This luxury residence at the Fairmont on the famous Palm Jumeirah was to be inhabited by a Russian globetrotting family. Its purpose was that of a holiday home in the glitzy shopping capital of Dubai. The very nature of its residents' requirements meant glamorous movie star appeal and their design preferences leaned towards Italian and classic American. In other words, luxury and comfort.
It was a challenge for young designer Alfred Johnson - a die-hard fan and follower of biomorphic design - to step away from the design language he knows and loves, into another genre that is, actually, quite popular among the affluent masses here. But the one aesthetic that the firm Alfred Johnson Designs does well is opulence. And so we walked into a home that was oozing grandeur that did indeed speak of money, but remained just on the cusp of showy and elegant. Never offending, but equally never letting us forget that we were in the hub of high life, at the globally familiar address, the Palm Jumeirah.
The last Alfred Johnson designed home that we featured left readers amazed. The general aesthetics, ornate finishes, wow-factor and somewhat unreal quality of that Dubai Marina penthouse left a lasting impression. This one is different from the signature style of this designer. The furniture is classical, the master palette consists of beige, muted gold and off-white. However, the luxurious textures, and range and depth in the details retain the general tone of Johnson's detail-specific design style.
Double doors at the entrance lead to a mini-foyer that sets the tone for the rest of the home. Dull silver textured wallpaper, hand-painted Italian craftsmanship, and a carpet in ruby tones, create the scene for an elegant Hollywood premiere night. As you walk in, low-lit lighting exudes a sense of drama.
A right turn exposes the entire living, dining and kitchen expanse, the eye travelling over the beautiful colours, textures, curves and plush textiles, past the chintz and the fur and through the screen doors into the Arabian Gulf beyond. Little elements and accessories catch our eye, a pair of conch shells in mother-of-pearl finish, sculptures, heady art that is frescoed in shades of gold, white and red, bronze velvet cushions and white leather, and a state-of-the-art home theatre… this decor was meant to impress. Within these bespoke confines, we spot the Karoline coffee table, an Alfred Johnson classic.
The curves, inlay and general ‘mental' appeal remind us once again why this young and ambitious talent recently won a silver for conceptual design in the coveted Commercial Interior Architecture and International Design Awards. We also get why his apartment projects are short-listed for Bond films. Johnson creates a sense of out-of-this-world splendour that makes it easy to forget the world outside and live among the stars. His inspirations? "Director Christopher Nolan, the Wachowskis, creators of the Matrix films, JRR Tolkien, Mark Zuckerberg and Zaha Hadid," he says. "They have carved a niche for themselves through original thought and translation of their clients and audiences' needs."