With contemporary décor that nods to an English vintage seaside setting, Geales restaurant in Dubai, designed by LW Design, is far from the style of the original branch, which has been serving fish ‘n’ chips since 1939 in London’s trendy Notting Hill and Chelsea Green. Interior designers Pia Sen and Gina Munro both worked on this project, which won the CID Interior design of the year 2015 award in the Food & Beverage category.
“This outlet is an existing seafood restaurant concept originating from the UK, but it is much bigger. We gave the Dubai version its own identity completely. Throughout there are subtle references to Britain. The vibe is casual but rich in quality with comfy booth and other seating options inside the restaurant as well as outside on the terrace,” explains Sen.
The main design objective for the Dubai outlet, located in Dubai Marina’s Le Royal Meridien Hotel, was to create its own identity while introducing the “all things British” theme. Quirky architectural details and fresh concepts such as 3D tiles and hexagon marble floors are some of many contemporary elements that have been introduced – offering an exciting new dimension to the venue.
“We had to take into consideration the clientele that is staying in the hotel, but Geales has managed to attract the Dubai crowd as well,” comments Munro. “The restaurant has its own entrance so guests don’t have to go through an entire hotel to reach it, which is more appealing for people that live here.”
With the entire space spilling on to the outdoor terrace, designers say it was important to pat attention to furniture, lighting and architectural details ensuring the space felt as one.
“We had a lot of problems with the ceiling heights as this was a refurbishment and we had to take the existing beams into account when designing this,” says Munro. “It meant that in some areas the ceiling had to be reduced quite substantially and we ended up with low ceilings in certain areas, which we feel in hindsight has only added to the atmosphere and ambience of the outlet.”
The colours are black and white with accents of pale blue throughout along with strong graphic marble patterned floors interspersed with dark timber flooring. The colour scheme is the only thing the two venues have in common.
“The one in London has more of a New York Hampton’s style while the one in Dubai is much more vintage. We focused a lot more on using metals,” adds Sen.
White painted panels adorn the walls decorated with framed photos of vintage seaside landscapes.
Industrial pendants have been used throughout and vintage bar stools with leather upholstery are used at all the bar counters inside the restaurant.
Many quirky elements have been introduced – such as the large wing chairs with handwritten recipes of the restaurant food in white and the Union Flag scatter cushions on the banquette seating units.
White ceramic 3D tiles in a Union Flag design are used on the seafood counter and the wine bar is clad in black hexagonal leather tiles set into a slightly antiqued brass frame.
“We particularly love the 3D tiles on the seafood counter supplied by the UK company Gilles Miller. The tiles are extremely versatile and by just turning these you can create various different textural designs. As this restaurant is a British seafood with an emphasis on “all things British” we used these tiles to create the Union Jack flag in a series of white on white panels to the counter front,” says Munro.
Polished stainless steel fish sculptures were commissioned from an Australian artist and take pride of place in select niches inside the restaurant and on plinths on the outside terrace.
Overlooking the hotel’s gardens, the outdoor terrace acts as an extension of indoor space, but it has the more modern and slick look. Designers have chosen stylish furniture by Spanish brand Kettal and custom-made pendant lights by Preciosa, the well-known Czech lighting manufacturer.
“The Geales restaurant is actually really popular for its outdoor area, which can be used both during the daytime and at night,” says Sen. “The outdoor lighting is my favourite feature.”
Commenting on current design trends in the region’s highly competitive F&B market, Munro says: “Informal and inviting spaces are becoming increasingly popular. F&B interiors are channeling a much more casual feel when it comes to the application of finishes and furniture combined. Today’s menus, as well as the food presentation, are designed around a “sharing” concept encouraging people to experiment more whilst the standard three-course approach remains in the more traditional fine dining.”