Article by Cheryl Gatward
We are delighted to announce that our partner company, UDesign, have just won the 5-Star award for Best Interior Design for their design of the apartment “Maison Lumière” in Tangier, Morocco, in the African Property Awards (2020-2021). The project will now go on to compete for the title “Best in the World” against the other regions – Asia Pacific, Arabia, Canada, Caribbean, Central & South America, Europe, UK and USA.
Maison Lumière, is located in the new urban marina of Tangier – Tanja Marina Bay. This fabulous corner apartment started life as two separate apartments, one with a view to the coastline of Tangier and one with a view out to sea. UDesign gutted both apartments, taking out the doors, walls and floors and completely redesigned the space.
The bright and spacious finished apartment has three bedrooms, two guest bedrooms and an extensive master bedroom. The decor is full of Moroccan references expressed in a very contemporary style.
Before looking at these images you need to know that all the furnishings in the apartment are custom-made. Aside from a few carefully selected brand name pieces, all the doors, cabinets, shelving, kitchen cupboards, coffee tables, dining table, sofas, beds, bedside tables and wardrobes were designed and custom-made by UDesign.
The client had very specific requests in the design brief and one of these was to create a “jaima”, a classical element of Berber culture. A Berber desert camp would have a designated space around the fire, or secluded by a tent, where men could congregate to discuss important business matters and smoke shisha. The circular nature of elements in this area evoke the spirit of the past, where elders and guests of the tribe sat in a circle around the fire, under the desert stars.
While the design of this jaima is far from its origins, it is clearly set up to encourage quality conversation. The porthole style Sovet Italia mirrors are reminiscent of cruise liners and allow someone standing in the kitchen to see the boats entering the port.
The positioning of the space also helped the client to alleviate the stress of a busy lifestyle. His work takes him constantly back and forth from Spain to Tangier, so not only can he sit here and look out at a beautiful bay with its busy maritime traffic, but he can also see when a ferry is arriving. There are 72 of them every day between Spain and Tangier, and they can be spotted approximately 30 minutes before arrival in Tangier port. So rather than look at his watch, or the internet, for ferry times, he now looks out the window and knows that he has just over half an hour from that moment to catch the same ferry heading out again. This is easily achieved as the walk from the apartment to the ferry terminal takes just ten minutes.
The predominant natural materials of eucalyptus wood and granite run throughout the entire living space and provide a unifying element to the whole home design, as does the grey carpet which is also found in the Master Bedroom Suite.
Of all the requests made by the client, this was the most difficult to achieve, both in its creation and application. UDesign finally concluded that lighting, sound and technology would impress most, so they set out to create a spectacular smart home system.
LEDs offer many advantages over traditional light bulbs, lasting longer, being more energy efficient, having a high brightness level and coming in an exceptional range of colours, along with many other features. They thus chose to flood the apartment with LED lighting.
A selection of white and RGB colour schemes allows the client to set the mood for the entire common area at the touch of a button. The result is that this apartment is a masterpiece in domotic solutions. Domotic software is only as good as the lighting and appliances that complement it, and in this case there are approximately 200 metres of LED lighting, along with various pendant and floor lamps.
The system can be programmed to slowly change from one colour scheme to another, creating a relaxing flow of coloured light throughout the entire apartment. The lighting can be controlled by the client’s phone (or any of his personal devices) and also by voice command. When the client first saw this lighting he said it was “beyond anything he had ever imagined”.
The client travels back and forth from Tangier to Spain many times a week and one of his favourite tricks is to light up the apartment when he is still on the ferry, 30 minutes away from the port. He says to his friends: “Watch this, there’s my building over there, watch my lights go on now,” and he just presses the button on his phone and they switch on. Because he has the whole corner of the building, it appears that the whole floor lights up, and in different colours as well. This fulfils the “impress me and my friends” request rather well.
MASTER BEDROOM SUITE
It was very important for the client that the bedroom be an independent suite, on par with that of any five-star hotel.
Consisting of a lounge, walk-in wardrobe, bathroom and bedroom itself, the space is divided into areas by a smoked eucalyptus panel holding the TV and the LED fireplace. As expected in a suite of this quality, there is a TV on both sides of the central panel.
Anyone getting out of bed during the night (on either side of the bed) would activate a sensor which would turn on very low level LED lighting, marking an easy path to the bathroom without awaking the other partner. The grooved eucalyptus wooden panel above the bed has integrated LED lights, just in case the client feels like adding a twist to his alarm clock routine.
To see more images of this apartment, head over to UDesign’s website.
Here is the Red Carpet presentation, announcing UDesign’s win, plus a short interview with the CEO of UDesign and Creative Director of BRIGHT, Jason Harris: