Jeff opens the doors to his 'restrained industrial' home in Dubai Marina
Words by Aneesha Rai in Portfolio · Nov. 28th, 2022
In this edition of 'Open House', we come across a very rare and uniquely designed Dubai Marina podium home designed by Suman Tahani-Aggarwal - the lighting designer & art consultant, and Jeff, the owner. Both of them have worked together to create a home reminiscent of what we call a 'man cave', but reasonably pared back and undeniably stylish and well put together in an industrial setting set against the gorgeous Dubai Marina as a backdrop. Despite the industrial touches and kudos to various masculine tones, the home exudes warmth with a playful touch of 'Hermes orange', tasteful art, and well-accoladed furniture pieces.
Jeff: Our first step when the house was bought was carrying out an entire reconfiguration of the ground floor space. When we first moved in, all the top windows were covered, allowing very little light to fall into the space. The ceiling was quite low too. So we took out all the services - the tanks and air conditioning included. This wasn't just a refurb job, we went back to shell and core. So everything's new, including the electrics, the plumbing, and the air conditioning, complete with Nest air conditioning controllers, and wi-fi throughout the house with multiple access points. We now have floor-to-ceiling windows, which made a huge difference. It took us four months to secure the permissions and then eight months to complete the changes.
We wanted an industrial feel to pervade the space and so we've used composite tiles with a concrete look to evoke that effect. We've also used different types of marble throughout the home. We used Serengeti marble in the kitchen and Brazilian blue sodalite in the master bathroom.
Suman is the one who really helped curate the whole space together, whereas I was more focused on the construction side of the home. We carried over the style from our London home in terms of look and feel.
Suman: If I were to define the design of the house, I would call it "restrained industrial", because it's not raw industrial, but a lot more groomed than that. I would call it restrained because it does have exposed pipes, which Jeff loves.
Jeff has a penchant for the colour orange. There's something about the color orange when it's late at night, it's so magical and set against dark colors, it just is amazing. He adores orange accents.
Suman: I'm in the art world, so the art is all from the gallery that I had in Singapore for 15 years. I got Jeff into art and we sort of created the space around the paintings. It was about identifying the key walls and then playing with everything around it, so we created niches where necessary. We have a piece from F.N. Souza, who is one of the Indian trinity masters in the 1950s-60s. With the colours, everything started to come together. We added track lighting because when you see this space at night, it is so seductive because the art pops. I created layers of light so that it's almost like taking your eye for a walk; we made sure it wasn't flat lighting. All the lighting is from Luna Lighting in the UK.
In the living space, there's a lot of general light, so I used different circuits to work with it. There's an art circuit that shutters light up really magically at night and we've got a spotlight onto the table which also functions as both a pool/dining table with Bo Concept chairs. The space is very much like a man cave, but then it's not as raw or as dark as a man cave usually is. It's quite magical but fairly minimalist, and I think the exposed pipes and the lighting makes it quite a funky space. The sofa is from Roche Bobois and the vintage French club mustache chairs were picked up in London and then dyed black to work as a contrast. The coffee table is from Bo Concept and the TV cabinet was custom-made.
In terms of the detailing, there was a lot of discipline in the piping. The problem with a really industrial look is it can be very raw and almost rough. But when you have when you think it through and you do it properly, then you need to make it a lot more aesthetically pleasing.
Jeff: My favourite space in the home is the living room because I love the high ceilings and the breathable space. It also has gorgeous views of the marina. It's contrary to the space we had in London because the living room in London was very similar, but it didn't have views. We always used to question why nobody wanted to sit there, and it was exactly the same as this. The energy of the space changes with being next to the water and the greenery.
Jeff: On the ground floor, we took out the maid's room, brought in the utility room, and utilised the space under the stairs to create a kitchen and tea room. The piece de resistance is the wonderful reclaimed 170-year-old driftwood from Italy we've used in the kitchen with fit-outs from Casa Mia. We have a Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf appliances hidden behind the wood and plenty of storage space and installed a Quooker tap. We also have a wine cooler included within the space.
Suman: Upstairs, Jeff has reconfigured all the bathrooms. He likes slightly darker spaces, which we led with. We used beautiful filament lamps in the master bedroom, plenty of floor-to-ceiling wardrobe space, and of course, his Eames chair.
We converted the landing to a study with an attached bathroom. The second bedroom has a feature wood chip finish wall that carries the whole industrial feel with the hanging suspended lights. Every room has got its own personality, the other bedroom has more of a stone look. The attached bathroom has a punched metal look; all the material of which is from Casa Mia.
What we have ended up with is really good-sized bedrooms and four bathrooms and plenty of light coming in from the windows on both sides. All the bathrooms have sanitary ware including the brands like Geberit and Gessi.
Jeff: I also love my bedroom and master bathroom - everything is where it should be. When you wake up in the morning, all the water reflections trickle into the room, which is really nice.