Word of mouth is undoubtedly an interior designer’s best friend when it comes to marketing. This is especially true in Dubai, where every luxury-home owner desires the same level of sophistication and elegance as their neighbour, yet with their own inimitable flavour. Finding a designer who fuses a signature style with unique statements is a task that usually falls to personal recommendations, as was the case when a Russian businessman bought this light-filled villa in the desert oasis private community of Al Barari. The owner’s friend had just had his Palm Jumeirah villa transformed by Medy Nahravani and his team at CLSE Interior architect consultancy, and he recommended Medy and his team to work on the Russian’s Al Barari home. “Devising the design for my client, his wife and their four children was a beautiful journey,” Medy says. “They wanted a cosy, comfortable home; very warm, genuine and elegant. The biggest challenge is that we had no limitations; once you have a client who says, ‘I trust you to do whatever you think’, there is so much pressure on you to succeed!”
The first step in the six-month process was to visit the client’s other properties to learn the family’s needs, tastes and characters. “As a designer, you create your own signature style, like your handwriting, one that’s recognisable, but I firmly believe that a house has to be different depending on where in the world it is – a loft apartment in New York should not look the same as a townhouse in London or a desert villa in Dubai.” The client’s other homes did, however, have a common style where natural raw materials are fused with elegant fabrics and textures, which helped influence CLSE’s conceptual development.
The dimensions of this three-storey, five-bedroom villa afforded the CLSE team ample opportunity to devise a show-stopping interior. Its high ceilings, rich architecture and skylights flooding each floor with warm sunlight meant clever configurations of furniture and decor choices. In the formal living area, one side of the large room has a stunning brickwork wall made from individual blocks of Burma teak. “We wanted to create a 3-D effect, so each brick juts out of the wall at a different angle,” Medy says, pointing to the wall in which pieces have been painstakingly placed together like a puzzle, taking the team five days to complete. A linear fireplace from Momofire was integrated between the bricks. “We love to play with contrasting elements, so we added a built-in steel pool for water flowers in the wall.” The installation of fire, stone, earth and water is a subtle reference to feng shui elements.
At the other end of the living room, Medy bravely covered the wall in a black textured wall covering from luxury German brand Zimmer + Rohde with matching black laser-cut curtains. “As this was such a large room it was incredibly difficult to furnish; we knew we needed a strong colour that would make a statement but wouldn’t overshadow the room or take attention away from some of the more delicate details.” He accessorised the great space with a dramatic convex Christopher Guy mirror, a plexiglass chair with leather upholstery, a custom-made sofa and cowhide rug all from Andrew Martin and hand-carved tables from Russia.
The impressive library was originally a vast atrium. “We were brainstorming how to maximise the potential of this space and toyed with ideas of creating a fountain, a hanging light, or even a zen garden, but the final inspiration was formed when we learned about the clients’ love of books, so the idea for a double-height library was born,” explains Medy. Local craftsmen constructed the cabinetry from naturally treated American walnut and teamed it with glass elements. The shelves can hold 12,000 books, and the owners are so keen to fill it, they now ask dinner party guests to bring a book with them instead of the usual flowers or chocolates. A beautiful seat from Christopher Guy is the perfect place to while away a lazy weekend afternoon.
More imaginative design details await in the dining room, where a stunning table from Archetypal injects a dose of history into the new-build home. Crafted from church beams dating back 280 years, the 4x1.3-metre table top is made up of solid individual blocks placed together. With a total weight of 600kg, it took 15 people to carry it inside. “Once we had the table, we knew we needed a contrast from its dark brown colouring. We looked at murals or textured wall coverings, and then I showed my client some backlit onyx that I used in a previous project and he loved it, so we spent about ten days searching the world markets for a sample that looks as good without the lights on as when it’s illuminated. This has a lovely soft beige-brown tone when it’s turned off, and it glows a warm gold so you can see all the grains and veins when it’s on.” The onyx panels on the ceiling and wall have exactly the same dimensions as the table, creating a synergy and balance in the room.
When it comes to Medy’s favourite parts of the home, the dressing room attached to the master bedroom firmly steals the top spot. “Every client we have ever consulted had an issue with the size of their wardrobe,” he laughs, “especially the female ones! In 80 per cent of projects we always extend the wardrobes or create walk-in closets and in this house, the dressing room was originally an outdoor terrace that we converted into an extension of the master suite.” Its 9x2.5-metre space is divided into various sections: a shoe display unit with shelves clad in Alcantara to minimise scratches on the soles of the shoes, a make-up area with a custom-made mirror decorated with pearls, open shelves for handbags and closets concealed behind smoke-pink mirrors, which give a beautifully warm reflection. “Every person that walks in, man or woman, falls in love with this room,” says Medy. In fact, the whole house has garnered such a positive response from neighbours and friends, word of mouth is yet again established as CLSE’s favourite phrase.