An “unfading mirage”, or more appropriately: “a luxurious unfading mirage.” That’s what the project for an Elie Saab residential complex in the Middle East was all about: a luxurious, intangible experience, a combination of strong contrasts and unexpected appearances, and – like a mirage that disappears without a trace – a space that minimises its impact on the environment.
Rendering of the lobby of the Elie Saab residential complex in the Middle East, by Istituto Marangoni master's student Alice Bouriez
One of the world’s leading luxury fashion and lifestyle names, the brand finds its highest expression in Haute Couture dresses as well as interiors, residences, and future hospitality projects. The first Elie Saab Maison and Corporate Brand Maison showroom, a division of the Group specialising in brand extension projects in the furniture and hospitality sectors, opened in the heart of Milan’s fashion quadrilateral in May 2022.
And in Milan, through a unique partnership between Elie Saab and Istituto Marangoni Design School, students from the Interior Contract Design Master’s Programme rethought the project with a new, different, and modern aesthetic, maintaining the brand’s DNA but also considering the growing focus on sustainability in the real estate market and technological innovation. The concept for the Residential Complex achieved its goal under the mentorship of Carlo Colombo – architect and CEO, founder of Studio A++ and its division specialised in Branded real estate projects, recognised among the most influential international architects and designers on the current scene.
The Elie Saab residential complex in the Middle East as seen by Istituto Marangoni master's student Federica Di Grazia
The four main areas of the project - a lobby lounge, a pool area, a gym, and a luxury flat – were designed to fit the context sustainably, creating a link with the local nature and the Elie Saab ultraluxury lifestyle. That’s why the lobby lounge represents the richness and contamination of nature, the arid aspect of the desert, and the fluid shapes of wind-battered elements in the same space. More subtly, the residence references the local dunes through soft shapes and the luxurious reflections of metallic cylinders, while the terrace protects the occupants from the exterior bringing refreshing shading. In the gym and lockers, the project expresses a new way of living in these spaces, like an oasis enveloped by the fluid organic forms of the surrounding. In the pool area, a strong emphasis is placed on interesting plays of lights and shadows – created by metallic structures incorporating the brand logo – but also on the minimal impact of the Residential Complex on the environment. The Pool deck covering is created in 3D printing using the local desert sand, a biodegradable and sustainable material.
The vision of master's student Federica Di Grazia: the areas are designed to fit the context in a sustainable way, creating a link with the local nature and the ultra-luxury lifestyle of Elie Saab
The search for biophilic design and experimentation with new technologies, lighting design, home automation, applied digital resources, and design solutions for contract companies are essential to the new Interior Contract Design Master’s Programme. The course focuses on strategies and steps involved in planning public spaces on a large scale and interiors such as Hotellerie, residential complexes, museums, and theatres. The programme was developed precisely to meet the growing demand from companies to create contract design spaces with features that reflect a brand’s style, such as the projects carried out for the Fendi Tower in Panama or Poltrona Frau’s residential complex in Milan.
Rendering project by Master's student Greta Bisogni
But the collaboration between Elie Saab Maison and mentor Carlo Colombo in project management brought a new approach to the course, creating right out of the classroom a typical studio experience at the end of the programme: a simulation of what happens in an interior design studio, led by an Art Director.
The professional specialisation course, involving the development of projects aimed at international companies and brands, has been renewed to engage students in a high-performance relationship with the working world: the collaboration with the Brand is joined by a mentor who will guide students in the design process.