CovetED exclusive interview with Ayman El Nashar. What he loves the most about his work is the immense variety weaved into his everyday life. “Meeting people from different backgrounds, working with world-class professionals based in different countries, creating spaces of various scale, style and purpose, and solving a myriad of challenges rooted in both my clients’ tangible spatial engineering needs and in their emotional desires.” – said the designer.
At Belhasa Interiors, in particular, the designer feels incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to grow his company from a small, local enterprise to one of the most sought after design studios in the region, taking on iconic commercial projects such as the century-old French café Fauchon, or the Dutch-Emirati halva shop SumSum, the urban streetwear KA-1, New York’s The Chocolate Bar and the Ministry of Justice’s Innovation Center.
“It is humbling to be able to work with some of the world’s most demanding and inspired clients: people who have profound life experience and who look for designers who can reflect those experiences in their spaces: be it a restaurant, a traditional coffee or retail shop, a pet store, a modern yacht, a luxury residence, a leadership majlis, an innovation centre, a small apartment or an office space.”
– Ayman El Nashar
The most challenging time of Saif’s career was when he decided to leave his path as an architect in Cairo and pursue a career in interior design in Dubai. “It was challenging in very profound ways – I found myself having to adapt to a much more diverse client base, a new set of demands, new municipality codes, management styles and a much larger and more impressive and ambitious volume of work.” – explained the designer. He realised very soon that there was a real appetite and appreciation for design across all levels of society, not solely among HNWIs and that there would be boundless opportunities to create.
“The main lesson that I believe I would impart to new joiners in the industry is to stay open to the possibilities, keep learning about our industry beyond the day-to-day tasks of our job and be open to criticism.” – he said. He feels very fortunate to have been mentored by Belhasa Interior’s Chairman, Saif Belhasa, who is a great believer in design and allowed him to grow from being an interior designer at his firm to become Belhasa Interiors’ managing director and head of design, allowing him to grow their client base from UAE-focused to truly international. This was invaluable to Ayman.
When asked if he has achieved everything in life, the answer was very clear. “Absolutely not. I believe I am just getting started and still have several goals to achieve. When I was recognized as one of the top 50 interior design leaders in MENA in 2019, I realized this is a region that deeply values design and does not only see it as a strategic growth sector but a sector that can contribute to social and environmental development.” – said Ayman. Therefore, he decided to gain his LEED AP in Interior Design and Construction and has made it mandatory for all designers at Belhasa Interiors to be LEED-certified as well. One of his main goals is to be recognized as an authority in the sustainable design and green building industry in the region and eventually worldwide.
A big dream for the designer is to drive the culture of design as a tool for the development of society and the protection of the environment. “I want to inspire younger generations of designers to look at design beyond its visual impact, and to capitalize on its potential to solve pressing global issues.” – said Ayman. He is currently working on an initiative that he hopes will become one of the main platforms to achieve this goal in the region and will be happy to share it with all of us once it’s ready. Stay tuned!
I am the most fulfilled when I work on projects that are challenging enough to push my creativity and problem-solving skills beyond my preconceived limits. I truly enjoy working on unique projects that have a substantial impact – socially and environmentally. One of the most fulfilling feelings for me is when I manage to address my client’s needs without them identifying or requesting it, to provide design solutions that make them interact with the space in the most natural and effortless way.
Ayman El Nashar truly believes that success in this industry is rooted in the ability of designers to understand and inspire people around us: clients, team members, furniture suppliers, contractors and so on. When communicating with his audience he always tries to understand his client’s point of view. “I always treat my audience as people first, and I am always interested to understand their points of view, stories, needs, and desires before I put pen to paper – irrespective of whether a project is commercial in nature or someone’s private residence.” – he explained.
The designer worked in an incredibly exciting restaurant at the iconic Mall of the Emirates – Fauchon Paris! “It was an honour to have worked on a project of this magnitude and scale, not only because it’s the brand’s first branch in the UAE but because it is a 130-year-old restaurant and one of the most significant cultural references in French culinary art.” – he stated. And added, “In our design, we wanted people to want to spend time at Fauchon, and see Fauchon as a reference at the mall, in a similar way in which it has acted as a reference in Paris.”. Currently, they are working on several commercial and governmental projects, but one that is exceptionally exciting for them now is a residential space on Palm Jumeirah.
Creatively speaking, for Ayman El Nashar, there is definitely a greater drive for sustainability in design – in the way they build the spaces but also in their usage of materials. “This is obviously taking a front seat in our industry, perhaps more predominantly in architecture. In interior design specifically, I would say biophilic design is definitely on the rise as people seek more interaction with nature within the spaces, they spend the majority of their time in.” – said Ayman. When talking about his experience working with Covet House, he explained that as this would be their first “face to face interaction”. Anyway, until now, the experience has been great and deal with the Covet team has been very exciting. Mostly because of the prospect of starting a beneficial collaboration.
“I believe the infusion of Technology will play a major part in the design industry and AI might be at the forefront of all projects in the future. I would like to see a more coherent relationship between designers and the products available in the market. Quite often you can see great disarray between what is being designed in the studios and what is applicable and available in the market.”
– Ayman El Nashar
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