Creative Clinic converts 7 Elephants lounge into an open retreat in Dubai’s financial district

As soon as you step off the elevator and walk into the terrace that boasts views of the Burj Khalifa and other high rises of Dubai’s skyline, you are greeted by an enormous elephant, marking the entrance to the new, oasis-like bar and lounge that is 7 Elephants.

The lounge is the brainchild of owner Munir Sati. Apparently, the brand was inspired by seven friends who were stock traders and elephants were chosen as their mascot, as they symbolise good fortune.

7 Elephants was once another bar, complete with a heavy use of concrete and steel, and an extremely long and cold terrace. This already presented a challenge to the designers Ceebo Shah and Khalid Sharan, founder of Dubai-based studio Creative Clinic, who were tasked with transforming a uniform, straight-edged space into more dynamic and intimate venue.

“This was our biggest challenge, as the space was one long corridor,” Shah tells Commercial Interior Design. “We created a multi-level, multi-functional space and broke it by inserting small enclaves with comfortable couches that are separated with a lot of foliage and trees. We also added raised wooden flooring to create depth and dimension to a single levelled floor.

“We’ve created different zones throughout the space to give such a large area some intimacy. This is one of the longest bars in the region, and right above it are private lounges with an elegant setting to relax and enjoy a drink with a smaller crowd.”

Upon entering the space, guests are greeted by sprawling green foliage, complimented by scattered couches and a long bar that extends from the beginning to the end of the venue; a contemporary urban oasis.

To further instil this concept, the designers used materials to enhance the laid back yet high-energy atmosphere, using beach wood, concrete, cotton canvases, iron and a lot of foliage.

The lounge space also possesses the distinct feature of blurring indoor and outdoor space. This is created firstly by the extensive use of tropical greenery but also through the installation of 3m collapsible doors that open up to the main patio and bar.

“Once the doors are opened, it is very difficult to recognise where the indoor begins and outdoor ends,” adds Shah.

The space is also rich with sculptures and artwork. One of the notable features is wooden wall cladding installed on one side of the venue, made up of 6x6cm hand-crafted walnut triangles, which form a single, larger cladding.

“Like the rest of the interiors with the hard and soft finishings, it evokes a feeling of old and new converging together,” says Shah.

One thing that should be noted about 7 Elephants is that it is not your typical DIFC establishment. While most bars and lounge venues expect guests to arrive in their finest, 7 Elephants has an all-is-welcome attitude, which it directly communicates with a more affordable and laid-back use of materials and arrangement of space.

According to 7 Elephants’ GM Guy Gavillet, the concept is “a celebration of international influence”.

“The theme runs across our food and beverage offering. The concept is value orientated. Everything in Dubai seems to have the tendency towards fine dining, but we’re not trying to do that,” explains Gavillet.

Shah continues: “We were asked to create a space that was comfortable and upscale in feeling, but at the same time more informal and not intimidating. We believe that an affordable price point should not reflect on the interiors of the space. A person in shorts and a cap is equally welcomed as a person wearing a suit. This space reflects a good casual time in the middle of Dubai’s financial district. Everyone’s welcome.”

Another specifically curated feature is the lighting that allows the space to transform from day to night.

“The LED light balls form an installation that changes and moves throughout the evening, leaving a dynamic and ever-changing space,” says the designer. “The space in the day feels like a beachside jungle oasis in the middle of the city, and as the night progresses, you sense the energy and vibe increase. The lights begin to change, the music becomes slightly louder, but the casual and laid back vibes remain the same.”

The design duo Shah and Sharan prides itself in its distinct designs by combining sophistication with a nod of whimsy and quirkiness. In the past years, the two worked side-by-side on some popular F&B venues in the region, including Vii, The Act, Catch and Blue Marlin Ibiza.

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