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Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I work in real estate, and I do interior design. The real estate part is developing properties in New York, mostly in Brooklyn. I added interior design a few years ago. And I've been doing real estate development for the last nine years.
How did you get into interior design?
When I got into real estate development and managing projects, I discovered I had a knack for design and I decided to continue with development, and to also do interior design. So that's how things shifted toward design..
Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?
I'm working on a few projects now. One is at the World Trade Center in Norfolk, Virginia. We're refreshing the whole lobby to make it feel completely different. It's right on the water, and we’re trying to make it more contemporary. So we're adding murals and having an artist do some wall art all over the walls in the lobby. It's really exciting—I can't wait for the construction to start and to see the end result of it.
How do you choose art for a project like this and how do you think about art generally when it comes to interior design?
If my client doesn't know or is trying to figure out what they want to put in their home or their space, I recommend art that reflects what they’re influenced by. Or I choose art based on their personality, along with the location, the space, and the story of the space. Art always helps tell or complete that story. I basically have to interview the client to figure out what they want and what will make sense.
Was it nerve wracking to start your own company during the pandemic?
I think so. Of course, real estate slowed for me and interior design kind of started because people just paid more attention to their space. And it gave me time to be creative. I grew up in Egypt and I want to include that influence in the spaces that I design, and I had the time to think about how to do that. During the pandemic, it wasn't as bad as people might imagine in interior design, because people paid attention and they wanted to have a professional to come and help renovate their space. So strangely it was beneficial in a way.
Do you do any staging as well?
Yes, because I also work for developers. Staging is important of course, for photography and to enable people to imagine the space.
How do you approach the job differently when it's a staging versus a more permanent design? Do you have more freedom with staging?
Staging is more like a blank canvas, where I can put anything. But usually when clients choose to work with me, they just believe in what I see. They trust that I see their vision and that I can just make it happen—I take their dream and turn it into a real plan. So in that sense, I tend to have freedom with interior design, as well.
What do you love about your job?
I love when the place is under demolition. Usually that's the best part. Working from zero and building out from there. That's the best part.
For the audience, what is your advice for designing a home?
My advice would be planning is number one. You have to plan every corner—everything. Just imagine that you’re living there, and what your like would be. So imagination is always a key, thinking about every day and what you’ll do, and how you’ll use each space. If you So it's really working on imagination and planning at the same time.
What is your next goal?
I always like to bring Egyptian influence into my design, and I want to expand that. I’m currently speaking to designers from Egypt, getting craftsmen and crafts, so I can incorporate that into wallpaper and things like that. Egypt has a calligraphy tradition and that has a strong influence in my design aesthetic. My vision is to definitely grow my portfolio and to further incorporate the Egyptian influence in my design.