Early in 2017, Dubai Holding moved its headquarters from the Emirates Towers to an all-purpose campus opposite the iconic Burj Al Arab. We viewed a company moving its HQ as a special, rare event. We not only crafted a compelling, immersive, informative brand-centric experience but capitalised on the opportunity to transcend bricks and mortar by using design to “shift and nurture” the internal culture, to align with the brand’s transformative positioning and to instil into everyone that entered the space that “We are Dubai Holding & we are Dubai”. Of course everything was wrapped up in a design solution that befitted the catalyst behind Dubai’s success.
The epicentre of our proposal was to celebrate the visionary, the art of dreaming and thus create a truly ethereal space. Accomplishing this meant every single element was bespoke. 5.3k of hand cut, hand finished copper rods of differing lengths were suspended from 4km of framework below undulating MEP. Each fitted with a precisely mounted, controllable LED slowly chasing in unison like wind blowing an oasis reed bed. We contoured the entire building in 2km of custom LED that settled the newcomer into its premium neighbourhood. Five faceted Corian plinths dance through the space and bestow a wealth of custom content taking months to sort and assemble, each piece meticulously identified by hand and planned in 2D & 3D software ensuring the perfect narrative and placement.The plinths were encompassed by hand painted tension-controlled string walls broadcasting brand-centric messages that manifest themselves into and out of visibility like quantum strings. Additionally hundreds of stained, printed ply slats and meticulous string sculptures/ infographics tell the tale of local and global economic diversification.
DH is an investment conglomerate with a human mandate. To diversify Dubai’s economy away from oil and to futureproof the city against the unknown “For the Good of Tomorrow”. This industrial intent set against a human net benefit was represented by the juxtaposition of cold, hard concretes and metallics with warmer ply, polished copper, fabric and a riot of coloured content set upon walls and within crisp angled plinths that fold through the space implying the constant momentum and progress DH enables. The expansive copper LED lighting feature uniting the main space was inspired by oasis reeds blowing in the wind. Yet this is more than an interior/ exterior design, it’s a space with a story to tell, one that benefits all those that reside in this city and spans decades. The vast amount of information on display throughout the space saw hundreds of iterations, involving specialists on three continents in two languages.
Being a space with a messaging agenda to convey, the DHHQ was designed more akin to a museum interior. All graphics are updateable, new “ticks”, ply slats, graphics, info panels and world destinations can be added to the Archive Wall at any time as projects are realised. The plinths themselves allow for the tray interiors to be raised or lowered as required as the months and years pass, information changes and different sized artefacts are accommodated. The fabric panels can be swapped in, out or moved along as nothing is permanently fixed inside the plinths for maximum adaptability. All LED lights both internal and external are controllable via an app and whilst generally running at 15% power they dim with the surrounding environment to save power and as a whole are powered themselves by exterior solar panels. The result is a space where change was considered to be the only constant. A space that both physically and informatively flexes, folds and grows as both Dubai and Dubai Holding do. Dubai has witnessed a meteoric rise over the last two decades and if Dubai Holding have anything to do with it, that trait isn’t likely to abate any time soon.
Our design intent centred around creating ‘shifts’. Specifically two in this case.
1) To reposition the brand in the hearts and minds of all those that enter the space from somewhat of an unknown entity to the catalyst behind Dubai’s success and creating the haven of stability that we all call home today.
2) To capitalize upon the move whilst creating a space capable of inspiring and rallying the troops towards a rejuvenated internal culture. By bringing employees closer to the iconic results that their day-to-day work enables, it reminds them of the fact they’re a small yet crucial cog in the juggernaut of progress and success that Dubai Holding has become.