Noir Lounge in Dubai, designed by Bassos Design, takes guests back to the ‘speakeasy’ movement of the 1920s.
The Speakeasy movement originated in the decadent environment of the 1920s United States. It was a time when great strides in social change and norms occurred, with a flourishing of the decorative arts distinctively depicted in the Art Deco style – Le Modern. From the bold colour schemes and glossy geometric metalwork to the luxurious finishes and the herringbone patterned tile mosaics to the custom designed chandeliers and quirky artwork, the Noir lounge and cocktail bar in Dubai has visual cues linked to this period.
Transporting guests into an era of nostalgia reminiscent of New York in the 1920s, the interior design was delivered by James Bassos and his team at Bassos Design studio.
Located in the Kempinski hotel Mall of the Emirates, the initial design brief was to create a luxurious lounge that would set a new standard in both design quality and service, offering signature cocktails, Latin American and Asian food.
With new outlets opening all the time, Dubai has become an extremely competive market,” says Bassos. “People who come are used to travelling to many international destinations such as New York, London or Paris and are expecting a sense of luxury and the design that is rich and sophisticated. On the other hand, clients are now looking for a very bespoke response to their brief and they want something that has that point-of-difference.”
Set in front of the geometrical screen, guests are greeted by a contemporary monolithic wolf sculpture, which acts as a visual clue to the overall branding of Noir.
The wolf concept has been interpreted in the design through several features within the space.
“Bespoke sculptural items have been developed to strengthen the concept of the Wolf theme for Noir. Local artists have constructed a fragmented and multi-faceted wolf sculpture with mirror features that is located within the lobby entry of the bar. The wolf theme is further explored and strengthened by two custom resin cast wolf sculptural heads that create a focal and talking point within the lounge,” explains Bassos.
The club chairs and sofas throughout the venue have an old-school gentlemen’s club feel, but the furniture is interpreted in a contemporary way.
“We didn’t want it to feel stuffy and contrived. We wanted it to feel luxurious, but with a bit of a twist to it. We took some traditional wingback chairs and Chesterfield couches and reinterpreted that in a more contemporary way,” he explains.
Luxurious fabrics and leathers have all been incorporated in the finishes and furnishings of the interiors and include exclusive silk and embroidery wallpapers sourced from Belgium, luxurious leathers from tanneries in Germany and rich velvets from Paris.
The stones have been handpicked from a quarry in the north of Italy and they have been used in individual designs for flooring and walls.
When it comes to colour palette, Bassos explains that they’ve chosen quite an unusual scheme.
He says: “We brought in the whole idea of the blacks, the reds, the maroons and charcoal blue. We wanted it to be moody but sophisticated at the same time. The palette is unusual, but we are very happy with the results. The crystal features, the smoked grey crystal glass and screens with a metallic feel added another reflection and a bit more richness to the space.”
The feature chandelier
By adding metallic screens throughout the lounge, the designers have created secluded private areas, adding a mysterious element for those walking through to the central bar area.
A tiered glass chandelier is the centrepiece of the bar.
“There are so many design highlights within the space. However, one feature would be central – the light chandelier consisting of over 1, 200 individual glass extrusions. There are also custom beaded chandeliers and other chandeliers that evoke a strong Art Deco feel in their look and appearance. Elegant wall light fittings have been custom designed to highlight the artwork that is on display in the lounge,” says Bassos.
All custom bespoke lighting chandeliers and wall cladding have been developed by Bassos in association with Preciosa, the renowned Czech crystal lighting manufacturer.
The mysterious Blue Room
The 1,206m2 Noir comprises a Blue Room – a secluded cigar lounge designed to replicate a private bespoke library. The VIP space exudes a blue interior scheme, set off by a piercing blue glass chandelier.
“Instead of just being a blue room by name, we actually took it quite literally, making everything blue. One highlight is the central fireplace element, which has been reinterpreted in a contemporary manner with a custom cast glass sculpture that forms the central feature. The sculpture is constructed from two glass objects, weighing more than 100kg. The cooling process of the cast glass took over three months in order for the sculpture to be ready to polish,” he says.
Another interesting feature in the Blue Room is a custom wallpaper from Florence Broadhurst. In 1959, Broadhurst established a luxury wallpaper business and her brightly coloured geometric and nature-inspired oversized designs were all hand printed. Broadhurst’s library of wooden silk-printing screens and film positives was sold to Signature Prints, which made a conscious decision to promote Broadhurst’s designs overseas. This effort, coupled with an international resurgence of interest in wallpaper, greatly increased the designer’s profile.
“Her designs for wallpapers are very distinctive and the wallpaper used within the Blue Room has a relationship with Art Deco design and patterning. Her designs have been an inspiration to many international fashion and interior designers and transverse interiors to fashion,” adds Bassos.
The furniture is hand crafted and feature European armchairs that have been procured from the B&B Italia Patricia Urquiola collection.
“Again a strong focus has been spent on procuring eclectic accessories,” says Bassos. “For example, custom block letters that form a unique accessory were procured from the days of hand newspaper block printing from the UK. Custom carpet designs have been used within the library again in strong bold blue hues in contrast to the central art piece photography.”
The artwork throughout the space has been specially curated in collaboration with art consultants from Interiors 360 to give a space a sense of quality, but also a point-of-difference, such as limited edition photography work by well-known fashion photographers Anke Linz and Andreas Oettinger.
“Their work has had critical acclaim in the fashion and art scene and they have developed a unique process to reduce colour intensity and make the photography portraits more intense,” he says.
The accessories are vintage, eccentric and chic, creating an extra level of things to notice in a bar and, more importantly, to talk about.
“Individual curiosities have been sourced from London and Paris antique dealers and galleries. For example, a beautiful glass dome of rare exotic blue butterflies of the Morpho’s family from South America. Rare Moroccan Septaria mineral stones have been procured and cut and fashioned to reveal beautiful black and white flames shapes. Another example is a vintage pheasant taxidermy that has been procured as a feature to a display cabinet from Paris.
“We went that extra mile, knowing that details build the story of space,” he concludes.