Grapes and Dates: new space in a sculpted frame
Designed by NIU studio, Grapes and Dates, a new concept of Acai snack bar, recently opened in Dubai. Led by award-winning Italian architects Elena Gregorutti and Giorgio Palermo, the design team creates an alluring interior, a bold benchmark in this new bar chain.
Partly inspired by the small ice cream shops of southern Italy, and with the aim of developing a unique concept, the bar stands out with Arabic calligraphy performed in an abstract way on the ceiling and on the upper walls. It strikes from the first step and adds a strong Arab imprint. The ceiling, manufactured in France and non-flammable in accordance with hygiene and safety rules, is in Barrisol stretched PVC printed with calligraphy by Emirati artist Diaa Allam and illustrations by Italian artist Carla Asqini. This collaboration demonstrates the multinational approach of this project. As Grapes and Dates is reserved for health conscious products in bright, enticing and seductive colors of vivid purple, orange and green, the brand’s hues had to occupy a prominent place in the interior design, in order to create a vibrant, uplifting and energetic atmosphere. Illuminated without a single spotlight, the barrel-shaped vaulted ceiling is particularly effective at night, not only as a source of lighting, but also because it attracts customers like a beacon, thus completing the appeal after dark. The LEDs provide a transparent ambience ensuring a uniform and continuous light flow. On the other hand, selecting the Barrisol material for the ceiling allows creating the same look and feel on other new spaces. The three brand colors can also be replaced depending on location; thus several artists will be appointed for each of the additional branches.
Inside the bar was a small gallery assembled by a vaulted ceiling connected by two entrance doors, one leading to the indoor food court and the other to the street. The client wanted a modern, different design, with a fresh and fluid look, and a remarkable Middle Eastern touch. The challenge was to design a space that offers the maximum aesthetic impact on just 30 square meters, while being welcoming and comfortable for customers.
The deco style is a mix between the traditional (arched shape and traditional Terrazzo material) with a 1950s retro feel, highlighted by the curved corners of the orange kitchen doors, and the shape of the food hatch between the kitchen and the sculptural emerald green countertop in custom-made composite Venetian Terrazzo with brass accents. Terrazzo, used for walls and flooring, is chosen for its flexibility, durability and hygienic qualities, and to generate an uninterrupted unified look. The design had to be functional at the same time, to allow fast, hygienic and efficient preparation and delivery to customers, with an aesthetic that pays homage to the culture and heritage of the region, and immediately remarkable from other restaurants in the area. The limited space to accommodate a separate kitchen/preparation area from the public one added to the design challenge. The use of recyclable, ecological, non-toxic and hygienic materials was also required. The result is a futuristic environment with a touch of modern high tech.