Entrepreneur Leith Matthews and Hudson Design & Interiors creates a contemporary business hub & cafÉ in Dubai Marina
Steve Hudson is the product of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s YTS (youth training scheme) set up in 1983 as an on-the-job training course for school leavers.
He started working for a kitchen company before joining designer Mark Wilkinson, known as the ‘Mozart of Kitchen Cabinet Makers’ and now owns Hudson Design & Interiors (HDI), which carries out project management and interior design services for homes, offices, restaurants and corporate fit-outs.
He recently collaborated with entrepreneur Leith Matthews and Neotech fit-out company to complete MAKE business hub, located on the first floor of Al Fattan Towers, Dubai Marina, a Wi-Fi café for the mobile worker in a cool, inspiring urban space.
Tell me about MAKE business hub? MAKE Business Hub is the brainchild of Leith Matthews. He and his partners approached me last May with their idea of creating a business hub café with a difference. They gave me a brief of their concept, the ethos behind it and what the brand stood for.
HDI created 3D images and design samples for the space, including the centre desks and ‘S’ shaped window seating, and took it from there. Our main stumbling block was the approval process, which was slow and frustrating but it has a unique design of desks and furniture which you can’t find elsewhere in Dubai and was designed locally around the client’s brief.
Matthews researched his target market – the mobile worker community – before pinning down his design concepts. He wanted the hub to appeal to young entrepreneurs, creative professionals and freelancers who enjoy working outside the traditional Sunday-Thursday, 9am-5pm environment.
As visitors enter the space, the café segment is immediately visible, with a six-metre long espresso bar and high stools with red, white and black tops lined up in front. Shelves don’t line the wall behind the bar – everything is stored behind the table – but a large lighting installation is the highlight. Spelled out with lightbulbs is the word “MAKE” to emphasise the branding.
It’s a stripped down area, with an industrial feel.
Matthews wanted to strip down this area on purpose because he was on a budget and said the exposed cement gave it an urban touch and saves money.
The café is similar to something you would find in Australia or Europe. The design works around the structural elements of the space, which, while largely open, features a central pillar.
Working as a dividing point between café and workspace, a shelving system was installed around the pillar to double up as a library. Books and magazines related to technology, design and entrepreneurship are stacked here, with soft seating placed on either side.
The area facing the full-length glass windows is meant to be the work space. The amoeba-shaped tables, with seating for four, were custom-designed by HDI after Matthews’ research. The design of the table is such that a group of up to four people can work as ‘a micro-agency’. Each seating section provides enough space for one person, a mouse, laptop, notebooks and storage.
There is a powerpoint per person, a light and a chair ergonomic to the table. A line of two-seater ‘S’-shaped chairs line the windows, where one person faces the other.
These pieces were suggested by Matthews and produced locally in Al Quoz. They have small table tops and were created with the idea of sending emails or having a one-to-one conversation.
Four meeting pods line the other side of the room. Three of them feature full-length glass windows, white walls and bench-style seating. The fourth pod has a chalkboard on the wall for conceptual meetings, with geometric-design chairs possessing a cement base.
The only structural change which was made to the venue was building a room for the kitchen.