Interview with Dalia Sadany

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Dalia Sadany (DS) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Dalia Sadany by clicking here.

Interview with Dalia Sadany at Saturday 21st of April 2012

FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
DS: As a child I wasn’t aware enough to pinpoint my future desired career, but I was always observant and was unconsciously jumping to any chance to rearrange or remodel a room at home. I was perpetually keen on attending art galleries and sculpture exhibition. It wasn’t before my decisive prep year at engineering university when I was faced with a choice between computer science ,a field I aspired to specialize in, and architecture ,another specialty I was advised to major in by an astounding regionally renowned Egyptian professor after several encounters with him in seminars about Egyptian Architecture. He envisioned in me the designer I hardly acknowledged. Due to his influence I plunged into that field that turned out to be my life passion and driving force. Ever since I decided to elect architecture and interior design as my preferable hobby and consequently my career, the subject of lack of identity and commercialism that is invading the world overwhelmed my mind, but the cliental personalization of design whether in architecture or interior design made that not frequently achieved. My golden chance came when I initiated my furniture design pursuit. It was my unobstructed opportunity to dig deep into artistic identities, for countries and nations to create unique pieces that mirror a trend, a spectacular style, a mood or an era, as opposed to commercial furniture concepts that almost all seem to be exceedingly derived from similar perceptions, as if an international visualization, a contagious concept or an implicit agreement of how furniture pieces nowadays should look like swept the world.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
DS: I manage of group of three companies, Dezines a design house that provides Architectural, Interior and Landscaping services whether for residential, commercial or hospitality cliental, Divine is a general contracting company specialized in construction and remodeling and finally my new company Gush that specializes in design and manufacturing of high end custom designed furniture and lighting as well as its own brand. All business lines work under Dalia Sadany Creations.

FS: What is "design" for you?
DS: It is an amalgamation of both art and science evolving a design concept is an art while determining the members, calculating and studying the relevant factors is the science aspect of it. Design is never just aesthetic production of different artistic endeavors without a studied coordination of scientific materials .It is a mass amount of coordination of different elements to create a whole. The beauty of design is that it is a global philosophy that surpasses boundaries, language, age, and all discrepancies in the human race.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
DS: In my point of view, once an artist, it doesn’t matter what your canvas is, whether designing a building, an interior, a garden, a piece of furniture, even a small piece of accessory, innovation is not categorized by size. As long as a designer can master his/her tools in design for each field then creativity combined with professionalized knowledge is bound to succeed. Diversity adds freshness to the mind.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
DS: My favorite design is yet to come .I am never satisfied, I am my fiercest critic, with the end of each project no matter how efficacious and esteemed it evolved to be there is always the uncomfortable urging voice in my head “I need to top that “.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
DS: My first project was a freelance assignment, it was my parent's beach house when I was still studying, I was inspired by the Spanish architecture I handled the architecture, interior design, furnishings and the contracting with the help of a respectable civil engineer. I recall my dad (a devoted engineer to his deepest core) made me my first sign that he hung on site despite the fact I was 18 yrs old, undergraduate and unlicensed but he was tremendously proud of my drive, my hunger to design and build my own projects. His support encouraged, inspired me beyond belief and it still does. By the age of 21, I had designed and built over six summer houses and winter retreats.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
DS: I don’t have a preference for certain materials, over others as much as I have profound love for natural elements as wood, marble, stone and slates for example, I appreciate the man cast components such as cast iron, stainless steel , glass and the list goes on. The contradictory fusion of both is mesmerizing for me, and the integrations are uncountable. My known hallmark is that I tend perpetually to challenge myself with every design to manipulate materials and their applications different from their conventional usage attempting tenaciously to surpass borderlines of regularity.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
DS: I generally get that butterfly feeling of excitement and creativity at the early stage of a project, when I feel that I have pouring ideas in my head that I need to filter, organize and put down on paper, after which with every step closer to turning that dream into reality, a sense of comprehended inspiration flows, like pieces of a puzzle falling in place.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
DS: I unceasingly attempt to keep my feet on the ground, as designers, we tend to drift off with creativity beyond functionality and utility, a distinctive design should not only be revolutionary if possible and aesthetically pleasing, it bound also to be sustainable, practical and ecological .Another fundamental restraint to wild creativity is mirroring cliental, from an architectural background, I was taught that a designer should always have the recipients of his/her design in mind , that applies to all other fields of design, there is nothing worse than a design alienated from its users, who would undoubtedly feel estranged to it by time. Yet another aspect I constantly remind myself of is cost, a “home-run” design should be consciously affordable according to its market relativity. Don’t we all crave the word budget to be eliminated from our vocabulary?!! A design that doesn’t skillfully profit money is an art, and as I said earlier design is a calculated recipe between art and science.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
DS: Basically overwhelmed, most defiantly stressed, anxious, all the time. When I have a design at hand, I am wholly devoted , it consumes my every thought round the clock especially in the conceptual stage where it relies only on me. I feel that time stops, commitments and personal engagements are momentarily shadowed .If by any chance a social event has imposed its necessity, I would reluctantly attend it with a feeling of reprimand, with a dominant feeling of committing a sin

