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Design Diary: How Sean Connolly Dubai’s design can inspire your home

The stunning new restaurant inside the Dubai Operan offers up an exceptional design code that you can use


Seldom have I come across interiors in the UAE that nail the art that is understated luxe, where someone has the quiet confidence that does not require an over-cooked design scheme. Which is why, this stunning new roof-top restaurant and all round hotspot stands apart.

Sure, the venue is iconic, and Dubai would have lapped up anything that came with bragging rights, but Sean Connolly’s latest venture is leaps and bounds ahead of its competition because it presents a sophisticated, even sensitive perspective on what luxury should mean to us today.

“Throughout our portfolio we’ve steered clear of ‘trends’, says Jeremy Bull of Alexander and Co. the Australian design firm behind the opera house’s crown jewel. Indeed, the restaurant is an exercise in timelessness and restraint. “It is through the choice of materials and textures that we evoke a sense of mature and refined interiors.”

The result is a high-brow restaurant without the pretense – a space that begs to be studied for its many design codes that would serve any house proud person well. Exclusively for Gulf News tabloid! readers, Bull breaks down the wow factor into five easy to implement rules.


Be it unusual art pieces, custom-made furniture or one-of-a-kind accessories, rare works make any space instantly memorable. Let Australia artist Jacqui Fink’s beautiful Merino Wool extreme knitting installation inspire you to think outside of the box when sourcing art or design for your home. Consider creators who work with and are passionate about more unconventional materials and mediums (such as the restaurant’s bespoke carpet). These pieces add great personality and uniqueness to a home, lending a sense of contrast even in a more traditional décor setting.


Nothing quite brings a design scheme to life like lighting does. In addition to task lights and ceiling features, table and floor lamps render a warm intimate quality to any space. Take cues from the generous use of Serge Mouille lamps at the restaurant and invest in light pieces that are just as beautiful to behold as they are functional. Change the mood of a space at the flick of switch.


If not for the food, then head to the restaurant for a masterclass in 20th century contemporary classic furniture. One glance at the green velour ’Swan’ sofa from Vladimir Kagan and the blue upholstered chairs by Saarinen reaffirm faith in the might of original design. Although an initial investment, original design classics create a timeless elegance in any space. They are a sign of good taste, good conscience and given their iconic status, are a sound purchase for anyone seeking to build an alternative investment portfolio.


Colour creates contrast, vibrancy and mood. It is deeply personal allowing you to add drama, tone, reflectivity and texture to a space. Distribute it around the room. As the restaurant demonstrates with its precise use of salmon, green, black, grey and white, little can go a long way – especially when applied to unusual forms. Walls and upholstery are the most obvious options when it comes to experimenting with colours but as long as that colour resonates with you, you are onto a winner.


The overall design scheme of Sean Connolly Dubai Opera is set to a deceivingly humble palette of veined Saint Laurent marble, grey rectangular tiles on the vaulted ceiling and pale grey stucco walls. Choosing a neutral backdrop for your home provides interest and richness to the overall space while becoming the perfect canvas to layer your chosen furniture decorative and styling pieces.