photography by ahmed ehab
designed: 2016 by ramzi makram-ebeid
A holistic family friendly wellness center, Osana set out to bring a much-needed service to the local community. Despite its short deadline (two and a half months), I was intrigued by the project and was instantly hooked.
The 1920s villa secured as a venue had a huge garden and great layout, but the space had been neglected and sadly many of its original components were no longer there. Identifying the functions of the space and arranging it in the most effective way, I soon began the conceptual phase. My vision was straightforward: a modernized Art Nouveau villa highlighted by Swedish design accents.
Setting the Foundation
To bring back the original feel of the space, I removed the outdated tiles that existed in certain areas and replaced them with salvaged tiles from the correct era. To modernize the effect, I framed the tiles with smooth concrete.
Due to certain limitations, some components only received a refresher. The alometal window frames were simply painted in Osana green, while the low-grade white wood staircase was given a light-hearted makeover. Since Osana is a space intended for children, I felt the entrance needed a whimsical element and the baluster was my muse. Starting with white and gradually adding pigments of the Osana green to each rod of the baluster, I succeeded in bringing a subtle gradient of color to the space. Meanwhile, white risers and dark-stained treads rendered the staircase as more era appropriate.
Drawing on the 1920s and minimal Swedish design for my furniture selection, the outdoor yoga pavilion – designed by a Cairo-based German architect, Cornelia Redeker – was a fundamental part of the inspiration and led me to introduce white wood strips throughout the space, thus creating a common, harmonious thread.
Setting the Mood
Overall I wanted the space to be homey yet compelling to regular, daily customers. The walls were largely left white for the ever-changing hanging art pieces and most areas were kept subtle except for the reception. Alongside the staircase of greens and the salvaged tiles, the fuchsia topped reception desk is a useful eyecatcher that directs clients towards assistance. The glass board that hangs across the counter displays Osana’s monthly schedule, making the setup sleek and easy to use.
A special feature of Osana and specifically requested by my clients, the ‘mommy & me’ toilets are located in the ground floor bathroom next to the reception. I installed the same white-stained furniture as seen elsewhere in the space, a large scale doodle wall for kids to entertain themselves with and changing facilities for babies; the only thing left was to choose a color. The Osana green made the space too loud, while a simple white was too dull. Luckily, the original stone of the building was beautiful and proved to be the ideal solution. Creating a pleasant contrast to the light wood, the gray color also worked in favor of the writing wall, making it dark enough to draw on.
The café’s main focus is the display fridge and everything else was designed around it, from the counter above it to the layout of the tables. Modern and bordered in black metal, I continued to introduce black elements throughout the space with the purpose of creating a link. The wooden counter reflects the yoga pavilion and is topped it off with a pair of stunning brass water dispensers that were bought locally. Salvaged ceiling corniches from the 1920’s were transformed into indirect lighting sources and along with the gray-stained vintage café chairs, all these elements brought soul and warmth to the space. Meanwhile minimal white tables and a modern banquette create the necessary balance between the aged and the contemporary. Quirkiness and humor is important in a café designed for all ages and this came in the form of playful throw pillows and a custom designed tray tower with duck feet.
The café extends to the outdoors and I used the same tables as inside, only altering the color to be more weather appropriate. For a bit of soul, we placed a striking piece of Art Nouveau fer forgé as the central design element of the communal table.
The nursery was integral to the success of Osana and after selecting the finishes I drew an outline of how I envisioned the space. Hala Freiji-Rostek of NokNok took my sketch and turned the simple outline into a beautiful playhouse that’s durable, child safe and super fun.
With the purpose of being serene and relaxing, the yoga studios and massage rooms are white on white with subtle accents of color in the fabrics, rugs and accessories. For added texture, I played around with different finishes of the same color – i.e white.
Functional, serene and true to its origins, I’m happy to say that Osana’s design proved as holistic as the service the center provides.