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Best Interiors hires head designer Johann Kruger as it starts work on 23 Marina, Dubai.

Best Interiors has won a contract to complete 23 Marina, a residential project, northeast of the MAG 218 tower, in Dubai Marina. It is being developed by Hircon International and includes contemporary furniture specialists, Nuvo.

The 90-floor tower has a six-storey high lobby and up to 48 duplex apartments on the upper 26 floors. Each duplex will have a lift for its two levels and a small plunge pool on the balcony. Other facilities include a health club, spa, indoor/outdoor pools, jogging track, business centre, 24-hour concierge, convenience store and valet parking for guests and residents.

The lower floor units will have either two or three bedrooms, with private quarters for a live-in housekeeper.
Best Interiors won the project by putting together a range of services to accommodate each of the buyer’s diverse lifestyles and preferences, whether they want a bespoke and tailored design for one of the larger units or a decorating package with furniture, lighting, rugs, soft-furnishings and wall-finishes, for clients who don’t want to occupy the unit as a first home or those who want to sell the apartment to expats.

“Many of our clients who opted for the ‘grandeur’ and ‘investor-packages’ were people who would use their unit as a holiday apartment or accommodation for a family member, and it made it easy for them to choose an option available,” said designer Johann Kruger, Best Interiors.

“Because we had all these options lined out and in presentation form, at an early stage of construction, it became an attractive proposal for the buyers, and the developer was confident enough to present us to their clients as the “designers of preference” on the project.”

He added the brief was difficult because it had to cater to the “likes” and “dislikes” of a variety of families, with different tastes and requirements.

“Beyond that, we had to inter-operate the same footprint or unit, in a number of different ways to achieve some level of personal customising. It was both challenging and exciting to have to come up with so many different “answers” to the same “question”,” said Kruger.

The inspiration for each unit came from the client’s expectations and wish-lists. Best Interiors said the overall feel among the majority of buyers was a mixture of classic-contemporary, and modern. The benefit of this is a less-cluttered space that doesn’t feel over designed – a principle well-implemented in smaller homes and apartments.

The team’s main concept showed an elegant, simplistic approach to the space itself and the larger elements of the room such as walls, floors and furniture. It then introduced accessories and artwork to bring in the warmth and detail that a home should have. Final touches were then made to avoid the units looking too much like atypical furnished apartments.

“We researched other similar projects, internationally and locally, narrowed down the spectrum to the particular constraints of 23 Marina, and then we rendered our own interpretation, incorporating our signature use of materials, colour schemes and details.

The result being strongly based in the practical however showcasing the style and design direction for which Best Interiors is synonymous,” said Kruger.

“The challenge was coming up with a fresh approach for the exact same space, over and over again. We dealt with many clients with different nationalities and religious backgrounds. This called for requests ranging from adding a prayer room, home-office, or enclosure of kitchens.

All of these added work to a project that was designed more along a western mentality of large open spaces flowing into one another and not much additional space to spare for adding additional rooms,” he added.

The team turned some family rooms into additional bedrooms, redesigned stairs, and separated en-suite bathrooms from bedrooms and closed-off unwanted doorways and storage areas.

It s services were not just limited to interiors as it got involved in changing layouts, finishes and ceilings.
The challenges involved in this were the parameters that were set by the original technical and electrical allowances and regulations.

“We had to re-arrange lighting and electrical sockets based on a client’s requirements and our own furniture layouts, without disturbing the available power arrangement and adding to the loads.

Logistics is another obstacle to overcome as the access to the building is available to all occupants, and doing interior fit-out on as many as 18 different units, creates challenges with regards to lift use, removal of rubble and the allowed timeframe in which noisy work can be done,” said Kruger.

“The one area where we didn’t have any problems was budgetary restrictions, as most of the clients were brought onboard with a standard package, clearly out-lined and costed. Clients could choose upfront what suited their pockets best, and the back and forth negotiations were avoided as far as budgets were concerned.”

The design team feels that the show-apartment has been successful as a marketing tool and brought in most of its clients.

Kruger said it managed to do a budgeted, predetermined design installation, without having the feel of a typical standardised decorators-package that could look like a low cost installation.

“The look we have achieved is very classy, modern and elegant considering the restraints of providing a design study within an expected cost-frame,” he added.

“Even though a lot of emphasis was put on achieving a maximum wow-factor in the overall look, we also achieved maximum practicality in the way we incorporated all the specific requirements for each space. Each bedroom was designed with a dressing table and/or writing desk, every bedroom has a seating area and TV-unit, with digital component enclosure, and low level cabinet for storage. Wall panelling in the formal living rooms was used to conceal wiring and components of home-automation.

“We placed floor to ceiling cabinetry and shelving in a service corridor, which was too wide a corridor, but too narrow for anything else.

In general, the muted tones of our base colour-scheme with pops of accent colours here-and-there, makes for a very sleek, polished look and yet the use of materials like wood, pebbles, reconstituted coco-shells, has given the product a distinct warm, natural, earthy feel. It’s all down to the placement of furniture, lighting elements, bursts of colourful artwork and the play of materials against each other. This means that even though the design is fairly controlled and understated, there is a lot to keep the eye busy.”

Best Interiors creates designs for hotels, hotel residences, apartments, villas, company office interiors, restaurants and nightclubs. It was set up in Dubai two years ago and has offices in London and is currently setting up more in Delhi and Mumbai. It operates under the umbrella company Best Networks and has plans to expand its divisions.

“We are interested in more projects like 23 Marina, where we would like to be involved from a much earlier stage of development so we could specify finishes and do the general interior layouts and design all public areas,” added Kruger.

“We would be able to achieve an even better result with our turnkey interior-installations if we could be involved in the ground works. We will retain the design control-centre in our Dubai office, from where we will oversee all of the design-projects, while our detailing and specification processes will be handled by our various regional offices.

“Sooner or later we will create independent divisions to deal with various project-orientations, hospitality, corporate, residential towers, and our villas and palaces. We have already created a separate division to cater for clients with customised, bespoke needs.

“Our first two yacht refurbishments were enormously successful; we are currently conceptualising a private plane, and have previously designed and -executed a fully customised cruiser bus with lounge, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. I believe it is possible to offer a wide array of specialty design services, without compromising the level of design quality on each facility.”

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