Ship shape

Presidential suite ... The guest rooms have been envisioned as a minimalistic seaside sanctuary dressed in sandy tones.

MMAC Design Associates’ latest project for a boutique hotel draws its inspiration from Dubai’s long seafaring tradition

The interiors of Dubai Properties’ upcoming five-star boutique hotel project located in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) in Dubai, UAE, have taken their inspiration from the hull of a dhow.

According to a spokesperson for the interior design firm MMAC Design Associates, the company drew its inspiration from the long-standing tradition of the dhow shipyards and Dubai’s association with pearl diving and seafaring.

The design was recognised at the inaugural Identity Design Awards 2015 held in Dubai recently, as the firm won top honours as a finalist. “Our work was recognised as an outstanding design and was placed among the top three contenders,” says Christian Merieau, founder and managing director with Dubai-based MMAC Design.

Having been designated by the prestigious international judging panel, the finalist was then selected by a special audience vote in the ‘Future Projects’ category during the event.

The boutique start-up design firm MMAC Design Associates trumped numerous other entries to be nominated in the category of ‘Future Projects’ alongside Atkins for the Dubai Opera and the winning entry from Atelier Jean Nouvel for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

“We were delighted to have made it to the round of finalists, and overjoyed when we learned that we were placed alongside such major players,” he says.

“We are a fresh firm but hold decades of hospitality design experience within the Gulf region between the team. This nomination places us firmly in the ranks of the top destination designers,” he adds.

The firm was also honoured to have its top junior designer, Sushma Serigara, win accolades as a nominee for the ‘Best Emerging Talent’.


Nautical theme ... perspectives of the meeting room (top), the Presidential Suite’s bathroom, and the bar (above), which has been designed like a hearth to draw visitors in.

Nautical theme ... perspectives of the meeting room (top), the Presidential Suite’s bathroom, and the bar (above), which has been designed like a hearth to draw visitors in.

The project

Commenting on the project, Merieau says: “With the project being centrally located at JBR, the starting point in our approach for this unique five-star hotel was to find balance between the urban vibe of ‘The Walk’ and the laidback beachside culture. The brand essence from the operator is minimalist and prescribes a timeless aesthetical approach (devoid of patterns and free of design trends). On the other hand, the investor’s key directive was to incorporate a sense of Arabic culture within the hotel. “MMAC was entrusted with managing aesthetical expectations and striking the right balance between the two.”

Drawing inspiration from the city’s longstanding tradition of dhow shipyards, pearl diving and seafaring, the interior takes inspiration from the hull of a dhow.

The warmth of timber used in the four-storey atrium creates a strong visual statement contrasting with the soft mineral colour palette of the ground floor. The interplay of transparency, light and shadows are created by a restrained usage of high quality materials on large surfaces. This is further accented at night by a sophisticated treatment of the various fixed elements with an understated scheme of indirect light. At the end of this monumental lobby, the bar has been designed like a hearth to draw its visitors in.



The guestrooms and suites have been designed to reflect a timeless style and make use of a muted neutral palette. Exquisite material and textures that resonate with a deep sense of authenticity and craftsmanship are used as a throwback to the pearl diving culture of the region.

The guest rooms have been envisioned as a minimalistic seaside sanctuary dressed in sandy tones into which we have infused accent inspired by the textures of Dubai’s sea shores.

The usage of light stones and bleached wood plays a strong role in the resort identity while the large glass bathroom windows accentuate a sense of a serene spa experience.

The statement of the building’s architecture is reflected in the guest room design by the dramatic interplay of the volumes. The recessed concrete decorative feature running behind the vanity and bed wall as well as the suspended wall elements strongly mirror the architectural language.

The orientation of the hotel windows toward the west captures the low penetrating rays of the sun leaving the interiors awash with warm evening sunlight.

This has played a crucial role in the selection of soft toned materials and colour palette in the rooms. The clean design allows true luxury to be expressed through the material and a high quality build; the locally inspired patterns create a natural sense of place.


Design firm

MMAC is a boutique design agency founded by Merieau and Anil Mangalat in early 2014. The firm provides interior design services to developers, architects and hotel operators. Specialised in luxury, up-scale and upper mid-scale hotel and restaurant design, the founding team has developed more than 40 hotel concepts for 10 of the leading international operators.

Based in Dubai, this team has delivered high-end projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Jordan. The firm’s hospitality expertise is fully expressed through its ability to produce powerful and original designs for each project, delivering on time and within budget, while fusing the client’s vision, local customs, geographic considerations and the operator’s guidelines.

“MMAC’s mission is to understand the needs of our hospitality clients and provide creative design and innovative solutions through an efficient process based on deep industry knowledge, extensive and specialised experience and an up-to-date comprehension of standards, context and guest experience,” he concludes.