Sharjah’s new lagoon-side bookstore weaves literary references into its interior design
Sharjah’s creative community has a new destination for work and play – Al Rawi, a restaurant and bookstore designed by Pallavi Dean Interiors. The uplifting, informal spot is pitched at professionals, booklovers and designers – and their children, who have space to play and be inspired too.
Tetra, the private management company that commissioned Al Rawi, wanted the design to go above and beyond what you might expect from a bookstore. The brief envisioned a multitasking space that could reflect Sharjah’s literary heritage – celebrated at the Sharjah International Book Fair which began in 1982 – and become a contemporary hub for the Emirate’s creative community, with a cafe, restaurant, events space and creative zone for children.
Custom-made tables designed by Pallavi Dean inspired by books and words
Inspired by the name ‘Al Rawi’ which means ‘the one who tells stories’, Pallavi Dean designed an interior inspired by books and our relationship with them: ‘The design is full of literary inspiration, but in a subtle and abstract way – the woven texture of the handrails and space dividers, for example, is based on the stitching that binds books. It’s those kind of playful literary references that we think gives Al Rawi its personality and character.’
Instead of walls, flexible book shelving creates a division for the space which can be moved and adpated to suit different types of activity. There’s a colourful backdrop for every type of activity, whether you’re reading a book, checking emails, meeting creative clients for lunch or hosting a launch or evening talk. Retail pods on castors display books, stationery and book-related merchandise and custom sculptures and light mobiles inspired by books and words hang above. The stitch detail from a bound book spine is threaded through the whole design in a tactile rubber material – on a large scale as space dividers, or intimately across the handrail.
The terrace with far-reaching views over the Al Majaz waterfront
Overlooking the Khalid Lagoon, the Al Majaz fountain, Noor island and the corniche, Al Rawi has a glazed facade and an open terrace for guests. The ‘grab and go’ bar is visible to pedestrians walking down the Al Majaz Waterfront promenade so people can swing by for a morning coffee or breakfast. The bar is also a retail space, ready for visitors to feed their brains with a book or a magazine.
Based in the Dubai Design District, Pallavi Dean Interiors was founded by Dean in 2013. Al Rawi is the team’s third project in Sharjah, following the Shababeek Lebanese restaurant and Sheera Entreprneurship Center at the American University of Sharjah. §