The latest in a series of spectacular events designed and produced by Dubai-based Designlab Experience (DLE), took place in Kuwait in early October. The creative starting point for the production – a private wedding celebration – was the ambience and energy of a Broadway show, in which the guests would feel that they were participants. This determined the staging of the event ‘in the round’, with the bride’s kosha (dais) at the centre, doubling as a stage for the entertainment, which was woven seamlessly into the evening’s programme.
Like all DLE productions, the Kuwait event was conceived and developed from the ground up – in this case literally, as the venue was constructed on an empty plot of sand that had to be levelled before any work could begin.
Every element – from the glassware, furniture, fabrics and light fixtures to the after-dinner chocolates and the dancers’ costumes – was specially designed and custom-made. To fulfil its artistic vision, DLE brought together hand-picked specialists from many countries, including lighting designers from the UK, glass artists from the Czech Republic, caterers and floral designers from Australia, construction experts from France and an installation artist from Korea.
The scale of the event demanded an architecture-led approach that would integrate spatial form and social function. First, an outer shell was constructed, with six-metre high walls and a central dome that rose to 11 metres at its apex. Nested within this, the 3,650-squaremetre (39,000 sq ft) event space was built on a circular floor plan and defined by an architectural structure comprising ribbed pillars that increased in diameter as they rose, curving outwards at the top to create a network of links overhead. Each of the ribs was formed from spheres that were faceted to echo the shape of the dome. Graduated in size to millimetre precision, these geospheres were given a creamy pearlescent finish and positioned on golden spacers.
These tapered pillars had the effect of both magnifying the space and making it more intimate, as well as giving guests an unobstructed view of the bride and the entertainment from every vantage point, while encouraging them to move freely and mingle together throughout the evening.
Leading into the main space was an entrance lounge where the Korean artist Jee Young Lee had created an installation called specially commissioned by DLE, which set the tone for the evening.
DLE’s creative team chose a colour scheme of peachy pinks, creams, soft greys and touches of semi-matte gold, all precisely graduated from light to dark. Applied consistently from the largest surfaces to the smallest details, the tone-on-tone palette created an almost ethereal ambience – richly glamorous yet subtle enough to enhance, but not overshadow the presence of the bride.
DLE’s attention to detail also extended behind the scenes, with all of the services housed in a series of satellite structures positioned to optimise traffic flow and service delivery. Although hidden from guests’ view by tall hedges, they took the form of geodesic domes to echo the roof-line of the main structure.
Founded by Moutassem Elbaba, Hibah Albakree and Marwan Maaloof, Designlab Experience designs and produces large-scale events for both private and commercial clients. Its ability to marry artistry, technology and refined craftsmanship on a grand scale has cemented its reputation as the region’s pre-eminent production designer and show director.
With an architecture-led approach, DLE designs each event from the ground up, custombuilding every element, from the structural components and lighting to the smallest decorative details, as well as developing and integrating tailor-made entertainment programmes.
With offices in Dubai and Beirut, DLE’s in-house team of architects and designers draws on a global network of trusted collaborators and specialist suppliers, ensuring timely and faultless installation of the most complex projects in the Middle East and beyond.