Visionary, distinctive, and utterly creative, Ahmed Hussein has built an impressive career in the interior design industry where he works on massive projects, both locally and internationally. Having started his career 13 years ago as a one-man show, he expanded his design house to serve top-tier residential and commercial projects. We met with Ahmed for a talk where he shared with us his story and journey towards success in interior design.
First, we would like to know more about your journey in interior design?
Upon my graduation in 2008, I started my career as an employee, but it did not take long for me to decide I want to work on my own. I worked as a freelancer for a while with just a few projects. Six years later as the workload and projects were increasing significantly, I came to the conclusion that having an office is a must, and that was the first step of expansion. We spent around 5 years at the old office until we moved to this new one. When I worked on designing that office, I wanted to create one that feels like home since I spend 12-13 hours a day working. Additionally, it allows clients to have a look at my designs in real life.
Can you remember how it felt designing your first project?
It was during the time I worked as a freelancer. The project was designing a small apartment, and even though it was not really profitable, I was keen to take that project because the rewarding part for me was seeing my first project come to life, and this gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
Tell us about a project you enjoyed working on the most and another that you didn’t enjoy much
Regarding the first part of your question, it is a house in Barcelona that we are still working on currently. This project is different in many aspects beginning with the technical drawings to the utilization of materials. Despite the fact that it is a challenging project, it added a lot to our experience. There isn’t a single project that I didn’t enjoy working on. When you love your job and do it with passion, you enjoy every bit of the process, even when it gets hectic or challenging.
A moment or a project that shaped your career
It is not a specific turning point or a project, it is the progress I achieve along the way. I set plans for myself every year, long-term and short-term ones. I assess my progress every year and I’ve been noticing that I am always steps ahead of my plans. I am really grateful that I was able to accomplish way more than I expected.
Clients are not always easy to please, how do you handle it when a client rejects your ideas?
Clients have different tastes and preferences, and that is totally normal. Every client needs a different and personal approach so that together we can create something unique. By the end, the client should feel comfortable in his own home. Sometimes clients do not really know what they want, so it is my role to direct and guide them. Flexibility is important in our job because sometimes the client can have second thoughts on the colors or other elements of the design, so in that case, we change the direction, as long as this doesn’t affect the technical part of the process such as the measurements.
What is the strangest request you received from a client?
To be completely honest, I may reject projects sometimes, in cases where we are given a brief that doesn’t align with our aesthetic standards. Apart from that, we face funny situations sometimes, for instance, a client once requested while we were finalizing the house to spread salt under the tiles. We also receive different and unfamiliar requests. Another client once asked us to create a hidden room in his house and to equip it with all the necessities including food sufficient for one month, ventilation, as well as security and safety precautions.
What is your source of inspiration?
Interior designers find inspiration in everything around them, their eyes are like a camera that captures and records all the details. Even the simple details like the colors of an outfit someone is wearing can inspire me in my designs.
What do you love the most about your job and what is the most frustrating aspect?
The most rewarding moment is when you finish your project and see your design brought to life and begin to experience the look and feel of all the details. It really feels like a moment of victory, and this is one of the things I love the most about my job. On the other hand, it is not an easy job and requires a lot of dedication, attention, and effort. We spend extensive working hours thinking about the very fine details and the planning process to make sure that the outcome is a piece of art. But in the end, having a passion for what you do makes the difficult aspects of the job a lot easier.
Is it easy to combine beauty and functionality?
A good design is one that doesn’t compromise functionality or practicality for the sake of creating art and beauty. So as an interior designer, I make sure that both elements are combined. If we create a beautiful design that is not practical, it will not be convenient for the resident or the space owner and vice versa, a place that is functional but lacks beauty will end up looking and feeling dull.
From the eye of a designer, what is the first thing that catches your eye when you enter a room?
Ceilings, especially that they are sometimes neglected in design. Usually the walls and the floors get more attention to details in the design.
What is your favorite interior design style?
Honestly, I cannot just limit it to one style. I decide on the style depending on the space and the client’s preference. But generally, I really prefer to infuse natural materials in the design such as wood and marble. Definitely adding other artificial materials is needed in the process but the more natural materials, the more alive and appealing the space becomes.
How do you set yourself apart from other interior designers?
Honestly, I do not get motivated by competition or comparison with others, but rather comparing where I stand today with where I was the last year or the year before. I always work on becoming a better version of myself, this is how one can evolve and progress in their career.
Finally, an advice you'd give for any upcoming designer.
I would advise anyone beginning their career as an interior designer to have patience and to take it step by step. Most graduates are eager to start their own business immediately after graduation thinking they will build a name in the market easily and quickly. It actually doesn’t work that way, you need time and effort to reach this point. So, always work on improving your skills and yourself.