Saudi businesswoman and designer Mai Al-Rafaei: I love designing transformed places that don’t grow with time

She loves organization and coordination from an early age; If her mother had left her the opportunity to control the space of her room, and from here the first spark of love for change, it was without her awareness, she did not realize that there was such a thing as decor or interior design, and for her, to live in a nice and tidy place is what comforts her It reassures itself. She is a Saudi businesswoman and interior design engineer, Mai Al-Rafi’i, founder of the company “May Interiors”. “My Lady” met her to learn about her imagination to create elegance around her.

Mai Al-Rafei: I learned coordination and dimensions in a more professional way

When did you enter this world, and why?

I was very influenced by my mother, who loved to coordinate clothes and follow fashion through her ‘Atelier’. She always called me ‘May al-Martaba’, and my father was also an aeronautical engineer, and a dealer in carpets and antiques. I was influenced by his realistic view of art, and after he graduated in The school is in Riyadh, and there was no specialization in the universities of Riyadh called Interior Design, so I moved to Dubai to join the American University to specialize in it, and learned coordination and dimensions in a more professional way, until I walked around the place and saw a homogeneous world in the presence of pieces of furniture together.

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love colors

Property Development Company Office,
Real estate development company office, designed by Mai Al-Rafie

You love colors, and boldly include them in your thoughts, what does this mean to you?

Colors to me are the spirit of the place, although most people fear them, and it is true, they need experience, and know what their meanings are, and when the two meet, magic and splendor leave the place; Which positively affects the mood.

How do we categorize your designs, and do they relate to your personality?

I love contemporary designs, which fuses antique with contemporary, which is the modern eclectic style, based on a dynamic mix, of antique and heritage pieces, with modern styles, .. I care about quality and achieve luxury and am keen to to give everyone who loves my designs, beyond their expectations, and this is part of My personality, I naturally seek perfection, and I am keen on the smallest details.

Saudi businesswoman and designer Mai Al-Rafaei

Which design school do you belong to?

From various cultures, I am not influenced by a design culture, but rather by a designer, such as the Spaniard Antoni Gaudi, born in 1850. All his designs do not have angles, they are all curves. Although he is an architect, he has launched furniture groups, and he is inspired by his ideas from nature. “In nature there are no sharp corners,” he says. This type of design captivates me, as if it were hand-carved.

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crazy ideas

A beauty salon designed by Mai Al Rafie, and as she described it, there is only one female element
A beauty salon designed by Mai Al Rafie, and as she described it, there is only one female element

What element of surprise do you hide in your contemporary designs?

I like to have a print and a quirk in every design. I design pieces that combine unimaginable colors, it can be a painting or a piece of furniture, or the way to use natural marble, so the eye of the one who sees the design first falls on this piece, which tells of a wonderful fluid mixing, So, I designed the office of a property development company in Abu Dhabi, which was a large warehouse; To add some warmth to the place, I put in pieces of Persian carpet, although the ceiling pipes are visible, to the point of being surprised and admired.. It was a different design.

How did the new generation of young men and women choose design, have their tastes changed quite a bit?

Young people gave me room to design, especially if someone says, I want something I haven’t seen before, or I want crazy colors, and sometimes they have unique pieces of furniture, they want an interior design that revolves around that , one of the young women asked for a design for a beauty salon, it is neither feminine nor masculine, but neutral There is only one feminine element, I took my time to come up with an idea, and finally all the walls were left on the conch, and the floor is gray cement, and to break this masculine character, I put in a burgundy natural stone, which is the element of surprise in the design, and put an antique rose in the entrance, which is the female element The only one you entered.

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Design faces and secrets

The exhibition decor of the designer Marmar Halim, designed by Mai Al-Rafei, shows the characteristics of fashion and the spirit of creativity
The exhibition decor of the designer Marmar Halim, designed by Mai Al-Rafei, shows the characteristics of fashion and the spirit of creativity

If he asked you for a female angle, wouldn’t you do it?

Simply no, I design a corner that can change, but of course in the end it comes back to the client’s request, even with children I don’t like to implement the idea of ​​a room for a girl in pink , I can include things that are age appropriate, I like to design places that don’t grow with time, I mean a room for a child of his age of 3 years fits him when he turns 8, and people don’t have to does not change; Because it is outdated, we use fashion, but on a basis where we can move it.

You are Saudi, how did the world of design receive you in Dubai, what did you gain from it?

I came to Dubai, at a time when engineers from all disciplines were welcomed.. If asked to choose a place in the world where I learn and undertake huge projects, without borders, I would choose Dubai, here say them for the designer to do what you see creatively in your imagination, you are in Dubai.

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Part of us is an artist

Bedroom in a hotel apartment
The bedroom of a hotel apartment

How do you sharpen your mind?

We designers are part of an artist, so we want a space to sharpen our ideas to keep creating, and I fall into this situation, at the beginning of any project, for fear of repeating myself in design , especially in commercial projects. Although travel makes a big difference to me, but following the work of international designers, especially in hotel and hospitality creations, fills my head with ideas, I like to go to nature, hiking and also archeological sites and visiting museums, it makes me dream a bit to recharge my creativity, and introduce my ideas into new projects.

What are your contributions to participate in Saudi Vision 2030?

The beautiful future will certainly influence the designs, and I would like to give more my second step through my role in Saudi Arabia. For example, I appreciate what Chancellor Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the board of the General Entertainment Authority, is doing about imaginary projects, I would like to have a role in it, to provide experience She is 17 years old, I want to make an imprint that keeps up with this development, I am very happy with this openness. For any engineer, the NEOM project is a dream, and my next step is to make creative contributions to my country.

There are mistakes that women make when designing their home, what do you advise them to do?

Saudi businesswoman and designer Mai Al-Rafaei
Businesswoman Mai Al-Rafii
  1. Hire a designer, and you’ll save a permanent remodeling budget for years.
  2. Measure well before you buy furniture.
  3. Don’t buy all the furniture and accessories from one place because it takes away privacy and loses personality.
  4. Choose the right size of the carpet, and do not leave a space between the carpet and the legs of the sofa, as well as the paintings, not even a large space between the back of the sofa and the height of the panel .
  5. Hang the curtains from the ceiling, and do not show the wall, it gives a narrowness of the place, and the ceiling does not look high.

What is your opinion in the world of design?

I always tell people don’t live in the past, just learn from it and move on.

For any engineer, the NEOM project is a dream and my next step is to make creative contributions to my country

  • Filmed at the gallery of fashion designer Marmar Halim

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