Design for Rove Downtown, a new midscale hotel by Emaar hospitality group, draws inspiration from Dubai’s rich heritage while focusing on local art and design.
Tapping into the midscale hotel market, Rove Hotels is a new lifestyle brand launched this year by Emaar Hospitality Group, which will roll out 10 properties across Dubai by 2020. The first property is the 420-room Rove Downtown Dubai, located in the Zabeel area and adjacent to Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa.
The hotel integrates contemporary and urban interiors with many Arabesque features and Peter Van Wyk, senior director, hospitality development for Emaar, explains that the overall design concept was to create ‘Instagrammable moments’.
“The gap that we identified was a design-influenced middle market segment, and that’s where we started the Rove hotel concept from. We looked at all the concepts and identified that they were really not design-centric; they were there to fulfil a purpose and need more than a desire,” explains Van Wyk.
He adds: “So what we are trying to do is create a product where you have a desire to stay. It’s a product that as soon as you walk in, the first 15 seconds is going to be something that’s inspirational; that you’ll remember and want to come back or recommend to others.”
Tom Dixon pendants across the lobby and lounge, shipping containers that serve as a techno hub, Bedouin experience offered through a fabric canopy in the lounge, the industrial chic look of the Daily café, red garage doors in the meeting rooms, vibrant luggage store cubbies, Spider chandelier by Moooi for the board meeting room… are among the striking features.
Stride Treglown, a UK-based architectural consultancy, worked with Emaar Hospitality Group on the design of six new Rove Hotels. The overall design theme revolved around the idea of an uncommon Dubai, but with elements of Arabic heritage or an urban scheme, depending on the location. The Rove Downtown Dubai follows the heritage concept.
Van Wyk explains: “When we say heritage, we will not try to be stuck in the past. We will try to keep one foot in the past but look forward to the future. We’ve taken inspiration based on an ‘uncommonness of Dubai’ as the design theme. We’ve carried fabric patterns that have an Arabic reference to them. We have tented canopies in the lobby to soften the spaces down to feel more like a Majlis environment and then we’ve combined them with modern elements of Dubai, such as the concrete, cement and steel.
“It is an urban-inspired design, but staying away from industrial because it has been done too often,” he says. “We’ve tried to take this urban approach to it, but then soften it with a Bedouin tent, for example. If somebody understands the culture and starts to explore and discover, then they will be able to see the reference of a Majlis, and they can see where the story starts to unfold.”
The idea is that each of the properties acts as a natural extension of its neighbourhood. On the ground floor, next to the lobby area, the Rove Downtown Dubai features a restaurant and convenience store.
“We’ve added a restaurant, The Daily, to each of the hotels with direct access from the street, trying to focus on the neighbourhood environment,” says Van Wyk.
Veena Kanchan, the Dubai-based interior architect, worked on this project as the lead interior designer appointed by Stride Treglown. She says that the challenges faced in each property called for the reinvention of certain aspects of the design concept such that every Rove hotel is unique in itself.
“The design elements and art installations reflect the new generation of Emiratis, a platform for Arabic art and culture has been established in the region. The hotel design concept was to showcase these elements in a fun and eclectic way,” says Kanchan.
She says that the design and documentation process was completed for all hotels in parallel within a span of 12 months, and the design concept demanded the majority of the materials to be manufactured in the UAE.
“Considering the USP of ‘affordable living’ the design concept had to be achieved within 3-star budgets, though the sheer scale of the hotel itself was that of a 4-star standard,” says Siddharth. “Thus came into play a thorough knowledge of the resources available within the region as well as the skill and expertise of local industries in achieving the look and feel. A keen eye had to be maintained on the finishing and the quality control of products, fittings and finishes.”
The selection of colours throughout the hotel captures glimpses of the city from different areas of Dubai, such as spice and textile souks, the Abras along the Creek, import and export activities at the ports, construction sites, infrastructure works and Dubai museums.
A focus on art is an essential part of all the upcoming Rove Hotels, with nine more properties planned to open by 2020. At Rove Downtown Dubai, Capsule Arts, the art consultant, has developed a series of installations – from quotes and oversized lettering to an interpretation of portraits and a camel caravan that are all created by Emirati and locally based artists.
“These specially commissioned artworks are integral to the Rove Hotels experience,” says Anne De Chaumont, design manager for Rove Hotels. “We believe art is a means to connect with guests and offer them an authentic experience of this amazing city, and we are delivering a neighbourhood cultural experience within a hotel environment.”
Working in diverse media, including digital art, the artists went beyond the facades of the city. One such example is the 3D colourful camels created by Stephen Chambers, who specialises in large-scale installations, mounted on the wall in the lobby.
The art experience starts at the entrance with the welcoming message ‘No Place Like #Rove’, a three-dimensional text installation in English and Arabic.
The central communal area features a large-scale sculpture of the distinctive Rove ‘R’ in vivid yellow, which adds a fun touch to the lobby lounge. There is also an eclectic collection of local and found objects alongside artworks that reflect the surrounding areas of Downtown Dubai and Zabeel.
Emirati artist and illustrator Khalid Mezaina created a compelling story-telling wall by the Laundromat, another unique feature of Rove Hotels.
Dubai-based artist Lama Khatib-Daniel was commissioned to create six illustrations for the disposable cups to be used by guests for beverages – further highlighting how art is used at various touch-points at the hotel. There are also three customised world globes that focus on the themes of travel.
Designing on a budget also meant finding cost-effective ideas for way-finding throughout the hotel. The designers opted for stencil lettering, fun signage concepts and graphic frames that are seen throughout the public and guest rooms.
As car number plates are culturally significant element in Dubai, the designers adopted the same style for room numberings. Each number plate also marks the location of the property, first Downtown Dubai and, soon to follow, Port Saeed, Oud Metha, Al Jafiliya, Dubai Marina and Satwa.