Sydney-based Alexander &CO and Tribe Studio have collaborated on the recently opened Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera, a spectacular restaurant and bar with an external sky garden. The 350-person venue comprises a Raw bar, Fire bar, brasserie, dining areas, private dining, chefs table and external bar & dining areas. The restaurant was inspired by the highly irregular shape and scale of the base building, and draws upon the design team’s personal interest in 20th Century Design Classics combined with the oceanic Australian/ New Zealand influences of Sean Connolly’s cooking.
Each design element within the venue explores ideas of the sea – from the oyster with its combination of smooth sensual surfaces and textured outer surfaces, to the oceanic tones and colours of corals and pearlescent hues. Utilising vaulted ceiling tiles which reference both the inside of an oyster and the Sydney Opera House sails, the main spaces are focused upon the central cocktail Pearl Bar, constructed from grey leather, walnut timber and yellow marble.
The grey marble and pink leather banquettes are reminders of the delicate contrasts of the ocean corals and sea creatures, while the raw and fire bars remind us of the outer edges of blackened seashells. Jacqui Fink, an international pioneer of ‘extreme knitting’ created a custom Merino Wool hanging artwork. The wool, sourced from Australia and New Zealand, is reminiscent of the tentacles of sea creatures, delicate and mystical. Similarly, local Sydney artist Tracey Deep has created three hanging sculptures that respond to the overall oceanic vision. Deep is well known for her floral installations using found objects that celebrate Australia’s native flora.
The custom handmade woollen carpet with its blue dappled tones is a depiction of the ocean waters and was custom designed by Alexander &CO for the venue. In keeping with the 20th Century design inspirations, the classic Serge Mouille lighting has been custom made in curving white enamel steel and brass finishes. Similarly, cult 20th Century furniture originals are combined in greens, greys, blues and whites with natural walnut timbers. Deliberately sculptural and feminine, these pieces add significant value to the interest of the overall aesthetic.