Zahrat Al Khaleej – Janan and Joel Thomas: We are better together


Knowledge with know-how and the building of experiences are factors that make success, and if we add to that the combined efforts of two creative sisters in the field of architecture, interior and lighting systems; The successes increase, and the business bears fruit. Jenan Waheed Touma and Joel Waheed Touma, the two righteous daughters of Aleppo living in Dubai and Beirut, united the road and road in their company called “JWT Design Studio”, after tweeting alone for many years, and gained a lot of experience have from their previous work and projects. We met the two sister engineers, in a long conversation; To talk about their careers, filled with outstanding engineering projects:

  • crazy

• How do you define yourself?

– Jinan: I studied in Aleppo and completed my postgraduate studies in architecture in America. I started my own business in 2004 in Aleppo, and am also familiar with interior design work. Our design team, based in Dubai, has been working for 12 years. Joel has established herself, and recently we were united in “JWT Design Studio” in Dubai, and as you know, Dubai is the center, and we have projects in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. I had a company in Syria before the tragic events, but I closed it and kept the 12-person team, which worked remotely all the time, wherever they were. Currently, I am excited about the success of my partnership with my sister, happy with our union at work, and very confident in our abilities and expertise, which is what we wanted before the war. I also love the high-end work system in the Emirates, and I do not feel like I can work anywhere else.

  • Joel

– Joel: After graduating from the Lycée, I moved to Lebanon and studied interior architecture at Alba University. After graduating in 2010, I returned to Aleppo and joined my sister’s work.Then the events began at that time; What stopped the work, and I happened to be attending a wedding for one of my family members in Lebanon, and I got a chance to work; I joined the company and lived in Lebanon. I worked for 5 years in the field of sales, interior engineering, and then in a lighting equipment company for 5 years, where I learned everything, and besides that I undertook individual engineering projects. I have experience in interior design and lighting. Through our company we design and implement projects of luxury residential buildings, offices, beauty salons, restaurants, hotels, and we also have interests in the entertainment sector in the future.

family business

• What about the name of the company «JWT Design Studio»?

– Joel: The name of the company is derived from the first letter of the name Jinan Waheed Toma and Joel Waheed Toma, and (W) to our father who died when we were young .. Joel was 14 years old, and I was 21 years old .

• How do you do projects together?

– Jinan: Basically it’s the family business, knowing that the background of the family business is in the restaurant and hospitality sector, but we had a passion for architecture, interior design and design. Our mother is our first muse; She has always encouraged us to go to everything related to design, since we were young, she enrolled us for drawing lessons; She is also a painter, and likes to decorate the house and restaurants. My first project was to turn a traditional Aleppo yard (an old house) into an authentic Aleppo restaurant for my dad, and I learned a lot from the work of this restaurant. Harmony prevails in terms of work between us. Joel has clients who know her, and I know her too, and she has a penchant for modern and trendy design, and I tend towards contemporary and original design.

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• From A to Z. What jobs does your company provide?

We start all over again and do everything; If the client comes to us with an idea in his mind, he likes to build, for example, a villa, a restaurant or any other project; We proceed from this command which he gives us; We listen to it well, and our strength is that we implement in different styles, and that’s what I learned in America, where I specialized in the design of residential buildings. We start with the architectural design, that is, space planning, interior design, lighting, we define the specifications of curtains and furniture, and even implementation – if we are asked to do it – we definitely do it.

• Do you design custom furniture?

– In various projects, if we have the bar, tables, consoles, etc. want to design; We do it, and these are our signature projects.

3D impressions

• Is what we see on the “3D” project implemented as it is on the ground?

– Jinan: Any project can be implemented as it is, and can not be distinguished from the real one; In our projects you can not distinguish between the “3D” and the real, because the engineer’s strength lies in the fact that when the client gives a design, he must know several things, such as: that the design is feasible, how to implement design according to the client’s budget, and that he is an expert in determining the specifications of materials used in its design. I am against ideas that stun the customer, and become very expensive in implementation, which we never do; We are so realistic that the material we use is already available, and we do not even imagine it. But of course, we are always on the lookout for the latest materials and design innovations, choosing bold, distinctive materials that are rarely used. When the client comes to us, he wants to build his dream of a dream home, and it is a personal journey, in which we discover his personality, his background and his lifestyle, we walk it step by step with him; Let the design express it, and when you understand your customer well; You can do exactly what he asks.

• To what extent has technology facilitated and better implemented your projects? And how important is that?

– This is of course very important; Technology is everything, from the design of the idea, to the 3D presentation. We implement a project that the client has already seen, and that’s very important. Second, technology also lies in social media, as each has its own advertising company. Our “Instagram” account is, for example, our private advertising channel through which we show our projects around the world. In addition, technology has allowed the customer to know what to expect and expect. Depending on his budget, we might be able to take him for a virtual step through the project; He feels like he is walking into his house. It’s great for the client to see their house in 3D, comment on it and move the house as they walk in. There is also an electronic program called “BIM” through which we build, and it gives information about the amount of blocks of stones needed to build the building, and gives the “VOQ” for each material you use in the project.

growth and prosperity

• How has your collaboration affected the growth and prosperity of your business?

– Joel: Of course, “together is better”; Because Jenan has complex relationships in Dubai, and I have my relationships in Beirut; Bringing two cities together is very useful, and we work in all countries, and we are complementary, and Jenan is also an expert in the entertainment sector, because she has worked in several companies and gained a lot of experience. We work hard and persevere, we have gained a lot of experience, and we have great ambition.

• In your opinion, what are the most prominent trends in the world of architecture and interior design?

– Jinan: I noticed the tendency of the people of the Gulf towards simplicity and originality; The “boho” style, for example, is popular and desirable; The simple atmosphere brings joy, and the design of the house reflects the character, the simplicity of the style that gives a sense of comfort.

Joel: There are several “trands” in interior design, mixing the old and the new, and the ingenuity lies in how to use the “trands”, make them modern and add innovative and special touches to everything that previously existed. But personally I feel that there is no one direction; There are: Maximum and Minimalism, Contemporary and Modern, Vintage and Retro … There is a mix of everything.

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• What can you tell us about the “SK” project in Lebanon, the photos of which we are reviewing?

The “SK” project is located in the Adma area, with a total area of ​​380 square meters. Our scope of work was a complete design and implementation; To bring about a complete home remodeling. We had to review the entire space planning, including the interior architecture, despite the structural challenges. The interior design of the villa is modern, contemporary and elegant, created as an individual concept and adapted to suit the look and feel desired by the client, taking into account the functionality and aesthetics of perfection.

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