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Egyptian Design Firm Mental Flame Dazzles in Dubai with ZouZou

In a delectable medley of Mediterranean aesthetics, Cairo-based Mental Flame designs the fourth branch of ZouZou, a contemporary Turkish-Lebanese fusion diner in Dubai.

Inspired by the rich diversity in Turkish and Lebanese contemporary design, Mental Flame - a Cairo-based design studio founded by Hisham Mahdy in 2004 - put their signature touch on the design of the fourth branch of ZouZou, a Turkish-Lebanese diner in Dubai. Known for their effortless flair, Mental Flame were quite familiar with the brand identity of the restaurant, having designed their previous branches. They reflected on the many aesthetics that link the two countries together to complement the culinary experience.

“Following a concept that is bursting with life and energy, the design aims to appeal to a wide range of palettes,” Mahdy tells #SceneHome. The restaurant’s versatility allows it to welcome couples looking for an intimate space to indulge in foot long kebabs, or large gatherings of friends and family on the hunt for the perfect humus. “We had to find a fine balance between staying consistent with some of its elements while adding a few twists to differentiate it from previous designs.”

As indirect lighting sets an ethereal ambiance, a variety of seating options presents the diner as fun and casual, while contemporary furniture establish an air of Mediterranean minimalism that showcases its swift and lean philosophy. Embedded within an abstract Islamic arch that pays tribute to Turkish decorations, blue patterns dazzle above tiles displaying a range of playful geometric patterns that are also present at the show kitchen. However, this set engages in an ornate dialogue with mosaics on the floor.

You’d think that the greenery popping out of ZouZou’s every corner is the Lebanese link, yet it’s the olive hue of the centerpiece sofa - acting as a joined seater for plenty of tables - that does the trick. They’ve rendered olive tree inspirations throughout the indoor environment, referencing its cultural significance that is complemented with the warmth of wood. Creating wholesome spatial experience isn’t novel to Mental Flame, after all, the studio ensures their designs aren’t just alluring in looks or soothing in experience, but also function effortlessly. Linking all their design choices with an artistic approach that lets them make sense as a whole.