With offices in both London and Cairo, Hoda Lasheen is one of the few Egyptians in the field of interior design who was able to achieve international quality standards and successfully penetrated the international market. She took the courageous steps to open her first international studio in the most competitive market; London. Today Lasheen’s design services are coveted by high profile clients in both capitals and beyond. But her remarkable journey to global success was not as straightforward as it would seem.
While her passion for interior design was apparent from a young age, Lasheen kept it on the back burner, so to speak, and chose to focus on her traditional role as a wife and mother while her children were growing up; until she felt the time was right to finally pursue her dream to become an interior design professional.
In 1999, Lasheen began freelancing as an interior designer. “By that time I felt like my kids had grown up enough. I became more available, and began working,” states Lasheen. As a result, in 2006 she felt confident enough to open her own company, Hoda Lasheen Design Studio, and it has been growing ever since. In 2010, she decided to get exposed to the international market by enrolling at the Kelly Hoppen Design School in London. Subsequently after, in 2015 she was able to successfully open an office in London as well. Although her office in the city is relatively new, she is affiliated with the Society of British and International Design (SBID), International Interior Design Association (IIDA) as well as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) thus keeping her up to date with the latest trends.
Much of Lasheen’s success is due to her ability to exude luxury and extravagance in the simplest form. In order to do so, her design studio is a one-stop shop for all things interior design. From the installations of bathroom and kitchen appliances, all the way to the electrical design, as well as the floor and wall finishes, and all types of furniture and accessories. Furthermore, due to Lasheen’s meticulous nature, she prefers to work side by side with the architect from the very beginning of a project. “Our work should complement each other easily,” she notes. She has an in-house architect and landscape designer, which makes it easier to coordinate on projects. “Sometimes we get a house with no walls, no plumbing and no electricity. And we deliver the product up to the towels and bed sheets!” she exclaims. So from design consultation, to property management, Lasheen is there every step of the way. “I am so detail oriented that I even like doing the painting samples myself to ensure it is up to my standards,” Lasheen adds.
In her quest for elegant simplicity, only the highest quality of materials is used in her projects. Lasheen accepts no compromise in her dedication to high quality, which means that if she is unable to locate a product that meets her standards, she simply goes ahead and produces it herself. From chandeliers to tables, she has provided clients with one of a kind bespoke masterpieces that she personally created. The truly one of a kind customised products range from unique furniture creations to home jewellery collections. Lasheen explains, “In every house, I like the idea that we have our own fingerprint.” This not only reflects her relentless determination in providing the best quality for her clients, but also serves as a demonstration of her critical attention to detail.
Even though Lasheen’s talent lies in creating simple and refined homes, which are done in a luxurious manner, she is also known for creating palaces out of cubicles. Creating the illusion of more space is a unique design capability that has made her a hot commodity in London, “The philosophy of design that I follow is one of creating open spaces. If I have to take out a wall, I will. I try to expand the space I’m working on, while keeping it as functional as possible for the client,” she explains.
These unexpected solutions have catapulted her to new heights, for that reason, she was recently on the global panel meeting hosted by Colour Hive in selecting the colour trends for 2017 in Dubai and most recently was on the panel for selecting 2018 colour trends which took place in London. This was a major feat for an up-and-coming interior designer in the United Kingdom, as the London based creative agency is an internationally recognised institution known for its accurate colour and trend forecasting solutions for the design industry. Lasheen also participates in the annual WAF (World Architecture Festival) and INSIDE World Festival for Interiors, where she meets with top architects and designers to stay updated on the latest trends.
Lasheen is equally passionate about encompassing environmentally sustainable elements into her projects. “The future is for people who care about the environment”, she says. Even her signature technique of expanding space by cutting down walls or enlarging windows, “Is a way to save energy, because by allowing for more sunlight to come in you don’t need to use artificial light. There is also an added benefit,” Lasheen explains, “allowing more sunlight to enter, completely elevates your mood and is clinically proven to fight off depression.” This technique inspired by Japanese interiors, is an indication of Lasheen’s cosmopolitan style. From classically American homes to Italian Neoclassical furnishings all the way to English rustic décor, Lasheen has built herself an extensive repertoire in all the various styles. Usually there is more than one design style in a single household, thus demonstrating her ability to artfully mix different styles.
Due to having offices intercontinentally Lasheen is constantly travelling and being exposed to the international standards of Europeans, and has greatly influenced her design philosophy which is “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” However while working she doesn’t like to impose her own design philosophy on her clients, but rather she evokes their own distinctive personality through her final design as she famously says, “Your home is a reflection of who you are, not your designer.” According to Lasheen, “because their style of life dictates the final product, it is very important for me to know their life cycle.” Therefore it is their lifestyle and personal taste that dictate the final product.
Although Lasheen is a well-accomplished interior designer whose works have spanned more than a decade, nevertheless there is one particular project that stands. Due to Lasheen’s knack in naming her projects, she has titled this particular one the “Simple Creative Mansion” due to its distinctive personality. “The project was a big challenge for me; it started within the 2011 Egyptian Revolution therefore, there was a major halt in industries across the country.” Lasheen recalls, “There were so many obstacles we never faced before, so we were constantly going back to the drawing board and coming up with alternatives. It was very challenging for me, but finally after so many struggles I was able to present it to the client better than I could have ever imagined.”
Finishing that project was a true professional milestone. As evidenced in the pictures, the mansion embodied all of Lasheen’s unique capabilities. She was not only able to maximise the space by adding a loft in the living room, but the refreshingly coloured glass encircling the loft can be seen from the living room, and when the sun shines its rays through the glass, reflections of blue and green beams can be seen shining through the room, making it a real life wonderland. Additionally by using bespoke products such as the wooden origami artwork hung on the glistening white wall, as an entrance piece, it truly sets the tone for what’s to come which is nothing short of impressive. Therefore, the combination of open spaces throughout the mansion combined with the marble floors and plenty of natural light makes this project the true embodiment of luxury meets functionality.
With her philosophy and determination, the sky is the limit for Lasheen and her tight-knit team. Yet Lasheen does have a broader dream she is determined to accomplish in the years ahead. She would like to develop innovative boutique hotels in each governorate in Egypt. These hotels “Would showcase our diverse heritage while maintaining a certain degree of elegance.” Judging by what this remarkable designer has accomplished so far, there hardly is a doubt that any upcoming project will be a success and will make a difference to the Egyptian design industry.
Instagram: Hoda Lasheen
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