Local Meets Oriental Design
Mandarin Oriental Doha is one of the new hospitality properties within Msheireb Downtown that writes the story of a unique interior language that is understated in its opulence and superior in its material play.
Entering the Msheireb Downtown is like being transported into a utopian dream, one that is just on the verge of taking us to the perfect city setting in a desert country. The buildings are close to each other making walking through the area, a delight even in the hot seasons. Walking through Msheireb is a pleasure, with water bodies and well-landscaped interludes along with breaks in the pathway with steps and interesting street art along the way. The buildings follow a strict architectural elevation, one that is soothing to the eye as it follows the master plan. It is the interiors that make each building stand out from the rest. Mandarin Oriental is one such property within the confines of Msheireb, following the elevation set but letting the design reins lose for interiors that are simple in its conceptualisation and stunning in totality.
Mandarin Oriental in Doha is located in the centre of Msheireb Downtown Doha and overlooks the Barahat Msheireb town square, the newest landmark for the city and is within walking distance to cultural hotspots such as Souq Waqif and Museum of Islamic Art. The Mandarin Oriental is a luxury hotel brand with a rich Asian heritage that is renowned for creating unique hotels through distinctive design and a strong sense of place. Luxury hotels right for their time and place.
Scale takes the tour of Mandarin Oriental with Shaikha Al Sulaiti, Manager – Interior Design, Msheireb Properties, who is a true Doha product, by birth and education, and is like a whiff of fresh energy, passionate about the design world and true to the role she has to play in the country’s developments. The design of the interiors was conceptualised by David Collins Studios, a London-based firm but Msheireb’s design team were at hand during every step to make the process of design translation to reality, as seamless as possible.
“The client brief was for the interiors to be unique and to reflect both the local influence and traditional architecture as well as maintain the oriental influence that the Mandarin Oriental brand is famous for,” explains Shaikha about the design process, “Msheireb Properties’ design language is mainly simple in order to let the beauty of the materials stand out. We therefore focused on the proper selection and sourcing of materials to achieve this.”
The interiors of Mandarin Oriental is subtle in its opulence. The lobby area is a culmination of various facets, all of which, while giving the Mandarin Doha a sense of the hotel’s signature branding, does not forget to implement the sense of place, the Doha-touch that makes each of the Mandarin product distinctive. The fan-like imprint, the Mandarin autograph, is finished using wood straw marquetry and is fixed on a metal frame that runs the height of the lounge area. Straw marquetry is an art of applying pieces of veneer with imprints in straw to form decorative patterns. A craft that is thought to have first been practiced in the East. The straw marquetry continues to the lounge seating inside as an accent.
Another feature that runs through the property is the use of a representative art of the sand dune in POP that becomes the ceiling and also teams with the marquetry feature in the metal frame. The backdrop of the check-in-counter is a panel of black lacquer with mother of pearl inlays, indiscreetly placed, occupying the entire back wall, giving an overall effect that is refined and classy. The countertop is another design brilliance, a black polished stone with a copper finished highlight on wood.
“The patterns and all local and oriental influences are subtle and abstract,” explains Shaikha. “This is what adds more beauty to the final product. Elements such as the sand dune pattern are very subliminal in order for it to be more of a decorative feature and blend well with the rest of the interior. Other subtle elements include the studs on the walls within the guest rooms that act as a reminder to the brass pins that decorated traditional doors and wooden chests.”The rooms at offer, range from superior to deluxe rooms and then bringing the topmost luxurious products through its Baraha View Suite that overlooks the town square with an exclusive private majlis. These elegant suites feature an entrance foyer, sitting and dining areas, as well as a master bedroom, study and entertainment room. Bathrooms are laid with fine Italian marble and one thing they do not lack is space.
Subtle Qatari inspired elements like the sand dune designs in POP on the roof continue to the back walls, beautiful Italian marble, hand-crafted mosaic tiles, intricate latticework and furniture that is designed for the space makes up this cozy interior which somehow gives the sense of belonging to the Qatari as well as the travelling guests.
Product design seems to have been a science that was well-researched and designed to fit into this well-scripted plan of the property. The circular tables within the rooms, the muted chairs and seating in the lobby area all follow the general design ethos of less is more.
“The colour palette is tone-on-tone, which again allows the beauty of the materials to be expressed fully. All the furniture in the guest rooms are custom-made for the hotel – which adds to the uniqueness of the overall property. The circular writing desk, for example, doubles as a dining table,” explains Shaikha.
The restaurant spaces are a little more colourful and move away from the strict refined beauty of the common areas as well as the rooms. The play of colours in the form of chairs and the oriental inspired vases add a small dash of playfulness in the Mandarin Lounge space. Another colour splash on the wall of Izu, the modern Mediterranean all-day dining option is one that greets you as you enter the interiors. A wall of blue-green mosaic tiles brings in the sea element that is another Doha-centric feature.
“The unique architectural language of the whole of Msheireb Downtown development is very simple and rich – drawing on some of the traditional inspirations and local architecture. With every interior space within Msheireb Downtown, we aimed to create a seamless transition between exterior and interior.”
“Most if not all, the design features are relevant to the surrounding traditional architecture, which reinforces the spirit of Msheireb Downtown Doha with its new architectural language inspired by the past,” she says.