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27 Feb - Interviews

Chatting with Designer Ziad Alonaizy

Founder of Ziad Alonaizy Design

Following an illustrious career in Orthopaedic surgery, Ziad Alonaizy stepped back from work and decided to make a change. After completing numerous residential projects for family and friends, he made the decision to leave his previous life behind to pursue his dream of architectural interior design.

He then graduated with distinction from the esteemed Inchbald School of Design, where he won the industry prize for outstanding design from Finchatton and went on to work for some of the world’s most renowned design studios.

In 2018, Ziad founded his own studio and the eponymous company established itself shortly after following the launch of his highly acclaimed debut furniture collection, “AEGIS”. Ziad Alonaizy Design Ltd. describes itself as a concept-driven luxury furniture atelier and design studio, which is underpinned by their ethos of creating eternally elegant designs.

With a proven grounding in architectural design, interior design and now product design, his company now specialises in bespoke goods & services, as well as offering the opportunity for private commissions.

Ziad with his debut collection

What inspired you to change your career?

I have always enjoyed creative projects and attended many art courses from a young age. Whilst I prospered in my career as an orthopaedic surgeon, my attention was constantly being pulled towards design projects for family and friends. This culminated in the purchase of my first London home, which was in dire state. I hired a building firm and used YouTube to learn how to complete architectural drawings, a process I thoroughly enjoyed.

To help guide some of my choices, I bought a multitude of interior design magazines and extensively searched online for innovative ideas and inspiration. And, when it came to freestanding furniture, apart from a few well sourced antiques, I designed every piece.

Having successfully completed my home project, it became very clear to me that I need to pursue this as a career.

It was an easy decision and, to be honest, I haven’t looked back since!

AEGIS Console Table

In terms of design, material and colour, where do you derive your inspiration?

The idea of longevity is what inspires me the most. I do not wish to be defined by a particular era or design movement, but instead strive for the unique and exceptional & create design that will stand the test of time. I am also inspired by stories. My design process always begins with the concept – an idea, image, model or notion that provides the basis for the narrative behind the design, driving an emotional connection as well as a visual response. For example. the AEGIS Collection was inspired by the concept of a bird cage being pried open by two fingers, metaphorically representing empowerment and the release of ideas and creativity.

All pieces are subtly monogrammed with the Ziad Alonaizy logo.

I have a special fondness for the art deco movement, which is particularly prominent in my first design – the AEGIS 001 nesting tables – where I used vibrant green for the marble tops mixed with gold wires and a blackened steel frame for the launch. The newly launched Martini tables were inspired by the cocktail hour of the 1920’s.

I am also very conscious of the environmental implications of production and constantly seek sustainable solutions to implement within my designs. For example, for the new contemporary finishes within the Aegis collection, we sourced an innovative material that uses 100% fused recycled glass with no chemicals or additives; our colourful options are inspired by exotic birds thereby completing a story that reflects our commitment to the natural world.

How would you describe your signature style?

Conversational.

When it comes to design, it needs to speak to you and tug at your heart strings. I look to use elements that evoke feelings of nostalgia, from the storytelling to textures, colours and other physical associations. By implementing repetitive architectural elements, I create sculptural forms that shift as you move around a space or a piece. The lattice effect created by the wires is enchanting when viewed in one dimension on a photograph, but becomes much more intriguing in 3D, when experienced in real life, the lace effect shifts and transmutes as you walk around a piece, drawing you in further and further. Finally, restrain is integral to my design process. When I complete a design, I look at it and start to remove elements until I am left with the bare bones of the story. For my designs, I truly believe in ‘less is more’.

If your studio were to be a person, how would you describe him/her?

Friendly. Approachable. Eccentric. Exotic. Meticulous.

How do you approach a new project?

We are constantly bombarded by images of design in all its forms, whether through social media, the internet or magazines; it is quite difficult not be side-tracked when approaching a new project. I prefer to stay clear from outside influences and find a common thread that unites the three key elements: client, location and brief. I believe it is quite detrimental to start the design process before that thread is fully realised. It will keep you focused and continuously provide direction for all design decisions.

What is your personal definition of luxury?

Luxury, for me, is exceptional craftmanship and is integral to my design approach. I believe that care, diligence and attention to detail define the art of luxury and are essential to producing iconic design that will last a lifetime. I work closely with a family of Italian artisans that have been perfecting their craft for decades. They are constantly developing innovative techniques but above all they are dedicated to their craft and love a challenge.

Why did you decide to use two variants of materials (classic/contemporary) for your AEGIS collection? Can you tell us a bit more?

Our world is changing rapidly and as a business it is imperative to negate the impact of our production process and to positively contribute to the sustainable future of the design industry. AEGIS Collection was launched using our classic materials with marble tops, metal finishes and our signature golden wire; all inspired by vintage decadence. From an early stage we were driven to use environmentally friendly manufacturing processes including a sponging technique for our metal finishes which avoid any drip waste. Exploring the potential of new colours, textures and finishes is integral to my design process. One simple change can bestow fresh character and an entirely different aesthetic to a classic piece.

Therefore, for the new pieces in the collection, I wanted to send a strong message about sustainability. Our contemporary materials feature 100% fused recycle glass tops containing no chemicals or additives with a matching frame colour. For contrast, we introduced a nickel/chrome wire. Our contemporary finishes include five vibrant colours, and true to concept, all colour variants were inspired by endangered exotic birds. In addition, a percentage of the profit from our furniture sales is given to the World Land Trust, an international conversation charity which protects the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats including multiple bird species which are very close to the heart of the Alonaizy team!

(Find out more about their work here: www.worldlandtrust.org/who-we-are/ )

How important is your relationship with your manufacturers?

I was lucky to meet a most enchanting young woman during a trip to Italy organised by the Italian Trade Commission. She represented her family’s manufacturing business founded by her great grandfather and very fortunately located by the Amalfi coast. Her confidence and pride in their craft inspired me to design AEGIS Collection. AEGIS pieces are complicated and hide a plethora of innovative solutions that took 18 months to develop before the final design was realised. It would have been impossible to achieve without the genius and dedication of my manufacturers. It is imperative that you and your manufacturer speak the same language of your direction and goals – you must be aligned in order to achieve excellence.

What keeps you interested in your career?

Creativity and variety.

Running your own studio comes with many administrative responsibilities which is a real bore. However, this brings a bigger appreciation to design projects. I also enjoy the variety of projects that come our way. From concept development for a London chain of Thai restaurants to an exclusive home collection for a gallery in Milan; you never know what the next project will be and that excites me! In addition, design is all around us. It is in everything we touch, use, eat, smell; it is part of the fabric of life and I rejoice in the knowledge that I may contribute to that fabric, to bring delight to others.

What is the future for furniture design?

Sustainability and innovation.

The use of natural and sustainable materials will become more evident in future furniture design. It is a closed-loop cycle in which materials and products are perpetually recycled to avoid disposal in landfills. More and more I find myself researching and implementing natural or sustainable materials in my projects. In addition to the newly discovered 100% fused re-cycled glass used in our contemporary finishes, I have introduced bamboo to a room divider designed for a Milan project and wicker for cabinet doors in a London project.

Finally, I believe technology and connectivity will play a bigger part in homes of the future. This is already evident in many newly completed projects but advances in technology are fast-paced and therefore will become much more pronounced in the years to come.

Credits: Richard Gooding Photography

Click here to visit Ziad’s studio website