Leading architecture and design firm Rabih Geha Architects teamed up with de Gournay and Adara Group Qatar to deliver Nisrine, a Lebanese-themed restaurant where nostalgia holds court in the heart of Qatar. Rabih Geha, founder of Rabih Geha Architects, was solicited to create a spatial experience around Lebanese dining and chose to render the Nisrine wildflower growing in the lush gardens of the Mediterranean and transplant it to Doha.
His creative approach was to duplicate the feeling of warmth associated with family traditions, childhood memories and idle days spent in the garden. For that, he turned to de Gournay, masters of hand-embroidered and hand-painted wallcoverings, to plaster his vision on the walls of Nisrine. Commenting on his latest project, Rabih Geha said, “Nisrine forms a narrative arc through the visual representation of nostalgia, family traditions and the velvety warmth of Lebanon. We designed the space in the likeness of our enchanting country on the Mediterranean, its dreamlike shapes, welcoming curves and intense hues.”
The space is a salute to Lebanese artisanship, architecture and vista. On entering the restaurant, diners are immediately immersed in bearings that feel intimate and oddly personal, as if snatched from cherished memories of times long gone. The walls of red gilded paper, signed de Gournay, are a scatter of poetry and stand in stark contrast to the towering, white-washed ceiling typical of old Lebanese houses. The ceiling is arched and punctured by vaults with custom-made lights that infuse the space with soul and energy. Wanting to preserve the authenticity and the traditional aspect of the Nisrine experience, Geha made sure to source the furniture, lighting, flooring and accessories from Lebanese brands and manufacturers.
Names such as Maison Tarazi, Atelier 33, Crea Color and Nada Debs shine next to de Gournay in Nisrine through bespoke wood-engraved furniture, mother-of-pearl outfitting, white Carrara marble and premium materials with markedly Mediterranean nuances. de Gournay painted the wild Nisrine flower atop a metallic red background alive between olive, citrus trees, and the serin bird by applying coats of pomegranate colored pigment over silver gilded paper. “Instead of the obvious green and blue, colors typically associated with natural landscapes, Rabih was intent on a metallic red to elicit visceral emotions associated with nostalgia, and lull diners into a sense of reverie. For this purpose, we created a signature red dedicated to Nisrine,” explained Jemma Cave, Artistic Director at de Gournay.
Hues of red almost seem three dimensional, with the colors, angles and light schemes working in tandem to augment or dim the intensity of the shade resulting in entirely distinct spatial and visual experiences that change between day and night. The multitude of elements that make up the space, majestic, grandiose or understated and discreet, operate in separate lanes, merging frequently into one immersive ensemble to create the Nisrine experience.