The jungle-inspired glamorous interior of Flamingo Room by Tashas at Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel Dubai, immediately conjures images of luxury African safaris, with a contemporary twist.
Elegant and reminiscent of the 70s era, the restaurant’s peaches-and-cream interior space is interspersed with concepts from African wilderness.
With such an unexpected, but aesthetically pleasing mix, its hardly surprising that Flamingo Room by Tashas was judged Interior Fit-Out Project of the Year at the 2018 Commercial Interior Design Awards.
Neydine Bak, creative director at Basstudio, the Australian design firm which worked on the project, in collaboration with Dubai’s Compass Project Management and fit-out firm BW Interiors, notes that the “aim of the project was not to be innovative with certain design elements, but to be innovative with the combination of different styles and materials.”
The client brief for Flamingo Room by Tashas, founded by renowned restaurateur Natasha Sideris, called for a tranquil, yet opulent dining experience that celebrated Africa’s raw beauty.
“Tashas is a proudly South African brand, and the interior energy of the restaurant had to resonate with the story we wanted to tell. It is a story of South African hospitality, African beauty and of course, design. Innovation, to us, was about connecting these elements to create an astonishing sensory experience. This is the story of Flamingo Room by Tashas,” says Bak.
The space was designed to bring a sense of honesty to the UAE’s dining landscape without using African design clichés.
“We looked for iconic elements that define the African landscape. This included the majestic baobab tree, monkeys and meerkats cast in bronze, cushions with hand-embroidered animal motifs, as well as textiles that reflect the continent’s style. All of these elements add to the African feel of the space,” Bak remarks.
Khalil Ayyoub, project manager at Compass Project Management, says: “Flamingo Room required precise coordination to deliver the best-in-class finishing and the best quality standards, ensuring all details are highlighted and work harmoniously as a whole. This included the integration of motorised chandeliers, customised brass work, patina flooring integrated with marble, scallop detail on the walls with vintage mirrors, curved ceilings, concrete curtains, customised banquet seating and many other elements. The project required global sourcing from multiple countries and linking the installation with the main contractor’s finishes. Being the project partners on all of Natasha’s food and beverage endeavours, we have forged a firm bond with the team and the brand’s identity.”
The core interior design concept focuses highly on craftsmanship, which is especially evident in the bronze animal statuettes that appear frequently around the space. “We collaborated with South African and Australian artists to explore and execute a delicate balance between luxury and whimsy. We also wanted to introduce a global style that would appeal to the discerning clientele. We started looking at design from various eras and settled on the glamorous 70s,” comments Bak.
The restaurant also features a retail store, The Collective by Charles Grieg, which curates South African luxury products. The design of the store, also conceptualised by Basstudio, features green hues, complementing the dusty pink tones of the dining space.
“We wanted the design of the store to be contrasting yet complementary in its execution. The green walls of the store enhances the salmon-hued Venetian stucco of the main dining area and also adds a bit of drama. The darker palette showcases the products better, and the gold accents, with the unusual monkey motif gate, gives the space its own identity without being too detached from the adjacent dining area. We also curved the storefront to create an inviting barrier between the two spaces,” Bak explains.
Mirrored claddings on the restaurant’s walls reflect light, giving the impression of more space and depth. “The pattern of the claddings is borrowed from the bark of the baobab tree and extrapolated into a modular shape with rounded edges,” says Bak. “The cladding along the walls had to be both feminine and subtle. The mirrored, curved shapes also makes the space seem endless and undefined.”
Brass has been used widely in the decor. “The brass detailing on the main bar was based on a piece of African jewellery, called a manilla,” says Bak. “The bangle has concentric circles and we used this idea to create the elongated concentric discs that are perched delicately in front of a custom cast green terrazzo bar front. The counter is almost jewel-like and is the heartbeat of the low dining area.”
Besides this, 3m-tall, hand-chiselled, brass-coated banana leaves are positioned behind the precast terrazzo bar to create a dramatic backdrop.
“The palm leaves were an over exaggerated take on the 70s-era palm motif. We wanted to frame the operational bar with a gold cloud and this culminated in five staggered oversized palm leaves made by a South African artist, Peters Metals. They hover overhead and allowed us to block the window along the shopfront with a visual element that was not intrusive to create more intimacy in the low casual dining area.”
The furniture designs are based on varied designs from the 70s. “It was developed with a South African company and some of the fabrics we chose have texture and patterns from African animal skins,” says Bak. “We designed the hand-embroidered cushions with a company in South Africa, too. The animals on these scatters have been designed to be bright and unusual, adding more detail.”
Mixing high and low seating options, the dining areas use custom-made chairs by South African company, Egg Design. “The chairs are solid brass with velvets and faux ostrich leather for textural interest,” says Bak.
Another striking highlight of the space is the flower-like cluster lighting that descend from the ceilings. “The installation is an abstract interpretation of the African baobab tree by South African artist, Mike Hyam. Baobab flowers only bloom at night and are very large white flowers; you are quite lucky if you get to see one in full bloom. The discs represent the size and colour of these blooms. The specialised gobo lighting creates movement on the floor, like branches blowing in the African wind,” says Bak.
Significant emphasis has been placed on the secondary design components, including lighting.
Bak explains: “It is important to note that the correct lighting is instrumental in creating the perfect setting, regardless of the time of day. High level and low level lighting was key to create ambience. Bronze lamps on the main bar, called our little flamingo lamps, are unique to this store.”
The project wasn’t without its own challenges. “The building’s footprint was challenging as the space is divided into three offset boxes,” says Bak. “We had to integrate these into spaces that seamlessly flow into one another.”
The restaurant also offers al fresco dining. “When the weather permits, the light curtains open up on the external pergolas. The outdoor area is simple and the seating was designed to face the main restaurant,” says Bak.