Pallavi Dean Interiors designs Entrepreneur Centre for the American University of Sharjah

Sheraa Entrepreneurship Centre at the American University of Sharjah is designed by former AUS student, Pallavi Dean, and her team.

Located at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), Sheraa Center provides support for students to become entrepreneurs after graduating. The design of the centre was completed by Dubai-based designer and AUS alumna Pallavi Dean.

“Everything Sheraa does is student- or entrepreneur-led,” says Najla Al Midfa, general manager of Sheraa. “Our logo was designed by a graduate of AUS, Salem Al Qasimi, founder of Fikra Design Studio, while our co-working space was designed by Pallavi Dean.”

The amphitheatre serves for product and business launches.

The amphitheatre serves for product and business launches.

The design of the space had to be completely flexible, to host a variety of events, ranging from workshops and intimate meetings to large-scale seminars. Together with her team at Pallavi Dean Interiors (PDI), Dean designed a series of collaborative workspaces, casual meeting lounges, seminar rooms, workshop rooms and a quirky amphitheatre for product and business launches.

With the use of vibrant colours in unexpected places, PDI’s interpretation of this entrepreneurship hub has been rendered with a light hand to create an inviting buzz. The corporate colours and graphics are used throughout the space to reinforce the brand, and also serve as playful design statements.

Commenting on the brief, Dean explains that the client wanted a relaxing and comfortable environment that would aid in the flow of ideas and be a place “where the creativity and problem-solving skills of young people could be harnessed to create innovative business ideas”.

The design team divided the large, rectangular volume of the space into sub-areas, which denote functions through the placement of furniture. A curving, white, bean-shaped reception desk sits in the centre, surrounded by various work areas.

On the periphery of the hub, small glass boxes project into the larger space.

On the periphery of the hub, small glass boxes project into the larger space.

“Suspended above, Kvadrat acoustic clouds have been used as a ceiling feature over the main reception area. A space such as this can be quite noisy, so some means of sound absorption is a good idea.

Moreover, the massive faceted shape, in shades of blue and grey, is enhanced by the shadows and light from adjacent tracks, even as it drops down the scale and picks it up again through its undulations,” says Dean.

The wave-like formation also recalls the nautical associations of the brand, since Sheraa means “sail” in Arabic.

“This took a few hours for my colleague, Haniyeh Mansoor, to put together – but she persevered. We were very hands on with the site works for this project,” adds Dean.

The open-plan space is utilised by students, faculty, and entrepreneurs alike to meet. It also incorporates an in-house coffee shop, Blends and Brews. On the periphery of the hub, small boxes project into the larger space, enclosing areas for workshops, meetings, seminars, training, or collaboration. As Dean explains, the firm’s previous experience in education design served the team well on this project.

The Happy Bird by Magis acts as the “design pet” in  the centre.

The Happy Bird by Magis acts as the “design pet” in
the centre.

The concept of navigation and discovery is referenced subtly in the design.

“The interiors are created with multi-functionality at their core – the design narrative revolving around the idea of an entrepreneur’s journey. The entire space is designed to be flexible. The furniture can be easily moved around and re-configured to create private or semi-private spaces as needed by the users,” says Dean.

The classrooms and offices feature custom-designed lockers and upholstered pieces. The flooring is Tarkett vinyl, an acoustic concrete for the main area juxtaposed with wood-effect vinyl in certain sections.

“There is a quirky amphitheatre for product and business launches,” she adds. “We created a tiered, organically shaped object to match the typography of the centre’s logo. This wavy structure is a nod to the concept of seafaring, doubling as a stage for presentations and panel discussions, and has auditorium-style seating for when the centre hosts larger presentations and events.”

Dark grey, circular cushions are movable, adding to the informal feeling of the space. The green wall at the back is graced by recessed spot lights, and a whiteboard wall offers a canvas for brainstorming sessions.

Kvadrat acoustic clouds have been used as a ceiling feature over the main reception area.

Kvadrat acoustic clouds have been used as a ceiling feature over the main reception area.

In the cafeteria, round mirrors suspended at different angles populate the ceiling. Lockers have been custom-designed in the corporate colours, with painted lacquer finger-pulls, while pegs on a wall spell out the corporate logo. Appealing to the youger generation, rocking chairs and swings complete the variety of seating options.

Two large seminar rooms are separated by sliding folding doors to accommodate different-sized workshops and talks. Each room has a colour identity through the use of furniture and the ceiling cut-out within each space.

“In one of the rooms, chairs in three different shades of blue provided cost-effective variety and visual interest,” says Dean.

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One Response to Pallavi Dean Interiors designs Entrepreneur Centre for the American University of Sharjah

  1. Raina Viegas says:

    Great Work Pallavi!

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