Nuaimi Muse: Interior Designer Shaikha Al-Sulaiti
Nuaimi Collective sits down with Interior Designer Shaikha Al-Sulaiti to discuss the art of making a house a home…
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC? HOW DOES IT REFLECT YOUR PERSONALITY?
For the past decade, since graduating from VCU interior design program, I have been working on 5* hotels from concept to realization. During my experience, I have been lucky to work alongside some of the best international designers. Much of my design aesthetic has evolved over the years to be aligned with international standards and has a very strong hospitality aesthetic.
WHAT’S THE STARTING POINT FOR DESIGNING A ROOM?
As a starting point for my design process (after receiving the brief from the client on their preferences of course), I will start with a mood board. The mood board represents all the concepts of the design that I envision for the project, including the furniture selection, lighting, artwork and materials. After selecting these I start sketching the layouts and elevations by hand. This sketching stage is important, as it helps me modify the mood board if I need to. What is specifically important is the location of where I will use the accent furniture or finishes, as this will help create focal points in a room and create overall harmony.
HOW DO YOU COMBINE PERSONALITY AND LIFESTYLE INTO YOUR HOME INTERIORS?
When creating an interior space, the most important element is functionality – which is very much related to lifestyle. Understanding how a space will be used helps to mold a design that is aligned with the client’s expectations. Usually, I like to incorporate the personality in the artwork and accessories.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS IN DESIGN SUCH AS TEXTURE, HISTORY, PATTERN AND COLOUR?
For example, one of my favorite accent finishes to use is the mother of pearl wall covering by Maya Romanoff, or wood marquetry as a buffet table backdrop to create a dramatic focal point in a dining room. The choice to use such a finish means that the majority of the room should be finished with a more subtle material in order to make this special material stand out. The same is true for color and pattern.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE OUTSIDE ELEMENTS OF THE HOUSE TO THE INSIDE?
For me, I believe this is very important. There needs to be some sort of continuity from the exterior to the interior. Usually for modern architecture large glass windows are a main feature, this showcases the interiors from the outside and should read as an extension of the exterior materials and architectural elements.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE COLOURS TO CHANGE THE MOOD OF THE ROOM?
I like to use a lot of neutral tones as the main color in the room. However, there are a lot of different tonality of color within the neutral tones, each creates a different mood. Greys are more soothing where as warmer tones such as taupe make the room feel more cosy. I introduce bolder colours into the room through art, accessories and soft furnishings.
WHERE DO YOU SOURCE THE MOST INTERESTING DÉCOR PIECES?
One of my most trusted sources is Lux Deco. As well as being renowned in the styling field and working with international designers from around the world, they have an array of different options to choose from.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE RAW MATERIALS WITH REFINED MATERIALS?
Raw materials that I use in a space are usually stone or wood. Although, both these materials are treated in some ways for interior usage, I ensure to not jeopardize the honesty of the material – wood needs to look like wood, same for marble or stone.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE ART INTO THE DÉCOR?
Art is one of my favorite things incorporate into the design of a room. There are so many types of art and each piece can transform the ambiance of a room.
SHOULD EACH ROOM HAVE A FOCAL POINT, OR SHOULD YOU CREATE SMALL SPACES OF FOCUS?
I like to have one main focal point in a room, but I also like to create smaller stories throughout. This can be a special finish used for the back of a custom shelving unit, or quirky accent furniture pieces that are add an element of fun to a space.
HOW DO YOU HELP YOUR CLIENTS DISCOVER THEIR PERSONAL DESIGN AESTHETIC?
Usually a client comes to me with a certain aesthetic preference in mind. I would take their intent and develop it into a beautiful design which enhances the architectural plans I am working with.
HOW DO YOU TURN YOUR CLIENTS DREAMS INTO A REALITY?
Every client and every project is special to me. I love to design while working closely with the client. After designing, I provide detailed specifications for every piece of furniture and material I have used in order to realize the design.