The design for Dai Forni restaurant was inspired by the tastes, smells and textures of the Mediterranean, and in particular, the island of Sicily. Designed by Kokai Studios, the restaurant is part of the emerging global, cultural, culinary trend of regional rather than national cuisines, and the restaurant design and cuisine are a testament to this trend.
The space was envisioned to treat all the senses. The entrance is characterised by a large green wall – an innovative structure filled with varieties of local desert plants. Large ‘fire pillars’ frame the entrance and sandstone floors lead to the main dining area. One of the key elements of the design is the massive antipasti counter covered in Italian hand treated copper. The front dining area is a stunning 12-meter-high space with panoramic views of the city and the Arabian Gulf beyond.Diffused light through custom designed, metal mesh curtains gives the space a soft shimmering glow.
Three large, hand-hammered, copper wood burning ovens from Australia take centerstage. These specially made ovens are operated daily with a specifically chosen Hungarian fragrant wood that lends a unique smell and flavour to the food, and three semi-circular banquette seating backed by Sicilian lava stone walls, offer prime views of the chefs at work.
Both the seating and the custom designed chandeliers are inspired by traditional Sicilian woven baskets. The idea also extends to the two private dining rooms where the walls are finished in rough woven rope, which contrasts with the doors and sunscreens. The screens feature an intricate pattern created in carved corian, inspired by the local mashrabiya pattern, but are in fact traditional lace patterns from Sicily. While the restaurant concept is centered on fire, the bathrooms act as refreshing counterpoint, featuring hand painted, blue and white Italian tiles and a video installation of a waterfall designed by Shanghai-based video designers Flatmind.