Life & Style | Home & Interiors

A DIFC apartment receives an edgy designer makeover

This modern apartment in Dubai’s financial district has been designed as a home away from home for visiting clients

  • By Charlotte Butterfield
  • Published: 13:14 August 12, 2012
  • InsideOut

  • Image Credit: Svend Dyrvig/ANM
  • The majestic Ox Chair by Hans Wegner dominates the lounge area, illuminated by Dordoni-designed lamps. The artwork behind the sofa is from Pro Art Gallery, while the wall-mounted speakers are by Artcoustic.
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Arriving for a business trip in a new bustling city, weighed down with luggage, is usually an experience fraught with tension and stress. Not so for the clients of Vitol, a Dutch oil company whose CEO approached interior designer Mette Bay to create a welcoming sanctuary in the heart of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) for its high-profile visitors.

Before moving to Dubai eight years ago from her native Denmark, Mette worked for some of the leading design houses in Copenhagen, sourcing high-end Italian and Danish furniture for their residential and commercial projects. She is now the exclusive regional representative for some of these elite brands, including Gubi and Bestlite. Having previously worked on the CEO of Vitol’s private interiors, she was delighted to be asked to create this home away from home. “The concept was to capture the feel of an elite residence, without the formality that sometimes comes with a characterless hotel room. The visitors need to feel pampered, but also relaxed,” Mette says.

The decor reflects the fact that the apartment is used predominantly by male executives, with a colour palette based on the traditional pairing of black and white with theatrical splashes of Ferrari red in selected accessories. Beautiful dark wood flooring runs throughout the space, enlivened by rugs from Stepevi, including a stunning vintage design in the hallway. “I love this rug,” says Mette, “the vintage-aspect of it creates a real contrast with the sleek high-end designer furniture I’ve chosen.”

“I was very lucky,” she says, “my client really appreciates good quality in design, so selecting iconic designs for this apartment was a dream come true.” One of her first purchases was the Ox Chair designed by the undisputed master of Danish chair design, Hans Wegner. “This chair is phenomenal, it not only looks good, but you sit really well in it. It encapsulates all that’s great about Danish design – it’s not only about the look, it’s about the functionality, the comfort and the quality,” Mette explains.

The Ox is joined in the living room by an angular coffee table from Erik Jørgensen, a Hannes Wettstein Delphi modular sofa accessorised with cushions designed by Paul Smith for Kvadrat, and subtle illumination comes in the form of Ray table and floor lamps by Milanese architect and designer Rodolfo Dordoni for Flos. Wall-mounted speakers from Artcoustic give the room a playful edge, with its dramatic façade imagery concealing the state-of-the-art audio equipment. Hiding high-end loudspeakers behind bespoke art prints is a stylish solution that has a dual purpose – decoration and functionality – which is very much in keeping with this apartment’s, and Mette’s, own remit.

The open living space has a ‘loft-feel’ emphasised by the stunning city views from the full-height windows, giving the impression that you are in New York or Paris. Not wanting to detract from the skyline vista, Mette opted for Kvadrat blinds in a subtle silver. The apartment’s design is based on contrast, whether it’s teaming cutting-edge with classic or linear with curves, and nowhere is this more pronounced than the dining area, where a deep-pile white circular rug from Egetaepper rests underneath a gorgeous American Walnut Gubi table and matching softly curved Gubi dining chairs.

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Mette points to the award-winning Gubi stools flanking the breakfast bar. “I adore this design, I really believe that these will be the new iconic design of the future, that in 20 years time they will be really famous, coveted items of furniture. They are light, comfortable and the three-dimensional bent wood technique complements the black leather upholstery beautifully.” The rest of the kitchen is uber-contemporary, with a scarlet Nespresso coffee machine and limited-edition Vipp bin in Rising Red.

Nods to the local context are scattered liberally throughout the apartment, with Arabic-inspired decor items, including Karim Rashid’s sought-after Allah vases, framed photographs of Dubai sourced from Gallery One and original artwork from Pro Art Gallery in Jumeirah. “DIFC is a buzzing business area, with a new vibrant culture, and we wanted this to be reflected in the design.” Mette adds smiling, “ I would definitely like to stay here!”

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