A new luxury apartment in the world’s tallest building oozes glamour and opulence – but does so in a way that is most unexpected. Text: Sophiya Hickinson Photography: Duncan Chard

Standing over 828 meters tall, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, has welcomed a newly designed luxury apartment on its 53rd floor from Dubai’s Bishop Design. The award-winning designers, created a space meant to impress as much as the location.
The all-white scheme has the feel of a classic space age James Bond film set Sixties-style sculptural furniture is brightly illuminated by statement lamps and accessorized with kitsch metallic pieces. It is refreshingly different to the design of many luxury apartments and has been cleverly done to create a unique experience for the client.
Paul and Ellen Bishop, who have designed a wide range of interiors from hotels to offices to private villas on the Palm, have clearly followed the simple brief they were given by clients Zulfiqur and Urmee haider. They were asked to create a space using milky white colours for entertaining close family and friends, as well as a home for everyday living.
After ripping out the entire existing interior shell and starting afresh, the resulting slick design, with plenty of space for socializing, answers the brief perfectly. The pleased clients say the design is “dynamic and comfortable, with a playful selection of furniture pieces combined with the atmosphere caused by the perfectly planned collection of different lighting and illumination used.”
As soon as you enter, a life-size winter forest scene greets you. This is perhaps a surprising decision for an apartment in the Middle East, but there is method behind the madness – and it works. It is the beginning of a sensory experience; the semi-transparent screen lets light flood through from the apartment windows, hinting at what lies ahead. Water trickles down glass panels on both sides, providing a soothing soundtrack to the space.
The image was visually calming effect and the experience is extended with the use of cool, white colours in the rest of the apartment. Collectively this provides an escape for the client as they step into the blissful, serene environment, creating a visual and psychological contrast with the Dubai skyline of skyscrapers and desert.
Past the transparent screen, the apartment opens up into a large open-plan area. “You’re coming in from 40-degree heat and you have that purely visual dynamic.. you feel serene… it’s just so peaceful and calming,” Paul says.
The kitchen, dining and multiple living areas are defined by the positioning of furniture and differing floor finishes. As the apartment is intended for weekend use to entertain and socialize, there is an extensive amount of seating. Different seating areas are clearly defined through their arrangement, but positioned to easily interact with each other, and no space is completely separated from another.
Connecting the various elements of the open-plan area is the use of curves the space is full of them; curved sofas and tables, wave- shaped screens and curtains, circular lights and chairs; and the apartment itself is oval-shaped. The curved furniture is strategically placed, creating a flow through the apartment, sweeping around in harmony with the buildings shape.
Immediately attracting the eye in this impressive area are the statement designer pieces. Extravagant sculptural lighting from Vibia sits over a luxurious white leather Edra Flap sofa in one of the many living areas; an Eames Soft Pad chair is tucked into the office space; and Flos lighting hangs above Minotti Phillips chairs in the dining area.
However, the British-Norwegian design duo hasn’t relied solely on the allure of designer furniture to create a successful space. Their own designed pieces are dotted throughout and fit in comfortably alongside the designer pieces; for example, their metal patterned chairs slot in between the Minotti chairs around their self-designed dining table.
So what stops the white, wintry colour scheme from becoming cold and clinical? The designers identified this risk and tackled it with a heavy contrast of textures; soft velvets, plush carpets, embossed leather, polished metals, sheer linens and lacquered resins to name a few. Every aspect of the interior has fine detail to add to the texture, such as white floor tiles I one living area that give of a glow when the sunlight dims, shining up through the fine holes in the crocheted paola Lenti carpet. Most of the fabrics used in the apartment are JAB Anstoetz and were shipped from Germany as the designers didn’t want to compromise on quality.
The white colour scheme continues beyond the open-plan area onwards towards the back apartment where you find the master bedroom, three guest bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. The bathrooms feature exciting ceiling mounted chrome Casa Mia taps that hang into bucket-style Goccia sinks, both by Gessi. While the bedrooms continue the light colour scheme, darker colour’s are introduced to create necessary warmth for a personal space: dark embossed leather covers the floor of the master bedroom, complementing the grey leather paneling on the wall and the silvery grey wallpaper that lines the guest bedrooms.
The white theme stops when it comes to the design of the terrace, which covers a third of the apartment’s floor area, as the serene environment ends and embraces a more urban feel. Multiple seating areas provide the optimum socializing environment, surrounding a two-metre-hanging Dedon Nestrest day bed, which had to be cut in half to fit into the Burj khalifa lift. The use of carpet outdoors helps the flow of interior to exterior, providing the comfort and relaxation of the inside in an area open to the excitement and bright lights of the city below.
However, perhaps the key to the apartment’s undoubted success is the designer’s acknowledgement of the prestigious location, making sure the design does not interfere with the main attraction of living in the tallest building in the world – the view.