Navigate Design creates Instagram-inspired interiors for an ice cream shop in Dubai

Navigate Design creates Instagram-inspired interiors for an ice cream shop in Dubai

Instagram interior trend, Navigate Design, Sweet Salvation

An ice cream shop’s interior design draws upon its American origins as well as its new location in Dubai for inspiration.

When Toronto-based Navigate Design created an experimental ice cream and confectionary shop for their client, Monarch and Misfit, in the cosmopolitan Canadian city, so overwhelming was the success that the owners decided to bring the concept over to Dubai, another city that mirrors Toronto’s melting pot of cultures.

The idea is simple and sweet (literally): to present simple soft-serve ice cream in unexpected and creative ways. As with most young, homegrown brands in present times, it’s built on the back of a strong social-media influence, predominantly Instagram.

The trend heavily depends on impactful design spaces to complement visually enticing food, dished out artfully on plates. Aesthetic appeal drives and underscores the design theme.


The brief given to the design team was to import the brand’s core design elements to Dubai, while aligning them with local sensibilities. Located at City Walk mall in the sought-after Jumeirah neighbourhood, the eatery retains most of the original design components, most notable of all being the pastel shade of blue called the Sweet Salvation Blue, after which the ice cream shop is also named.

“The Dubai location actually helped us re-think some of the future stores opening in Canada and other parts of North America, and encourages us to add new elements that could be retro-fitting into the older stores,” says Ken Lam, co-founder of Navigate Design.

“Since we have done three other projects in Dubai, including Morah restaurant and House of Pizza, we figured it makes more sense to source our materials and furniture from around the globe. The furniture in this case, for example, was sourced from Greece.”

Another focal point is the blue shipping container, which has been modified to suit the interiors and functional purpose. The bespoke graphic wall was created by Toronto-based graphics illustrator Jahn Page. “The original graphics on the company’s Toronto outlets are actually wheat paste graphics designed and installed by Page,” shares Lam. However, due to City Walk’s stringent fire-safety guidelines, the designers could not use actual wheat paste. “We commissioned Jahn to digitally create the graphics for this store, which was then printed on vinyl and installed on the wall.”

Being in a corner location helped the design team maximise the natural lighting filtering into the space, despite the glazing. “In this particular location, we were able to provide better retail lighting,” says Lam.

“In the evening, when the store is lit up, it looks like a beacon sitting strategically at the traffic intersection inside the mall.” He further adds that the highlighted black and white graphics also act as a perfect backdrop for the blue container, which has been transformed into the eatery’s main display and serving area.

Lam and his team also redesigned a chain pendant fixture, which differs from the original Edison-lamp type pendant, and presented it as a larger cluster of lights to provide more lighting on the work surface.

“While designing the HVAC system in collaboration with the engineering team, we carefully studied the heat factor and the angle at which the sun hit the interior,” says Lam. Cooling and ventilation were important factors in the store design, especially for an ice-cream concept shop in Dubai, where temperatures during the summer can easily soar beyond 40-degrees Celsius.

Using a mix of materials and textures, even within a small area, the designers have attempted to give the impression of a space larger than it actually is. The marble surface sitting atop the wooden frames gives the illusion of a robust structure while keeping the visual connection light. The textured wall on the opposite side and the graphic tiled flooring, along with the simple, cafeteria furniture, make it a poster venue for Insta-diners.

Read DesignMENA’s report on the origami-inspired creative space designed by Swiss Bureau Designs

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