A taste of Iraq

Janan Khammo, set up PDL (Progetti Di Lusso) Interiors in 2007, having worked as an architect in Dubai for the last 15 years with companies such as DEPA and Kocache Enterprises.

His fit-out projects include the Sheraton Bahrain, Sheikh Marwan Al Maktoum Palace, Grand Hyatt, Dubai and the Kempinski Hotel, at the Mall of the Emirates.

He currently employs 60 craftsmen and 15 engineers at a factory that specialises in custom made fit-in joinery and loose furniture with an in-house design team working on concept presentation, design modification, coordination and perspectives.

His company was asked to design the 470m² Samad Restaurant at Beach Park Plaza, Jumeirah, using the theme of Iraqi architecture, providing authentic traditional food and furniture within a related mood/atmosphere.

This idea was generated and developed after the huge success of the first Samad Restaurant built in Deira in 2005, also designed by PDL Interiors.

“At that time, the intention was to attract an Iraqi clientele, where the majority of people were located in Sharjah, as well as people who pass by and tourists,” said Khammo.

“In our new Jumeirah branch the clientele are meant to be different; the majority are UAE citizens and expats, but we also wanted to appeal to various diplomatic corps, delegates and visitors to Dubai World Trade Centre exhibitions, in addition to the Iraqi society, living in Abu Dhabi.

“For most of the Iraqi community in UAE, Samad Restaurant has become a landmark, a gathering place, a venue for celebrations. Based on those targeted clientele, we made our designs and controlled our finishes to achieve the quality of interiors intended.”

Khammo said from an architect’s point of view, the design requirements set up by the management for Samad was like a ‘dream come true’ and an ‘architects playground’.

He said the team started the design process by exploring all possibilities for selecting the correct architectural vocabulary from an Iraqi dictionary of architectural details through to learning more about the history of Mesopotamian architecture.

“In our design we have emphasised certain elements, such as the flat dome, which is usually used in the basements of traditional houses, mashrabia (in Iraq those are called shanashil) which are basically windows overlooking the path ‘darboona’ outside,” he said.

“The coloured windows (fretwork) called the URSI, which represent big windows covering the whole span of a wall with coloured glass, are used in the guest reception room on the upper floor, giving a warmth and privacy to the house residents.

“Most important of all is the building materials, the bricks (masonry work) with all its intriguing details, used either for structural or ornamental purposes next to the wood work.”

Khammo believes that to achieve an aesthetically sound authentic design, it needs to make the whole space look as if it was actually built in the traditional method of Iraqi design.

“There should not be any ‘stick on’, ‘faux paint’ or ‘decorative pieces’. In our design you feel that the ‘décor’ is the side product, which is revealed through the genuine authentic sophisticated structural technique,” he added.

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