Interiors are key
Niall McLoughlin talks about the importance of design
CID speaks to Damac’s senior VP, Niall McLoughlin, about the importance of design in luxury developments.
UAE: Interior design plays a key role in the success of large-scale commercial residential developments, according to Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president of the Dubai-based, luxury-focused developer, Damac Properties.
Design – of both apartments and public spaces – can go a long way in swaying the opinion of potential buyers, he explained. “Interior design is one of the major reasons a customer will choose to purchase a particular apartment over another of similar specifications.
After location and internal floor space, interior design can be a defining factor in the purchase decision,” McLoughlin said.
“Whether a property is being purchased as an investment, or as a place to live, distinguishing features are becoming increasingly important to ensure that the value of the property continues to grow.”
Having recognised interior design’s potential as a major differentiator, Damac has partnered with Versace for its debut project in Beirut, Lebanon.
Launched last year, Damac Tower is the first exclusive Versace Home-branded residential tower in the region, and has already won a string of awards.
“Damac Tower will feature spacious private units resplendent with custom-designed interiors. All the common areas, including the health and fitness facilities, the concierge reception, and the main lobby, will feature Versace Home products. The shared vision of the two companies has combined to deliver the most prestigious and sought-after property in Beirut,” McLoughlin said.
As Versace Home’s interiors fall into two main categories, Heritage and New Modern, buyers will be able to select apartments that conform to either style. Alternatively, owners can custom-furnish apartments to their own specifications.
Beirut was the perfect setting for this kind of tie-up, McLoughlin pointed out.
“People living in Lebanon are stylish, extremely brand conscious, and have an affinity for designer labels. We identified this market dynamic, and formed a partnership with the Italian fashion house to provide designer options which extend beyond Versace couture and handbags to Versace-inspired residential apartments. An apartment in Damac Tower will be the ultimate designer accessory,” he said.
Strong economic fundamentals also mean that the market is ripe for high-end luxury developments of this description, McLoughlin pointed out.
The International Monetary Fund is predicting that Lebanon’s economy will grow by 5% in 2011, outpacing the forecast global average. Meanwhile, an expanding economy is fuelling population growth, which is currently outpacing the supply of available accommodation. As a result, rental prices are now the highest in the Middle East.
“Beirut was recently rated the tenth most expensive city in the world for expats to rent by the Eurocost International survey,” McLoughlin pointed out.
Damac’s partnership with Versace comes in the wake of a successful collaboration with Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) on the Ocean Heights tower at Dubai Marina. Here, select apartments feature their own internal swimming pools, along with gold dusted decorative ceiling cornices.
“Ocean Heights is opulent, it’s decadent and it’s lavish. From the moment you enter the lobby, you are confronted with dramatic gold finishes,” McLoughlin said.
Damac will continue to partner with leading names in the design world in the future, in order to maintain its competitive advantage. “Given the success of Ocean Heights and Damac Tower in Beirut, Damac Properties will certainly be seeking to partner with globally-recognised designers in the future,” McLoughlin said.