Aidan Imanova visits Dubai’s latest eatery—Lounge Spot Intersect by LEXUS to see how interiors combines with automotive design.
The two-floor Intersect by Lexus is the automotive firm’s latest endeavour in getting in touch with a younger audience, delving into other forms of design to attract a new generation.
Created by well-known Japanese interior designer Masamichi Katayama, founder of design firm Wonderwall, Dubai’s Intersect by Lexus concept is the second in the world. Katayama created the first Intersect in Tokyo in 2013.
“A ‘clubhouse’ is the core concept of this project, where people gather in a salon-like space, while enjoying privacy and comfort,” Katayama tells us.
“I wanted to design a space that is a lounge, an eatery, a library, as well as a space to display the Lexus philosophy and designs in a creative and unique way, giving guests the Lexus experience without being inside one of its cars.”
He adds that the space aims to provide an intimate experience that connects the visitors to the brand in a new and interesting way. In addition to being all the things Katayama previously mentioned, it is also an “incubation platform” that generates innovative ideas and concepts.
“Intersect is not just about creating a restaurant, but rather an environment,” he says.
Many of the features of the Tokyo space have been adapted to Dubai’s version, and the designer managed to stay true to the Middle East with various aspects.
“The last time I visited Dubai I understood that it is very international, in a different way to Paris or London. People are very open to new ideas and willing to experiment. This is what makes it very interesting to me. It is very similar to Tokyo, where new things and ideas are always welcome. This Intersect by Lexus has more complex design features compared to the Tokyo space,” Katayama says.
To really make the region leave a mark on the design, Katamaya used the ceiling as a canvas to showcase inspirations from the UAE.
“The ceiling of a space is an area that a designer can use to express himself freely,” he explains. “Normally, designers care a lot about the floor. But the ceiling is a very unique space to add to the design.”
Evoking the essence of the UAE, he used the off-white ceiling to create shapes inspired by sand dunes, resulting in an ‘endlessness of fluidity’.
This was then matched with a custom-made chandelier by Lindsay Adelman made from hand-blown glass that stretches across the entire upper level ceiling, posing as a bold centrepiece.
Another element that reflects the region is the large black and white painting created by Japanese artist RyuItadani, hanging over the barista counter, that depicts the global facets of Lexus through hand-picked international landmarks connected through one road “symbolising the intersection of Lexus”.
Among these international landmarks stands the Burj Khalifa, along with the Burj Al Arab, and the Gate at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) where Intersect is located.
Katayama says that he tried to keep the overall design as far away from ‘commercialism’ as possible.
“I used muted palates, industrial pieces and geometric shapes that all connect back to Lexus, to convey the brand’s attention to detail and craftsmanship through contemporary design and elegance,” he explains.
The space, which is divided into two floors, conveys the Lexus brand in various ways. The top level opens up into an exceptional eatery covered in floor-to-ceiling windows draped in a bamboo façade using the spindle grill motifs that portray the new Lexus cars, letting in an abundance of natural light.
“The bamboo serves as a subtle partition between the interior and the exterior worlds,” Katayama states.
The upper level also features six symmetrical marble pillars housing a curated collection of art, design and photography books. In between the towering bookshelves are stylish dining areas using the same soft and smooth leather that upholsters in the Lexus supercar, the LFA.
An staircase leads guests from the upper level downstairs, which also repeats the spindle grille concept in its shape.
The lower level of the space features an ultra-modern garage-like enclosure currently displaying a Lexus concept car. The transparent floors have been installed atop 155 original Lexus car parts which have been painted a glossy and luminescent white, allowing the floor to glow, “giving guests the ability to understand the brand through a never before seen artistic lens”.
“There is a lot of manhood in relation to car parts. The mechanical features is of great interest to men. But we painted it all in white to transform it into an art piece and feminise it a little. We wanted to have both sides of Lexus: the playful and the sophisticated,” explains Katayama.
Adjacent to the futuristic garage is a meticulously designed wall of 1452 mini-cars that lead to the restrooms.
“This is a fun feature that is not to be missed,” says Katayama. “It represents a microcosm of the car industry through toy cars from various generations and models. The overall arrangement of the cars presents a harmonious montage of Lexus cars, sports cars and famous cars from different periods of time and new too models too.”
Commenting on the dual-floor design, Katayama says: “I wanted to show the two floors at once, from the moment guests enter. And that was an increasing challenge, but I am very happy with the end result as the spaces open up to you as soon as you walk into the space.”