This post was originally published in the April 2020 issue, which you can read for free here.
Because no two places are alike, the InterContinental Hotels Group creates each property in its Hotel Indigo brand to reflect its specific neighbourhood. The soon-to-be-open Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown is a reflection of the totality of Dubai: its past, present and future.
Tia Lindqvist, Senior Interior Designer at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) led the team that created the design for this 269-room hotel, which is a mirror to all that is Dubai. Here, we share the insights she gave id into how the hotel’s design evolved into reality.
What is the special narrative of the Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown?
Downtown Dubai is a neighbourhood of creative contrasts. Dubai grew outwards as a city from the banks of the Creek in Old Town Dubai, referred to as Bur Dubai, to the commercial heart of Dubai in Deira. Historically, the development of Dubai has grown in tandem with the development and extension along the Dubai Creek into new areas of Dubai. We drew inspiration from the idea of the Creek extending into Business Bay and, therefore, Business Bay becoming a part of the Creek neighbourhood.
What specific influences directed your design?
We drew inspiration from the rich heritage and vibrancy of Dubai Creek. The Creek was traditionally where activities such as pearl diving, fishing, trading and shipping once took place, with the souks providing the backdrop for trading. The fascinating history of the Dubai Creek is a story of transformation from the old to the new, and this is one of the key themes of the design of the hotel, where there is a strong juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern. This transformation of the city and the hotel’s neighbourhood, through the expansion along the Creek, is a bridge between two different sides of the city.
Visitors to the area can still see the hustle and bustle and the fascinating traditions on the banks of the old Creek in Deira, where dhows are filled with all kinds of cargo in crates. One of the ideas we had was to incorporate the idea of using shipping crates to create eclectic and quirky pieces for the interiors. The story is further supported by the selection of rich fabrics and patterns that are featured throughout the hotel both in public areas and guestrooms, adding to the vibrant, eclectic, quirky and arty interior spaces.
Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown has drawn strong inspiration from specific areas of the neighbourhood along Dubai Creek, including Dubai Design District (d3) and the Bastakiya area, one of the charming parts of old Dubai that is now a hub for Dubai’s burgeoning arts scene. With the hotel located in very close proximity to d3, it followed that a nexus of art and design would inspire an exciting approach through which to express the interiors of the hotel.
Who are some of the local artisans/designers you worked with?
Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown features more than 200 curated pieces of art that were acquired over a long period of time. Our aim is to form a collection of art that plays a role in telling the neighbourhood story. For this, we approached Alserkal Cultural Foundation to provide artwork not only from local artists but also from locally based expatriates who have resided in Dubai and have drawn inspiration from the city, the Emirati culture and heritage of local art practices.
Through collaboration with XVA Gallery and Opera Gallery, a number of pieces by Baseem Rayyes were acquired, as well as pieces from artists based in d3 – including Fadi Sarieddine, and Tashkeel-based artists Studio MUJU and Rand Abdul Jabbar. The hotel also features a number of artists from outside the UAE who have a connection to the region, including Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI), who created unique rugs as part of the overall concept.
Every piece of selected artwork that will be on display at the hotel has its own connection to the overall neighbourhood story. Collectively, they encompass many different art styles – including photography, shadow art, collage, oil on canvas, watercolour, mosaic, acrylic, calligraphy, fabric art, metal and digital art. We intend to change the collection regularly to ensure a fresh guest experience and to provide opportunities for other artists to display their work in the hotel.
One of the visual artistic surprises that will be revealed at the official opening is a site-specific, tech-driven, cutting-edge piece that combines a parametric data sculpturing/painting approach and live audio-visual performance into an immersive installation, embedding media arts into architecture. No-one will know who the artist is or how the artwork will perform until the unveiling at the opening.