Inside the surgeon's Palm Jumeirah abode, a space that blends a passion for the arts with family living.
Words by Laura Beaney in Design & Architecture · Dec. 8th, 2022
The son of an opera singer, cosmetic surgeon Dr Maurizio Viel credits his mother with fuelling his lifelong admiration for the arts and international living. A self-professed family man, during grey London days the surgeon dreamed of a beach-side retreat, a home that might balance his appreciation for culture with the need for quality time with his wife and children.
Upon entering their Palm Jumeirah address it's evident that travel is a shared passion among the Viel family. It’s an environment that strikes a cord between tradition and modernity. Antique writing desks acquired from London auction houses come into dialogue with one-of-a-kind pieces such as a delicate hand-embroidered silver sarong - a gift from a Malaysian Sultan. Maurizio explains how an appreciation for aesthetics has defined his work and lived environment as he takes us on a tour of his Palm Jumeirah address.
Maurizio: My name is Dr Maurizio Viel and I moved to Dubai in 2009 with my wife and 5-week-old baby from London. We now have four children together and we settled on the Palm in a five-bedroom villa. We love camping in the desert and dune bashing when the climate allows for it. We’re very active and regularly travel for skiing and sailing adventures as a family.
In terms of my work, I am an Italian cosmetic surgeon with practices in both London and Dubai. Upon graduation from the University of Milan, I moved to London to specialise and ended up staying there for 20 years!
We are from Italy so culturally we were always immersed in the arts. My mother is an opera singer who exposed us to music from an early age, she opened our minds to the culture and heritage of Italian opera from the architecture of the opera houses to the world of artists and musicians. These early experiences have shaped much of our appreciation for the arts and design today. As cosmetic surgeons, my brother and I enjoy this part of medicine as we love aesthetics and understand proportions and art as a whole.
My brother and I opened a series of clinics in Dubai and London offering cosmetic surgery, however, this year, I opened the Cornerstone Clinic with my wife. Cornerstone Clinic is a multi-specialty centre located in the Grosvenor House Hotel. It offers not only cosmetic surgery services but also other specialties such as rejuvenation, vascular, medical facials, and lasers as well as dental and GP services. We employ an ethical approach towards medicine - this means treating only what is necessary. We treat our patients how we would like to be treated.
We moved into our Palm Jumeirah address in December 2009 and spent our first Christmas in Dubai there. We dreamed of living on the Palm when we were in London. We craved a life by the beach with the chance to see the sea every day. We were really attracted to the lifestyle that the Palm offers. Now we have almost everything here from award-winning restaurants to the convenience of Nakheel Mall and a huge number of hotels to use with Privilee too.
Discovering new countries, cultures, and architecture is an important inspiration in my life. As a teen, I would travel with my family to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore - I fell in love with the visual cultures that I encountered. I think that these experiences filtered into the aesthetic of our environment. It has a colonial Asian feel to it - a mix of East and West that is reflective of who we are as a family. There's also a contemporary twist, palpable in our home.
In terms of furniture, we collected a few items while we were living in London from designers such as Andrew Martin and a few items in the home were wedding gifts. We have paintings from art dealers in London acquired during my time there from relatively well-known living artists. We also collected several cabinets and writing tables from auction houses in London too. Dubai has an ever-expanding market for unique furniture which led us to purchase items locally as well.
For our wedding, my wife’s boss bought us a zebra patterned chair from Andrew Martin, and when we asked why, he told us he purchased the most expensive item on the wedding list so we would never forget him! We also have a sarong stitched in silver from one of the sultans in Malaysia – one of the unique memories of our travels when I was younger.
We tried to incorporate unique pieces of furniture throughout the address but they have to err on the side of practicality as we have four children. Nothing too delicate - we wanted a real home, not a show home.
We have paintings from all over the world including works by Edward Bellamy from Scotland as well as a series of drawings and paintings from Indonesia. Our walls are covered and we have officially run out of wall space!
We didn’t make major renovations to the address when we first moved in but seven years ago we extended the house by adding another bedroom. We changed one balcony into a bedroom giving us 5-bedrooms and updated all of the bathrooms. Most importantly we redesigned the kitchen replacing it with a more contemporary Hacker kitchen. We have bought the extended plot from Nakheel but we haven’t had time to do the garden landscaping yet.
We used to entertain a great deal but in recent years, with the children’s busy schedules this has become more difficult - their school day starts at 630am! We try to eat dinner as a family most evenings. An ideal weekend would see us cook, eat at home, go for walks on the beach or swim in the sea. We actually enjoyed the lockdown period together as we could just do jigsaws, cook, and eat 21 meals together a week as a family.