to our newsletter


Meet Moloobhoy & Brown, The Agency Behind The New Collateral For Art Dubai 2018

Moloobhoy & Brown is an award-winning independent design and brand communication studio based in Dubai, specializing in art, fashion and hospitality on a local and international level, founded by designers Hussain Moloobhoy and Elliott Brown.

Art Dubai met with Founder and Creative Director Elliott Brown and Designer Edem Agbotui to learn more about the agency, the creative process behind their designs and the story behind Art Dubai’s new collateral.

Co-Founder and Creative Director Elliot Brown (right) and Designer Edem Agbotui (left) at Moloobhoy & Brown’s studio

Art Dubai (AD): Could you tell us a bit more about Moloobhoy & Brown (M&B) and how you started the agency?

Elliott Brown (EB): Myself and Hussain started M&B just over five and a half years ago now. We had been working in the region for a number of years and had always talked about setting up on our own. M&B was just born out of a belief and a love to want to create and get creative, and that’s how we started.


AD: Elliott, based on your previous experience in working for other Dubai-based agencies, how does M&B stand out?

The model for us is to be a boutique-style agency to make sure we can maintain a strong level of quality in the work that we are producing and just have a bit more fun. We like to be involved. We didn’t want to be the creative directors that sit back. The partners that we work with get to engage with us on a very large scale. This was really important for us and something we didn’t always see in other agencies.


AD: How did you come to work with Art Dubai?

EB: As an agency, we wanted to focus on key industries that we’re very competent in and that we had passions for outside of work. We work in the hospitality industries, fashion and the arts. I think if we had set a target to work with an art client when we first started up in 2012, it would have been Art Dubai. Throughout our journey, there have been a number of contacts with Art Dubai and we always maintained a connection with the team there, being very open and verbal about our desire to work with such a great fair. It was through that connection that we were asked to take part in the 2018/19 creative development which led us to take part in the pitch and thankfully we’re successful in getting to move forward!


AD: Let’s talk about the creative process. Do you listen to music while you’re in the studio, and if so, what do you listen to?

EA: Yeah, we generally listen to music while we’re here.

EB: Bieber.

EA: I’d say the music selection is quite diverse, it’s always on in the background so you notice it when the music is ever not playing.

EB: It sounds deafeningly quiet. Yeah, I’d say music is a key part of our process. Sometimes we even ramp it up to have a little bit of fun and throw some 80’s classics on there. Spotify is a key tool that we use, I would say it’s a tool of the agency, soft reggae, just to create a good vibe in the studio for inspiration and…

EA: …the deafening silence and that’s about it.


AD: And what does your creative process look like? Do you work alone or in a team, and how do you get an idea?

EB: Collaboration is key to our process. There’s a key start to any project which is creating a clear brief on what’s required. We see ourselves as problem-solvers so we tend to ask ourselves what’s the problem and what’s the solution that we need to come up with? Then, we talk around the project as a team and look at how we can develop the creative around that, and then obviously there’s an element of time alone where individuals will work on the project, developing the concept as an idea to which we then come back to review and fine-tune it.


AD: Do you have a most productive or favourite hour of the day?

Hussain Moloobhoy (HM) chimes in from the back of the room: 6pm!

EA: I think it varies when you get that moment of inspiration. Sometimes you might get a briefing quite late and you might think about it overnight and let it marinate, and then you come in in the morning and work flows. And sometimes it just takes you till the afternoon until you find that spark or that moment of inspiration and then it’s a fun few hours, and you can stay till 7- 8 o’clock just working on something, because whilst you’re in that zone, you just go with it.

EB: Yeah, I agree. Inspiration can hit us at any point in the day, I’ve reached for the phone in the middle of the night to make a note in the notebook, just like, ‘right, remember that!’ and then pick it up in the morning but I don’t think it’s a particular time.


AD: And do you have any designers or artists that you look to for inspiration or do you really feel like what you create is something completely new and different and is really unique to you as an agency?

EA: I would like to think that we as M&B, and as a studio, we have our own unique take and style on things.

EB: I think inspiration is one of those things that can be drawn from any number of places. Our studio is a reflection of us as an agency, and we might take inspiration from the latest film that we’ve seen or a photography campaign that we’ve looked at, to an exhibition in Alserkal, the latest Coke bottle released by a fashion designer or a sports event that we went to. So I think whenever we kick-off a project, there’s a huge amount of research that goes into it that and you do look at what’s going on visually in the world, both in the design realm, the fashion realm, the art world etc. and those influences come in and allow you to develop a more fully-fledged concept. Inspiration comes from lots of places.

