When my Fronteriors business partner asked me to collaborate on a large commercial design project she had just landed with her Interior styling company, Live Loud Girl, I thought she’d had a temporary lapse of sanity. She signed us up for designing and installing 20 hotel apartments ranging in size from one to four bedrooms at the beautiful new Zaya Al Barari hotel and residential complex. All to be completed in the space of six weeks. Thanks, Linda! That was back in February and we were initially due to handover the completed apartments by March. It was a mammoth task to begin with, but we were blissfully unaware of what 2020 was about to unleash.
Our teams wasted no time in joining forces and getting started on the design work. Aside of the obvious challenge with the tight timeframe, the project had a few other hurdles for us. Firstly, when we commenced design work, the development was in the final stages of construction and we couldn’t visit every apartment, so we had to design off-plan. Whilst this is not something unusual, there is no real substitute for actually being able to stand within the walls that you are designing and it would always be our first choice. The next challenge was the budget, which relative to the number of spaces we had to install, was far from generous. We had to design smartly and efficiently – a challenge we actually love. To address the said obstacles, we planned the spaces with modular furniture pieces, where possible, so that if something didn’t quite fit in a particular apartment, it could easily be moved and used elsewhere. We also had to source locally to avoid lead times and shipping costs.
Back in late February / early March, COVID-19 was something we were aware of, but we had no idea of how quickly it would escalate and change the world as we know it. As the virus hit Dubai and the rest of the world, completion of the apartments was delayed.
Thankfully, when the stay home orders and subsequent lockdowns were initiated, we had already completed the designs and almost all of the procurement for the project. Whilst this was a huge win, it also meant that we were not able to be on site when the mass deliveries were carried out. Understandably, this caused somewhat of a logistical nightmare for us when we were later able to access the site.
We essentially had a 1000+ piece jigsaw puzzle to solve before we could get the installation. We had to locate the apartments where things had been stored – and there were many – followed by dispatching the furniture and accessories to their designated locations. It was now June and temperatures had soured to 40+ degrees. Throw in manually operated service elevators and social distancing initiatives and air-conditioning not yet running in most of the apartments and you’ve got yourself one hell of an installation party. Let’s just say the masks and gloves were not a fun addition to the many long, hot and challenging days on site.
Despite the really trying working conditions, we had such fun working with the Live Loud Girl team on this project. I think we all amazed ourselves at how quickly and efficiently (if I dare say so) we were able to turn the design and procurement portions of the project around – particularly in light of the scale.
Now that it’s all done, we are excited to give you a look into these holiday apartments. And since ‘staycations’ are the only travel options for us this year, I’m feeling rather tempted to check into one myself.
As the Live Loud Girl team so aptly put it, ‘now that this military operation is done and dusted, we have renewed confidence that we can function in the most bizarre times and situations. And that is the beauty of our job: it is never the same. Hopefully this tour makes you feel the heat, the sweat and the passion that we put into it. Because, no matter what the circumstances are, this is what we love doing.’