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Luxury interiors in Dubai’s Opera District

Luxury interiors in Dubai's Opera District

September 2016

Future residents of ‘Il Primo’ will be able to enjoy the unique vibrancy of Dubai’s new Opera District while rejoicing in elegant interiors that speak to the sophisticated eye of today’s global traveller.



The launch of a luxury residential tower in Dubai isn’t something that normally would overly catch our interest, simply because there are countless of high-end projects here which is what Dubai is essentially known for.

One of these has however intrigued us, which, even in a climate of a seemingly overflow of luxury, manages to stand out, for several reasons.

We’re talking about ‘Il Primo’ in the Dubai Opera District, one of Emaar Properties’ most recent launches. Located at the heart of the District, adjacent to the soon to open Dubai Opera, IL Primo rises 77 stories high, offering 119 four and five bedroom luxury units along with three ultra-luxe penthouses, all with unrivalled views of The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa.

In addition to its unique location, the project is interesting as its interior design illustrates how the meaning of luxury has changed over time as the global high-net worth consumer profile has undergone a transformative shift.

Leading hospitality interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) collaborated with KPF architects to create the design.

Mark Eacott, Associate, HBA, who has worked around the globe and possesses over 10 years of experience in hospitality interiors in addition to an architect’s background, explains what makes the project so special: “There are not many locations in Dubai where you can find cultural vibrancy right at your doorstep. With Downtown Dubai, Emaar Properties have created a signature destination, and Il Primo sits at the ‘front row’ of this, a bit like No. 1 Hyde Park in London.”

Il Primo will add to HBA’s portfolio of Emaar projects set to open within the next two years, including The Address Residence Sky Views hotel and residences.

The project was launched at the beginning of June 2016 and is aimed for completion by 2020.

Reflecting the spirits of the arts

Three dedicated podium levels offer residents luxurious private amenities, including a three-storey lobby, a residents’ club lounge, cigar lounge, mini-theatre, business lounge, nursery, golf simulator, games room, and dedicated fitness level with a spa, gym, yoga studio, outdoor pool and hidden gardens.

HBA designers carried the spirit of the arts and cultural Opera District into the soaring lobby space, allowing the flow of music to stream throughout in order to achieve a dramatic arrival experience for residents.

“Our starting point was to carry the spirit of the Opera through the project which is most evident in the lobby space,” says Mark Eacott. “As you go up to the units this theme carries through in the details and craftsmanship,” he adds.

The ‘flow of music theme’ also translates into the exterior canopy, it’s a concept that “works seamlessly on the outside as well as on the inside,” as Eacott says.


The luxurious and expansive residences were created to appeal to global high-net worth individuals, hence emphasis was placed on detailed hand-crafted luxury, including elegant Italian crema venato marble flooring, intricate details in polished stainless steel, crafted mill work in premium grade Tabu eucalyptus veneer, and high-end Fisher & Paykel appliances.

The designers wanted to create something a bit more contemporary than what’s usually common in the UAE market, as Eacott explains, hence the focus was on refreshing colours such as white, grey and beige tones.

Sophisticated marble bathrooms feature premium bathroom fixtures by Dornbracht, plush Statuario marble floor and wall finish in addition to exotic Zanzibar marble vanities with stainless steel detailing.

Everything was sourced with utmost care. “We spent some time last summer in Greece, Turkey and Italy with Dubai contractors on ‘stone sourcing trips’ so we got a good understanding of what’s available and what can be used for the project,” Eacott says.

Catering to the global customer

When it comes to designing projects of this caliber, designers today enjoy a certain sense of freedom that stems from the increasing detachment of the high-net worth clientele from local influences.

“We’re finding that our clients are becoming younger and are more travelled themselves, so they are inspired of what they might see in their friend’s house in New York or Singapore for example.

“It’s refreshing for us as designers that today we don’t always have to appeal to the local sense of place because of the changing buyer profile which is becoming increasing global. Global high-net worth individuals – our client base – constitute a very small percentage of the population. What we do know about them is that their understanding of luxury is essentially time. They will have large home offices as they hold meetings in their homes so this has an impact on how these homes are laid out.

“There is also an emphasis on separation of the public (meeting) and the private space within these apartments so they’re designed in a way that they can be broken down into different zones, and into formal and informal spaces.

“Then there is the need for hospitality and entertainment which means these apartments have large commercial style prep-kitchens so caterers can come in or their own staff can cater to small groups,” Eacott explains.

Another notable shift that HBA is seeing in its buyer profile is that these consumers are becoming collectors of art, which means that they are going to require spaces where to put the art. “We’re designing areas from the start that offer designated spaces for sculptures and designated focal points where works of art can be placed,” says Eacott.

Affinity to art

Luxury property buyers’ affinity to art is also following a global trend of art rising again as an investment. This is a global trend identified by researchers that shows how closely linked real estate and art often are, be it as an investment or as something to enjoy.

“Today you can see certain hotels for example displaying famous works of art in their public spaces which sometimes become even more appreciated than the property,” Eacott says.

For the designer, art is definitely a trend that influences the way interiors are designed. “In a way we’re creating spaces that are backdrops and that complement the works of art that are going to be housed in these spaces,” he says.

Another consequence of ultra-high net-worth individuals becoming global travellers is that designers need to building spaces that can house an eclectic style. “It means we have to design spaces that can house chairs from Bali and carpets from India, for example, which are very rich and ornate in themselves. We might then go more subtle with colours and a style that can balance the travellers’ eclectic items.”

Luxury then and now

Just as the concept of beauty has changed over time, such has the meaning of luxury. Traditional notions of luxury that constitute golden taps and opulent decorations have passed.

“One of the things that changed in the understanding of luxury is the appreciation of space,” says Eacott. “There was a time when having large spaces was considered luxury, whereas now I think it’s about being intelligent with design. It’s about offering a certain quality of design on a more sophisticated level.”

For Eacott, this constitutes the biggest leap in how luxury is perceived today. “It’s no longer about achieving a wow-factor through big spaces but about catering to a more sophisticated eye.”

So being surrounded by nice and expensive things doesn’t do it anymore, or isn’t enough?

“I think people have emotional ties to property and it’s less about what they saw but about the way it made them feel,” Eacott says.

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