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Interview with Hisham El Essawy

Home > Designer Interviews > Hisham El Essawy

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

Interview with Hisham El Essawy at Thursday 15th of July 2021
Hisham Elessawy
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?
HEE: I’ve always had a passion for art & design since my early childhood so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I decided to pursue a career in design. After graduating from the faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo, I sought to reinforce my career in Interior and Furniture Design by pursuing my study at Möbel Akademie in Berlin, where I got my diplomas in Design Intelligence, Interior and Furniture Design, and became a world class designer, mentor and lecturer. Furthermore, I followed my passion to intensify my knowledge in Design Intelligence by finishing another Diploma in Creative Problem Solving at Minnesota University in the USA. I am also holding a dual masters degree from The American University in Cairo and PLOMI in Design and Sustainability, offering green solutions for architecture, interior design and furniture design and manufacturing. As I returned back to Egypt being certified from EU as a professional interior architect and product design instructor, I have taken it upon myself to develop the interior design and furniture industry in Egypt. I co-founded EDG (Egyptian Designers Guild), followed by DESiGNDUSTRY, and recently Cairo Designathon, the first and only design marathon in the region, as well as my own academy – HEDS Academy – to raise design leaders for next generation through professional design diplomas, mentorship, & competitions. With over 20 years of experience in interior architecture and furniture design, I have also worked as a consultant for the Egyptian ministry of Industry, UNIDO, German Chamber and various furniture and design entities.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
HEE: “HEDS” is an international award winning cosmopolitan design studio, founded by Hisham El Essawy, based in Cairo, Egypt. We provide interdisciplinary design services and solutions, from interior, product and furniture design to customization & game changing solutions across crafts, art, fashion, interiors & architecture.

FS: What is "design" for you?
HEE: Design is my soul's native language. I always believed that humanity enriches design solutions, or as I would like to call it "soul-utions" as design speaks to the soul, and if you look at the first letters of this statement it would make up the name of my design studio "HEDS"!

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
HEE: As an interdisciplinary designer, I follow my passion in all design disciplines. I believe in pluralism in design, so I enjoy designing a product as much as I enjoy designing a mansion!

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
HEE: The agile and progressive age we’re living in makes it impossible to have a favorite design; that’s why my favorite design has not been designed yet.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
HEE: A desktop computer table, back when I was a college student in 1997, and I sold a bunch of them to various offices!

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
HEE: I’m fascinated with wood, and I really admire the 3D veneer technology.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
HEE: When I’m challenged!

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
HEE: The design soul is the most important aspect of a design. Every good design should serve a purpose in its form and function, but the soul is what makes a great design.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
HEE: Euphoria!

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
HEE: Ecstasy!

FS: What makes a design successful?
HEE: Paying attention to every detail during the design process and perfectionism are what make a design successful.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
HEE: Design critique is one of the most difficult duties and determining what is good and what is bad in design has to be based on knowing the story behind it. So I always consider the story behind the design, design concept, and design soul as the first aspects when judging a design.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
HEE: A designer should take part of the sustainable development process, not only for the environmental pillar, but also for the economic and social pillars too. The intersection between these three pillars is the real Design for Sustainability (D4S) that designers should be responsible of.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
HEE: The rapid consumption and production cycle and the global changes that we’re facing will have a huge impact on the design field. Hence, only agile design practices will have a chance to survive.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
HEE: My last exhibition was Cairo Design Awards 2019, and I have an upcoming exhibition during Dubai Expo 2020 which will be held in October 2021.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
HEE: Ancient Egyptian civilization is my never-ending source of inspiration and creativity. We hold exploration excursions to various ancient Egyptian monuments as a main source of endless inspiration, and throughout these excursions we rediscover the magic of our ancestors and how to revive it in the 21st century. I also keep myself updated with all international art and design exhibitions.

