Inspired Living – 2014

28 February 2018

Seizing The Day

Ellen Søhoel, former Bishop, had just two months to design a home filled with glorious details and practical planning.

Time and Silence are the ultimate luxuries in today’s frantic world. Though they had a $1-million budget, Bishop Design didn’t have the luxury of time on hand – just two months actually – when they were commissioned to refurbish a villa in Dubai’s Emirates Hills.

Having worked together on several projects with the homeowner, it helped that the designers had carte blanche to do as they desired with the interiors. Commissioned to start work in mid-August last year, the house had to be ready for the Clients 40th birthday in October and the main aim was to create spaces to accommodate entertainment.

“Our approach was to design the interior both spatially and aesthetically, incorporating interior architectural remodeling and landscaping,” says Søhoel, Managing Partner, y Design, who led the design team. “The philosophy behind the design was to create a contemporary sophisticated environment.”

Bishop Design went about achieving this by employing a colour palette and materials that convey light and openness, inspired by the home’s spectacular views of the garden and lake. They also made some dramatic changes to the original layout plan, converting every corner of the property into practical, functional spaces. In the new layout, a bar, game room & living area to entertain were carved out of the existing floor area.

As Ellen explains, “We felt the colour palette ought to remain neutral: earth colours, different shades of cream and black, with subtle hints of other colours/” the interest came with the play of contrasts and different textures. They also gave the scheme some room for the family to add their personal touches, upon their request.

Time lines were, of course, a major constraint. With the designers commissioned to start in mid-August, the design and construction had to be completely finalized in two months. “I must admit it made me nervous at first, especially considering the home covers around 1400 sqm! In practical terms this meant we were restricted to working with locally available items and/or suppliers who had items in stock overseas. To add to it, the suppliers were commissioned with a penalty clause – if they were not able to deliver the ordered items before the big night, they would have to pay larger sums, which again meant more restricted choices as many of them declined. All in all, it was quite nerve racking at times, but completing this ‘Missions Impossible’ project was professionally regarding, exciting and came with a certain sense of pride and accomplishment.”

By adding several layers of lighting and textures, Bishop Design made the neutral colour palette of smoke grey, ecru and beige sparkle. In the dining area, for instance, an intimate, cozy ambience has been created with a custom designed mirror wall panel that accommodates a sleek fire place. The warm light of the flames complement heavy textured wallpapers while a crystal chandelier overhead casts its light on the Fendi dining table and chairs. Luxe touches in the home include Swarovski-crusted wall coverings, silk wallpapers with velvet embossed prints, embossed leathers and large custom designed mirrors and mirror paneling.

The living area and the bar area is Ellen’s favourite part of the design. In the darker bar area, windows were closed off to create a bar unit consisting of a combination of etched bronze mirrors and light oak, with bottle lit by a mix of yellow and white spotlights.

Problematic pre-existing columns were tackled by wrapping seating around them. Special mention must be made of the black velvet embroidered wallpaper in the bar area, with its images of women holding weapons, oil rigs and dollar signs – a quirky and unexpected touch. “It is always a victory when columns becomes an integral part of the design and not an obstacle. Closing off all windows to create a bar shelving unit was a risky move but it paid off. It enhanced the moody ambience and gave the Client plenty of much-needed storage,” Ellen comments.

In the entrance hall and living area, elegance and openness were key. Combining bespoke pieces with high-end branded furniture, it has Bishop Design’s signature mixing of materials and textures. Edgy details and accessories abound; such as cushions embroidered with a gold skull motif, oversized floor lamps, and three of the famous oversized round Raimond lights from Moooi hanging from the ceiling. The furniture incorporates Fendi sofas, Ligne Roset’s gold and black Ofrande ceramic occasional tables and Bishop Design’s own pieces such as the coffee table with inset mirrors, sofas in leather and velvet and the circular table in the entrance hall.

“In knowing what we achieved in the impossible short timeline, I am quite happy with the result and the Client was thrilled, which is ultimately what matters,” Ellen muses. “Looking back, if we could change anything, it would be the time we had – just so we could expand our choices and not be limited to sourcing furniture, materials and items from the local market and being restricted to what would be delivered in a short time.”

The project has now been submitted for competitions around the world and is likely to win more plaudits for Bishop Design, a firm founded by Ellen Søhoel and Paul Bishop in 2004. Bishop Design’s sizeable portfolio covers commercial, hospitality, retail and residential design projects and they have won several awards along the way. ON the drawing boards are now several upscale restaurants in Dubai, Roberto’s in Abu Dhabi and the TDIC Show Villas on Saadiyat Island.

“I believe in enhancing the potential resale value of every property we design but also in creating a design filled with unique elements that only a qualified designer can realize (quite different from just tagging pages in a furniture catalogue),” Ellen says. “As designers we are supposed to add value to any project we take on, and I suspect that is why Bishop Design has won so many awards for our residential projects.”