Taste of the Orient

When Raffles announced the launch of a Dubai venture, the hospitality community predicted a design that boasted a Far-Eastern Colonial elegance of yesteryear. Therefore, the decision to commission LW Design Group was an interesting choice, as the company’s penchant for contemporary lines and sleek minimalism is well known. The projected visuals of the hotel indicate, not only LW’s ability to adapt, but also what happens when the Far East meets the Middle East.

  • E-Mail
By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  November 18, 2006

|~|Raffles-body1.gif|~||~|When Raffles announced the launch of a Dubai venture, the hospitality community predicted a design that boasted a Far-Eastern Colonial elegance of yesteryear. Therefore, the decision to commission LW Design Group was an interesting choice, as the company’s penchant for contemporary lines and sleek minimalism is well known. The projected visuals of the hotel indicate, not only LW’s ability to adapt, but also what happens when the Far East meets the Middle East.

The hotel is a pyramid shape with 19 floors and three wings. There is a pedestrian link to Wafi Mall and Khan Murjan authentic Arabian Souq underground and floors 1-4 are hospitality/ conference/ public floors while the bedrooms are on 5-16. Surrounding the hotel is the 1.5-hectare Raffles Sky Garden, which is inspired by the botanical gardens in Singapore and the first hanging gardens in Dubai. While all the names of the outlets are not yet finalised, their specific designs are, and Raffles invited CID on a virtual tour around one of the most talked about hospitality projects currently under construction.

The whole design process from concept to design development took approximately 18 months for LW to do with a team of various designers. Heading up the design team is Pia Sen, who along with the design team at LW, was last year responsible for flagship project Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina. Here at the world’s tenth Raffles though, LW has created a tangible fusion of Egyptian and Oriental styles.
||**|||~|Rafflesbody2.gif|~||~|The inspiration for the actual interior shell came from a research trip to Luxor in Egypt, which Sen undertook with Jesper Godsk, creative partner of LW before the project was started. Sen explains: “This was to give us an understanding of Ancient Egypt with regards to architecture, design, culture, etc. We visited a museum in Luxor, which has stone walls and a lot of sculptures, which provided the inspiration for the walls and also the materials we used. The idea was to give the 8m high entrance/reception lobby an illusion of grandeur by introducing the large columns down the centre of the reception lobby, in addition to the sloping stone walls.”

Decorative details were introduced such as the intricate patinated metal work on the column capitals and a custom-made “family” of lighting in the same intricate metal work. Intricate rugs and inset carpets mixed with more contemporary furniture and fabrics were also custom-designed and placed throughout the whole hotel.

The Balinese Bar with the working name of ‘Crossroads’ has a natural feel, with browns and greens the principal colours. Godsk says: “We used timber on the floor with stone walls. There are elements of Balinese design such as the sculptures by the entrance to the bar and the woven timber screens and stone carved screens. The idea was to create a bar that you can see into but at the same time you can also be inside without being seen if you want a more private moment.” A pavilion is on the outside terrace and the bar counter is half inside the bar and half outside, which means that in the winter, the timber screens can be opened and the terrace and the Balinese garden will blend with the bar.
||**|||~|Rafflesbody3.gif|~||~|The all-day dining ‘Azur’ has an open kitchen, but LW wanted to move away from the canteen feel of some all-day dining buffet restaurants into a more subdued and elegant design. Sen says: “The all-day dining has an all white and very clean look. It is a very modern space using stone, white marble, white upholstery, white modern circular lamps and a funky wallpaper in the ceiling. The idea was that in this restaurant the colours would come from the food displays in the show kitchen.”

Sen continues: “The fine dining restaurant, Fire and Ice American Grill, is a steak/seafood concept. Here we went for a modern New York loft style. We used exposed terracotta coloured bricks on the walls. The timber floors contrast with the black metal staircase and ceiling details. The idea was to create a dark and slightly mysterious mood which was completely opposite to the open and light/airy mood in the all day dining restaurant.”