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
DS: Exhilaration beyond words .An idea that was only in my head, is animated, embodied, not to mention appreciated by others. Not for long before the never-satisfied designer in most of us question the next innovation.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
DS: Whether in Architecture, Interior, Landscape, Furniture or any other division on design the criteria is similar, two main factors are predominant the functionality and visual appeal, the intended usage determines the percentage of emphasis exerted on one factor variant to the other. Some design are merely aesthetic , requiring no functionality guidelines , while other are strictly utilitarian, the more problematic and challenging are one that necessitate the fulfillment of both aspects. Therefore before passing judgment, that differentiation ought to be realized.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
DS: A designer role is not only to accessorize to add beauty to lives, but his sacred mission is to enhance them. Thoroughly researched designs in any field should be eye openers to numerous relevant issues such as environmental consequences of modern life, anchorage with inherited identities and many more. Only the distinctive and remembered designers are the ones who live to find a solution to a social dilemma, have a cause to live for that would attribute to their community.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
DS: Mainly inspiration comes first from within, my own personal library gathered throughout the years of observation of little things, most unusual ordinary things each and everything is special in its own way, people can be very inspiring, how they dress, women’s make up for instance. Nature always provides sets of colors, hues that flow coherently together providing an outstanding design palette. I could be inspired by historical architecture, but not influenced since that would be coping not creating . As an Egyptian, my background is rich with inspiration thorough out its prosperous diversified eras. Craftsmen, people who own and master their craft with their own hands and live to love it are tremendously inspiring for me. I generally walk around with most of my senses always alert as vision and listening that are the designers most useful receptors to build his ever growing so called database.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
DS: I have lived in several countries throughout my life , my multi-cultural background has been most definitely enriched by influences from each and every country in my perception and vision, especially Egypt where I live now. Egypt historically eminent for pioneering all fields of sciences and art, has been a mélange of civilizations for thousands of years. Saddens me to say that the present Cosmopolitan Cairo, my hometown has lost its Architectural identity, and squandered its distinctive design individuality. My life’s cause is to demolish the cemented monstrosities of Cairo, as well as interior enhancements by blending modern, contemporary vivid designs with a nostalgic anchorage of our luxuriant, globally appreciated inheritance, to create a timeless, harmonious distinguished character, in all divisions of design.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
DS: Companies should improve their designers drive with motivation, giving them the opportunity to run freely with their creativity, regardless from the counted administrative practice years , encouraging their enthusiasm and drive to spread their wings no matter how inexperienced they may seem, you never know what a revolutionary idea might evolve when least expected. In that context, the role of their management is to mentor, guide and not only control and supervise For a company the designers are its backbone, providing them with the proper atmosphere keeping their psychological welfare in mind, will subsequently benefit the company .As for selecting good designers, then several factors need to be met, talent and skill are the most obvious ones, but certainly having good communication skills is a must for a team member. Other vital traits are, punctuality, capability to work under pressure yet meeting time schedules and deadlines. Design is a career that requires great sense of responsibility and meticulousness.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
DS: Since I juggle several design fields, I can say that the design process is very much similar to all design branches with some variations when it comes to designing my own line of furniture. I first start by having long meetings with my clients where I simply listen to them, they are the ones who lay out the track for my imagination to flow through their words I get flashes of what the design should be like. It is my vision but based on their parameters, to organize that a questionnaire with all their specified requirements is lucidly listed. The next step would be my conceptual phase , where I usually do alone ,I dig out my deepest ideas that I relate to the project , where I am usually with my pad, pencil and a personal recorder where I would calmly browse my own mind's database , before storming into the research and study phase to reach the optimum concept. I would then explain ,vision to the truly talented designers in my studio , work together in brushing it up , and implementing all the necessary engineering technicalities in order to finalize all the details of the project before finally tackling the execution phrase. As for designing my furniture line , I walk the same footsteps except for the first stage where I am not obliged to conference with anyone for guidance but my own visualization.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
DS: I struggle immensely to set order and scheduled routine to my every day. If not surfing work-sites and workshops, the mornings are usually spared for administrative, accounting work by midday it is frequently spent with my talented crew of designers and engineers, handling and discussing progressions of designs, revision of BOQs or assessments of quality control with manufacturers, I am a night owl it is by then that I can spare quality undisturbed time in the evenings and early hours of dawn for creativity and design.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
DS: Keep an open eye and mind, engulf as much knowledge and experience as possible and never stop learning. Give it your all and it will pay off. Never shy out from experimenting in what might appear unconventional, explore seemingly radical adventures, be armoured with the necessary knowledge and perseverance and success will prevail, just have faith.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
DS: A privilege to being a designer is constant interactions with people, materials, methodologies, so permanent opportunities evolve to enhance, learn and grow with each experience, with every occurrence, mistake made an extra fragment of knowledge is engraved in one’s head, it is quite a learn-as-you-go job so the more you throw yourself out there, experiment, take risks, venture, the more you learn. A duplicitous aspect to being a designer is that design is far from an occupation, it literally defines one’s character, in every notion, action, event the designer pops up, notices, assesses, critiques, and designs, it’s an overwhelming trait, a designer is more of vigilante in unremitting struggle against mere ugliness, that could be consuming, overwhelming and quite noticeable. Despite the fact it is a very time and effort consuming job, there is no typical day in the life if a designer, not one dull moment, not necessarily comfortable but not dull.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
DS: Never lose the passion in design, nor the fun in it, cause if that happens, it will turn to yet another dreary job with the lack of artistic trait

