Pallavi Dean, founder and creative director of Dubai-based interior design studio Roar, has created a refuge for her family, mixing minimalism and maximalism throughout the home.
“I grew up in the UAE. My cultural identity and my design sensibility are so strongly rooted in the people and in the culture of this place because I am of this place,” considers interior designer Pallavi Dean. “I am Indian heritage-wise but I’ve never lived in India. I grew up and went to university in Sharjah; I currently live in Dubai; a lot of my work is in Abu Dhabi and, with my family, we spend a lot of our free time in the other emirates too. It’s who I am.” Dean and her husband, Richard, an economist, lead a busy life. Their day starts early: 6 am for Dean, who exercises in her home gym (doubling as a yoga and meditation room) before having breakfast with the kids and everyone going off to school and work. For Richard, the day begins at 4.30 am to work on his radio show. Family is everything to the couple and Dean wanted the first home she’s ever owned to reflect that.
“I hated the idea of living in the suburbs,” Dean shares. Having enough space was a real concern, however, so when the couple found this property in a new, off-plan development that gave them more square footage for their money compared to what was offered in Dubai, they took the plunge.
“Villa Lantana is just 15 minutes from Burj Khalifa, 15 minutes from Dubai Design District where I work, and 10 minutes from my husband’s office,” she says. With its modern exterior, the 385 sqm detached villa’s columns and structural elements were mostly on its perimeter, allowing the couple to start from scratch. “We reprogrammed the rooms,” Dean says. “Initially it was a four-bedroom property with two living rooms. Now it is a three-bedroom house with a walk-in wardrobe and a gym within it, and a living-dining open-plan space, including a library.”
The couple replaced the wooden front door with a transparent one, and installed large, floor-to-ceiling windows and white flooring to flood the spaces with natural light. “The starting point for the interior design was what I do with any other projects: analyzing what each user needs within the space,” Dean explains. The airy, playful, modern family home comprises minimalist public areas downstairs with an open-plan kitchen- dining space and living area, including a floor-to-ceiling red library that often becomes a creative workspace for Dean and her husband – both avid booklovers – and a playroom for the children. Wood accents were introduced through the door handles and the staircase, while pops of color – in particular indigo blue and yellow, Dean’s favorites – stand out through the artworks and accessories. “I love the jumbo David Hockney book that Richard gave me as our 10th wedding anniversary present because there are so many colors that it’s almost like a changing artwork in the space,” Dean says.
“Art is a key element in many of my projects and my husband and I are both art enthusiasts. We bought this beautiful sculpture by Polish artist Anna Barlik, which is now in the living room, and we also have a signed Zaha Hadid print in the dining area as well as a limited-edition print by Indian artist NS Harsha that was purchased in Tokyo. The stairwell features a triptych from the 1970s by Willem Kerklaan that I picked up during a business trip in Amsterdam.”
The couple commissioned Dubai-based artist Kim Baroma to create a spray-painted piece on one of the walls in the backyard. “The graffiti work features a large mural of the goddess Lakshmi alongside a portrait of Yoda accompanied with the quote ‘Do or do not there is no try,’ for the boys,” Dean says. Upstairs, the private spaces have a different aesthetic. The five-star boutique hotel- inspired master bedroom is adorned with wallpaper on the ceiling, marble on one wall and wood on the other, a fabric headboard, built-in furniture, and a bookcase with a smoked bronze mirror behind it – all in neutral browns, beiges, and grays. The two boys’ bedrooms are blue, while the jungle guest bedroom – designed in the spirit of a staycation – is green.
“The beauty of this home is that it doesn’t have one style,” Dean says. “I think you can appreciate minimalism but also adore maximalism. It’s how our home is designed and it’s how I dress as well. One day I want to be a true Audrey Hepburn classic with timeless garments and another I want to be Lady Gaga.”
Among other projects, Dean is currently working on the American University of Sharjah research and technology park, a spa for SensAsia, an office for a pharmaceutical company, and a hotel in Abu Dhabi. Her home enables her to recharge with her loved ones. “The objective was to create the space that really worked for us as a family unit and as individuals,” she says. “Our house is a very accurate representation of all of us.”
Originally published in the October 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia