Sherif Ali

Design Thinking Overnight

With the interior design industry in Egypt growing at a rapid pace, clients are faced with more choices, making it even more confusing for them to settle on the architect/designer that would be perfect for them. eniGma’s Nouran Deyab caught up with Sherif Ali an architect and interior designer who has worked on projects in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Dubai to find out more about his style in design.

Sherif Ali graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts with a degree in architecture in 2005. A year later he founded Sherif Ali Designs – a design house for contemporary and modern design. During his undergraduate years, Ali had opened up his own plotting centre where he would print large-scaled projects and due to his success in this business he ended up opening several branches and the general idea became more of designing projects rather than just printing and this gave Ali the push to start his own interior design agency right after graduating.

Ali believes in the importance of travel to a designer. “Just by observing different societies, you get totally new and innovative ideas. There are some specific countries that I like to visit for inspiration, especially those where you can find great furniture and lighting design, like Italy for example. Travelling isn’t just for fun, it’s for the knowledge and experience as well,” says Ali.

Each home has its own vibe and the design also depends on the size of the space in question. “If a space is small, I have to come up with a concept that accentuates the area without crowding it. Minimalism is key when it comes to designing a smaller area. The limited use of chandeliers can help make the space seem larger than it actually is,” says Ali. For summer homes, Ali tends to work with lighter fabrics, bright colours and some knit artwork, while in year-round homes he uses more woods and more sophisticated colours and artwork.

“I avoid overusing chandeliers,” says Ali, adding, “When designing a space, I use a maximum of three chandeliers; that is only if the space I am working with is large. Otherwise, I stick to one or two and mix in other forms of lighting, to avoid confusing the person walking into the room. I often resort to LED lights because they’re simple yet strong. They do the trick and with such character!”

Asked about whether he prefers to work on residential or commercial projects, Ali replies, “I enjoy working on residential projects more, even though I work on both. The main reason is that I like to work with a lot of brands and I like the experience of picking a variety of items for the home I design. It’s like when you love going shopping. I like picturing the house and working on bringing that idea to life, from the simplest lamp all the way to the furniture. With commercial projects, it is a whole other idea. It is more thought out. It is geometric in the sense that it is calculated.”

Ali adds that when working on commercial projects, he tends to find his inspiration for the whole project from a singular object or idea, whereas for a residential project he doesn’t need a particular inspiration, as much as to decide on a particular theme. Ali explains how the decision on a theme is reached, “When clients come to me, the first thing I do is try to get into their heads. For instance, I’ll show them pictures and see what sticks out the most to them. This helps me filter things until I have a sense of what would suit their personal taste and that’s how I tailor each home to each client.”

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