Snapshot – Studio Mark

17th October 2023

Since its formation in 2019, Dubai-based Studio Mark, established by Courtney Mark, has built up an impressive array of projects, with a specialism in high-end hospitality design. Here, we look at some highlights from across Studio Mark’s portfolio.

Hotel Indigo Business Bay, Dubai, UAE

Hotel Indigo Business Bay is Dubai’s first boutique hotel contained within a 20-storey tower located in the heart of the city’s new buzzing Creekside destination next to downtown Dubai.

Think Dubai is all sand dunes and chrome? Think again. It’s stories that make this city tick – and Hotel Indigo’s story is extraordinary. It’s here by the Creek where the tune of the old city meets the beat of the new. Dhow boats and souks clash with mega-malls and global influences, creating an explosion of intricate multicultural – and it’s from this, that this hotel was born.

With the story of the neighbourhood in every thoughtfully designed detail and local influence in every taste and twist, the property helps you see the city through a different lens. Lighting is dramatic, thoughtful, and unveils new twists and turns as you travel throughout the property. Evoking discovery and forever changing perspectives as the spaces transform from day into late night.

The guestrooms provide epic views of the city skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows and a space punctuated with unique local art pieces. Dramatic lighting effects draw you in and take you on a transformative journey from one area to the next. Gram-worthy Moroso chairs and mother of pearl inlaid bathrooms provide cultured class as you chill down and relax from your busy day.

Off The Wall is a slick cocktail bar inspired by the culture clash of nearby Satwa. The day’s flavour here is gritty and urban, with riffs on traditional flavours alongside works by local artists. It is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and drink it all in.

W Hotel Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

W Hotel Yas Island is a luxury playground spread over two buildings, revealing the best of Abu Dhabi’s history, heritage, and culture.

As the ultimate dining and nightlife destination, this property embraces six unique restaurants and bars ready for guests to steal the scene, push the boundaries, and create fashionably unforgettable experiences at every turn. The interior design draws inspiration from traditional and artistic surroundings, complementing the landscape with architectural elements. The deeper you see, the clearer Abu Dhabi reveals itself within this property’s DNA.

The lighting design utilises a multi-layered lighting approach that is designed to embrace the intricate detailing, enhance the bold colours and textured materials, and amplify the many optical illusions created by a play of light and shadow; reminiscent of the natural lakes, wetlands, salt flats, and fossilised sands and dunes – all of the hidden gems of the UAE.

Culturally awakening, the soul of W Abu Dhabi runs deep throughout this property. Inspirational architecture unravels in the form of a bold welcome area, bespoke welcome desks in the shape of oil drops, to jewel-tone furnishings depicting the colours of liquid gold. The themed restaurants within the Food Garage draw inspiration from the urban streets of China, the Utopia that is Peru, and the Jewel of Beirut’s famously abandoned and then reopened – La Maison Rose.

Radisson Blu Deira Creek, Dubai, UAE

The Radisson Blu Deira Creek was the first 5-star hotel in Dubai. Since its opening in 1975, it has remained a much-loved old friend of the Dubai Creek community. To best revitalise this historic property Radisson have selected a team of seasoned hospitality design experts to refurbish the interiors and lighting of the public spaces; including the entrance lobby, reception, lobby lounge and cafe, new spa facilities, rooftop pool deck, bridal suites, executive lounge, event spaces, and six of their 15 award-winning restaurants, including Boulvar, the Fish Market, Minato and Marbles Bar, and China Club.

Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek is the first true heritage hospitality refurbishment opportunity for Studio Mark in the Middle East since coming to the region in 2013.

The design approach was to refurbish yet retain the historic and unique backdrop for today’s discerning guest while retaining all its heritage and colourful character. Designs considered retaining the existing timber marquetry wall paneling; water jet cut marbles inlaid with brass and timber coffered ceilings and are sensitively layered with contemporary joinery, furniture pieces, vintage carpets, artwork, and decorative lighting feature statements.

Lighting is crucial in achieving a harmonious environment for guests in any hotel property. In a heritage hotel refurbishment of this stature, the stakes are high for the owner and entire design team to get this right. The owner and operator are acutely aware of the importance that light plays in being able to see these culturally, vintage, interiors in their full glory.

Nebula, Dubai, UAE

The ‘Nebula’ marked the entrance to Dubai Design District (d3) for Dubai Design Week. At night, the space was transformed. To quote the installation’s conceptual artist Vibhor Sogani: “Each of us is an entire universe and the Nebula echoes the hopeful promise that even when we catch ourselves desolate under a sombre rain cloud, it is but a mere mirage, for reality lies in looking up”. Looking up is the effect that transpired. At night, the space attracted and lifted eyes of passerby like a moth to a flame – a visceral impulse. Those who looked upon the metal baubles would be met with an unmatched reflection forever changing in shape, colour, and space. In line with Sogani’s artistic expression, the overwhelming perspectives that radiate from Nebula surfaces are “imperative reflections of the deeper self.”

Nebula’s presence was a sign of leadership and comradery within Dubai’s lighting industry. The project was showcased in November 2020 at Dubai Design Week when the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing impacting every region and industry. The public installation presented by Wilson Associates in collaboration with Studio Mark and internationally acclaimed artist Vibhor Sogani, is passion defined. This project was a masterclass in a successful design collaboration to ensure the best possible project outcome. From initial inception to the final programming, the team worked together.

Lighting design binds people to a place and to each other. When light meets people where they are, magical things can happen. Founded by Courtney Mark in 2019, Studio Mark is an independent architectural lighting design practice specialising in hospitality lighting design and refursbishment in an era of wellness and eco-conscious consumerism. The move to launch her own studio came after Mark witnessed first-hand the shifts in the local design market over the years, and an intrinsic need to be more flexible and adaptable to meet the expectations of her clients.

A third generation architect, Mark actively partners with top forward-thinking creatives from the architecture, interior design, and construction industry, prioritising sustainability. Studio Mark is currently designing for a new age of sustainable hospitality with a distinctive vision of authentic cultural immersion and site-specific lighting design. Crafting tranquil and stimulating sensory experiences is at the centre of the studio’s design approach.

Through the team’s collective backgrounds in architecture, interior design, project management, and the fine arts, Studio Mark contributes a comprehensive, hands-on design approach that is aesthetically grounded in international architectural visual design vocabularies.

Mark says: “Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility.”

W Hotel Yas Island, UAE