Following the brief to create a retail space that doesn’t scream “buy me”, the design team at Pallavi Dean Interiors (PDI) was tasked to design new showroom for tile manufacturer Mirage. Being in the heart of Dubai Design District (d3), the client wanted space, which doubles up as a hot-desking area for freelance designers as well as an event and lecture space for the design industry – its target audience.
Positioning themselves as both the designers and the users for the project, the design team at PDI created a subtly branded space that is inspirational for the creatives who use the showroom as a resource for their own projects.
“Mirage Project Point sells porcelain tiles – but then again, so does its neighbour two doors down and 15 other outlets based in d3,” explains Pallavi Dean, design director at PDI. “Creating a showroom that doesn’t overwhelm with the product, which transforms into a hub for the creative industry and manages to showcase a large variety of product is a tall order.”
Dean says that one of the main challenges was to balance creative and functional displays. The space has to function as a sales and consultation showroom with some traditional displays with lots of storage.
“We designed the functional displays to be part of the surrounding walls with hidden storage, maintaining a sense of openness and white gallery feel throughout the showroom allowing the creative installations to breathe,” says Dean.
Wanting to move away from the usual tile showrooms, Christina Morgan, director of interior design at PDI, tells Commercial Interior Design she had to rethink the ways in which designers and specifiers interact with tile samples. Instead of creating large movable tile panels, the products are showcased throughout the showroom in unexpected ways including custom design furniture and counter tops.
“The tile displays should not be purely functional,” she says “but push the boundaries and show the versatility of the product. Straight away we imagined using the tiles for furniture pieces and art installations, reflecting the spirit of d3.”
Large format tiles are propped up on walls as artwork in addition to being housed in secret pull out panels. The take-away samples are easy to access on shelves, emulating a candy shop ‘grab and go’ concept.
“We also created a ceiling feature installation at the entrance of the showroom with cut tiles that are displayed at different angles,” says Morgan. “The custom designed consultation bars have a large format porcelain top, which can withstand the wear for multiple samples knocking about.”
The open plan showroom has a hospitality bar, an indoor garden that showcases outdoor tiles and serves as a presentation pit for clients and movable consultation bar unit that serve as desking and double up as serving counters for events.
“This main space can also be cleared away for events and CPD talks,” says Morgan. “The second space is a semi-private garden meeting area, positioned next to the exterior glazing with an inside/outside look and feel showcasing Mirage’s exterior products. The third space is an enclosed ‘jewel box’ meeting room, which is entirely clad in luxury ‘Jewels Suite’ tile product. We wanted visitors to feel that they entered inside a glam jewellery box.”
When designing for multi-functionality, Morgan adds the key is to keep a neutral base palette and a sense of openness with hidden storage solutions.
“The space is shaped with movable partitions and furniture. Good flexible track lighting and opening ceilings were key to ensure the space is not stunted by technical limitations. Also, all the joinery was custom made locally in Ajman,” she says.
The design team also specified iconic loose furniture pieces, such as Paper Planes lounge chairs by Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien and Swing Seats by Droog Design.
“We had a lot of fun designing custom furniture pieces, recutting tiles and creating patterned worktops for meeting tables that echo a Bridget Riley graphic approach. We also created a ‘Consultation Bar’, a mobile piece of furniture that can be used for meetings, laying out samples or simply catching up over coffee,” adds Morgan.
Since its opening, Mirage has hosted numerous events and seminars in collaboration with Association of Professional Interior Designers, Dubai Design Week and Design Days Dubai. Many designers use this space to work for the day or host a lecture.
“Mirage Project Point was launched to give interior designers, architects and creatives a versatile space for meetings, presentations, seminars and workshops, as well as a place to consult with the Mirage team for porcelain stoneware for their projects,” says Eleanor Joslin, manager at Mirage Project Point. “We wanted it to be somewhere they would feel at home working from, helping themselves to coffee, freely researching porcelain stoneware and taking samples, and using the space as they want to. Pallavi Dean Interiors helped realise this by creating an open-plan area that is multi-functional, yet with eye-catching elements that the design D community love. The best feature is the indoor urban ‘garden’, where we work and take a break on the swings. We receive many lovely comments on the quirky, creative design of the space and designers love using it for meetings and talks, so it perfectly matched the brief we gave PDI.”