Signature look

HBA and Damac present a new take on luxury living in the Signature Series show apartment.

The show-stopping chandelier was sourced from La Murrina.
The show-stopping chandelier was sourced from La Murrina.

Aedas' striking architectural concept for Damac's residential tower, Ocean Heights, demanded an equally remarkable interior. The 180° twist in the tower presented numerous challenges for the interior design concept in terms of the structural columns and supports that had to be designed around. This daunting task fell to the Dubai office of Hirsch Bedner Associates.

Developer, Damac, designated nine floors of the tower to its Signature Series Penthouses, which aim to surpass existing standards of luxury in residential properties. Each penthouse carries a hefty price tag of Dhs40million and in order to give potential buyers a glimpse of the level of elegance that could be their own, Damac teamed up with HBA to present a show apartment in Dubai Media City. Audrey Janzen, senior designer, Hirsch Bedner Associates takes CID on a tour of the 800m² show apartment:

This show flat is designed to be an inspirational tool for buyers to see how they can emulate it in their own apartments. It has 60% of the actual Signature Series floor space in Ocean Heights." She adds: "When it came to designing the show apartment despite the fact that our allocated space was an easy-to-plan rectangular space, we tried to emulate some of the trickier nooks and crannies of the actual apartments.

Damac's Signature Series apartments concentrate on the luxury niche end of the spectrum. Therefore the design brief that it gave HBA was to create an elegant and sumptuous interior that would appeal to both Western and Arab customers. "We wanted the colour and style to be very welcoming, fun and whimsical. To have classic lines without being too fussy," Janzen explains.

The simple style is evident as soon as you walk through the front door, as the entrance hall has an expanse of cream Carerra marble flooring with a custom-designed inlaid large swirling gold pattern. A large backlit silk effect wall panel adds interest to a plain wall that was originally designed to be Tiger Eye. Murano lights were bought off the shop floor for the main hall lights, which were teamed with decorative wall sconces by Italian firm Melograno Blu, which flicker light attractively onto the subtly opulent Maya Romanoff wallpaper.

Moving into the living room, Janzen opted for a warm colour palette of red, beige and cream, complemented by gold curtains by Jim Thompson, and sheers by Zimmer & Rohde. The metallic effect textured wallcovering in the living room was sourced through US-based textile firm Silk Dynasty.

The sofas were bought from the Italian firm Turri and reupholstered by Horizon International, who was quite heavily involved in the manufacturing of most of the custom-designed pieces.

This includes an art deco inspired TV cabinet in the living area that houses an impressive plasma TV that automatically emerges from its veneered surface. Other eye-catching pieces in the lounge includes an oversized chandelier by Italian firm Barovier and Toso, and a selection of original vibrant canvases bought from both Mondo Art Gallery in Mall of the Emirates and Art Source.

An interesting element to this project is the inclusion of many shop-bought products and designer items. So many high-end interiors use solely custom-made furniture items and this apartment is testament to the fact that luxury goods are available locally or conversely, able to be shipped from Europe in a relatively short time.

HBA was constrained by the short time frame, which lead to many shopping trips around Dubai and Italy, which is where the majority of the items were sourced from.

"The client was quite involved in the design as this show apartment was important to Damac's image and for it to be well-received by potential buyers was imperative.

Every item purchased had to be approved by Damac, but they were very keen for us to use good-quality suppliers and so there are many high-end brand names present here," Janzen says. "One challenge we did run into in the sourcing process is that when we went to Italy on our shopping trips, it was just before the Salone del Mobile in Milan and so many of the showrooms and factories we visited had skeletal stocks and simply couldn't give us what we wanted, so it was an interesting process!

The dining room is a perfect example of the custom-designed and shop-bought designer pieces sitting alongside each other. "I originally had my heart set on some chairs from a Milanese firm, but they couldn't accommodate the number of chairs that we needed, so we designed our own that Horizon manufactured in wood with a metallic leaf covering. This was teamed with a vinyl upholstery with velvet embroidery from Zimmer & Rohde." In addition, the black and white chandeliers overhanging the table are by La Murrina and the dining room curtains are by Rubelli.

The kitchen is a sleek deep red Poggenpohl design with integrated Miele cooker and hob. An angular crystal-clad central light by Beby was bought locally in Dubai and perfectly matches the glass table and chairs designed and made by Tura in Italy. The dining chairs have the look and feel of patterned acrylic, but are actually made out of sheep parchment that is treated with a lacquer finish for maximum strength and durability.

This same material is used in the master bedroom suite for a collection of chairs, panels and dressers in the suite's entrance lobby.

An interestingly shaped dressing table by Colombo Stile sits opposite the collection of pieces from Tura in the lobby of the suite, that is reputedly the Chairman of Damac's favourite piece. "The Italian manufacturer likes to play with multiple finishes and patterns. This one piece has wood, glass and metallic leaf finishes," Janzen adds. Leather floor tiles by Steve Charles in London exudes a warm feel through the soft hide texture, which adds a decadent touch to the space.

The bedroom is a large space, which Janzen filled with art deco-inspired shaped furniture, including a rather striking cream headboard from Tura. The sumptuous window dressing has three layers; the two under curtains are by UK company Kandola Silks and include a beautiful silk sheer with embedded Swarovski crystals, while the heavy top fabric is by Sahco.

In line with current trends for open bathroom/ bedroom living spaces the large bathing area is segregated from the rest of the area by an automated frosted glass partition from Danway Fusion Glass, which allows privacy and is another reminder of the hi-tech solutions integrated into the apartment. Kohler water tiles are installed in the wet room, which is adorned with stunning hand-painted iridescent tiles by Purity on the walls.

Purity also supplied the toilet and bidet that are teamed with a wall-mounted Geberit flush system. Purple metallic leaf glass basins are by Vitra Form, available through Sanipex and are matched with contemporary Dornbracht taps. The marble countertop is called Turkish Lavender and picks up on the subtle purple hue in the glass basin bowls.

This show apartment is designed to be a temporary fixture in DMC for two years, and the completed Ocean Heights is set to open its doors in 2010. After designing in the residential arena for Damac, Janzen is now turning back to the hospitality genre; currently immersing herself in designing a five star desert resort called Qasr Al Sarab operated by Thai hospitality specialist Anantara in the Empty Quarter near Abu Dhabi, due for completion in Summer 2009.

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