Moloobhoy & Brown’s studio in Dubai

AD: Moving on to Art Dubai’s collateral – could you tell us a bit more about how this fits with Art Dubai’s mission and vision?

EB: We were able to come up with a concept that just tells a story: how the story of Art Dubai is connected to Dubai’s growth. The interesting thing is, we’re coming up to the twelfth iteration of Art Dubai, and that’s quite a journey. From its beginnings to now, year on year the fair has been growing both through the visitors that come to the fair and the galleries that showcase. When we were looking for a theme to approach the 2018 campaign, we came across a trend we were seeing in the art world around data and this hunger for everybody’s want to share data, to visualize data. With that concept in mind, we were seeing a lot of data that was coming out of the fair itself, but the team were keen to make sure that the campaign wasn’t centered purely around Art Dubai’s production, but more about Dubai tying to the same sort of timeline, so if we’re talking about 12 years, we thought what would be great is to see what happened in Dubai in 12 years.

Co-Founder and Creative Director Elliot Brown (right) and Designer Edem Agbotui (left) at Moloobhoy & Brown’s studio discussing the Art Dubai 2018 collateral

AD: So what kind of data is it that you’re actually visualizing in the collateral? Which stats?

EA: We’ve looked at student enrolment figures of students across all ages and took data from schools to universities, telling an amazing story of the development of the educational landscape here in Dubai.

Museum visitors was another data set that we looked at across Dubai, and the increase in attendance in cultural events definitely stood out there.

The transport and tourism figures, with tourism becoming more diverse. For a long time, Dubai was more of a resort destination and I think now, it’s stepping beyond that, it is becoming cultural, because of events like Art Dubai, and there are large amounts of people flying into Dubai for these cultural touchstones.

And the last data set, which I think ties this all together is the growth of social media across different platforms. From Facebook and Twitter coming around in 2004 and 2006 to Instagram launching in 2010. We’ve obviously seen a huge pick-up, in term of social and there’s a huge amount of data that you can get into. We tried to make it a little bit simpler and just look at it in terms of an engagement level within the unique platforms that Art Dubai use as a communication tool and then bring that into an overall story on the growth of Dubai.


AD: Okay, now once you have the data, what’s the process of actually visualizing it? How do you get from numbers on a spreadsheet to our collateral?

EA: What we did initially is to input that data, create graphs, pie charts, whichever way we want to represent it and then find ways and techniques to distort it and create really interesting compositions from that. So we created these beautiful abstracts, so you can still see the linear story that’s in there but we just wanted to create something that had an unusual appeal, looking at exploring different colors and in different paper weights.


AD: How would you say this year’s collateral stands out? Is there anything special that we haven’t seen in previous years?

EB: The concept that we’ve come up with for the 2018 campaign is visually stronger because we have a narrative behind it. It’s a lovely story to tell in a unique way that’s strikingly visual, illustrated by data. We’ve seen a huge amount of growth here in the region, and when we were trying to think about how we could create that linear thread through what Art Dubai have been doing and how they’ve grown against how the same happened to the city of Dubai. There was a really strong connect there that we thought could be visualized in an appealing and engaging way, different to what we’ve seen in previous collateral because we want it to look great in hand, but its having that deeper understanding and deeper meaning of the creative concept.


AD: And how did you come to choose the colors for Art Dubai’s collateral?

EB: We felt that the palette needed to have a vibrancy to it and I think that pop is something that we kept consistent across each of the routes. The colors interact but also have independent values within each of the designs, but you’ll see some common ones, which are yellow and pink.


AD: How important is it to have something that you can actually touch? In today’s digital world, do you think that paper is dying out or retro?

EB: I don’t see it dying out. I think that we as designers love the tactile beauty that you get from something in hand, and I’d say within the arts you would as well. There’s this very important emotional connection to something that’s physical. Once we get into the print collection, we’re also looking at a number or different prints and techniques, which we’re extremely excited about.

The Art Dubai 2018 collateral

Digital Art at Art Dubai 2022

South Asian Art at Art Dubai 2022

Art Dubai Modern: The Soul of Progress

Art Dubai 2022 Contemporary Highlights: Craft and Geometry

African Art at Art Dubai 2022

Your Day at Art Dubai

Art Dubai Digital: 5 Works Not to Miss

Art Dubai 2022 Programme

Nancy Adajania on Bawwaba

5 Things to See in March