Dubai Confidential

Adam Tihany rarely takes on projects for private spaces, which are too subject to personalization and the taste, habits, and lifestyles of their occupants, who turn their home into a domestic self-portrait, and rightly so.

Tihany is more at ease in dealing with exclusive hospitality projects in the form of constructed spaces, from hotels or cruise ships to restaurants serving the most delicious delicacies. After all, we have Tihany to thank for the field of Restaurant Design, which goes beyond the American-style “themed restaurant” and addresses the spaces from the perspective of how best to welcome each diner and provide the utmost comfort.

Certainly, the ways and means of defining the scene of an environment so that it will welcome visitors in the best of ways and set each one at ease are part of a material and compositional enquiry into interiors that Tihany Design has been pursuing for some time now.

The path he has undertaken mixes figures and materials arranged in complex combinations, part of a genuine architectural storyboard designed to develop in pieces, like a three-dimensional tale constructed by variable figures that are constantly combining. The scenes weave together, rich in the materials and the choice of each product composing each specific environment; yet the concept of luxury, whether on display or for its own sake, is transcended by the quest for the greatest comfort.

Connected to this path is the urban villa in Dubai published on these pages, where Tihany has skilfully applied the values and atmospheres he experimented with in his public interiors to an exclusive domestic dimension.

Having recently worked on the project for Dubai’s first boutique hotel (the Four Season Resort Dubai in the DIFC), which bears witness to how the tastes of new generations of the city’s well-to-do residents and entrepreneurs is leaning towards more contemporary flavours, Tihany has designed the interiors of a new residence for a prominent figure of the new affluent class after a twenty-five hiatus from themes tied to private home design.

The reason behind this return to the design of domestic spaces was Adam Tihany’s fortunate encounter with Khalid Al Najjar, the architect who designed this contemporary villa, and his business partner Shahab Lutfi, which led to a friendship that resulted a design partnership. They were joined by Cristiano Baccianti, who has been working to promote and spread Italian design in the Gulf countries for some time.

The result appears quite fascinating, not only because of its study of the architectural project in itself: linear and precise, free of any stylistic reference or revival elements, with an abundance of solutions emphasizing the value of contemporary impressions; it also conveys how the sensitivity that Tihany developed over many years – while defining exclusive places where guests are immersed in atmospheres carefully designed to please the senses – can be translated into a domestic sphere for a “stay” that is not confined by the timing of a holiday, a work trip, or a five-star dinner, but expands to the timing of everyday life.

The villa is arranged on two levels plus a basement level, set around a green space where three palm trees stand tall. This “secret garden” reinterprets the traditional courtyards of Arab homes in a contemporary style.

The central space open to the sky is surrounded by three entirely glass walls and by the pool, which is distinguished by two supporting walls: in the evenings, with the light reflecting off the water’s surface, the pool paints the pure white of the entire structure a light blue.

The theme of the supporting walls characterizes the entire project, in which we understand the “worth of the wall” as a signature backdrop: at times it is covered in travertine, as on the entire ground floor, where it later extends into the lawn, dividing the open-air space into two sections.

At other times, it features geometric panelling connecting the dining room and living room along the linear hallway. Elsewhere, it becomes a thin, revolving panel serving as a front door. The entire ground floor, designed as a living area, offers a lavish sequence of spaces that can be opened towards the green courtyard, which in the cooler months becomes an integral part of the home.

Living rooms, the dining room, and a study designed to be a refined wooden nook are set beside a futuristic home theatre, a cosy capsule where Tihany has specially designed an armchair for a specific purpose, later produced by Poltrona Frau (“Stanley”, in tribute to Stanley Kubrick, one of the designer’s favourite directors).

The choice of the furniture, much of which was designed in Italy, powerfully contributes to the definition of the various scenes, which are carefully measured in their combined variety. On the first floor, bedrooms that can be screened by blackout blinds alternate with spaces and terraces facing the courtyard below, which is the heart of this building devoted to the quest for an exclusive sense of contemporary comfort.

Foto di Eric Laignel – Testo di Matteo Vercelloni