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?
HEE: My approach to design is inspired from the ancient Egyptian “Ka” concept. Ka means soul, which is the origin and essence of everything. Having a specific design style is limiting, but designing with “Ka” is limitless and timeless.

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?
HEE: I live in Cairo, Egypt, where the cultural heritage is inspiring beyond words! From Ancient Egyptian, Graeco-Roman, to Coptic & Islamic, the inspiration is endless all around us, which is in fact a challenge for designers to create iconic designs that would stand out.

FS: How do you work with companies?
HEE: Since we established HEDS designs, we have been in good contact with all the stakeholders of the design scene, B2B & B2C companies, in Egypt and the region.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
HEE: Companies should have a clear objective and brief when hiring a designer. If they do, it will help them in selecting a good designer who can achieve their needs.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
HEE: We first study the client brief very well, and sometimes we need to revisit the brief with the client to make sure all client needs are clearly communicated. Hence, we start the design process with the ideation phase, in which we initiate and develop the design concept based on convergent, creative design thinking process, and inspirational mood boards, reaching preliminary design options, which are then shared with the client and refined through the finalization phase. In this phase, we make sure that all design details, perspectives, samples, colors, materials, and finishes are developed and matured. Then, we move on to the implementation phase, in which we take into account new production methods and techniques, sustainability aspects, and design time frame, applying strict quality control measures.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
HEE: 1.Consumer electronics like home automation (Alexa, Google Home) 2.Couches 3.Chaise Longue 4.Lighting fixture 5.Credenza

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
HEE: I like to start my day early with a light breakfast, then I take Leo – my dog – for his morning walk. After that, I head to HEDS – my design studio –, and before starting work, I read industry updates – local and international, then I start the normal work day; from checking on the work progress with my design team, to taking meetings and working on my design projects. In the evening, I have dinner with my wife, then we take Leo for his evening walk then go out with our friends.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
HEE: 1. Never stop learning! Keep updating yourself with everything design related, even if it’s unrelated to your specific design field. Always work on improving your skills and challenging your abilities. 2. Pay attention to every detail during your design process. 3. Always be agile. Keep tweaking your business model and your process to keep up with the rapid global changes.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
HEE: Design is all about creation, and creation is divine, so being a designer is an absolute blessing as you feel a kind of divine connection that no other profession can make you feel. However, this is a curse as much as it’s a bless, because a designer is always focusing on every detail and always seeks perfection, which is extremely hectic because you’re not God!

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
HEE: Always design with KA – which is the soul in Ancient Egyptian.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
HEE: •Being open-minded •Perfectionism •Keeping up with trends and technologies •Creative problem solving

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
HEE: Sketching pencil, Sketchbook, Aristo triangle, tracing pad, iPad Pro, Autocad, SketchUp, rendering software.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
HEE: Prioritizing tasks and projects is the key to how I manage my time.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
HEE: There’s no specific duration as it depends on the object itself.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
HEE: “How can I be a successful designer like you?”!

FS: What was your most important job experience?
HEE: Working with the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Louvre, and British Museum, on the restoration, renovation, and design of the display units in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, and also the renovation of the interior and lighting design of the museum.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
HEE: Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egyptian Ministry of Industry & Foreign Trade, many Egyptian furniture companies and showrooms, in addition to class A individual customers.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
HEE: As an interdisciplinary designer, every design has its own challenge and joy. From architecture, interior, product, to the smallest accessory that I design; however, I enjoy product design more.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
HEE: As life must be lived forwards, I believe that future plans are based on living fully in the present, with unlimited possibilities.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
HEE: Depending on the project. Sometimes I work on my own, while other times I work with my design team.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
HEE: Yes, we are currently working on some residential and commercial projects that will be launched very soon on our website www.hedsdesigns.com, so stay tuned!

FS: How can people contact you?
HEE: Email: hisham@hedsdesigns.com Cell Phone: (+20)1111000455 HEDS Office Address: 20C Road 198, Maadi Cairo, Egypt 11431

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
HEE: No, thank you very much!


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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