“We wanted to provide a Manhattan experience with Mayfair finishes, right here in the heart of Dubai,” claims Raju Shroff, director of Signature Developers, which is making its foray into the UAE’s luxury property market with The 118 in Downtown Dubai. A personal tour through the two show apartments lends his claim credence – but only once I amable to locate the unmarked, single-lane entrance, rendered more confusing still by a directional arrow that points the wrong way.
The luxury condominium tower comprises 28 residences, including two duplex penthouses and 26 single-storey, four-bedroom apartments, which are priced at a staggering Dh22 million a pop. Although property prices in Dubai are reportedly on the downslide, the developers believe the luxury-home segment operates within its own rarefied framework. Case in point: half of The 118’s apartments have already been sold.
The homes have a whole floor to themselves and are available in two formats: classic and contemporary. Accordingly, the two show apartments, which have been designed by Lebanon’s Studio Dori Hitti Architects, have been mocked up in both styles, right down to the modern or antiquated ironmongery on the door knobs.
Designer Dori Hitti offers tips on creating these two very different design aesthetics. “The classic-themed interiors feature curvilinear designs – rounded ceilings and the like – in a warmer palette and marble flooring throughout.
“Meanwhile, the contemporary-themed interiors have rectilinear forms in a cooler palette; and parquet flooring in the bedrooms and marble flooring in the living and public areas. All units feature stone and pearlescent finishes, with timeless neutral colour palettes,” he explains.
'Designer furniture gives the house a personality'
While the units are available unfurnished, the show apartments come equipped with high-end furniture from Fendi Casa, Roberto Cavalli Home and Gianfranco Ferre Home. These designer accessories are in line with 118’s promise to offer potential buyers with some of the most luxurious interior options available on the market.
From the singular pieces of artwork and sculptures (many from Al Quoz’s 1x1 Art Gallery), to the opulent chandeliers and state-of-the-art gadgetry, the show homes are striking without being over the top. Units that come fitted with these furnishing options will set buyers back by between Dh25 million and Dh28 million.
“The right fixtures and fittings play an important role,” says Shroff. “Designer furniture gives the house a personality, makes it stand out from other properties and reflects the lifestyle of the residents. Most owners of such homes are proud of their living space, and love hosting and entertaining their family and friends or business associates in it. The pieces [we have selected] not only look great, but are also functional and provide the utmost comfort.”
Hitti adds: “Designer furniture gives a house its own identity. Every single detail, whether it’s a piece of furniture, texture, finishes or paint colour, plays a vital role in making the house distinctive.”
Some of the pieces on display include: full-length mirrors, bedside table lamps, chandeliers and arm chairs from Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors; Fendi Casa rugs, mirrors and bedsteads; and Gianfranco Ferre beds, pillows, comforters side tables and stools. Kitchen appliances, which come affixed in each unit, are from German brands Miele and SieMatic, and include a two-door fridge, one-door freezer, plush cabinetry and a flame-topped gas hob.
The building's public areas
This lavishness extends to the building’s public areas, where a custom-made light installation from Italy’s Preciosa Lighting in the lobby makes a fitting first impression. The 1,600-kilogram objet d’art is crafted from Bohemian crystal, light amber and smoky taupe glass. “The brief was to create the dancing tentacles of an octopus. This unique piece represents both form and function, completes the look and shape of the atrium, and is in keeping with the flowing water installations,” says Sarah Hamid, project director at California’s Hirsch Bedner Associates, which designed the lobby and other common areas.
Further up, the community living floor features a gym overlooking the nearly Olympic-sized pool, which in turn has a wraparound jogging track. A spa and lounge room make up the rest of this level, which, surprisingly, does not have a dedicated space for a children’s play area, so common in even regularly priced high-rises. This may be a consideration for some buyers.
Another potential complaint is that the roof deck overlooks a dusty construction site as of now. So while the 200-seater space can be used to entertain large parties, it will not be fitted out until work on the tower next door is completed. Fortunately, smaller groups – of 50 people or so – can fit in the living rooms of the 6,600-square-foot apartments, which have terraces with foldable doors, and offer mixed views of the Dubai Canal and the twinkling lights of Downtown Dubai but also the aforementioned construction site.
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A home-automation system for the lights, curtains, AC and music is pre-fixed in the apartments.The flats start from floor 14, with the levels below reserved for parking and other services. Maids rooms (with marbled flooring) aside, each floor gets its own chauffeur’s quarters, with separate lifts for staff. Likewise, the kitchen has dual entryways, plus separate pantry and laundry rooms.
The bedrooms are located a long corridor away, with linen closets concealed within the walls along the way. Three rooms in each apartment come with their own balconies, while the fourth is ideal for the little ones, or can be easily integrated into the master bedroom. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of natural light, and the master bedroom has a walk-in closet, and separate bathtub and shower areas in the bathroom.
“The vision of a truly unique address was initiated early on by exploring the idea of lateral living. One of the things you can notice in The 118 is the transition from one space to another, as we designed the interiors to maximise functional living space,” says Hitti. “The floor plans and layouts of the residences were developed first, and the exterior shell of the tower was created later. This ‘inside-out’ approach helped us optimise the living experience and allow owners to have an absolute sense of individualism. Through this synchronistic duality, they can enjoy the comforts of a private and pristine mansion, while still being surrounded by a bustling city.” Now if only they got those signboards up.