Niu Studio creates vibrant space for Emirati snack bar Grapes and Dates

The Dubai-based retro-futuristic cafe blends references from Italy and the UAE

An Emirati healthy snack bar Grapes and Dates has recently opened  its doors in Dubai, complete with vibrant, retro-futuristic interiors that fuse Italian and Middle Eastern design.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

Located in the Last Exit- Khawaneej food mall in Dubai, Grapes and Dates is the first of a planned chain of cafes. The interior design was designed by Niu Studio alongside The Crew, who worked on the brand identity, with the flagship setting the  the concept for all future outlets.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

The brief was to create a design that would be immediately distinguishable from other neighbourhood eateries, while keeping a flexible concept that could be adapted to other spaces regardless of their shape or size.

Niu Studio created a vibrant interiors that is bathed in light as an ode to the Middle East while keeping a minimalistic deign approach that is maximised by its graphic visuals.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

The 30-meter square vaulted space is partly inspired by the small ice cream shops of southern Italy as well as by the bold, abstract use of Arabic calligraphy used in the ceiling and upper walls of the snack bar.

The designers focused on two primary materials including Terrazzo and  Barrisol stretch PVC for the ceiling.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

The selection of a stretch ceiling will allow for different ceiling shapes to be lit and decorated in the same manner, while thehe three brand colours can be interchangeable depending on the location, allowing for different artists to be commissioned for the upcoming branches.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

In the current design, the ceiling is printed with artwork by Italian artist Carla Asqini and calligraphy by Emirati artist Diaa Allam, demonstrating a multi-national approach to the project.

The dramatic use of bright purple and orange on the ceiling cum light fixture creates a vibrant, uplifting and energized atmosphere.

Niu Studio Grapes and Dates

“Using a single light source, we created an impactful functional yet powerfully illuminating LED light fixture incorporated in a Barrisol backlit stretch ceiling,” said Georgio Palermo, architect and founder of Niu Studio.

Designed in Dubai and manufactured in France, the environmentally friendly non- toxic ceiling fixture is non-flammable in compliance with health and safety regulations as well as being 100% recyclable.

The walls and flooring are completed in Terrazzo, which is a traditional Italian material, chosen for its flexibility, durability and hygiene qualities. A seamless custom-designed composite Venetian Terrazzo counter was also designed in emerald green with brass accents.

The overall design is a blend between the traditional use of the vaulted shape and  Terrazzo material with a 1950’s retro feel that is highlighted by the curved corners of the orange kitchen doors and the form of the food hatch between the kitchen and counter area. The ceiling and the sculptural counter offers a modern high-tech twist to the design.

The end result is a futuristic space that is reminiscent of being  being aboard a space-ship. The absence of loose furniture and the enveloping shape creates a distinct and unusual visual experience: a precisely curated fusion of traditional meets futuristic.

Photography by Alex Jeffries Photography Group.