At the Hyde Hotel in Dubai, the rooms capture the colors of sand and palm wood, blended with precious silks and exotic upholstery to reflect the admixture of cultures that is the hallmark of this bustling UAE metropolis.
Located in the Business Bay district, Ciarmoli Queda Studio designed all hotel interiors, from the 276 bedrooms to its numerous common areas, including two restaurants, a bar, spa, gym, swimming pool and even a ballroom, as well as multiple meeting rooms.
Widely featuring water and marble, the common areas have a sense of spectacle about them: the lobby, for example, is inspired by the iconic Trevi Fountain, whose timeless charm it seeks to evoke. The bedrooms feature muted colors and geometric patterns that mimic the warmth of home, not forgetting their elegant and exclusive finishes.
The furniture was custom-designed for the project, before later becoming its own fully-fledged collection. The design drew on the tailoring and customization-led approach common to all of the studio’s work, an approach that reflects Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda’s shared fashion industry background. They see no difference in defining the cut of an exquisitely embroidered fabric or choosing a cool block of marble from the quarries at Carrara, sketching a couture dress or designing a luxury yacht interior.
Whether it be clothing or architectural spaces, contemporary lifestyle creativity is a 360-degree concept in Ciarmoli Queda’s vision. As trend-leaders, from their home base in Milan the two designers travel all over the world to work on interior projects, industrial design and experience design, pursuing their great passion for craftsmanship and meticulous attention to the most minute detail.
Ciarmoli Queda’s interior design combines Made in Italy with art, and vintage pieces juxtaposed with the work of local artisans, as is evident in their design for a landmark residence overlooking the sea on the Greek island of Hydra. They renovated the holiday home’s rooms as if it were a boutique hotel, giving it a maritime theme by juxtaposing wooden finishes, white surfaces and furniture, and entire walls in shades of deep blue or teal.
In addition to hôtellerie and residential, the firm also works in the retail and nautical sectors, offering contemporary, discreet, almost “whispered” luxury.
The Agnona concept store, which made its debut at the brand’s London boutique, is inspired by the fine yarns on which the brand has built its long-standing reputation. The store design references the firm’s tradition for high-quality products, only with a faster, fresher spirit, designed with pure and essential lines, further softened by notes of lightness and fluffiness.
Their never-ending quest for spontaneity-led design generates authentic, unexpected experiences, even if it must be reconciled with each project’s technical aspects – not without their own complexity, particularly in the nautical field. A balanced combination of technology and craftsmanship catering fully to a state-of-the-art superyacht’s technical requirements underpins the Jules Verne-esque scenic backdrops and refined finishes of the interior on a vessel like Dream.
Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda
Founders, Ciarmoli Queda Studio
For both of you, design is not just a profession, it is “a way of seeing the world”. How is your vision of reality reflected in Ciarmoli Queda Studio’s designs?
Having worked for many years in the fashion industry, we are trained to observe what is going on around us, to forge rather than follow trends. Transferring this concept to our interior design projects, a preliminary observation and analysis stage is always necessary to come up with a “customized” project that meets the client’s needs. With contract, it is necessary to take into account the various aspects of the product industrialization process, which in itself can spawn a new esthetic, a bit like in 1966 when Yves Saint Laurent invented ready-to-wear from haute couture, proving that one may make quality work even when mass-producing a product. Our most recent product designs include a collection of 29 pieces of furniture, available in a variety of finishes and fabrics, whose profiles are inspired by natural forms and the power of the elements.
The interiors at the Hyde Hotel in Dubai were designed to reflect the nature of the place: a crossroads of international influences and a melting pot of cultures from different countries. What would you say are the hotel’s flagship spaces?
This far-reaching project lives to “glocalize”. Inspired by art and design from several countries, this meeting of different cultures is translated into an organizing esthetic principle. In the lobby, for instance, we created an oasis, a timeless space where guests access the various amenities that make a hotel comfortable: a café, a bookstore, the restaurant, plus access to the main floor elevator lobby. The 12 m-high lobby houses two dramatic, monolith-like fountains made of Carrara marble – arguably the most “Instagrammable” space we have ever designed. The obelisks also reference the column as a classical architectural element, here cross-sectioned and offset, projecting into the future.
“Caramel is synonymous with understated, unostentatious luxury, the only kind of luxury acceptable today”. Can you explain how this statement relates to this yacht interior created in Istanbul?
Caramel dates back to the years when Dubai was in its infancy. The client said no gold trim or printed leather, he wanted a contemporary yacht for living. We undertook wide-ranging research into materials and fabrics, alighting on a color concept that recalls the colors of cappuccino. We selected the artwork too, achieving a blend of elegance we have carried forward ever since, one of timeless, understated luxury – indeed, although the design dates back to 2010, it still looks current today.
