Nakkash Design Studio Creates a Light and Bright Gluten-Free Cafe in Dubai

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When conducting research for a gluten-free cafe in the Dubai Marina, the founder of Nakkash Design Studio went above and beyond—he adopted the diet himself. “Limitations in design are like dietary restrictions—they breed creativity,” says Omar Nakkash. “Just as you must explore new foods when you refrain from gluten, you explore new design concepts too.”

This mentality shaped the design of Kobe-ya, which features energizing shades of teal and pistachio alongside earthy neutrals. But the palette is just one of many elements in the cafe that reference the food it serves up. In addition to exploring a gluten-free diet for a time, Nakkash surveyed friends with gluten-free lifestyles, asking them to put adjectives to their experiences, which the designer then used as a guide for his work. The resulting interior is inviting in its simplicity with plenty of natural light and greenery, as well as a few bold—perhaps unexpected—accents. Micro-cement flooring features brand illustrations, designed by the studio, and a Kuda wooden sculpture handcrafted from century-old wood greets diners as they walk in. With its elegant yet cozy design, Kobe-ya succeeds in making gluten-free dishes and pastries accessible to all—even those who prefer to carbo-load as they please.

The interior of the cafe is bright and airy with plenty of greenery.
Nakkash incorporated greenery from the inception rather than at the end. “We believe adding living organisms such as plants not only brings the concept life but adds a spirit and soul,” he says.
A dining nook with floral wall accents and bold geometric patterns on the floors.
A dining nook with floral wall accents.
A view of an orange circle on the micro-cement floor.
The micro-cement flooring features branding by the studio.
The tables reference the airy aesthetic throughout.
The tables reference the airy aesthetic throughout.
A handcrafted wooden sculpture greets visitors at the cafe entrance.
A handcrafted wooden sculpture greets visitors at the cafe entrance.
The bathroom features more floral installations.
The bathroom features more floral installations.
A wall of clay-colored tile in the bathroom.
The tile in the bathroom offers a nod to the cafe’s earthy palette.

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