Lebanese interior architect Nabil Dada unveils a contemporary renovation overlooking Jounieh Bay.
Suspended over the Mediterranean, Calypso stands as a monument of experimental design, with some of the best views in the country. As a symbol of resilience on the outskirts of Beirut – a city struck by tumult and uncertainty – the home brings a much-needed sense of calm through its dynamic architecture and modern interior. “What makes this house so special is that it literally hangs above the water,” says Nabil Dada, one of the region’s most celebrated interior architects and founder of Beirut-based Dada & Associates.
Dada is the mastermind behind the expansive renovation of the family home in Jounieh, a space largely defined by size and unobstructed sea views.
“On my first site visit, I was overcome by the same tranquil feeling I get when on a boat floating on the water,” he says, referencing his love of yacht design, which played a major role in the brief for the home. “I was inspired by this timeless aesthetic in designing the interior of this house, especially when it came to the bespoke furniture and the material selection.”
With six bedrooms across a 1,000 sqm space, one floor is dedicated to entertaining guests, while the other contains the bedrooms and a snug family room. A fluid circulation inviting people to move organically from the bar to the gathering space and around the different seating areas defines the former. Placing all the major elements, such as the bar and sofas, away from the walls creates a free-flowing space with an uninterrupted view of Jounieh Bay.
The master bedroom design, featuring teak wood-cladded walls perforated by circular windows and polished stainless steel frames, is reminiscent of a yacht interior.
“I know the family very well; they love life and they love to entertain. I wanted this house to reflect that, especially since this was where the grandparents, kids, and grandkids all planned to come together on weekends,” Dada explains. A grand piano is at the heart of the house around which the family gathers to watch Guy Manoukian perform, the clients’ son-in-law and prominent musician, composer, and pianist. “I strongly believe that a home should reflect its owners’ personalities, so I usually take as much time as possible getting to know them,” Dada says. “Luckily, these specific clients are friends of mine and they’re a fun family, which automatically made this a fun project. I worked closely with the family for a little under two months to complete the studies, while the execution took around nine months.”
Like a work of art, the ultramodern spaces themselves are conversation starters, incorporating an eclectic selection of furniture between resounding white space – a bench by Max Lamb, a table by Lebanese designer Lina Shammaa, and a transparent armchair by Shiro Kuramata blend with the picturesque view.
“One challenging aspect of this project was that the long and narrow structure required a tailored approach when it came to furnishing the space,” Dada shares. “Two bespoke sofas were designed with sharp angles; a nod to the dynamic architecture of the house, creating seating areas that either faced the view or the fireplace on the opposite side.”
In the months following the explosion at the Beirut Port, the interior architect reflects on the destruction that has rocked the city and his practice, and how he has only just begun to find reconciliation. “It was painful going back to the office for the first time after the explosion; seeing our facade shattered into pieces,” he says. “Realizing how lucky we were that our family and team had survived the blast with minor injuries brought a range of mixed emotions. One of my favorite views was from my own desk, which overlooks my fondest projects. For the first time, I looked out with sadness seeing the damage they had all suffered.” But like many in the Lebanese capital, Dada has already begun to rebuild. “With the support of my team and family, we were able to get back on our feet,” he says. “Today we are operating normally while my sons and I are in the process of reconstructing our space with a more environmental approach.” Like Calypso and the city it overlooks, they too stand strong and irrepressible.
Originally published in the November 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia Living