Staying on the nautical side of things, Dream won first prize in the “conversion yachts” category at the 2019 World Superyachts Awards.
Dream carries 44 passengers and 30 crew. At that time, when we were designing the interior, it was the largest private yacht in the world. The project was a conversion from a ferry that fully espoused the idea of tradition carried forward into the future. Following on from Caramel, Dream once again tested our aptitude for designing spaces where comfort is interleaved with technology. The client, a prominent Greek shipowner, wanted to receive many guests here, so we drew inspiration from the historical figure who “reinvented” the reception: Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century Queen of France. We started with Versailles woodwork, replacing mahogany with light woods like Thai timbers, which we also used for the flooring and doors, paired with satin, metal and leather. The handles were made of galuchat: at court, Madame de Pompadour was very fond of accessories made of this material, named after artisan
Jean-Claude Galuchat. Then we imagined bringing Marie Antoinette together with great 1930s decorator Jean-Michel Frank and Jean Prouvé, a last-century architect and designer who applied the same construction principles to his furniture and architecture. In addition to the shell, we also designed the furnishings, including cutlery and glasses, bringing to life a singular and precious place of leathers, fabrics, lamps and decorations, all rigorously Made in Italy. The rooms are identified by different color themes: jade, azul, sienna and aqua. Despite such variety, we maintained compositional rigor because we abided by three rules: one type of wood, one type of flooring, one color for the ceiling.
Do you have any other nautical design projects in the pipeline?
We are working on a “futuristic” yacht with an original hull that will decrease fuel consumption and foster environmental sustainability. As a result, the interior spaces, which are defined by the hull’s shape and size, are of unusual dimensions. The green approach carries through to the interiors, where we use recycled polypropylene upholstery, regenerated leather, and other “eco” materials and aspects to characterize the space, which is endowed with great brightness and predisposed to outdoor life and interfacing with the sea.
How important is it in your creative process to work with Made-in-Italy artisans to create unique products and tailor-made solutions?
It is one of the hallmark features of the studio’s approach. We learned our craftsmanship in the fashion industry, where we would talk with a glassmaker from Murano, a cabinetmaker from Brianza, perhaps the première (the seamstress supervisor at a tailor’s shop, ed.) who cut the fabric. We always make cardboard prototypes of a piece of furniture or an object to look at shapes and proportions, leveraging the tensions of manual work before ever meeting with artisans.
At Agnona’s London boutique, the modular system on which the store’s design is built is diluted by fabrics that reference the brand’s history. What does dialogue between opposing demands bring to a project?
Projects often function on two levels. The shell is what remains, so it must be made of a recognizable material that will last, but that box comes into contact with the elements that are placed inside, creating a dialogue between opposites that eventually reconfigures into harmonious design. With the Agnona boutique, we were keen to replicate the design rigor we saw at their factory when we visited it. The brand makes cashmere, so the elements that hold up the shelving hark back to images of looms for spinning wool. In opposition to this warm rationalism, we also wanted to include handcrafted silk coverings – depicting thistles, formerly used to card noble fibers – on the screens dotted around the space.
How do you combine the idea of timeless space with experience design, a field that is, by its nature, set in the moment?
It is true that an exhibition is limited in time and volatile per se, but the emotions it triggers live on forever. The two most important events we have curated are the exhibition Before Design: Classic, staged for the 2016 edition of the Salone del Mobile, a multi-sensory journey investigating the various elements that make up the classical in terms of its ongoing relevance. The second was DeLightFuL: Design Light Future Living, put on at the Salone the following year, in which a succession of rooms showcased contemporary design in a brand-new way. Both exhibitions were inspired by two short films specially made by director Matteo Garrone, with whom we were keen to work on this project. The cinema is another channel of communication that continues through time. Interestingly, Stefano Boeri showed the two films recently at Supersalone, in September 2021. We really appreciated his curatorship, documenting Garrone’s two short films, a testimony to a different way of looking at design, putting humans at the center to explore the dynamics of domestic space from a decidedly innovative point of view. While Before Design: Classic explored tradition in the future, DeLightFuL returned to the concept of homes without walls.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Client: Emerald Palace Group (EPG)
Gross Floor Area: 30,000 m2
Architect and Main Contractor: National Engineering Bureau (NEB)
Interior Designer: Ciarmoli Queda Studio
Interior Contractor: Emerald Palace Interior Decoration (EPI)
Project Leader: Mace
Structures and Services Engineering: National Engineering Bureau (NEB)
Lighting: Stefano Dall’Osso Lighting Designer
Photography: Matteo Lavazza, courtesy of Ciarmoli Queda Studio
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