The Dolce & Gabbana of Dubai’s club scene combines state-of-the-art technology with the ultimate in glitzy glamour. By Selin Arkut
Club Bang is all set to become the most recent addition to a growing collection of exclusive hang-outs in the Downtown Burj Dubai district.
Evolving from the idea that Dubai was missing a certain ‘something’ in terms of its existing nightlife offering, Mike Duncalf, who was then design director of Orbit Design Studio, teamed up with Omar Rahman, managing director of facilities management company Night Owl, to design the ultimate in exclusive VIP lounge experiences.
“Club Bang is aimed to be a VIP lounge bar slash club – not your usual scenario but when you walk in you can expect to see extremely nice finishes, expensive prices and even VIP hostesses,” explained Rahman.
“We’re introducing something that hasn’t been done here. Attached to a well-established restaurant chain, Mirai, which provides a new wave of Japanese cuisine, this isn’t just a lounge or a bar or a restaurant; it’s a mixture of all three. Only in the US do you have ultra elite clubs, and that is what was missing in Dubai,” Rahman continued.
“Another selling point is that we’re in the only leasable area in Dubai and so we serve alcohol. This is one of the first times in Dubai that you can go into an area and pop into a bar to have a drink, without stepping foot in a hotel.”
Taking the landlord, Emaar’s regulations into consideration, the pair, along with Dubai-based contractor, AMBB, set to the task of creating a luxury lounge that incorporated Arabian cultural elements with an ultra modern twist. “Emaar wanted the inside to include some sort of reflection of the outside, so a modern yet traditionally Arabic feel was in order. They were very specific in terms of what they wanted, and there were about twenty to thirty different people vying for this space. That meant that we had to win it on various factors: one, design, two, concept, and three, reputation,” said Rahman.
The main concept and one of the most interesting aspects of the Club Bang experience is its tiered layout. Implementing different levels of height using steps, the designers were able to create an effect whereby the dance floor, at the lowest point of the club, remains visible wherever you stand.
“The whole concept was around the idea that we had all these different levels. This involved us raising the floor and the perimeter of the dance area so that every position of the club had a great view of the dance floor,” said Duncalf.
“Our main challenge was this concept of height and levels. We raised the floor by three steps on the way in and then we raised the floor again around the perimeter by another two steps. This enabled us to sink the centre of the club.
“We were lucky with the impressive height of the ceiling. It’s tiered itself, so the main challenge was to get this
venue to have the perfect split-level,” Duncalf added.
Further developing the traditional theme, interiors were designed to bear resemblance to an Arabian courtyard. Using a striking mix of crystal and glass, walls were designed to mimic the old-style intricately carved mashrabiya woodwork. “When you walk into Club Bang, you’re instantly overwhelmed by the cast acrylic crystals and black high-gloss blocks, a contemporary take on the traditional Arabic mashrabiya.
“It’s essentially a floor-to-ceiling lacquered black brick wall. The wall, interspersed with cast acrylic crystals, leads you through the main entrance and right the way through to the lounge of the club,” said Rahman.
“The black brick wall is illuminated by hundreds of LEDs. Our lighting designers from Inverse Lighting, based in London, were a very important part of the project. Credit must be given to them,” Duncalf added.
Intricate lighting and intelligent use of technology are fundamental to the club’s intended ‘wow’ factor. “One of the key features of the club is the backdrop. The backdrop to three sides of the club is in fact full-wall LEDs, framed by the architecture. I can have a range of patterns going across it, almost like digital wallpaper,” said Rahman.
“For example, I can have an image of a fireplace, twinkling lights, or even a graphic saying ‘Happy New Year’, absolutely anything! In this particular instance, the constantly changing content is being supplied and developed for us by a Norwegian motion graphics agency,” he continued.
Also designed to draw attention to itself, the ceiling has essentially been converted into a 90m² chandelier through the blanket use of LED drop lights, creating an effect unseen anywhere else in the Middle East region, according to Rahman.
Bringing together all elements of technology and lighting design, a rhythmic interplay of lights and music is set to stun the crowds. “We’ll have a light jockey and disk jockey. To give you an idea, there will be someone monitoring the music and lighting full time; both will be integrated and work in alignment with one another,” said Duncalf.
“If you take the ceiling, the walls and the music, it creates this fantastic environment, pulling together to make the ultimate Bang experience. You’ll be completely enveloped in this lighting, graphic, rhythmical experience.”
Adding to the glitz, the interior architecture was created in association with Swarovski. “The architecture from Swarovski was completed through a company called Diametral. Tom de Kort, the company’s managing director, designed a 16m-long bar emblazoned with thousands of sparkling, clear-coloured, Swarovski crystals,” said Rahman.
“Diametral is one of the first companies to produce something like this. We’ve done the whole bar and the bulk head of the bar in crystals, and it’s a very long bar. People might have done a few counters but this is something truly magnificent,” he continued.
Particular attention was also given to the club’s luxurious furnishings. Floors made of travertine marble sourced from Italy flow throughout the 7,000ft², 700+ capacity space, while all the furniture items are custom made. “All furniture you see in the club is bespoke. By that I mean everything was especially designed to accommodate for the overall VIP experience of the club.
“Take the tables, for example. They are black lacquered and wrapped in mirror polished stainless steel. Each and every one neatly disguises a custom-made drinks cabinet, which is able to hold spare drinks, mixers and glasses,” Duncalf detailed.
“In addition, each table has a handbag draw integrated into the design of the seating. All of the black leather banquet bench seats in the club have concealed, illuminated draws for this purpose – an obvious concept that no-one has ever
really considered before,” he added.
Further adding to this ‘luxury’ experience, some of the tables are directly connected to their very own private bathroom facilities, giving an exclusive touch to the Bang experience.
The lady’s bathrooms are painted shocking candy-floss pink, while the men’s are a gun-metal grey. “The walls are lacquered, and the floors are tiled using Italian glass mosaics sourced from Bisazza,” said Rahman.
The club’s strength lies in the way that these small details combine to create a holistic, high-end experience, said Duncalf. “Club Bang is definitely more refined and slightly more discerning as a brand. If you were to compare it to an existing brand, then it would be a Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana – a high-end brand for the club scene,” he concluded.