Madrid, Spain – 16 July 2014 – Rockwell Group Europe and Dhaliliyah Est. are nearing completion of the interior of the Nobu Hotel Riyadh, the first Nobu Hotel in the Middle East and the first luxury boutique hotel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Opening in the first quarter of 2015, the hotel will be located in a modern, 23-story skyscraper on renowned King Fahd Road in the heart of the city’s financial center, close to major cultural and shopping destinations. It will be distinguished for a contemporary design that artfully blends Nobu’s cutting-edge Japanese style with subtle and poetic references to the magical landscapes of the Arabian Peninsula.
In addition to the hotel’s 90 guestrooms and 44 suites, Rockwell Group Europe is designing all of the hotel’s public spaces, including a teahouse on the ground floor, an all-day dining restaurant on the first floor mezzanine, a VIP Lounge with sweeping views of the city from the sixteenth floor, banquet facilities and meeting rooms, and the hotel’s in-house, 770m2 signature Nobu Restaurant. The project reflects the collaborative design vision of Rockwell Group Europe and Dhaliliyah Est., and builds on many years of experience with Nobu Hospitality, a partnership with acclaimed chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert de Niro, and film producer Meir Teper.
“The design of Nobu Hotel Riyadh is a progression of various concepts that Rockwell Group has developed with Nobu in the past, emphasizing natural materials and craftsmanship and visually connecting different spaces to create a fluid environment and experience,” says Diego Gronda, Managing and Creative Director of Rockwell Group Europe, who also worked on the design of the flagship Nobu Fifty Seven restaurant in New York, which opened in 2005. “We’re building on the distinctive Nobu aesthetic while anchoring the hotel in its specific Saudi-Arabian context, which was accomplished by weaving together abstract references to Japanese and Saudi cultural and natural elements and setting up these dynamic design dualities.”
Rockwell Group Europe’s approach combines contemporary design and manufacture with Japan’s artisanal traditions, featuring raw materials like wood and stone, warm earth colors, and custom lighting features inspired by origami. A porte-cochère made of a double-height rectangular wood frame, wrapped in natural fiber rope, will mark the hotel’s entrance, creating a sense of warmth and intrigue upon guests’ arrival. In the double-height entrance hall, visitors will be greeted by a sensuous ribbon of stacked horizontal wood slats, about five meters wide, inspired in shape and structure by the binzasara, a traditional Japanese percussion instrument. This custom wood feature will curve up the wall and along the ceiling and floor of the hotel’s ground floor in one continuous, flowing gesture, guiding visitors from the front door to the reception, elevators, and other areas. It will also arch upward to the all-day dining restaurant on the mezzanine and along the restaurant’s ceiling. Special fiber optic rope will tie together the wood slats at both ends and give a festive light.
In the entrance hall, guests will further encounter a large glass disc by Venezuelan artist Manuel Mérida, one of a series of commissioned artworks placed throughout the hotel. The kinetic disc is about three meters in diameter and holds tiny, sand-like loose grains. Rotating slowly, it plays with the notion of a sandstorm as the grains collapse into ever changing formations. The reception desk will consist of a massive, horizontal floating glass case that is supported only by a stone column. Special installations inspired by organic sand patterns shaped by desert winds will be displayed in the vitrine.
The 770m2 signature Nobu Restaurant on the second floor will be accessed through a wooden pathway framed by two large Japanese gardens. Rockwell Group Europe has designed a large, sculptural light fixture for the restaurant’s Tea and Juice Bar—finished in natural coconut fiber and evoking a luminous piece of twisted rope. An undulating wooden fish scale structure, manufactured by Brad Oldham International, will envelop the entire space while defining different dining areas and providing a sense of intimacy and human scale. Made out of hand-size, hexagon pieces of wood, held together by metal brackets, this double-curvature membrane will be punctured along the window façade by small triangular apertures, to let in natural light. It will create a warm environment contrasting with the restaurant’s highly polished stone floor. Comfortable banquettes with patterned textiles, designed by Rockwell Group for Jim Thompson, will add to the restaurant’s welcoming and vibrant feel. Guests may sit at the sushi bar facing the show kitchen or opt for a quieter dining experience offered by two private dining rooms seating 16 to 20 people each.
The hotel’s guestrooms and suites are designed as oases of tranquility and rejuvenation, a concept that will be underscored by nature-inspired, organic shapes and patterns and pastel colors with accents of gold. Eclectic furniture will mix classic, modern, and contemporary shapes, while several live edge pieces will add a touch of Japanese craftsmanship. The sumptuous 230m2 Royal Suite will boast a dining area with a natural root table for six people and a show kitchen where chefs will prepare food to order from the Nobu restaurant.
Named one of luxury’s 25 Most Innovative Luxury Brands by Robb Report, Nobu Hospitality is ranked among an elite selection of global luxury hospitality brands. The natural growth of the Nobu luxury brand built on service, image and hospitality, offers the complete spectrum of hotel and restaurant management for unique projects around the world. With operations spanning five continents, the Nobu brand thrives in the world’s capitals as the destination lifestyle experience. The first Nobu Hotel opened in 2013 as a boutique hotel within Caesars Palace Las Vegas and was subsequently named one of the Hottest New Hotels of 2013 by CNN Travel and Top North America Hotel Opening in 2013 by Luxury Travel Advisor. In 2014, the Nobu Hotel City of Dreams Manila will open followed by the Nobu Hotel Riyadh, Nobu Hotel Eden Roc Miami Beach, Nobu Hotel Chicago, and Nobu Hotel Shoreditch in London, among other global locations.