“Storytelling is probably one of the most underrated elements—yet for me, design is an empty shell without it,” says Australian interior designer Marcos Cain. A self-taught creative, Cain entered the hospitality industry at the tender age of 12, and went on to hone his skills at restaurants, bars, and hotels across Australia as well as in Asia and the Middle East. In 2009, he founded Shanghai and Dubai-based studio Stickman Tribe. Today, the firm’s client list brims with high-profile hotel groups—Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Marriott International, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company among them.

In March, while under a two-week quarantine

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Pallavi Dean is the founder and creative director of Roar, a Dubai-based interior design studio. The firm’s design approach is “deeply rooted in empathy and creating experiences for the user of the space” she says. “When we describe our firm we always say it is 50 percent wild and 50 percent tame. The tame side is the scientific research side, the wild side is the artistic part.” Dean studied architecture, graphic design and set design as well as interior design. We spend about 86 percent of our time indoors, maybe 95 percent now with COVID, so I thought if

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