As design credentials go, Janus and Mille Rostock tick every box - he is associate director of one of the world's largest architecture firms, Atkins, she is a sought-after fashion designer with her own web store (www.millerostock.com), and they both hail from the capital of modernist design, Denmark. So it was no wonder that when we were invited to take a tour of their stunning Saheel home in Arabian Ranches we found a minimalist's haven, filled with authentic vintage furniture, vibrant art and a refreshing approach to design in which function is just as important as form.
The couple left Dubai in 2008 to return to their native Copenhagen, but decided to move back to the UAE last April. When the search for a home commenced, they focused their attention on Arabian Ranches as they loved the community feel and the spaciousness of the houses. "The last house we bought here was a ‘do-er upper' where we basically ripped everything out, leaving only the four walls holding the house up, but this time round we couldn't face going through that again!" laughs Mille.
Sent to house-hunt in Dubai alone, Janus had two hours left before he had to leave for the airport to go back to Denmark and this was the last house he saw. The absolute antithesis of their last Ranches home, this five-bedroom Saheel villa had been lovingly renovated by its previous owner - Chris Barnes, the managing director of Broadway Interiors - who had remodelled the whole interior and exterior of the property, flooding the house with light and transforming it with architectural elements, an abundance of raw textures and an unmatched attention to detail. "I liked it immediately," says Janus, "so I took 15 pictures, went straight to a coffee shop to email them to Mille in Copenhagen, and we bought it that afternoon!"
This decisive speed is characteristic of the couple, who moved the whole family to Dubai within weeks and received the keys for their new house just one day before the 40-foot container arrived with all their belongings. "We believe in cutting it fine!" Janus says. "But we knew that because the house had been so extensively renovated, all we had to do was turn up and slot our furniture in."
"It was fantastic coming into a house that was actually very Scandinavian in design, very clean, simple, minimalist," Mille expalins. "It is the perfect canvas for our furniture, which is mainly made up of Danish vintage designs." Listing the couple's furniture is like reciting a Who's Who of modernist design - in the living room an Arne Jacobsen original sits alongside a Le Corbusier sofa and famed Safari chair, flanked by a pair of tables from the Irish queen of modernism, Eileen Gray. The limited-edition Poul Henningsen lamp that was launched for his 100th anniversary, and was a graduation gift from Janus's parents, takes pride of place in the middle of this illustrious roll-call of classics.
"I love the age of Industrialism, with well-produced furniture that focuses on functionality, is not over-embellished and yet still has an enduring form," Janus says. But it's not all minimal lines and pared-down aesthetics in the living room: a striking oil painting by an Indian artist bought from Presotto adorns the beautiful rough-hewn brick wall that Broadway Interiors had installed for the previous owner. "We love this wall, the colours and textures are really beautiful," Janus says. "I had tried to persuade Mille to install a wall like this in our home in Copenhagen but she felt that it would be too cold in our sub-zero winters, so when I walked in here on my viewing and saw it, I knew this was the right house!"
Moving into the kitchen/diner, the same painstaking attention-to-detail is immediately evident; a gloriously retro kitchen designed by Chris Barnes injects a dose of rich red into the room with a vivid splashback, teamed with dark teak cabinetry and custom-made Corian worktops.
"Cooking is one of my passions," enthuses Janus, "and I hate to be stuck in another room cooking when guests are having fun in the dining room, so this integrated approach to entertaining is perfect." A bespoke table by Broadway Interiors is paired with X-line metallic dining chairs from Danish designer Niels Joergen Haugesen. The 1920s-vintage theme continues with Janus's collection of original Cassandre Art Deco posters that he bought in Paris when he was an architecture student. "I've carted these all around the world to wherever I've lived - I love them!"
A major selling point for the family was the floor-to-ceiling windows running along the length of the back of the house, Janus says. "Coming from a Nordic background, light is very important to us; this house dissolves the barrier between the inside and outside and we love having an interaction with the garden when we're inside." Chris Barnes and Broadway Interiors collaborated with Kamelia Bin Zaal of Second Nature to create a stunning garden that is divided into distinct zones - a dining area for 20 around the side of the house, a stylish sunken lounge area, manicured lawns, and a long tranquil pool with smooth brushed concrete sides.
The balance between rustic raw materials - concrete, stonework, beige brickwork - and innovative hi-tech solutions is both subtle and awe-inspiring. Integrated surround sound, remote-controlled waterfalls and an electronic cinema projector screen are just some of the luxury bonuses this garden has. One of our favourites has to be the bespoke retractable shading solution from soon-to-be-launched The InOut Company, which allows each part of the garden to enjoy the sunshine or shade at the flick of a switch.
Mille's ‘poolhouse office' has the best of both worlds - a stylish timber-clad warmth, uber-contemporary chrome and wood retractable desk and inspiring views over the whole garden. "This is my favourite part of the house," admits Mille. "It's so peaceful and I love designing in here by day and then, come the weekend, we pull the desk up, push back the glass doors, take out our beanbags and have a family movie night watching our very own cinema screen overlooking the pool. It doesn't get better than that."