During the past few years, interior design and contracting services increasingly became a very crowded industry, with new talented designers and contractors hopping onto this rising career trend. Meanwhile, experienced designers have also become ever busier and gained increased stature as even more clients relied on their services and were thrilled with the results.
Amr Yousry & Youssef El Barbary Contracting & Construction (YCC), the contracting and design firm run by CEO Amr Yousry and engineering Managing Director Youssef El Barbary, started out in 1996 as a contracting company called Normandy, run by Yousry at the time. In 2005, after graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the American University in Cairo, El Barbary joined Yousry’s firm as a contractor, initially intending to stay only until he was called for military duty. El Barbary immediately got along so well with Yousry who had been a friend of his father, and stayed at Normandy, which became YCC three years ago. Through the two partners’ dynamic teamwork and shared passion for their work, YCC has been making its mark in the design industry, one project at a time.
“We chose to transition to YCC because we wanted to start doing interior design. The ‘Y’ stands for both our names, Youssef and Yousry.It’s a real partnership we work very well together. This change came three years ago, and we’ve already done some design projects that we are very proud of,” explains Yousry, whose prior experience and extensive knowledge in the industry, helped them reach the heights they are proud to have achieved.
“With the tremendous rise in compound living, the demand for contracting and interior design grew tremendously; now more than ever,” says El Barbary, explaining the surge in the interior design industry. “Social media changed everything and it played a big part in the demand for interior design. Before, it was very rare for people to hire interior designers, because they simply thought it was a luxury, and that they could do better by themselves. That’s not the case anymore. People are more educated about the topic now and they know that getting an interior designer is actually cheaper than designing your own home. Social media did that!” exclaims Yousry.
YCC has a professional staff of around 11 different engineers who all work together to create the designs and to execute them. A very detailed process is involved before the end product is reached. YCC takes on projects from start to finish, starting with an empty plot of land, until it turns it into a livable space. From laying the very first red brick to the final touches in the interior design, YCC does it all.
“The first meeting with clients is just a listening session. We listen to their ideas and show them some references for what they want to do, and start working from there,” explains El Barbary. “After the contracting and construction is done, we begin the interior design. We can either do the design ourselves or collaborate with another interior designer of the client’s choice and then proceed to execute the designs. We’ve worked with some of the top interior designers in the field and it’s always a great experience,” says Yousry.
While their extensive experience and expertise give them an edge on knowing which designs would work best with a given space, the two YCC partners are flexible and make sure each client gets the style of design he requests. “We are not the ones who are going to live in the house. They are! It should fit their own style.” exclaims Yousry. “Personally, I love modern and contemporary. That’s what I did with my own house. Generally, I also prefer brighter colours. There was a phase when browns were very big in interior design, but people get tired with these trends after a while. Of course, we still use them if the client wants them; but personally, that’s not what I go for. Meanwhile, Amr prefers classic designs. He thinks they’re much more chic and elegant.Everyone has his own preferences in everything, not just interior design,” El Barbary remarks.
“The main challenge we face is deadlines,” confesses Yousry. “It’s different in each case. For some projects, we have a very limited time to deliver them, while with others we have all the time in the world. You can never tell which of these is going to come your way. You just have to adjust your work schedule accordingly,” he continues. “Thankfully we have always managed to finish our designs and execute them in record time for each project, regardless of its size!” exclaims El Barbary.
While every contractor and interior designer’s goal is to work on big projects because they leave more room for creativity, Yousry and El Barbary stress that YCC takes on projects of all kinds and sizes, from large villas to small apartments, with a variety of budgets with no minimum. Even their projects are more often residential, they also work on commercial projects and office spaces.
“Contracting is such a tricky game,” reveals El Barbary. “It requires managing a lot of things and knowing what goes where; and when to work on which part of the space. In design — many factors depend on one another, so we always need a plan, otherwise, it would all fall apart. In my view, that’s what often makes interior designers and contractors a necessity. The average person doesn’t know all the details involved and can be left with a poor end product, doing everything on his own. He would then have to start over again from scratch,” he explains. “It saves money to have a contractor and it’s always worth the investment,” adds Yousry.
As for the future, and where they want to go with YCC, Yousry and El Barbary admit that this is a challenge all of its own. However, YCC is not alone in that respect. All businesses take some time to figure out what is best for them. As for YCC, their plan is to continue to follow all developments in interior design and construction, while deepening the incorporation of automation technologies that they introduced in recent years.
“We really want the process to become simpler. That’s our main goal for the future,” says Yousry, adding, “We want to create and execute designs that are more spacious, visually pleasing and ahead of their time. It’s a tough goal to achieve, to be ahead of everyone else, because the world moves so fast now. But we’re dedicated and we’re committed!”