Two projects from Dubai have been named as finalists at the World Festival of Interiors, called Inside, in the Retail and Hotels categories.
Opus, which houses ME Dubai, the only hotel to be designed inside and out by the late Zaha Hadid – for Hotels – and Presentedby, the luxury sneaker and streetwear reselling store in The Dubai Mall – for Retail – are among 111 projects named in the list spanning 23 countries.
All shortlisted designers will compete in front of a live judging panel and an audience of their peers at the festival, to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from December 1 to 3, organisers said.
The World Festival of Interiors will be held in tandem with the World Architecture Festival, which also has six UAE projects, including Abu Dhabi’s currently under construction Zayed National Museum, nominated in various categories.
"We are very proud to be among the shortlisted projects in the Inside festival’s retail category. The retail sector needs a revolution and with Presentedby, we had the chance to boost a new creative vision all around the world,” chief creative officer of External Reference Architects, Carmelo Zappulla, tells The National. The multidisciplinary firm designed the Presentedby store.
“When we designed the Dubai store we knew that we weren’t just designing another store. We were creating a concept without precedents: a concentrate of innovation where art and design produce the next destiny of the sneaker community,” he says.
Presentedby store by External Reference
Presentedby, which stocks rare, in-demand items and collectables that have sold out in retail outlets around the world, opened on December 9 last year within Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall.
The store's eye-catching design concept resembles Dubai’s qualities, its investment in technology, its progress and future, Zappulla says.
Scroll through the gallery below for Presentedby's interiors:
Conceived more as an experiential space rather than a shop, the store features 3D printed lattice walls and interactive projections on the floor that’s more like an exhibition space.
The 3D printed walls, with their sinuous shapes, are inspired by the technologies used by fashion brands to produce sneakers. The design also means that sneakers are displayed diagonally, thus giving customers a complete view of the collections from different points of view.
The shop is divided into three different areas: the cash desk area, with the counter and illuminated lockers behind; the semi-circular apparel area, with the streetwear, accessories, fitting rooms and a claw machine; and the experience room.
Located at the centre of the space, the experience room displays a collection of the most exclusive trainers, like a mini sneakers museum. There’s also a holographic projection show, giving the room an impression of infinite space.
External Reference, who also designed the Presentedby stores in London and Paris, touts the Dubai outlet's green credentials, claiming the design absorbs 38kg of carbon dioxide per year.
“This 3D printed lattice walls are made from a 100 per cent natural mineral compound, with the property to mineralise primary greenhouse gases and reduce volatile organic compounds, allowing it to behave like a small forest,” the company said.
Opus and ME Dubai by Zaha Hadid Architects
First unveiled by the famous architect herself in 2007, the Opus, by developer Omniyat, is the only building for which Hadid created both the architecture and interiors.
Externally, the Opus was designed as two separate towers that come together in the form of a cube, with a large void in the middle that spans eight stories. The towers are linked by a four-storey atrium at ground level as well as a three-story bridge 71 metres above the ground.
The inside of the void is lit up at night by a constellation of lights, each individually controllable, set into the undulating glass.
The building is home to the five-star ME Dubai, from ME by Melia, which opened in March 2020 with 93 rooms, including 19 suites, and three F&B outlets.
Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of ME Dubai's striking interiors:
The hotel’s striking lobby sits directly under the Opus' void, which also forms the lobby’s glass ceiling. From there, visitors can see three stories of galleries with projecting balconies that surround the space.
White marble floors are contrasted against the golden edges of seating pods, the curved furniture upholstered in burgundy and created specially for the property by Zaha Hadid Design, the interior design arm of the company.
ZHD is also responsible for furnishings throughout the property, including mirrors in bathrooms that are curved to match the central void of the Opus.
Curves also dominate every other aspect of the hotel, from rounded sinks to oversized showerheads and curvaceous soaking tubs.
To celebrate Hadid’s works, ME Dubai is currently hosting a selection of works by Zaha Hadid Architects and ZHD.
The curated architectural journey is spread across various areas of the hotel and includes a selection of architecture models and an audio guide that gives in-depth descriptions of every model.
Also featured on the ground floor is the latest collection of Zaha Hadid Design objects, along with the brand’s activewear collaboration with sportswear maker Odlo. Visitors will be able to purchase items from the ZHD x Odlo that will only be sold at the ME Dubai pop-up.
Winners for both the Inside World Festival of Interiors and the World Architecture Festival awards will be announced at the event, to be held from Wednesday to Friday, December 1 to 3 in Lisbon, Portugal, where the World Building of the Year will also be named.