Talking to Nihal Zaki, a prestigious name in the world of interior design in Egypt and the Arab countries, is direct and full of positivity and confidence, as the engineer looks at work from the perspective of passion, and considers her award-winning achievements at the local level, as in the Middle East and the world, a window to let her say, as an Arab in the global design arena.
In the following dialogue, the designer talks to “Madam” about the methods of the complex and expensive art schools she likes to delve into, and why she is influenced by these schools, as well as her appreciation for Egyptian craftsmen…
Maximalism seems to dominate your residential projects in interior design; Is there a specific reason for that?
The reason is due to the circumstances of my childhood; During the early years of my life, I visited the villages of “Provence” in the South of France, as well as villages in the South of Italy, and went to auctions and antique shops… Then I studied in England, where I was attracted to the Gothic character, and I went to Prague, Czech Republic, where I lived for a while, and it fascinated me with its old city. So, I was able to do ‘maximism’, the art schools of design derived from antiquity (Neoclassical, Gothic and Amber), to my appreciation and love for them.
Do you notice, through direct contact with customers, that taste, in terms of interior decoration, has changed after the pandemic?
In accordance with the changes imposed by the pandemic on the way of life, and with the modernization, I aim to design and implement comfortable, practical and “controlled” spaces in terms of cost. However, it is worth noting that the maximum model is restored after a pandemic for good reason, namely that people spend more and more hours in homes, closed and by themselves disorderly. As a result, with the decrease in the times of going out, the demand of women and men of homeowners works to make their spaces abundant in collectibles and design, even if the cost is taken into account. In addition, there are bright international names in the field of interior design, such as the French Vincent Darry and Jacques Garcia, who pushed and still are in the direction of “maximization”.
Complex and expensive methods
You went through all the design schools including: Gothic, Rococo, Classical and Islamic… But you stayed away from the concept of “less is more”. Is there a reason for that?
I have not implemented projects that follow the contemporary austere concept, for a reason not related to me, but to clients who look at my design identity and demand the implementation of complex and expensive methods in their homes. Any designer can probably work in a contemporary style, but with my preoccupation with complicated projects, time does not seem to allow the implementation of simple projects.
How do you view the updated Islamic style in interior design, especially with the increased interest in it at the Arab level?
The Islamic style in the design is creamy, dazzling and wonderful, and it is derived from the Gothic style. In this context, I am attracted to the initiatives of young designers in the Arab region, who modernize the aforementioned model by introducing new materials and colors to it, and abstracting it.. The updated style will enter my future projects.
How would you describe your style?
My style is personal, emotional and feminine. He is timeless, focuses on depth and appreciates the artistic side and emotions. I have worked in the design and implementation of commercial and hotel projects, as well as the Naguib Sawiris night restaurant, and companies, but residential projects have a special place in my career in the world of interior design, to the extent that whoever one of these residences know that it bears my signature, for the vitality it senses, the colors and the brightness…
Craftsmanship with Egyptian hands is an important aspect of your trip. What does handmade furniture mean to you, in a time engulfed in technology?
The Egyptian “industrialists” and “the stooges” have a great influence on my professional being. In Egypt, the skilled craftsman side is advanced.. These are people who will not be repeated, and they represent a wealth for Egypt, and wherever they are found in the Arab region… As for handmade furniture, it a special presence in The home, as it adds a human value to it, similar to the role played by a fine tailoring dress that a woman chooses for her appearance. When it comes to technology, it undoubtedly puts homeowners at ease, but I limit its use to specific elements, such as lighting systems and home automation.
Skilled Egyptian craftsmen have a great impact on my career
Tell us more about your work with the design of the decor of the “Apple Fahita” program, as well as her appearance; How do you achieve cooperation with the vivacious widow?
Like Philippe Starck and Marcel Wanders, who follow different paths in their artistic careers, and because I am an artist before becoming an interior design engineer, my artistic energy must appear in various fields.Blond, adorned with jewels, in a fun project . It’s worth noting that the vivacious widow, as you described her, is actually a cute character, and she appreciates my own taste, as well as my design, so I liked to add an aspect of Nihal Zaki to her “look”. to add. .
You have been honored with many awards at the Arab and international level; Do these international competitions mean anything to you, or are they just a way for the designer to stay present in the design arena?
From 2007 until today, God has honored me by winning awards from many sides.. It means more to me than just staying in the design arena because I see it as a way to express my voice as an Egyptian and Arab woman outside to make my own heard. country and the Middle East, and to say that Egypt is a country of civilization and that the people of Egypt enjoy With refined tastes, inspiration and the skilled craftsmen of Egypt, in the global design arena.
First steps into the world
What does designer Andrew Martin represent to you, especially since you’ve won the award that bears his name more than once?
I am lucky to have won this award three times; Especially that the jury is very selective, and includes VIPs. The Andrew Martin Award is my first steps towards internationalism, as I was the first Egyptian designer to receive the prestigious award, which has enabled me to appear in the British press since 2007, and to be in the spotlight to place my honored projects, including: the tropical house on the northern coast, the Moroccan-style house, The third is Gothic.
Introducing herself, interior design engineer Nihal Zaki told “Ma’am” that she was an “Egyptian Arab”. She founded her design company, www.nihalzaki.com in 1999, immediately after returning to the home country, after graduating. from the “School of Inchbald School of Design, London. The aforementioned company was the beginning of his introduction into the world of design, in Egypt and the Arab world.