Today, I'll try to hit two birds with one croissant. I'll share a story about what I really do and why I do it. After that I will show a fun apartment we did.
You see, it took me a really long time to admit what I'm really passionate in. I was in denial for years after having gone through many interview rejections for not having enough personal designs to show in my design portfolio. Back then I built myself a corporate career in interior project sales and project management. I was mostly managing designers and I spent the first ten years of my career in Dubai presenting in front of clients, selling other designers' designs or products and managing the project from start to completion.
I enjoyed the first company I was in for the adrenalin rush of not having routine, but when I moved to selling chandeliers for a luxury lighting brand, I was taken away from the actual interior design practice. There was no room to practice creativity nor hone my craft. I became a lighting supplier and it was all numbers and figures which I didn't really enjoy. However, it was the daily widening of comfort zones that benefited me. I never thought I would meet and work with really talented designers, one of which created iconic projects that I'm proud to be a part of even from a manufacturer's perspective.
Though being in a practical world, I was torn because if I were to work in the design field, I won't be earning as much as I would in sales and won't be enjoying the incentives and benefits from just working 9-5 hours and the comfort of having full undisturbed weekends.
It started when the luxury brand I was working for gave me the responsibility to design and manage the renovation of their Middle East Headquarters. I took the leap, left my lighting supply job and worked with them as a freelance design consultant.
Several months later, while I was in Busuanga Island in 2013, I received a phone call and email from a former client I was selling chandeliers to, to join their design team. I was flabbergasted, especially when they entrusted me to design a five star hotel with 380+ rooms consisting of 2 towers for an international hotel brand at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. (Sorry, I can't share images of what I worked on because it's under the property of the firm).
In the design world, the working hours are not fixed and some weekends are sacrificed due to deadlines and it was something I was ready for. The hours go by unnoticed. Even when I became pregnant, at times I forgot I was pregnant as I enthusiastically carried material boards to present during meetings.
I took pleasure working with the team. I was amazed by the trust they have given me and the mentorship I have gained. I had the best design manager anyone could wish for because he allowed me to explore my style and guided me throughout. I also had the best managing director who's both perfectionist and incredible with people.
I remember coming to the office most mornings before anyone gets there so I could browse inside the material library alone. There, I'd get excited going through fabric and wallpaper samples. I look forward to my day of designing suites and hotel rooms. I had the liberty to choose furniture, lighting, wall finishes etc. I got to meet suppliers, this time as their client.
Given my experience being a supplier made me sensitive and responsive to them. I know the feeling of not receiving email acknowledgment nor feedback so I make sure, they get due respect. The whole role switch made me understand why designers can be so moody too. It's because they're in a lot of stress! They hardly have time for anything. Still, despite all the overtime work, I enjoyed it.
Lately, due to our recent life change, I admit I miss it. I know this because I spent one afternoon with two lovely interior designers I have been working with and we talked about Interior Design until 3AM!
So yes, I hope to get back to it one day.
For today, I'd like to share a tiny apartment along Sheikh Zayed Road that we've converted into a cozy love nest for Chris and Christine. You might remember Christine's apartment here.
I started redecorating their One-Bedroom apartment flat in Business Bay at the beginning of 2014. We purchased furniture from IKEA and selected fabric for the curtains which we had custom- made from Dragon Mart. Unfortunately, due to some inconveniences and problems in their flat, they were forced to move to another apartment in a more ideal location just walking distance from Chris' work and very easy access to Christine's a well.
It was a copy paste of sorts, which was very practical especially for expats in a cosmopolitan city like Dubai,who frequently move. As an expat, we tend to have a nomad mentality, but Chris and Christine wanted to create a "cozy home" where they can relax at the end of the day.
Here's how we did it..
We had very limited budget and in order to achieve this, we:
- made sure to purchase well proportioned furniture size and neutral material selections. Flexible furniture that can be re-positioned. We bought the Visalund Sofa Bed from IKEA with Vejmon coffee table in black-brown.
- chose fabric for the curtains along with the rods from Dragon Mart and the previous sizes fortunately fit the new apartment.
- had a great steal which was a discounted lush Silk Rug from Merinos
- used some furniture pieces and accessories from her previous apartment which were purchases from The One warehouse at Dubai Outlet Mall.
She downsized a bit and let go of some furniture that didn't fit the new apartment to avoid clutter and keep her home calm and welcoming. Be not afraid to say goodbye to some pieces that will not be useful in the new space.
Love & light,