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Interview with Lejla Niksic

Home > Designer Interviews > Lejla Niksic

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Lejla Niksic (LN) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Lejla Niksic by clicking here.

Interview with Lejla Niksic at Thursday 27th of April 2017
Lejla Niksic
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?
LN: Since I was a child, I favored all the toys and games that were related to building. I was always inspired by the elements of the local vernacular as a child playing in the old neighborhoods. Also, I was somewhat intrigued by photography and I would take pictures of the old neighborhoods and people living there.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
LN: AEB was established back in 1966 as the first architectural and engineering consultancy in Qatar. I have acquired it in 1991 and the strong team of 6 individuals; the team I took over as the new owner; has helped me expand the company in numbers and take it internationally. Now, we have over 600 employees in 6 countries across Asian continent.

FS: What is "design" for you?
LN: For me, design is a creative act. In the field of architecture, I believe design is using creativity to create a structure that is functional within its environment.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
LN: I think what I enjoy the most are themed hospitality buildings.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
LN: This project is one of my most favorite and the closest to my heart. It also signifies a great transition in my career.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
LN: I started with apartment buildings.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
LN: I am fascinated by BIM (Building Integration Modeling) system that allows you to experience structure before even being built.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
LN: I feel most creative when I am sailing.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
LN: I focus on function and orientation.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
LN: I feel absolutely excited whenever we get a chance to do something new.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
LN: The best part of being creative is when you see your building being built. It’s your dreams becoming reality.

FS: What makes a design successful?
LN: A design is successful when it excels at serving the purpose that it has been designed for.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
LN: My first concern would be the well-being of the inhabitants.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
LN: A designer should always help in protecting the environment; and exert every effort to avoid destroying it. A designer is the portal between people and their use of the environment. In his/her designs, they should show society how they could use the surrounding environment without causing harm.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
LN: I am hoping that it will continue to evolve towards more sustainable designs and less emissions. My hope is that we move forward towards a more holistic approach.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
LN: It was in Korea. I would like to hold the next exhibition when the right opportunity presents itself.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
LN: My greatest muse is usually the setting of the location and its surroundings.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
LN: My approach is a culturally sensitive one. I believe that designs should have an identity regardless of location or the people I am designing for.

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?
LN: I live in Doha. The cultural heritage of my country affects my designs immensely. I live with the impact of my buildings whether it is good or bad. I have to accept the opinions and the reactions of the people towards my ideas and my designs.

FS: How do you work with companies?
LN: We work closely with companies from all over the world. And it is very exciting because you get to learn different approaches.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
LN: A good designer is not only creative, but also realistic in terms of function and budget.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
LN: I start with understanding the client requirements; then I look at the site and its strengths environmentally and functionally. Based on these, I start working on the design concept.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
LN: I have few paintings and sculptures.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
LN: I split my day between my responsibilities as the GCEO of the company and design. The greatest challenge is taking yourself away from the joy of design. It was generally challenging, but after many years of practice, it became part of the norms. Also, I like to take the opportunity to visit the construction sites as it is part of the joy of being an architect is to see these projects evolving. For the majority of my evening, I spend it with friends and family and occasionally enjoying listening to Jazz music.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
LN: I always recommend that they explore, read and use the internet to see what the architects and designers are doing around the world which should help them set up a dream of what they would like to do in the future. And what I would really like to tell them is that dreams do come to true. If you are sincere to your work and passionate towards it, you will get what you want.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
LN: It is a positive thing to be an architect and a designer. But you should be aware of mistakes when they are done. You should be able to handle these mistakes as we are all practicing and exploring possibilities. It is an extremely important journey because the solutions we give will affect people’s lives. Every new job is a new degree that you need to earn. It’s a challenge that is always fruitful.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
LN: Achieve the purpose of what you are designing.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
LN: Imagination

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
LN: In this DNAge of technology we still try to find a balance and express ourselves through hand sketching , so we usually brainstorm and sketch by hand using old fashioned pen and paper. Only then do we turn to Photoshop and 3dMax to generate more realistic representations of our sketches.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
LN: I think the research and the mental process is the most difficult part. But in a fraction of a second you get inspired. You try to keep the balance between that mental process and the executing process.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
LN: It depends on the complexity of the building.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
LN: “What was your inspiration?”

FS: What was your most important job experience?
LN: I worked in the government for a short while; I was heading the architectural section. As someone who had only 2-3 years of experience, I felt very fortunate. Since then, I’ve continued to do the most important job I’ve ever had which is to develop a local firm into the biggest in the country.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
LN: We work with many different client in the private and public sector. We have produced from government buildings to hotels and shopping malls.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
LN: I enjoy working with themed hotels.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
LN: To expand in putting back the vernacular language into the architecture of this region.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
LN: It’s team work; I was fortunate over the years for having several teams working under my supervision and we get to develop simultaneously different projects.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
LN: There is a new resort that we are developing in the Sultanate of Oman which is very Eco and minimalist.

FS: How can people contact you?
LN: Through my email, website… etc.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
LN: N/A


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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