Home can mean many different things to different people. For Jennifer Apap Brown, Creative Director for DARI, home is like a human being; each room fulfils a different function that is necessary for the wellbeing of the whole organism.
Organic systems work best when each part is connected, just as homes are able to meet our needs when we feel synchronised with our space. The importance of this sense of connection was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals were forced to interact on a deeper level with their space, they sought to make changes — in any small or large way — in order to feel more at home in their homes.
Every human being has its own DNA which makes them unique, and our homes should be tailored to meet both the universal and individual requirements of every person. This is the core belief which drove Jennifer, along with the DARI team, to launch the first three lines of furniture for this pioneering home-grown brand. As the name implies — DARI means ‘My Home’ in Maltese — personalisation is a central aspect of the DARI brand.
“When creating DARI, we first carried out a detailed study to learn how people live and interact with their environments in this contemporary age,” says Jennifer. “When designing a home there are no fixed parameters as such. Each design is unique and reflects the ambitions of the people who live in it, the building itself and the environment around it.”
Over 18 years of experience in the field of interior design has helped Jennifer to understand the way humans and their homes relate to each other, resulting in a line of functional, practical and essential furniture items. In fact, every composition within the DARI furniture range can be adapted to suit individual tastes and styles, by combining different materials, scaling the elements to meet your personal needs and selecting your preferred colours. DARI’s role is simply to guide you to curate your own personal space that reflects your true self, resulting in a space that you feel comfortable calling home.
Born in the German city of Wiesbaden to a Maltese mother and a German father, Jennifer was intrigued by Maltese culture from a young age. After studying and graduating as an Interior Architect, Jennifer moved to Malta in 2005 to spend time with her ageing grandparents and explore her mother’s heritage. During this time, Jennifer worked at Chris Briffa Architects before starting her own design studio with her first project, a high-end lighting store in Sliema, aptly named ‘BRILLIANT’. Within three years of moving to Malta, Jennifer took on the role of lead Interior Architect at Auntielucy, where she expanded her portfolio to include a wide range of renowned Commercial and Residential Projects, including Waterbiscuit and SARTO.
Apap Brown Design Studio, Jennifer’s own practice, was founded in 2013. Since then, she has expanded her expertise to include retail, hospitality, corporate design and branding projects. In 2014 Jennifer had set her sights on starting her own family. In order to find a balance between her home life and her professional career, Jennifer took the opportunity to apply her creativity to styling properties for interior design publications such as Homeworks and to curate unique items through the concept shop JeTaime, a collaboration between Jennifer and Sandra Zaffarese.
As her work garnered media attention, Jennifer won a competition in 2016 to design the largest restaurant within the Malta International Airport’s Departure Lounge, called Relish. The success of this project led to further work within the airport.
These varied experiences led Jennifer to pinpoint gaps in the local furniture market from Maltese furniture retailers.
“I identified opportunities for Malta-based product designers and manufacturing companies to collaborate and compete with foreign brands and suppliers, and this is where my relationship with SAW began,” explains Jennifer. In 2014, her collaboration with the bespoke joinery company SAW — which is also the parent company behind DARI — began with Jennifer taking on the role of Design Consultant and Interior Architect.
In 2019, they worked together on the initial phase of developing DARI, a retail-focused brand for SAW, which ultimately launched in 2021. The team collaborated with Malta-based product designers to create furniture designs that could be manufactured through the new, fully-automated production system within the SAW factory.
When DARI was born, it marked the start of a new chapter for local designers and Made-in-Malta furniture. The brand is derived from local talent and creates products specifically for local homes. As Creative Director, Jennifer was responsible for designing the DARI showroom and guiding the product designers throughout the process. Furthermore, she led the development of an in-house range of responsive and adaptable furniture.
“After 18 years of working in the industry, I feel I have come full circle, returning back to some of the ideals that I felt strongly about when I started,” she explains.
The DARI collection comprises essential furniture for the kitchen, bedroom and living areas.
For Jennifer, the kitchen is the heart of the home. A place where one can connect with family and alleviate the stress that builds up throughout the day, the kitchen plays an ever-important role in modern, busy lifestyles.
“As a family of four who loves to cook, bake and enjoy meals together, I feel that spending time in the kitchen together creates mindfulness. It allows you to follow simple steps, focusing on the moment and enjoying the results of our work with a good meal that we can all share immediately,” says Jennifer.
“When you manage to prep, cook and clean up in the shortest time possible, you know you have planned your kitchen efficiently! That, in return, creates happiness as it allows you to spend your time on other things too,” she explains.
When asked which DARI kitchen is her favourite, Jennifer says: “It has to be a mix between Entertain and Harmonise. They are both beautiful and elegant, and I love working in an environment that sparks joy just by looking at it.”
Similarly, functionality and practicality were two core considerations when creating the DARI bedroom range. The first step involved assessing the various functions of the bedroom, particularly in a post-COVID-19 era in which boundaries between work, play and rest have become increasingly blurred. The DARI team developed a range of flexible and modifiable storage solutions, alongside other functionalities such as an integrated vanity, a small desk, an entertainment system, and a safe, to complement the varied habits that individuals have.
“For me, my bedroom is my sanctuary, so I would always choose one that is puristic, natural, light and muted. I love Cashmere and Musk at DARI, both of which offer a fantastic combination of materials and functions. Cashmere is rich, layered and textured with a variety of warm tones, making it very elegant and relaxing to the eye. Musk is more contemporary and masculine and I like the minimalism and playfulness that the MODE furniture range brings with it,” says Jennifer.
Finally, the DARI Living collection is based on two systems: the ‘Living’ and the ‘Library’ system. The library system is stackable and allows you to create a very personalised design, with three main heights to choose from. The first height is perfect for a dining sideboard, the second height is an average height to align with your doors, kitchens and wardrobes, while the third one allows you to maximise your storage space with additional components such as drawers, open box inserts and drop-down doors. Therefore, you can use it in many spaces of your home, not just in the Living room. You can further personalise your design by adding wall panelling to give a warmer and fuller feeling to the room, or by incorporating floating shelves, hanging units, glass fronts and sliding doors.
If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry — our DARI showroom team will be able to guide you in choosing the best combination for you. Book a consultation here.
“My favourite style from the DARI living collection is Stack. The black matt finish creates a smooth surface that complements the screen and fades into the background when watching TV. It also offers a good amount of closed and open storage to display other technical devices or personal objects, while keeping the main focus on the screen,” says Jennifer.
“In my living room, I look for comfort. I enjoy having a sofa surrounded by books and objects d’àrt, which are displayed in one wall-to-wall library system and integrated bar unit. I feel that the living area of a home is the soul of the house, where I like to reflect on the day, ground myself, enjoy an Apero with my husband, read a book with my children or just relax,” she continues.
As DARI grows and evolves to meet the needs of local homes and their owners, the brand’s furniture will continue to reflect the changes in our lives and our environments. The team is currently working on developing the existing ranges further, while also planning new products designed for other areas of the home.
Interesting in learning more about the DARI furniture collections? Get in touch to book an appointment or visit our showroom in Qormi to begin planning your next chapter for your home.