Bringing culture, design innovation and tradition together, Niu studio delivers an eye-catching concept for Emirati healthy snack bar Grapes and Dates.

For the debut of a new chain of Emirati-owned Acai bars, Grapes and Dates, the award-winning design team behind Italian studio Niu - architects Elena Gregorutti and Giorgio Palermo - created an enticing interior with a bold reference to the region.

The raw site was a small gallery linked by a vaulted ceiling with entrances on the opposite end – one street-facing and the other leading to the inner food court located in the popular Last Exit- Khawaneej, Dubai. The challenge was to create an interior that provides the maximum aesthetic impact in just 30 sq/m and create an identity for this disruptive F&B concept.

There was the added pressure of adaptability; the design language had to be flexible enough that could be recreated on other sites while always remaining true to the aesthetic look and feel of the flagship outlet and its bold brand identity (developed by Home of the Crew).

Partly Inspired by the small ice cream shops of southern Italy, Niu’s concept is a blend between the traditional - vaulted shape and Terrazzo - with a 1950's retro feel, highlighted by the curved corners of the orange kitchen doors.

The stretched ceiling and the sculptural counter provide the modern high-tech twist to the design. Printed with calligraphy by Emirati artist Diaa Allam and artwork by Italian artist Carla Asqini, it nods to both cultures that inform the space.

The result is a futuristic environment that delivers a unique and unusual experience; and yet offers comforting familiarity.

Photography by Alex Jeffries.