White Oasis by Elle Deco

Nestled in the heart of the Dubai neighbourhood, Umm Suqeim, lies a villa dressed in white not unike like the inhabitants of the city. A refreshing architectural oasis that is a stark contrast to the ornate architecture of the surrounding residences.

Words FAY AFGHAHIPhotography HD PRODUCTIONS

The Designer

Abboud Malak, founder of Studio M. “We cover all areas of design and prefer to be involved from the project’s inception to achieve the highest level of harmony and balance.

Studio M was created back in 2000 in Los Angeles by founder Abboud Malak who then transplanted the firm to Dubai in 2004, initially to oversee the interiors of the then monumental and now iconic DIFC project. Studio M is a bespoke interior architecture firm focusing on enhancing life through design, catering to the high-end market where details and quality are primary, making Dubai an obvious choice in terms of company location.

When approached by his client, a high-profile UAE national, Abboud Malak received a very precise brief for the five-bedroom Umm Suqeim villa: to create a modern family home shaped by the client’s lifestyle, utilising the lines of sober and minimalistic architecture. A self-professed “Los Angeles trained interior designer with a Southern California aesthetic”, the project was intuitive to his design sensibilities. The result? Thick white chalk walls, generous openings and the deconstruction of interior and exterior boundaries creating a light-filled, comfortable and timeless modern Mediterranean villa. Malak favours a comprehensive approach to any project, including exteriors, interiors and landscaping. This enable him to ensure that all environments share a common and cohesive design ethos and reply to one simple emotional question: “How does this space make me feel?”

The house unravels in a simple way, from the public spaces to the very private ones. The ground floor is all about entertainment, housing the family and formal living and dining room and private kitchen quarters. The first floor, where the bedrooms and casual family room are found, is private; an experience that is calmer, both in visual and sensorial terms. From the exterior, the villa is discreet, white and monolithic. The entrance to the home is through a series of multi-levelled spaces, the natural grey stone Pietra Serena, vertical and horizontal shading elements, water features, culturally essential mature palms and olive trees. Inside, the ground floor is a sea of white, laid with Bianco Dolomiti imparting an ethereal zen feel. Throughout the house Abboud has utilised honest, earthy toned natural materials, shying away from anything too hi-tech or fashionable: “I love authenticity. So the woods, stone, carpets and paints I choose always have a timeless feel to them.” The doors and detailing are smoked with a heavy brush finish, creating an atmosphere that is both modern and warm. The same wood has been used throughout the villa’s interior and exterior, avoiding the introduction of different wood matters. “I prefer not to mix different types of wood, I prefer to change the texture of the same material for variety and contrast.”

The fabric palette for the furnishings are calm and nature-inspired, a mixture of earth colours peppered with turquoise, a reminder of the proximity of the villa to the sea, creating a result that is visually calm and satisfying. “I am calm in my taste and prefer to focus on the essence of living.” Eye-catching features are the Dennis Miller sofas in the family room that impart a Fifties vibe, as elegant today as they were years ago. On the walls between the graphic, modern paintings, Christian Liaigre large Greco wall scones enhance the understated chic of the space, stylish by day and spectacular by night. The custom hand-made silk rugs were all produced in Nepal, each commanding a painstaking six months to be brought to life, and are set off perfectly by the white stone flooring. Both living areas lead to the outdoor, central courtyard, bringing a sea of natural light into the villa and giving views of the statuesque, lone olive tree.

The private realm of the first floor encompasses the bedroom suites and a family room complete with its own kitchenette. The entire first floor is covered in a bone white bamboo silk carpet with curtains of the same colour privatise the area from the outside world. In the master bedroom the eye is drawn to the dramatic oak wood backdrop to the bed, giving the room a distinctive LA-chic feel, whilst the furnishings are minimal and the colour scheme a relaxing collection of muted greys. The effortless flow from the more public lower level to the quiet elegance of the upper floor of the villa is seamless, in terms of colours, materials and atmosphere. A testament to the balance of modernity and understated beauty, this Umm Suqeim villa is a perfectly executed example of modern family living in Dubai.