Designer Ahmed Hussein is making his mark on Egypt’s interior design market. After starting his career as an architect in 2008, Hussein veered towards the interior design field, where his projects drew much acclaim from clients. He worked as a one-man show for almost a decade until he founded his company, Ahmed Hussein Designs, to be better able to handle his increasing workload. eniGma’s Farida El Sayed, sat down with Hussein to talk about his path to success and the challenges of the interior design industry in Egypt..
As interior design always your passion?
When I enrolled in the faculty of engineering, architecture was not on my mind at all. I thought I would study chemical engineering to follow in the footsteps of a cousin of mine who worked in a petroleum company getting a big salary. In the first year of engineering, you get to study all the engineering topics so you can identify what you like the most. I was getting really high grades in drawing classes, and barely passing the rest of the subjects. The counselor in charge of the drawing section saw my talent and told me that I should definitely go into architecture. I started thinking about what he told me and I realized it made sense. So, I ended up going into architecture.
When did Ahmed Hussein Designs officially take off?
It wasn’t till around four years ago (2014) that I started getting many job offers to design and execute whole projects. I was doing whole projects single handedly with absolutely no help, taking care of design, technical drawing, construction site, dealing with laborers and all the financial cycle. Basically, from A to Z. I officially established my company, Ahmed Hussein Designs, two years ago, but my name and my designs have been present in the market for 10 years now. I am working all over Egypt.
You also have Studio H. What is that?
About a year ago, I decided that Ahmed Hussein Designs would deal with interior and exterior design and landscaping only, and I started another company which I named, Studio H Contractors, to take care of the construction work. It is run by my partner, Dr. Mohamed Sabaat, an experienced college professor with a passion for construction. Design and construction are really two different businesses and I needed to focus on design. The first official Studio H job was a huge villa in El Sherouq City. This was followed by another villa in Mountain View, a project in Cairo Festival City, then another one in Palm Hills, Easttown. So, the company took off and is doing well.
What are your plans for the future?
For Studio H, we are looking to expand the company with bigger and much more significant projects and deals. As for Ahmed Hussein Designs, I want to establish my name, not just locally, but globally. In my view, Egypt is full of good designers and architects who need to work more to make their names known. Once you become known, there’s no stopping you.
Can you explain your aesthetic design?
I love everything modern, country, classic…etc. However, I like to always change my designs, while keeping them unique, in my own style and bearing my own signature. The design depends on the venue I’m designing. If I’m working, let’s say, on a beach house, I would add a bit of a country glam to it, and if it’s a city home, it would be more contemporary, sophisticated and chic. I think a designer should be creative and should be able to do it all, and not just stick to one theme. Otherwise, the clients will definitely get bored.
What is your favorite/most challenging project so far?
I would definitely say it’s our upcoming project, an 850m villa in Cairo Festival City. I am hoping to bring out the best with my designs and execution. A residence that’s so huge takes lots of skills in design, and so many details need to be covered. So, this one is definitely a challenge. I am also very proud of the Mountain View project we did, which turned out to be amazing and the client was very pleased with it.
How do you find the inspiration for your designs?
I get my inspiration from the styles the client likes. I also display my work to the client, so he can see new ideas to choose from. After that, I am left to create the design on my own. Once I am done, I send the design to the client, who normally thinks that it doesn’t match what he had in mind! So, we start a journey, going back and forth with adjustments, until we reach an agreement. I am open to whatever change the client would like to make, because after all, it’s his home. At the same time, the client has to leave a space for the designer’s creativity and vision too. It’s as if the client gets to draw the borders on a diagram and I get to play inside the space. We keep tackling the design from different angles until we finally come up with something we are both happy with, which is the most important thing.
How long does it take you to complete a project?
It takes from 6 to 12 months. We spend so much time together, by the time I am done, I am best friends with the client. From my perspective, every client has something to offer you. I love making connections and relationships.
Since you’ve established your own company are you still hands on with your projects?
Sure. But, this only increases the pressure on me. I still have to make sure that every single one of my staff is getting the job done as perfectly as possible. So, quality control is in order. But I am definitely more focused. You have to realize this is not just business for me. I am following my passion in life, so I have to see to everything, first hand. I draw my designs myself and I go to the construction sites myself to make sure everything is coming together perfectly.
What are your likes and dislikes about your job?
What I dislike is that it’s really exhausting, time consuming and it kills your social life. I usually work from 9 am to 2 am. Of course, we also meet problems along the way, but they all pass eventually. What I like is the taste of success, when I feel it was all worth it and it finally pays off. For instance, the last Mountain View project was just posted on Facebook and the amount of commotion and number of likes and comments it’s getting is just unbelievable.
Do you mostly work on residential or commercial projects?
Now, I work mostly on residential projects. A while ago, our projects were mainly commercial. It really depends on the market. But, I totally love designing houses.
What makes you different from the other interior designers in the market?
I give every project 100 percent of my effort, as if it’s my very first job. I don’t like being distracted with competition. I am entirely self-oriented, and I just aim to be number 1 in my field. Of course, I have to remain up to date to make sure I am always on the right track and I applaud all the other designers who do good work. Many of these designers are my friends and we are on very good terms.
“I want to establish my name, not just
locally, but globally”