Toplum Restaurant, UAE

June 30, 2020

In the heart of Dubai, the Toplum Restaurant serves sophisticated Mediterranean fare in an elegant environment.

At Toplum, the latest project by interior designer Vera Dieckmann and her pan-global firm, XO Atelier, the interiors create a stylish environment in which to experience thoughtful cuisine. Located inside the Mirdif City Center, Dubai, the guests are transported into a place of calm and stylish focus.

An inspired series of textures and forms are rendered in a muted palette of warm, buff colours; seemingly disparate textures such as perforated copper coloured metal in an undulating profile, smooth tiles, and wall plaster finishes both smooth and boldly, vertically ribbed, are used to seamless effect. The ribbed walls, undulating profiles and carefully curving lines of the custom furniture all reflect the form of the arch, which repeats throughout the restaurant, and are a unifying presence, even part of the branding itself.

The lighting design scheme developed for Toplum is no less sophisticated. Architectural LED lighting abounds within the space, but always subtle, used carefully here and there to accentuate a form, call out a niche, establish a directionality to a room or give visual weight to furniture. The complexities of architectural LED lighting continue to make it easy and forgiving to integrate into interiors, but what isn’t easy is integrating both architectural and decorative lighting into a single scheme to great effect, and that is precisely what XO Atelier has achieved at Toplum.

Incorporating decorative lighting fixtures from multiple brands – including some designed by the XO Atelier, the interior design studio approached US-based manufacturer SkLO – interested in the Balance pendant, which is itself an arching form.

The Balance pendant is a composition of a single larger 7in lit glass sphere on a short horizontal arm opposite a smaller 4.5in lit glass sphere on a long downward curving arm. Suspended on a rigid brass tube stem, the composition is a visual and literal exercise in balance and proportion. The glass sphere diffusers feature the signature SkLO detail of a small, rippling mouth that shows where the piece is broken hot from the glassblower’s pipe and fire-polished to a smooth finish. This detail is a reminder that all of the glass used in SkLO designs is handblown, made one at a time, and without the use of moulds. Combining subtle, uncontrollable details that call attention to the handmade nature of the glass, with precisely machined hand-finished metalwork is a consistent theme throughout the SkLO collections.

SkLO worked with Dieckmann, to produce an additional custom Balance pendant just for Toplum; a symmetrical version, with two downward curving arms of brass, each with the larger 7in size glass spheres, it is used in a specific location within the scheme, allowing for a moment of transition along the double-row of Balance pendants that stretch gracefully along the length of the Toplum dining room.

“The designs of the SkLO lighting collections are heavily influenced by my work as a jeweller and my background as a metalsmith,” says SkLO Design Partner, Karen Gilbert. “The Balance is an example of this, and I think this is what makes SkLO special, that our designs are the work of a woman, and they do not share the same masculinity of form I see repeated over and over in the lighting design sector. To see my designs used in the work of another talented female designer like Vera, in a project like Toplum, which itself exudes elements of sophisticated femininity, is a great pleasure for me.”

Image: Alex Jeffries Photography Group