MAD Gallery, Dubai
The M.A.D. Gallery in Dubai adds a few layers to 'eclectic'. What started off as a boutique watch making place has transitioned to take on artworks. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Get creative with the workspace… and chances are it will help with the bottom-line. These days, it makes sense for some - financially and aesthetically - to have a multi-functional space.

Where a watch boutique is tucked inside an art gallery, or being served a burger while awaiting a beard trim. Even in neighbourhoods saturated with galleries, barbershops and coffee bars, ‘combination businesses’ are popping up more frequently.

Maximilian Busser, founder of MB&F, creates and sells futuristic and fiercely unconventional timepieces. But then, he also launched the MB&F M.A.D Gallery, first in Geneva and later in Dubai.

All kinetic

The gallery features mechanical artworks as well as a little watch boutique. In it, you will find levitating sculptures and moving ‘kinetic’ robots. “MB&F is not just about watches, but about 3D kinetic sculptures that tell time,” said Busser.

And can such micro-niche offerings perform well during these unpredictable times? “2020 was our best year ever,” was how Busser responded. “Our sell-outs increased by 30 per cent from 2019. Honestly, our production could not follow at all the demand, so the MB&F retail partners and M.A.D. Galleries have virtually no pieces left.”

Most customers of the gallery are visitors who enter by chance, intrigued by one or the other mechanical sculptures and often stay for 30 minutes and more discovering one artist or creation.

“There are no specific trends as to what our customers buy the most because every visitor resonates differently to each piece. Art is not about trends – it is about emotional resonance.”

MB&F’s latest draw is their HM9 SV “Sapphire Vision” timepiece, “a totally curved sapphire watch case that allows you to see the movement inside.”

Spend the day… and evening

A new F&B concept Bla Bla aims to be Dubai’s newest one-stop destination, packing in three restaurants, a beach club and more into its near 100,000 square feet. It is the first independent property in the area licensed for beverages, shisha and live music.

“I think there’s a real market for it, especially in such a vibrant neighbourhood like The Beach (opposite JBR),” said Mohammed Islam, CEO and executive chef. “We liked the idea of having a venue with various offerings.

“It means guests can arrive for breakfast, stay and relax by the pool, dine in the restaurants, then shower, change and stay for evening.”

The goal is to have those living in the neighbourhood heading down on a regular basis.

Each of the 20 concepts has been created to cater to a full spectrum of preferences and pockets.

Bla Bla, Dubai
One of Dubai's new F&B spots, Bla Bla does have lots to mix-and-match on its 100,000 square feet spread. Image Credit: Supplied

Tweaks and treats

There are places in the city where it pays off to wander down an alley in an industrial area. One of these is Moto Rauch & Staub, a local restaurant, barbershop and motorbike workshop that’s a popular spot for “misfits and loners”.

According to Marco Moller, the owner, “So much in Dubai is based on themes and trends. To the point that people walk in here and think that my barbershop is fake. They think my motorbike workshop is for show - what they don’t realise is that is a space for me to build and repair motorbikes.”

Moller admits that Moto isn’t for everyone. “I tend to look after motorcycles more than I look after my customers. We are not nice to everyone, who come here expecting exceptional service.”

However, if you do decide to visit, you will see a real community. “We run here on regulars. They are here every day. It’s a meeting point for them.”

Before Moto was Moto, it was a small corner of the warehouse in Al Qouz. “I rented a motorcycle workshop space for me and I started working on very unique bikes, which eventually started getting us attention,” he added.

Eventually, he rented the entire warehouse. “People I know started to come here on their bikes. We had a small coffee machine. Then we decided to commit to Moto as a restaurant and cafe.

“It took two-and-a-half years to get all the licenses and bring the furniture and build the floors.

“The restaurant makes us enough money so that I can keep doing what I love doing, which is sitting in my workshop and building bikes. This is a place for me to like, not for you to like.”

Moto Rauch & Staub, Dubai
As multi-functional as it can get... The Moto Rauch & Staub serves up a cocktail of services for patrons. Image Credit: Supplied

And then the trim

The latest addition to the space was a barbershop. “It only does two things - cut hair and trim beards. It’s a special place for men to come and feel like men.”

That's multi-purposing with single-minded intent…