Ar­chi­tect Manuel Clavel Rojo talks about his first UAE project—mix Dubai

Design Middle East - - Contents - By Roma Arora Pho­to­graphs by Ig­na­cio Soto Conde

In con­ver­sa­tion with Span­ish ar­chi­tect Manuel Clavel Rojo, prin­ci­pal and founder of Clavel Ar­chi­tec­ture and In­te­rior De­sign, as he talks about his first project in the re­gion-mix Dubai for Miche­lin-starred chef Alain Ducasse at Emer­ald Palace Kempin­ski

Four years ago, ar­chi­tect Manuel Clavel Rojo was given the com­mis­sion to cre­ate the best and the most lux­u­ri­ous restau­rant for in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed chef Alain Ducasse, which also hap­pens to be his first in the re­gion. It's a dream project for Rojo and clearly, he has cre­ated some­thing rare, un­be­liev­able, and a master­piece! He has in­stalled a huge Fabergé egg in the mid­dle of the restau­rant, the lower part of it is float­ing in the cen­tral void of the main and VIP restau­rant (6th and lower roof level) and its outer shape and ma­te­rial re­sponds to struc­tural and sen­so­rial mat­ters re­spec­tively. Egg rep­re­sents the mys­tery of life, the sur­prise el­e­ment, and the real de­sign won­der can be seen at the mix pri­vate din­ing area on the top level where only a priv­i­leged few can as­cend in a golden pri­vate el­e­va­tor.

Rojo re­calls: “Ducasse wanted a de­sign which is el­e­gant and lux­u­ri­ous, some­thing which is un­der­stood by peo­ple com­ing from dif­fer­ent cul­tures and coun­tries. After many brain­storm­ing ses­sion, we de­cided on weav­ing a de­sign story around this over­sized golden Fabergé egg (20m height per 10m di­am­e­ter). The big­gest chal­lenge for us was to cre­ate a space within a given space as this build­ing was not de­signed by us. It’s a very big lim­i­ta­tion, we had to do ev­ery­thing ac­cord­ing to the given con­struc­tion.”

It’s the first project for Rojo in this re­gion and one of the most chal­leng­ing as well. Rojo says: “It re­quired tech­ni­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural bril­liance to fit some­thing as enor­mous as this in an al­ready given struc­ture. Dif­fer­ent parts of Fabergé egg were built in dif­fer­ent parts of the world. They were shipped in con­tain­ers and as­sem­bled here.”

For Rojo, cre­at­ing the right at­mos­phere with the right de­sign is key to a suc­cess­ful F&B project. He ex­plains: “You might be cre­at­ing the best of de­signs, but if the at­mos­phere is not warm, wel­com­ing, and invit­ing, it just de­feats the whole pur­pose of the place.”

His fo­cus was same here too, cre­at­ing the right am­bi­ence and at­mos­phere. He ex­pands: “We wanted to give this place a per­fect at­mos­phere and light­ing plays the most im­por­tant role. Light is de­signed to be soft to make guests feel com­fort­able. For any restau­rant project, dishes are the real hero. So, the tar­geted ar­chi­tec­tural light­ing con­cen­trates on dishes, not on guests and there is a flex­i­ble sys­tem where the po­si­tion of lights can be changed ac­cord­ing to dif­fer­ent fur­ni­ture ar­range­ments.”

The re­cently opened mix Dubai is lav­ish and luxe space that serves French cui­sine with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ences. It spreads over three floors, with un­par­al­leled views of the sea and Palm Jumeirah. The restau­rant is split into three dis­tinct ar­eas. The top level of the restau­rant is a hid­den gem with chef’s ta­ble. This is an ex­clu­sive and re­served space with ded­i­cated ser­vices, a ter­race, and a cen­tral ta­ble for 12 guests. “One can ac­tu­ally un­fold the se­crets and wit­ness how the egg ac­tu­ally looks from in­side and mag­i­cally blends with the dome of the ho­tel. We have used gold ex­ten­sively like on floor­ing, walls, and el­e­va­tors to give it a luxe feel.”

The mix pri­vate din­ing area, also known as the mem­ber’s club is con­nected with the mix restau­rant in the lower level. This is a priv­i­leged area, with only 10 tables. Again, guests can con­tem­plate amaz­ing views, en­joy a pri­vate bar or ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the stun­ning re­strooms. “Ar­chi­tec­turally, it’s a cylin­dri­cal space of 190sqm just below the main dome of the build­ing. The main fea­ture is the con­vex curved golden shape of the egg hung from the cen­tre. It took us a long time to get the colour of the egg and fin­ished right and I am happy it turned out very well. Also, in this area of din­ing, gold chains are used for break­ing the spa­ces in a con­tem­po­rary yet warm way.”

The gi­gan­tic Fabergé egg in­side the main dome of Emer­ald Palace Kempin­ski runs across the three lev­els of the restau­rant


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