Ahmed Sultan's duplex apartment in DIFC has a playful take on design & art
Words by Aneesha Rai in Portfolio · Jun 19th, 2023
Drawing inspiration from his rich culture and design instincts, Ahmed Sultan embarked on a journey to craft and curate his duplex in DIFC. Collaborating closely with Finasi for the design and fit-out, and Smart Idea for the customised furniture, he skillfully formed an environment that not only magnifies the breathtaking vistas of the apartment; but also reflects his vibrant personality. Infusing the residence with delightful bursts of color through art, Ahmed ensured that the space exudes a playful ambience, perfectly suited to his lifestyle.
Ahmed: I moved to Dubai in 2011 and was essentially living in a hotel for five years or so. I started looking for homes in 2016-17 and came across this apartment on the 40th floor. The day I came to view it, it was a beautiful winter day with rain, beautiful clouds, and a storm underway. The view was incredible - you could have seen all the way to the Palm Jumeirah. Just seeing the sea, and the surrounding landscape was a huge draw for me, so I decided to buy it and maximize this in a renovation, which took a year from start to finish.
Most of the duplexes in this building start with the entrance at the bottom and rooms at the top, but this is one of the two duplexes in the building that is the reverse, which is what I actually preferred. We stripped the whole space down to shell-and-core and created an open-plan Molteni & C Dada kitchen and a living space. One of the things that I was very picky about was having a modern, livable, branded Italian kitchen. Given my background and the fact that I'm half Italian and grew up in Milan; good design and furniture are important to me. I worked with Finasi's Daniel Badr, the design division head to make the house in a 'New York loft style'; but at the same time retaining some cosiness and warmth.
There was this void on the side near the stairs and I wanted to create a glass floor to 1: maximize the space; and 2: to view downstairs. I then added all the black mullions to the windows, which enunciate the views, especially at night. It makes a huge difference when you're looking out to see the views at night, the mullions seem to disappear and it creates a really seamless effect.
Downstairs, there is a less formal living space and three bedrooms, two of which are ensuite. The furniture is obviously a key part of the entire space. Most of the items are branded furniture from the likes of Armani/Casa, Molteni, B&B Italia, and Gandia Blasco. The entire home is powered by smart technology - from the lights to the screens and locks. All the bathrooms have been renovated.
Thanks to my mother who was a modern contemporary art collector, I grew up with a passion for art. We always used to travel to exhibitions and go to MoMA in New York. I like colorful art and my favorite artist is Keith Herring, whose accessories you can spot around the house. I also like fun, provocative art; so there is a lot of 'boxed-in art' from an Egyptian pop artist called Nadine Farouk, whose work I love.
I do have a passion for golf, so I do have some astro turf downstairs to practice my putting stroke along with some golf accessories.
My 'house style' can be described as modern, playful, and contemporary. I believe in the 'stay young, stay foolish' mentality - it is always within me. I think that you never have to lose that. Even as we grow older and become more serious, I think keeping that young ethos inside you is important. I never lost touch to what I was inspired by when I was a kid or a teenager. So I think the house in some aspects reflects that as well.
My favourite spot in the house is downstairs, where I have my Eames Vitra chair and Armani/Casa LOGO lamp. I like sitting in the dark or with a very diffused light. Sometimes I turn the chair around and I look at the view. When I come home from work or after the gym and I'm winding down from the stress of the day, this is the space that I end up in. It's also where you would find me reading a book or watching TV. Every time I look at this corner, the softness of the whole area put together gives me peace.
The Eames Vitra chair is an original and was in a home we had in Italy; it was from my mother and it got passed on to me. The soft touches come from the Armani/Casa LOGO lamp. I was raised in Milan and Mr. Armani is one of the pioneers of design that I looked up to while living there. We were actually next-door neighbours! A lot of the pieces like the chair, the rug, and the lights are from Armani/Casa, which is the furniture brand that he started. I really like the way he lights spaces - their warm effect and designs are timeless. These are the two pieces that carry a strong sentimental value to me; they go where I go.
I love living in DIFC because it's the centre of everything. It has amazing nightlife and dining concepts and is quite walkable all year round; as this building is connected to DIFC Gate Avenue through a bridge.