Hagop Doghramadjian, general manager, Raffles, says: “The name comes from the interior design where a huge fire on one of the walls of the outlet will overlook a huge bed of ice where fresh meat and seafood will be displayed.”
In keeping with Raffles’ ethos of creating a sense of luxury, even the standard guestrooms are very large and have distinct sleeping and living areas. All 192 staterooms are 68m² (including 11m² balcony). There are then five suite classifications: Diplomatic; Executive; Presidential; Penthouse and Royal (which is a huge 653m² including a 123m² balcony).
||**|||~|Raffles-body-4.gif|~||~|There are four presidential suites, which are themed the same way as the roof top garden, namely Earth, Air, Fire, Water. An ultra modern design was created using lots of off-white and cream with an abundance of textures, glass, steel, etc in the Presidential Air suite. The Presidential Water has a more modern Middle Eastern approach and has colours such as off-white, brown and blue tones. The design details are more decorative, with patterned timber screens and blue mother of pearl inlays. In the Presidential Earth LW decided to go for a modern African theme, without going ethnic.

Colours are earthy, browns, creams, and terracotta. Elements such as pony hide carpets, crocodile leather clad tables and furniture reminiscent of African safaris are used. A modern Asian theme was implemented in the Presidential Fire, using colours such as charcoal grey, off-white and fire red accents with a fake fire place in the living room.

A specialist suite designer from Egypt designed the two Penthouse Suites, the chosen themes being Andalusian and Ottoman. However, the two Royal Suites by LW are distinctly different, with the themes of Thai and Arabesque. The Middle Eastern is more decorative and has an abundance of ornate carved timber screens. Doors with intricate mother of pearl inlays and rich textures and colours are used throughout. The Asian Royal suite is modern and more moody in colours. Very rich textures are used such as silks, ornate Asian inspired metal plates on the doors and dark timber panels. It is accessorised with silk carpets and Asian antiquities.
||**|||~|Raffles-body5.gif|~||~|The apex of the building is a glass dome encompassing three floors of food and beverage outlets. Raffles had certain criteria as regards the theme of the restaurants and how these were to operate. Sen explains: “We were told that they wanted the same kind of concept as used in ‘Equinox’ in their own Raffles Plaza hotel in Singapore. This is a nightclub, bar, restaurant with a member’s only club at the very top. The same concept has been applied in the Raffles Dubai hotel.”

On the 16th Floor, a noodle bar, with the working name of The Satay Club, has a live open kitchen in the centre of the restaurant and is modern and funky in white, bright yellow and black colours. The seating arrangements surround the kitchen area, inducing an interactive dining experience.
Noble House, the fine dining restaurant on the same floor, aims at providing a more sedate and elegant Oriental dining experience. Luxury, art deco, special and unusual design will mix with a non-traditional Chinese cuisine. It is more Asian inspired with custom-made pendants with long fringe details, glass pendants with red corals, water features with water lilies and large Mongol inspired wall murals. The colour scheme is black, off-white and red with details in silver leaf. It has a very up-market and sophisticated feel and is quite dark and moody in atmosphere.
||**|||~|Rafflesbody6.gif|~||~|The elegant China Moon champagne bar on the 18th floor overlooks the bustling Asia bar/ nightclub on the 17th. Designed to be stylish and trendy, both bars fuse modern, Asian and ornate, with more classical design features. Colours are vibrant and there is a mix of many different textures, such as stone, timber, glass, backlit onyx, crystal light fittings, velvet, and metallic leathers. On one floor there are ‘flying carpets’ — back-lit marbles in various colours in the floor under the seating areas.

Sen admits designing these three floors was not easy: “To try and create an area which has a nice flow from restaurants to bar to night club within the same space was a challenge. These three floors now have an open central core linking them all together.” An oversized Asian head sculpture is planned in the central staircase area. Doghramadjian adds: “You have to remember that Raffles is a Far-Eastern invention and as such we want to retain a lot of authentic exoticism.”

The hotel plans to open its doors in Summer 2007. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code