Switch Abu Dhabi is the restaurant brand’s second collaboration with distinctive contemporary designer Karim Rashid, the first being Switch Dubai in 2009. The Abu Dhabi location opened in June 2017 and features curving white ceilings and lots of natural light. ArchiExpo e-Magazine spoke with Rashid about designing the latest version of Switch and the evolution of his work.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How do you create uplifting dining experiences through design?
Rashid: I am quite pragmatic when thinking about colors. For example, I might use a ‘digestive’ pallet for a restaurant. Lime is one of the most conducive colors to dining, and certain hues of pink create a sense of well-being, of energy or of positive spirit.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How about the colors for Switch?
Rashid: The walls and ceiling are white to allow natural light deep into the space. I wanted to break the grid of what at first felt like a white box with cavernous forms that make the interior feel more spacious, and generate color accents only achieved through light. Natural light pours in from the tall glass windows and strategically positioned cutout skylights. The perforated pattern on the façade produces dappled light and serves as a continuation of Switch’s theme of Arabic poetry as a design element. Niches for different seating zones create linear cove lighting.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Is the furniture custom-made for Switch?
Rashid: I sourced my own chairs designed for Italy’s B-Line for the main dining room, paired with custom tables and benches. The outdoor space features Colombia’s Muma chairs and Vondom planters from Spain. Host stations are custom made for Switch.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How are your designs evolving?
“In Morimoto, the bamboo ceiling and floor become one undulating organic envelope.”
Rashid: I think the design of Switch Abu Dhabi relates back to my first interior project, Morimoto, in Philadelphia. Morimoto and Switch have similar minimal elegance. In Morimoto, the bamboo ceiling and floor become one undulating organic envelope that starts out very low in the entrance and rises up to twenty-two feet high. In Switch, cut outs and natural light create gentle differentiations in luminosity and atmosphere.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What is your newest project?
Rashid: My largest interior project, Temptation, is for Original Resorts, a recently-opened 430 room resort in Cancun. This hotel is fascinating because it is adults only, tops optional. My inspiration was the human body and the notion of connectivity and bringing people together.
ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What other designers do you feel are creating the aesthetic of our time?
Rashid: Zaha Hadid, Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini and Studio Alchimia, Luigi Colani, Massimiliano Fuksas, Ross Lovegrove, Gaetano Pesce, Toyo Ito, Daniel Libeskind and my brother Hani with Asymptote Architecture.