The Secret Room

Designed by: Studio Paolo Ferrari
For client: FIVE Holdings Floor area: 238.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for:

About the Project

Tasked with reinterpreting the classic speak easy, our client was keen to create an unexpected, destination bar. Deep within the Five Hotel, Palm Jumeriah, Dubai, guests arrive to The Secret Room via an underground passage, hidden behind an unmarked door and accessed by a fingerprint scanner. Our intent was to design an engaging and memorable space, experiential and not perceived as too precious. A bar is the ultimate in escapism and we were not interested in simply producing an indulgent environment. Hand finished, carved wood detailing is contrasted with sculptural forms and contemporary materiality. The bar, dynamic and fluid, was conceived as an architectural anchor to the space. The luminous metallic finish of the bar is reiterated in the sculpted host and DJ stations, while the cast clear resin pedestal drink tables are liquid in shape. One of the most unexpected areas is the restrooms. Envisioned as immersive and dimensional, the small footprint of the restroom is purely experiential. One moves through the dimly lit paneled corridor to emerge into the visually expansive restroom. The final results are spellbinding and inspired in part by Stanley Kubrick’s iconic take on futurism.

What’s unique about it

Tasked to create a destination bar, located deep within the lower level of the Five Hotel, structural constraints and access were an ongoing challenge. We were continually making slight modifications to the design in order to maximize every half inch. Mirrors were used to visually expand the space and minimize the visual impact of the massive structural beams and columns supporting the hotel above. As well, many of the design ideas were extremely complex. The bar alone was 3D modelled by our team in detail to ensure all functional components were seamlessly integrated. We tasked our fabricator to retain a Rhino technician, allowing us to release 3D files that could then move directly to specialized C&C fabrication. The restroom flooring was also a significant challenge. From lighting and access, to executing the perfect glass finish that would offer enough texture and slip resistance without impacting the visual impact of the design. We were pushing the limits of the local talent. Our construction team was committed, but the project as a whole was extraordinarily complex given its small scale. Authenticity was our goal and we retained the top fabricators globally. The clear resin tables and the smoked oak flooring were fabricated in UK, the bar was produced in the UAE and the large-scale hand painted artwork was completed in Canada over a period of 6 months.

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