that looked high-end but came at a reasonable price point. 

Nikki: I’d say now that we’re best known for our marble craftsmanship, along with our beautiful bespoke furniture. We offer clients the chance to play around with different materials to produce one of one pieces to create their dream home.

 Karen: And having said that, I think that's one of the reasons we love what we do so much. We're lucky enough to work with such amazing people day in and day out with both clients and employees at Palm Living - who are just as passionate as us about home styling and interior design.

Nikki: No two projects are the same, which is what excites me most. Although we often attract a minimalistic clientele, all the designers on the team bring something different from one to the other. So we often get to see all our furniture made in new and exciting ways, like experimenting with fabrics to push the limits.

Palm Living
Palm Living
Palm Living

Karen: Having always worked in the fashion industry before now, we're both extremely creative and passionate about the designing world. There are a lot of parallels between fashion and interiors, both industries require a lot of creativity.

 Nikki: During that time, of us furnishing our own homes, we felt it was a given that we make something of this journey, as we both enjoyed the process so much. Having been friends for a long time we were fortunate enough to have a real synergy in our ideas and our aspirations. 

Karen: We believe that your home should be a serene sanctuary away from the trials and tribulations of work and general life. A place to savour precious time with loved ones, all in a peaceful environment. Playing a major role in providing individuals and families a home they can enjoy with a fresh approach to aesthetic living. 

Nikki: Visually - inspiration-wise - it's safe to say we both have a slight obsession with natural stones, such as marble or travertine. We like to think that's our niche when it comes to standing out in the industry. The use of these materials in a home, and the raw, organic edges and veins that come with it, is one of many Palm Living signature features.

Palm Living

Karen: As far as favourite projects go, I think for me, it'd have to be either the recent villa we did in Dubai Hills or the luxury apartment on the Marina. While they were very different from one another, they showcased what we are capable of creating. The Marina unit displayed our signature Palm Living aesthetic. Possessing calming creams, beautiful beiges, and a combination of rich textures, to assemble a serene sanctuary space that speaks of luxury living. The other is a prime example of us meeting the client's needs. 

Nikki: I'll admit even I was excited by the drawings for this project, and believe me we see CAD drawings all day every day. But this was something we don't get to do often, it was fun experimenting with themes and vibrant colour palettes. Sometimes I feel like we are often mistaken that neutrals are all we do, but we always, always meet our clients' needs and work closely to bring their vision to life. Anything is possible. 

 Karen: We're ever adding and adapting our collections to stay ‘on trend’ and constantly looking for new ways to stay relevant. We take our inspiration mostly from Europe and Scandi-style interiors yet always manipulate it to create aesthetically sought-after pieces that represent us as a brand.

Images credit: Palm Living