With a Master’s in Architecture from the University of Minnesota, American/Egyptian Reha Habib had almost a decade of work experience under her belt both in Egypt and abroad when she founded Reha, LLC, her design studio, in 2016. Specialising in architecture, interior architecture and interior design, Reha quickly stood out in the industry, with its emphasis on teamwork, originality and thinking outside of the box. Reha’s name really gained exceptional recognition, with the completion of Mazeej Hotel, their iconic project in Egypt’s North Coast. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with Habib to find out more about her vision for Reha, as well as her experience with the design of the highly acclaimed Mazeej Hotel.
Reha Habib was eager to kick-start her career quickly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a minor in business management, followed by a master’s degree in architecture. She worked for over seven years in architecture, garnering the experience she needed to build a name for herself and to start her own venture. By 2016, she was ready to start the design studio she had always dreamed of – Reha Design Studio. “I’ve always had the goal to create my own studio. When I went into architecture school, my end goal was to work for a few years and then go solo. I was confident I could do it from the first day I started working. But I just needed to gain experience first,” recalls Habib with pride.
Habib’s journey as an architect had its bumps, despite her undeniable talent. In a still male-dominated industry, Habib often found herself overlooked and not taken too seriously. However, she didn’t let that get in her way. As she expanded her team, bringing in male engineers and Hossam Shawky as her partner to join the firm, the subtle bias she faced as a woman began to dissipate. This came naturally to Habib, who believed strongly in the importance of teamwork. The team she assembled worked closely together, always aiming at perfection and delivering the best end-product they possibly could.
The Mazeej Hotel project in Egypt’s North Coast, for their client GnK Hospitality, was an important milestone for Reha Design Studio, placing the firm at a level with the best designers in the industry. The design team, including Ramy Takla and Mazen Samir, undertook the architectural and interior design of the high-end beach hotel with the intention of creating something that had never been seen before in Egypt. They had always enjoyed working on hospitality-related projects since they allowed them to really put their creativity on display. “We’re very proud of that project. Our office was much smaller when we were working on Mazeej, yet we were able to design it and supervise the construction process within a period of seven or eight months. We designed the rooms, the suites and the lobby. Designing the lobby was actually quite interesting. We demolished the centre of the building to create a void and then designed an open-air lobby. We created a raw and minimalist architectural hotel space which was the first of its kind in Egypt,” she explains. The hotel has made waves in the design industry in Egypt and Reha Design Studio is pleased to note that a lot of spaces with a similar concept and design aesthetic in Egypt have appeared since Mazeej, which has since been changed to Casa Cook. The project has influenced others to see that minimalist design and understated luxury are actually very beautiful and functional.
While Habib is proud of the success of Mazeej, however, she doesn’t want to think of it as Reha Design Studio’s peak. There’s still so much more that Habib has in store for the brand, including taking on more projects abroad. Making better use of local materials is also an important goal. “We try to use local materials and locally-made furniture in our projects. We want to incorporate local craftsmanship as much as we can,” she explains, before concluding, “I think there’s a lot of beautiful material in Egypt and a lot of talented people as well!”