Architectural Digest (UAE)

Green Room

Architect Carl Gerges reimagined the Ramadan Majlis for Bottega Veneta in its iconic hue

- bottegaven­ – T.C.

Ramadan is about personal reflection and fostering a sense of community. The Square Dubai, a concept space by Bottega Veneta, embodied both of these ideals and seemed entirely fitting for the Holy Month, yet managed to burnish the fashion house’s cool credential­s, too.

Open for three nights from 12th April at Dubai’s Al Serkal Avenue, the venue was designed by Lebanese architect Carl Gerges and acted as the setting for musical performanc­es and film screenings, accompanie­d by original cuisine by Syrian chef Solemann Haddad. The effect was thought-provoking.

Daniel Lee’s three-year tenure at Bottega Veneta, which ended abruptly last November, supercharg­ed the Italian heritage brand with a combinatio­n of creativity and smart marketing: In 2020, sales were up 4.8 percent, despite the pandemic. The retina-searing Kermit the Frog colour which Lee made the label’s calling card, was used to bold effect at The Square Dubai, sweeping up from a sunken majlis-style seating area across the floor and onto the walls. Huge retro-style speakers encased in forest green appeared all the more imposing against the virescent backdrop.

“The idea was to merge Italian and Middle Eastern culture,” said Gerges on the second night. “I wanted to create the feeling of a conversati­on pit in Sixties living room. You’re sitting on a very precious Italian fabric.” The visual volume of all that Bottega Green was leavened somewhat by seating dressed in a richly speckled bouclé from the Resort 2022 collection – still grassy but fresher and more natural looking.

It echoes the subtle but notable shift in direction that new creative director Matthieu Blazy is taking; Bottega Green appeared in just one of the 69 looks in his first collection for the house, shown in February. The spotlight was firmly on other creatives at The Square, and there weren’t any seasonal fashion films or products on display; this exercise was less about commercial­ity than fostering dialogue and positive connection­s.

Moderated by Lebanese music editor Samer Doumet, the suhours included a screening of Yemeni East-African Shaima Al Tamimi’s touching short film Don’t Get Too Comfortabl­e, which takes the form of a letter to her late grandfathe­r and explores the identity issues faced by the displaced; a captivatin­g acapella performanc­e by Canadian songwriter Mustafa the Poet, whose genre-defying work often explores his identity as a Black Muslim artist; and poetry readings by Sudanese-British talent Asma Al Badawi. The success of The Square Dubai has led to the concept space going global, too. The pop-up is set to host cultural exchanges in cities around the world later this year. Next stop: Tokyo.

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anchored by sunken, majlisstyl­e seating.
RIGHT: Mustafa the Poet. BELOW:
Carl Gerges.
The space was anchored by sunken, majlisstyl­e seating. RIGHT: Mustafa the Poet. BELOW: Carl Gerges.

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