A whale of a landmark in the Maldives

The winners of the International Design Awards 2017, organised by the Society of British and International Design, were revealed at a dazzling ceremony recently in London’s Mayfair.

Ranging from hotel, retail and restaurant design to residential homes over and under a million UK pounds, the winners represented four continents worldwide with projects from the UAE, USA, Hong Kong, Egypt and more.

The competition had some of the world’s best known hotel chains, retail, technology and automotive brands in the shortlist of finalists. This year saw a 40% increase of entries and over 1,00,000 public votes, making it one of the most globally represented editions to date.

The Overall Winner Award was awarded to Singapore and London-based practice, WOW Architects and Warner Wong Design, for the ‘Whale Bar’ at the St Regis Hotel in the Maldives. The project was inspired by the shape of the majestic whale shark and set overlooking the Indian Ocean.

The Whale Bar takes cues from marine iconography and the natural surroundings and the design team harnessed traditional Maldivian crafts such as pyrography and marine themes to create a welcoming, wondrous space that exudes luxury, nature-inspired design and local artistry.

This whimsical but elegant retreat is elevated by light-oak interiors and a softly lit neutral palette. The fish-scale-like timber shingles around the kitchen and smooth iridescent stucco in the ‘body’ of the whale emphasise the marine iconography.

The venue’s highlight is a ceiling mural made up of five curvaceous oak panels. The panels have been created using the Maldivian craft of pyrography by Paris-based Indian artist, Maya Burman, using henna-style drawing typically done on hands and feet as an expression of a celebratory moment of joy and gathering.

The installation depicts a father and son discovering a paradise of corals, fish, and plankton – a celebration of the Maldives’ vibrant sea life. Underneath the mural is the main bar area which is inspired by the form of a sea turtle.



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