Hassan Abu Al Rub walks into his place of work and looks around with appreciation. He is the proud project manager of the innovative La Cigale Hotel, located in the exclusive Al Saad Area of Qatar's capital, Doha.
When entering this 20-storey hotel, the interiors take you by surprise. The colours are in sharp contrast to the simple, understated exterior made of solid stone. As you walk in, it feels like you're entering a contemporary and very slick gallery. The eye immediately travels towards the glittering Tatlin Diamond sofas by Edra in the centre of the lobby. The sofas are designed by Mario Cananzi and Roberto Semprini and are covered in the Swarovski ‘Crystallized' range of crystals.
Looking up, a golden ceiling forms the backdrop to three beautiful, custom-designed chandeliers by Murano. One thing is sure, La Cigale certainly creates a memorable first impression for visitors.
"I think it is a combination of taste, vision and art that makes this place so unique," says Abu Al Rub. The details are impressive. The walls of the lobby are made of ebony from the tropical Asian trees that are also used in the fabrication of expensive piano keys. Towards the far end of the lobby, crystal Baccarat tables designed by Philippe Starck share space with two more by designer Carlos Cruz-Díez. With just the entrance decor dripping with names of such design heavyweights, it is not difficult to digest the estimated total investment in this hotel, which was more than $250 million.
"Art is usually a good investment," says Abu Al Rub. For him, art is a process of growing and learning, which is why he is always working on creating a new atmosphere in the hotel. The owners of La Cigale, a group of Qatari businessmen, share his vision. Their prime criteria was for visitors to leave with some inspiration to take home. Abu Al Rub believes art to be a universal language, one felt and understood by all. "And this is precisely why you feel relaxed and welcome in this hotel," he says. Committed to his vision and motives, Abu Al Rub is active in his quest for change and improvement. "During my travels, whenever I see some new material or product, I bring it over to figure out new ways of applying it in the hotel's interiors."
By chance, Abu Al Rub came across Tom de Kort, partner of Buhindi International LLC. Buhindi are agents for Diametral, a company that produces Swarovski crystals sandwiched between two layers of glass and a special patented resin. The resin enhances the sparkling effect of the crystals. Abu Al Rub explains, "One day I got talking to Tom from the Batima group that did a lot of our hotel design. We put our heads together to find a way to use Diametral's services in a unique way. We came up with seven elevators filled with more than 3.2 million Swarovski crystals, and laid out in a special design."
The Cigale Bar is another unique example of exceptional creativity. "We needed the space to have dual functionality," says Abu Al Rub. During the day, it is filled with light, making it an ideal lounge or tea room. The ceiling is covered with sliced Corian sheets that create a form of pseudo cloud, also shielding the room from direct sunlight. In the evenings, the lights in the cloud-form create a faux sky effect. The stylised shapes of these clouds are repeated in the rest of the decor, and the overall effect is quite mesmerising. Italian company Smania designed the two royal suites, and the master bedrooms of these suites proudly display gorgeous handmade crystal lamps designed by A. Lomann for the company. The walls of these bedrooms are clad with two different colours of mother of pearl, as well as beautiful golden glass panels from Diametral.
The ground floor of La Cigale features a shopping area that has a particularly good selection of delicacies. On the same floor, the Yen Sushi Bar has walls made of rice paper and a ceiling covered in fiber-optic lights that were designed and installed by Castelli, Italy. They look delicate and sophisticated at the same time. One of Abu Al Rub's favourite spots, however, is the Sky View Bar, which is located on the 15th floor and has a crystal-clear glass bar and furniture made of teak. This is where he has his inspirational sessions. "The management team of La Cigale is hoping to branch out into other countries and launch more projects. Creativity should take place daily - for everybody," says Abu Al Rub, a twinkle in his eye. "Its job is to change and to challenge us."