Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera is a 350 person restaurant, bar and courtyard in the heart of bustling Dubai, with direct views of the Burj Khalifa and is the only restaurant in the newly opened Dubai Opera space. The venue includes Raw bar, Fire bar, brasserie, main bar, dining areas, private dining, chefs table, external bar and courtyard and dining areas.
Architect: Alexander &CO.
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Team: Jeremy Bull, Sam Birtles, Scott Williams and Anna Trefely
Interior Team: Jay Sethasastrakorn, Rouda Taouk and Sophie Harris
Design Partner: (Tribe Studio) Hannah Tribe, Jeff Grant, Javier Saiz and Miriam Green
Photography: Brooke Holm
From the architect: The restaurant was inspired by the highly irregular shape and scale of the building and tenancy and drew upon Alexander &CO’s personal interest in 20th-century classic design and architecture combined with the oceanic Australian/New Zealand influences of Sean Connolly’s cooking. Each design element within the venue explores ideas of the sea, from the oyster with its combination of smooth sensual surfaces and textured outer surfaces, to the oceanic tones and colours of corals and pearlescent hues.
Vaulted ceiling tiles which reference both the inside of an oyster and the iconic geometries of the Sydney Opera House are jewel like and reflective.
The main spaces are focused upon the central cocktail Pearl Bar, constructed from grey leather, walnut timber and yellow marble. The grey marble banquettes with their pink leather are reminders of the delicate contrasts of the ocean corals and sea creatures while the raw and fire bars remind us of the outer edges of blackened seashells.
In keeping with the Antipodean theme, Jacqui Fink, an international pioneer of “extreme knitting” created a custom 6m high Merino Wool hanging artwork (one of her largest commissions to date) as a nod to the tentacles of sea creatures, delicate and mystical.
Similarly, local Sydney artist Tracey Deep, known for her floral installations using found and native flora created three hanging sculptures curated to the oceanic vision. The custom hand made woollen carpet with its blue dappled tones is a depiction of the ocean waters and was custom designed by Alexander &CO for this venue.
In keeping with the 20th-century design inspirations, the classic Serge Mouille lighting has been custom-made in curving white enamel steel and brass finishes. Similarly, cult 20th-century furniture originals are combined in greens, greys, blues and whites with natural walnut timbers. They are sculptural and feminine and add significant value to the interest of the overall aesthetic.
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