The Maldives’ first immersive art resort opens

    800 450 Hamish Kilburn
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    Joali in The Maldives has unveiled a full immersive array of eco-inspired artworks and high-concept sustainable design throughout… 

    Conceived as an immersive island retreat, Joali Maldives has opened with an array of original, experiential works of art and dynamic design, reflecting the beauty of nature, and with sustainability at their core. Situated on the idyllic isle of Muravandhoo in the remote Raa Atoll, just 45 minutes by seaplane from Male, the unspoilt island celebrates the creativity of world-class talent.

    Dotted around the resort, adorning villas and hidden beneath the waves are a collection of extraordinary works by 13 international artists, hand-picked by curators and concept developers of No LaB; Ala Onur and Zeynep Ercan. From sculptures to design and experiential pieces, No LaB has chosen pieces which capture and conserve nature both visually and materially. Each artwork is thoughtfully integrated into their natural surroundings: some pieces were created by artists on-site, other creative concepts were adapted for Joali’s tropical climate. Joali will continue to curate surprising interactive art experiences, with new pieces added throughout the year. An annual art calendar will host a roster of workshops and residencies with visiting artists, designed to inspire, inform and enchant.

    Image caption: Three-bedroom ocean residence with two Pools

    Joali’s impressive roster of artworks are integrated with impeccable design and architectural skill by acclaimed Istanbul-based Autoban, whose other projects include House Hotels Istanbul and London’s Duck and Rice. The firm used custom-made furnishings, hand-carved wooden panels, local wood, bamboo and terrazzo flooring to create the ultimate sense of jungle chic. In designing the resort, Autoban worked to preserve the natural flora of the island as much as possible, saving more than 1,000 palm trees in the process. On arrival, guests are wowed by an impressive Manta Ray-shaped welcome jetty complete with undulating Maldivian thatched roof crafted by Istanbul’s Atölye4n, while Tokyo-based Studio Glitt are behind standout Japanese restaurant SAOKE, with its majestic pyramid roof made up of timber blocks like origami, with clean lines and soft lighting reflecting Japanese aesthetics.

    Heron Chair & Manta Ray Treehouse – Porky Hefer, Cape Town

    A beak-like seat hangs on the beach/bar area of the hotel

    Image caption: Porky Hefer_ Grey Herron Head found in the Mura Bar area

    Vernacular architect Porky Hefer, who recently partnered with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation at Art Basel, displays his signature passion for local wildlife and endangered species, with his hanging ‘Heron’ chairs, which overlook the beach. The grey heron is the national bird of the Maldives and Joali’s signature, spirit animal. Hefer’s astonishing Manta Ray hideaway, woven in-situ from natural materials (WHAT) is suspended in the trees, experiential dinners in the treetops. His imaginative, nature-inspired works are designed for functionality as well as style, and have a message of conservation.

    Club Tropicana Table & Underwater Coral Sculpture Garden – Misha Kahn, New York

    Renowned for his sculptures which use unconventional materials, including recycled rubbish, bronze and glue, at Joali, Kahn has created an underwater sculpture garden using a combination of vibrant-coloured and pale mosaic tiles to reflect the coral bleaching occurring in the Indian Ocean. Visitors to the island will be able to snorkel or dive to interact with this piece, and coral itself will gradually attach as part of the regeneration of the reef. Above land, Kahn’s Gaudi-esque communal table, which echos the shapes of the underwater pieces, is the perfect spot for sunset drinks and experiential dining experiences overlooking the beach.

    Evolution Chair – Nacho Carbonell, Spain

    A contemporary bench on a white beach

    Image caption: Nacho Carbonell_Vandhoo, The Art Bench

    Recreated especially for Joali with materials like sand and tree sap, Nacho Carbonell’s iconic Evolution chair has been adapted for the tropical climate. The cocoon-like chair offers a private moment of quiet introspection to anyone seated inside its depths.


    ‘PEARL’ wall art – Seckin Pirim, Istanbul

    A dark room, lit by an eye-catching clam-like centrepiece by Seckin Pirim have a ripple shape reminiscent of the aquamarine waters surrounding the island

    Image caption: The water villa features an eye-catching clam-like centrepiece by Seckin Pirim have a ripple shape reminiscent of the aquamarine waters surrounding the island

    On the wall of each villa, an eye-catching clam-like centrepiece by Seckin Pirim have a ripple shape reminiscent of the aquamarine waters surrounding the island. Pirim’s installations are a reflection on his childhood memories and pick up on the varied tones of brilliant sea blue around Joali.

    Maldives Vibes – Zemer Peled, Israel

    Inspired by the Maldives’ rich underwater world and appearing in Joali Spa, this dramatic sculpture comments on the issue of coral bleaching affecting the region, with striking bursts of colour against a stark white backing reflecting a hope for future regeneration.

    The hotel, which opened in December 2018 on the island of Muravandhoo, embodies the joys of life in its focus on art, wellbeing and sustainable luxury, with a boutique feel to its 73 beach and over water villas.


    Hamish Kilburn / 02.01.2019


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