Studio M gets featured in Architectural Digest

Words MANUEL ARNAUT Photography MAHA NASRA EDDÉ

When you have been working on interiors for more than 20 years, it is not every day that a new project has the ability to sweep you off your feet. But fortunately, from time to time, there are projects that remind even the most experienced designers why they fell in love with the job in the first place. This was exactly the feeling that took over Abboud Malak, the Dubai-based, Canadian interior architect and founder of Studio M, upon fi rst seeing the 1,700-square-foot penthouse triplex atop the Index Tower, one of Dubai’s most recognisable buildings. “My client called to say that he had just bought an apartment, without giving me any details. When I went to have a look, I was blown away,” confesses Malak. “The impressive scale screamed potential.”

Owned by Hisham Samawi, one of the leading, young Emirati art experts, the brief for the project was concise: the goal was to create a minimal art gallery style space where Samawi could entertain and showcase his collection. “I instantly thought of a clean, white envelope where art was at the centre. It looks quite monochromatic but the idea was to put at the forefront the textures and colour of the different artworks.

If coming up with the concept was easy, the logistics of the renovation – the project took eight months to accomplish from design to completion – was the biggest challenge, especially when you are working in one of Dubai’s tallest buildings. “We removed absolutely everything from the inside. We started over with just the concrete floor and the walls,” says Malak. “A demolition in the sky, on floors 77, 78 and 79, is not an easy task.

All the materials, machinery and construction waste had to come up and down in the service elevator.” Once the main adversities were overcome, Malak focused on the other aspects that make this project so unique. First, the designer commissioned custom pieces from top international furniture brands to make the clinical space more comfortable – obviously, only in shades of grey and white. Then, he concentrated on the lighting, a crucial task that can easily make or break a project.

“The owner constantly moves the artworks around, so I had to come up with an interchangeable solution. I designed long black slots in the ceiling with two functions. Since I hate diff users, the slots allowed me to hide the air conditioning, keeping the walls pure and clear. The light spots can also move freely around the track, same as the light systems you see in museums,” explains the designer. “In the end, we achieved an aesthetic detail with a purpose. In all of my projects, I love it when the solution is more than just function.”