Company: Jam Space Ltd
Position within company: Founder and Principal Designer
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc.)
After working for twenty years in residential and commercial interior design projects as Eklego Design’s founding partner, I moved to London with my family. The reinterpretation and integration of traditional Egyptian forms and elements in my pieces and spaces has been a recurrent theme in my work. We have received various awards for the boat, Nubia Nile Dahabeyya, Forty West Apartments and two residential projects in Egypt. Those projects have also been published in various books and magazines. I have a degree in Interior Design from the New York School of Interior Design and a BA in Political Science with a minor in Fine Arts from the American University in Cairo. I have also completed extensive course work in the field of Islamic Art and Architecture.
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
Contemporary with eclectic accents. Fundamentally I love design and I have always found great enjoyment and delight in creating homes and environments that reflect the spirit and needs of the people who live, work or stay there.
I search for design and use fabrics, textures and colours that tell a story and that provoke an emotional response, albeit that the response is simply one of immediate comfort and relaxation. It is exciting for me to be able to blend and juxtapose different influences in my design work. I strive to fuse my clients’ passions with their more practical needs. The modern or provocative can sit alongside the design steeped in tradition and in the same way the demands of a family, office or restaurant can be met without compromising the elegance or design led details.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I am always inspired by my surroundings, and if I were to be influenced by a trend, it is usually unintentional. I believe good design should be timeless and not dictated by any trends. I have a strong belief in building on one’s personal heritage and creating objects which are inspired by personal experiences. My most cherished designs are those that are based on reinterpretations of historic spaces or ornaments within a contemporary context. A perfect example is the Depet sofa, which is made of solid wood and inspired by an ancient Egyptian barge. I also relish fusing old with new, such as in the Bukhara table by Eklego Design, where a hand embroidered traditional Suzanni is encapsulated at high heat within two sheets of Perspex.
In what direction, do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
With the globalisation of the world our influences and interiors have become increasingly diverse and eclectic and this artful and playful aesthetic is something I embrace.
The use of noble materials and vibrant colours juxtaposed against subdued hues of grey. For example, copper splashes are going to remain strong.
A strong appreciation of skilfully made handicrafts within a contemporary context seems to be increasingly on the rise too.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2017 and beyond.
1 Recycle Items and find new ways of usage
Always work with what you have, recycling items and configuring new ways of displaying them. Recently, for example, I used a client’s radio from the fifties as a bar.
2 Bring in pieces that have emotional connection
Make sure to bring out pieces that you are emotionally attached to, that emotion usually conveys a story through the piece. A grandmother’s chair that is reupholstered or an old teapot that has been turned into a side lamp.
3 Mix old and new
Mixing old and new in the same corner is always very effective in evoking an eclectic feel. For example, contemporary comfortable sofas are fabulous with kilim or traditionally embroidered throw pillows.
4 Mirror Reflection
I love collecting old doors and old windows and inserting mirrors in their openings. The interaction of the person viewing them is always interesting and adds mystery as well as depth to any room.
5 Use wallpaper as a feature
Using wallpaper or cladding can add a strong feature to a room. Our wallpaper collections are inspired by ancient Egyptian ornaments, symbols, every day materials and patterns that you would find on a walk around Cairo, as well as hand painted wallpaper inspired by colours and textures as experienced during a safari in South Africa. We often use these in our projects to give a room character.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to product design, what would it be?
Re-adapt historical and cultural forms, traditional crafts and motifs to create new spaces and pieces that have character.
How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
It is important because it is vote driven and it gives you an opportunity to see what people truly think of your designs. It is also a great professional opportunity to network with different disciplines within the design world given the extensive categories it covers.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just completed a 16000 square foot private residence overlooking the Pyramids in Egypt and I am about to embark on the full renovation of a Victorian terraced house in Parsons Green.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Our main objective is to increase our web presence, our visibility as interior design consultants and launch our new fabric and wallpaper collection
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
An antique Coptic Church chair, given to me by my mother in law
Your favourite holiday destination?
The north coast of Egypt.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
11 Madison in New York.
Your favourite book / film / song?
The Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
Your favourite food and drink?
Middle Eastern food and good wine.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Playing with my daughters and reading after a visit to an art exhibition and lunch with a good friend.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?