When two savvy, sophisticated businessmen decided to open a five-star hotel in the heart of Dubai’s original business district, their vision was to create an Asian-inspired haven for business travellers to relax in true Far Eastern style. Twelve months after Asiana opened its doors to the public, this contemporary fusion of Asian design and hospitality has become the go-to hotel for both Asian and Western visitors to Dubai.
Tucked away adjacent to Deira’s bustling Salahuddin Road, Asiana is a surprising
treasure in this busy traditional area of old Dubai. The hotel’s cutting-edge interior draws on the influences of the ancient civilisations of the Far East and merges them with contemporary design principles to create something unique. Interior design firm Wa International was given the task of creating the ‘essence of Asia in Dubai’, which included the conceptualisation and design of Asiana’s five dining and entertainment outlets.
For each space, the team began by bringing together the five Chinese elements – wood, fire, water, earth and metal. Claire Craig, Design Director of Wa International, says, “The use of Far Eastern elements automatically creates a serene and tranquil Asian interior space. Asiana’s public areas are airy with a subtle use of light throughout, so we mixed organically textured Asian materials such as bamboo and white stone in muted and neutral tones, creating an interior of welcoming comfort and aesthetic calm.” For a contemporary feel, textures including vibrant-coloured tactile fabrics such as silk, chenille, leather and suede were added to wood, metal and stone.
Upon entering the lobby, the 12-metre wall next to the reception features huge Asian lilies embossed in plaster. Hundreds of glass bubbles float throughout the space, representing the tropical rains of Asia. The Asian garden ambience is further enhanced through the use of evergreen trees from Korea.
“The use of greenery and flowers such as the Asian lily and Phalaenopsis orchid should not be underestimated and is very important in Asian culture, while the sound of flowing water from water features creates a calm and relaxing ambience,” says Claire.
The colour palette of the public areas follows much the same principles, combining neutral variations of white, beige and cream, with pops of rich and vibrant jewelled tones like red and purple adding warmth to the guest rooms. Joey Samera, associate of Wa International, explains, “Asian culture is all about the Yin and Yang – everything has to be balanced – and this is particularly the case with the use of colours in any Far Eastern-inspired room.”
The essence of the 136 stylish guest rooms is transparency and simplicity, says Claire.
“The horizontal and vertical lines in the bedrooms balance each other with sleek
and minimal Oriental furniture made from bamboo or dark teak wood, which can easily be sourced locally from stores like Crate & Barrel and Q Home Decor.” Glass screens, commonly used throughout Asia, have been etched with a delicate oriental pattern and divide the bedroom from the bathroom, creating an open-plan yet private feel while allowing natural light to enter the bathroom.
Although the majority of the furniture was beautifully crafted and built in the UAE, some unique pieces were sourced from the Far East such as the ancient artefacts and art that decorate the surfaces of Asiana’s restaurants. In these outlets, which range from Japanese to Filipino and Korean food, the walls and floors made of wood and stone are reminiscent of the landscape and ethnicities of the cuisine. Ancient poetry has been transposed into backlit wall panels and decorative pieces of art in Asiana’s Korean restaurant, Sonamu.
“Sculptures and pieces of Asian art have been fashionable for quite some time so you don’t necessarily have to source them from Asia,” says Thuraya Kamber, art consultant at Wa International. “Stores like The One and Marina Home Interiors carry a good selection of Asian-influenced pieces, which can be cost effective and add an Asian fusion look to any room.”
Asiana has created a peaceful union of the riches from Asia, providing its guests with the perfect mix of the ancient and modern for which the Far East has become rightfully renowned.