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
DS: To become a successful designer a lot of qualities are vital most important of which are passion, perseverance and patience. For the design phase, visualization of concept, boldness and basic means of interpretations of designs as sketching are essential attributes, as for execution phase keeping a meticulous eye on every detail no matter how trivial it could seem, experiencing personally the evolution of a project also evaluating the necessary budget properly and prorate it with market surveys and execution timelines. Maintaining lines of communications open with all players as in designers and engineers of one’s team, as well as clients. Another essential quality, a designer should keep in mind is lack of stubbornness , keep listening to pointers given from peers, clients, and even workers executing the designs, you can learn a lot from professionals in their own crafts .I have learned hard paid lessons from egoistic inflexibility at the beginning of my career. For the market sustainability consciousness, sense of responsibility as well meeting clients’ expectations and trust, maintain a trustworthy reputation is essential.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
DS: The design concept comes to life with a scratchy Faber-Castell pencil and a Rotring tracing paper drawing pad. As for computer and software despite the fact that my laptop is literally glued to me, with the tools of Photoshop, 3Dmax, Autocad, yet I believe that one’s design won’t be enhanced with the use of a computer and its applications, it will only speed the work remarkably. As for inspiration, as I said previously it’s all around, internet, books, magazines, people, places, my head…. It is everywhere if you keep an open mind, eyes and soul.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
DS: Not only design is time consuming ,since I am a hands-on kind of person, the idea of putting all my thoughts into practicality and turning it into an admirable result that people can see, live in or with is most truly rewarding part of the job so a lot of time goes to implementation and overseeing the execution of work, to juggle that , one should have strong capabilities of organizing, managing, delegating and focusing on one task at a time, as a stickler for time keeping, having very strict , frenetic work schedules helps enormously .

