Al Design, the family business run by architects Sabry Rizkallah and his two sons, Fady and Samer, have left its imprint on architectural design across the country with a combined experience of 40 years. eniGma’s Mariam Nowar sat down with the family of architects at their Dokki showroom to talk about their extensive work with some of the country’s biggest names after deciding to specialise solely in the art of interior design.
Al Design sees its main goal as making people’s fantasies, which vary with each unique personality, come true. By intently listening to their clients, they produce designs that turn their client’s house or office to a comfortable space they can enjoy. They start off by an in-depth visit to the site, followed by brainstorming sessions, before formulating an illustrated plan and presenting it to the client to enable him to see what the project will look like after it is finished. Adjusting the design to the client’s wants, needs and financial budget is the challenge.
Each member of the Al Design family plays a unique role in the business. The father, Sabry, is the mastermind who oversees the whole business and everything passes through him. Fady is in charge of managing the projects as a whole, while Samer, the younger brother, focuses on the design process. Samer explains, “I prefer working on modern designs, and especially villas. And I enjoy the human element of our profession, which involves encountering different types of personalities with each project.” He says that Fady leans more towards a commercial approach while father Sabry “follows the classic route all the way.”
“Interior design is making the best possible use of the available space,” says Fady. “I believe the sky is the limit in what we can provide for our clients,” he adds. “For example, if a client likes to go to the movies, then why not see if we can install an in-door theatre for him?” He quickly adds, “Of course, the budget is definitely important. Your priority as a client will normally be the price. Of course, I can’t imagine conceptualising a layout that would cost 10 million EGP when my client can barely afford his apartment.”
Elaborating on the importance of carefully listening to the client, Samer explains how a client might share with them that he spends most of the time in a specific room, and how the orthodox way for a designer to incorporate this information would be to keep that room as the main focus of the design. At Al Design, however, their response would be to focus more on how they can entice their client out of that room and to use the rest of the house more.
Al Design doesn’t always rely on in-house design sketches, and are flexible when clients come to them with their own ready layout. They consider this an opportunity to learn about what’s happening in the market and they don’t mind the challenge of executing someone else’s vision. When it comes to making compromises, the Al Design family has only a few red lines. “We can compromise with materials, like between marble and tiles, and we are flexible when it comes to working within a wide price range. The only two aspects we never compromise on are in the infrastructure, be it electricity or sanitation,” Fady explains. “These are inside the walls and you can’t see them,” Sabry adds, “But I may not take the project if I can’t do them the right way, and we simply don’t accept mistakes there.”
Al Design is hoping to continue their expansion across the globe and their ambitions have no limit. They’ve recently worked on Al Shorouk Bookstores’ chains across Cairo and Alexandria, along with the famed Microsoft Building at the Smart Village. When asked about how they define success, the three Rizkallahs agreed that their moment of triumph is when a client phones them back to say thank you or refers them to a friend.