Mezza House Restaurant Brings the Levantine Landscape Indoors
In a recent renovation project, Pallavi Dean of interior design studio Roar turns Dubai's Mezza House restaurant into a biophilic sanctuary.
“Now more than ever it is essential to call for ‘escapism’ in restaurant design,” says Pallavi Dean, founder of Dubai-based interior design studio Roar. “Creating worlds that have a slightly ethereal edge will make the experience of dining out even more special.” Drawing from the delicate forms and colors found in the surrounding landscape, her recent redesign of Dubai’s popular Mezza House restaurant offers up a pleasant and dream-like environment to enjoy Levantine cuisine—an escape that she describes as “a must for the hospitality sector in these uncertain times.”
Furthering the studio’s fascination with biophilic design principles, Dean relied heavily on the topography of the Yarmouk River Valley which lies on the border of Syria and Jordan. The valley is known for its rich biodiversity and is home to thousands of plant and animal species in Jordan alone. “The river’s surroundings consist of beautiful, infinite plains or flat arid terraces, which are interrupted here and there by waterways…I love how the maze of ravines and sharp crests resemble a lunar landscape,” Dean explains.
The succession of spaces within the restaurant ebbs and flows as visitors navigate various zones filled with bespoke booths, rattan dining furniture, and reclaimed terrazzo floors saved from the existing restaurant. Rather than an open plan, each area functions as an individual part of a symbiotic whole. On the ceiling above, a “labyrinth” of golden pipes extends out from the walls, helping to delineate space and assist in wayfinding. Dean notes, “The pipes draw arch-like compositions across the walls and through the ceiling as though forming a sheltering, peaceful environment for the guests.” From the pipes hang large floral bouquets as well as custom made flower-shaped pendant lights crafted out of gold-tinted aluminum sheeting—a focal point and a material choice that diffuses the warm lighting.
Floral accents appear throughout, notably a polished plaster wall relief depicting a black iris, a rare native flower chosen by the designers as a symbol of resilience. The muted color palette also stems from the Valley’s flora—rose hues evoke the Anatolian Orchid that thrives by the riverfront and the greens are a reference to the Atlantic Pistachio tree.
“If you stand at the bottom of the Yarmouk River Valley and look around your feet, you can see the vibrant colors of the grass…as you gradually raise your eyes to the skies, the palette changes to the more neutral grey and beige rocks at the top of the mountains,” Dean says explaining how color gradation appears throughout the restaurant from the back of the seats to the art placed on the walls.
With the venue overlooking Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa, the designers wanted the view to be accessible to everyone. So, reflective aluminum was added to the remote areas of the space to help mirror Dubai’s iconic cityscape. The lush landscape (both natural and built) and the array of textural inspiration one can get from it, Dean says, is “the designer’s dream.”
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