M for Magnificient!
Mother of three, art and design curator, humanitarian…. Cherine Magrabi is all that, but above all, she is the creative mind behind the repositioning of Magrabi as an internationally renowned lifestyle brand.
There is a certain familiarity when you walk into a Magrabi store, probably because, as an Arab, you must have walked into one of this famous eyewear chain stores at least once in your life. Today, I visit their state-of-the-art flagship store at Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, to discuss the new shopping experience signed by Cherine Magrabi, creative designer for the brand. Cherine was born and raised in Jeddah to Egyptian-saudi pioneer ophthalmologist Dr. Akef Magrabi and a Lebanese mother, Nada Samadi. After graduating from Chateaux Mon Choisi in Switzerland, Magrabi attended Chelsea College of Arts where she majored in interior architecture. Shortly after, Cherine took a short design course at Inchbald School of Design. Upon finishing her studies, Cherine settled in London where she free-lanced and started Art2bite, a very creative initiative where she baked cookies and decorated with different designs and sell at the high-end bakery of Baker & Spice. Until it was time to move back to Lebanon in 2003 with her husband and their three sons.
EYE FOR DETAIL
“Ten years ago I rebranded Magrabi for the first time. I was living in London at the time, and then I moved to Beirut. I am an interior architect and at the time my father and my brother wanted me to look at our store concept and redirect it towards fashion eyewear retailing. And now, ten years later, it is time to renovate and answer what the customers want, and fix the blockers that we had faced with the previous concept.” Sitting at a large table in the customers lounge area, sipping my coffee in an “M” branded paper cup, I could already feel the inspiration behind this new and edgy concept. “We laid down all the touch points that we needed to tackle; one of them was to facilitate the journey of the customers to make it easier for them to find their frames. And from a retail point of view, not to make their experience too clinical, because we are known for having skilled technical team, and our clients know that they are in secure hands in that way, but then the fashion customer didn’t necessarily relate to that, so we needed to combine art and science in this concept. We also chose colours that were more inviting than the clinical white”, says Magrabi. “The whole experience had to be more engaging.
The state-of-the-art Magrabi flagship store at Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
So, from the moment you step into our store, there is a built up towards what you will get at Magrabi. At the entrance there are islands, and they are a taste of what we have inside of the store, there are the hero products, the new brands… This also shows the customer that we have exclusive high-end products and entry trendy brands. And then we segmented the store by zones: the runway, the casual, the technical, the kids section and the sports section. We also added a packaging station, so that not only you walk out with a beautiful frame, but also a beautiful packaging.” And that is not all, especially for today’s customers who are looking for more personalized treatment. “The customers will also appreciate the free services that we offer, especially fixing and maintaining their frames, as well as personalizing their case, it is a great gifting idea at the same time. The kids will be well taken care of at our interactive play station, giving their parents the chance to take their time browsing our store peacefully. Our ‘gallery’ area speaks to the more edgy and trendy customers. Here we have new trends, and vintage style collections that we have exclusively at our stores.” It was through her work for Magrabi that Cherine gained the most experience in retail and customer services. “Working in the store initially, I learned to interact with the customers and see what they appreciate and what they don’t. It made me aware of all the details that need to be addressed and recently we have collaborated with Labanese couturier Rabih Kayrouz to design the staff uniform which he found interesting because in his fashion he is very inspired by women’s uniforms.”
Having lived in Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, London, and now Beirut, Cherine Magrabi has acquired a multicultural taste in art and design, leading to the creation of her “The House of Today” (HOT), which is a collective design platform. She has overseen the development of its program, which includes important design exhibitions and subsequent tours and design commissions. “Beirut is the hub of fashion and art in the region; it is also a hub of communication. That is why I decided to work with many Lebanese product designers through my foundation “The House of Today”. Every two years I organize an exhibition of which all the proceeds go to provide scholarships for Lebanese design students.” Humanitarian at heart, Cherine Magraby doesn’t shy of speaking out to defend and support issues that are still considered taboo in our societies. “Drug addiction is a situation that unfortunately any person can face in any society, and this is how I chose with many others to support ‘Skoun’ which is an NGO that aims to help people with addiction problems and spread awareness to reduce the harm caused by drug use. I think this is a problem that we need to address and to discuss openly in order to get better results.”
“Recently we collaborated with Lebanese couturier Rabih Keyrouz to design the staff uniform...”