Christina Morgan, Director of Interior Design at Pallavi Dean Interiors, reveals their design secrets behind the new Mirage Project Point Dubai
What initially attracted you to the Mirage Project Point Dubai project?
Being based within Dubai Design District (d3), we love being a part of the community there and being continually inspired by a panorama of creative neighbours. When we heard Mirage needed an interior designer for their new showroom in d3, we jumped at the opportunity to create something iconic for Mirage, as well as an inspirational space for the creatives who would use the showroom as a resource for their own projects. We positioned ourselves as both the ‘designer’ and the ‘user’ for the project.
What aspects of the design are you most excited to unveil?
We had a lot of fun designing custom furniture pieces, re-cutting 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 have a catch up over coffee with the Mirage team.
How did you create a versatile space for meetings and consultancy, using Mirage’s tile collections as an aid?
The space of Mirage Project Point Dubai is divided into three areas, each using Mirage’s tiles to define the zones. One, is the central main open space with tile displays on the periphery and mobile ‘Consultation Bars’ in the centre, which can be cleared away for events, presentations and CPD talks, for example. We specified the Transition series in a large format for the main space because it’s neutral in tone yet tactile, and durable. The second space is a semi-private meeting area in the urban garden, positioned next to the exterior glazing with an inside/outside look and feel, showcasing Mirage’s exterior products, namely the concrete-style Mashup series, paving and step installation systems. The third space is an enclosed ‘Jewel Box’ – a private meeting room which is fully clad in Mirage’s luxury Jewels Suite tile series, so visitors feel as if they are stepping into a glamourous jewellery box.
What are your key design tips for creating multi-functional spaces?
Designing for multi-function is about having a neutral base palette and keeping a sense of openness with hidden storage solutions. The space can be shaped with movable partition and furniture-scapes. Good flexible track lighting and opening ceilings are also key to ensure the space is not stunted by technical limitations.
What challenges did you face? And how did you overcome them?
A main challenge was to balance creative display with functional displays. The space has to function as a sales and consultation showroom, with some traditional displays and lots of storage. We designed the functional displays to be part of the surrounding walls with hidden storage, while maintaining a sense of openness with a white ‘gallery’ aesthetic throughout the showroom, allowing the creative installations to breath.
How did the d3 area inspire your creative process?
By spending just one morning in d3 you will be inspired by the community. We neighbour with handbag designer Natalie Trad; above us is a world-renowned fashion magazine; and across the courtyard Craft Café has some of the best creative food this end of town; it’s like being back at art school! There is a sense that anything is possible and that boundaries can be pushed to an iconic status. We wanted the users of Mirage Project Point Dubai to feel this same inspiration and engage with products through an innovative experience. We achieved this by creating a custom tile sculpture installation and bespoke furniture pieces. We have also specified iconic loose furniture pieces such as ‘Paper Planes’ lounge chairs by Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien, 2010, for Moroso, and Swing Seats by Droog Design, benchmarking and continuing the high design conversation in the space.
How does the reputation of porcelain stoneware compare to natural stone in the present regional market?
We have noted that clients and developers have a preference for full-bodied porcelain tiles over natural stone. This is due to its durability and cost-saving attributes, and today the faux stone effects are much more realistic than in the past. In particular, the stone- and wood-effect porcelain tiles are now so life-like that we can easily juxtapose these with real stone slabs in projects. Thicker tiles and large formats in 2.4 x 1.2 metres also means that we can specify these for kitchen and bathroom worktops, which again is more durable and easier to handle than natural stone.
Drawing upon your experience, would you recommend using porcelain stoneware to create or customise furniture and accessories?
Porcelain stoneware should be viewed like any other solid material. It can be cut, shaped, stacked, patterned – it’s applications are very flexible. The bright colours and replica precious stones from Mirage’s Jewels Privilege range are especially interesting; they have the same vibrancy and quality as their real stone counterparts, but are far more cost-effective and versatile.