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
DS: The duration for designing an item is contingent on several factors, the complexity of the design, the research needed for unconventional material, techniques, methodology or mechanisms required to be applied. Another influential issue that may consume extra time and alter immensely the work schedule is market survey either for pricing or clients’ usage acceptance, these market surveys may sometimes result in modifications which maybe slight amendments or as radical as design alterations ,and that alone would set the work back to square one.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
DS: I am continuously asked “Since you design in numerous fields as well as execute your work, how do you manage to do it all?” And the other perplexing one especially for Middle East community is” How difficult is it to be a female General Contractor?”

FS: What was your most important job experience?
DS: I reluctant to differentiate a specific job predominantly, since I work in diversified fields, each project is important and challenging in its own parameters whether in its size, complexity, timing or even in the psychological profiles of its cliental.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
DS: Most of work is for High end residential and commercial clients

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
DS: Since I am an architect, Interior designer and a Landscape designer as well as lately a furniture designer , all fields of design appeal to me as long as they are challenging and simulating and the most vital factors to me is that a design would be creative , harmonious and appealing as well as solving all cascading dilemmas when necessary .Since this award is for a furniture design then I have to clarify that the field of furniture production has three categories, first designing and producing furniture as mass production and in this department all elements of commercial production criteria must be fulfilled from the earliest stages even before the conceptual stage of design, since these elements affect design, proportions, materials used , timing of execution and the budgeting of the pieces, basically manufacturing items that you aspire to appeal to a broad range of cliental. The second category is custom designed furniture which is designing for a certain group of people whether in a residential, commercial or retail project and in that type the design vision is more tailored to a one to one relationship with specific individuals and their influence is taken into consideration so that the designed pieces would mirror the inhabitants of that space as in residential, hospitality, coperate or the aimed cliental in retail. As for the third category in furniture production that would be my most preferable, is designing exquisite artistic individual pieces , a designer would pour his/her soul in a design, and vision a certain concept with no particular recipient in mind, pretty much as a sculptor or a painter and in that case the only rules of commercialism would appear in the execution of the innovation in making sure that the materials used are sustainable and the production is highly quality controlled in every minute detail.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
DS: I am recently studying the possibility to import antique elements such as ceilings, doors, niches to incorporate in my designs or even in a specific line of my furniture production since I believe that in some designs, implementing fusion between modern and complementary antique touches provide anchorage and a distinctive twist.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
DS: As for Architecture, Interior design and Landscaping , I have several projects in the making were their designs are extensively diversified between Contemporary, Asian, Classic and Eclectic .As for furniture I am in the process of designing a new line that is utterly distinct in its concept, materials and execution , hoping to launch it by the end of the year.

FS: How can people contact you?
DS: You can reach me through my website (currently under maintenance) hoping the updated design will be pleasing to our clients and followers, my Face book as Dalia Sadany Creations as an account and a group has news and updates about my work, or via my e-mail

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
DS: I would like to nominate my husband for sainthood for bearing with my complete and utter devotion to my work and prioritizing it over our social life, as well as putting up with my artistic fluctuations and mood swings. He has been my rock, my supporter, my biggest fan, my trustworthy critic and my own personal assistant much to his knowledge.

FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.

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