Animal magic

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Lesley Zaal, of Etcetera Living, designs the interiors of eco-friendly restaurant, The Farm

Etcetera Living was set up by Marie-Inez Botha and Lesley Zaal in 2003. Botha won CID Young Designer of the Year in 2008 and the firm has twice appeared in the Andrew Martin Design Review.

Since then, the firm has grown from a team of two to more than 30 people. The pair began doing small projects, apartments and villas before being approached by Jumeirah Beach Hotel to renovate The Apartment and to turn the little used bar at the end of the jetty into the institution now known as 360.

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They then worked on the renovation of Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Beachcombers restaurant. Botha left the company in January this year.

“Our big break came with the Al Barari villas where I was involved in the selection of materials for the interiors of the villas. Every detail was looked at from the taps to the roof tiles. Once the options for clients were decided and the show villas built we began the interior decoration. Each villa was designed in different styles so that every client would find something that appealed to their individual taste,” said Zaal.

Its latest project was to design the interiors for The Farm, an eco-conscious concept restaurant, which champions fresh, locally sourced produce set in the heart of the 14.2 million square foot Al Barari residential development, in the royal enclave of Nad Al Sheba, Dubai.

Zaal said the design had a specific brief — it had to be contemporary, with a relaxed feel and completely different to anything in Dubai. This theme runs throughout from the interiors to the menu and the outdoor decking area.

“The concept was to have a restaurant primarily for the residents but one that was also open to members of the public. I also had to consider the practicality of the venue as a major factor because lots of children will visit the restaurant with their families,” said Zaal.

“As the restaurant prides itself on serving pure, fresh produce the décor had to reflect the “back to nature” feel but have a contemporary feel at the same time. The client wanted the restaurant to blend seamlessly with the gardens and yet be contemporary.

A feeling of openness had to be achieved and as practicality was an important requirement (no designs which would look dated two years from now) and more importantly, furniture which offered comfort and ease of maintenance, it still had to offer something different for guests.”

The designer said she got her inspiration from the surroundings of Al Barari itself — the greenery, water and birdlife.

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