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Meet the rising stars of Dubai’s interior design scene

These women are ultra-cool at what they do…

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A beautifully designed home provides both comfort and joy. Image credit| Sam Armstrong

Dubai is a growing metropolis city that attracts creatives from across the globe. Over the past few years, the city’s design culture has seen growth with Dubai Design District (d3), providing creative outlets and events to showcase local talent. Along with fashion, arts and music, interior design has also seen influx of creatives. With new studios cropping up often, allow us to introduce the rising stars of Dubai’s interior design scene. Meet the women who are taking the desert by storm with their bold and elegant approach:

ROAR – Nikita Chellani

Nikita Chellani. Image credit| ROAR Studio

A double master’s degree holder in Interior and Graphic Design from the Florence Design Academy, Nikita Chellani joined ROAR as an interior designer in 2019. Born and bred in Dubai, she has worked on multiple residential, hospitality and commercial developments across the UAE. Some of her previous independent projects include refurbishing the Kempinski at Mall of the Emirates, Al Furjan Hotel and Lemon Tree Hotel.

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With enough space for sitting and standing, the design reflects the interiors of a grab-and-go setting. Image credit| ROAR Studio

Chellani sees interior design as art- she describes an empty room as a “canvas waiting to be adorned”. Her design inspiration comes from experimenting with diverse materials, textures, fabrics, and colours to create unique combinations that fit her concepts.

One of her recent projects at ROAR was the interiors of homegrown Emirati brand Drop Coffee’s second location in Dubai’s Dar Al Wasl Mall. The client requested ROAR to create a minimal space to accomodate the flow of customers coming in from two different entrances. The roasting process of coffee beans inspires the cafe’s colour palette. The bar itself also gives the illusion of floating due to a lighted skirting made out of glass blocks and supported by a wooden structure that runs across the base.

Banquette area. Image credit| ROAR Studio

The cafe boasts a pared-back design with striking raw accents, with various seating options like bar stools, freestanding tables and chairs. The distinctive hints of colour blended with an overall minimalistic aesthetic are one of the highlights of this project.

Zephyr Interiors- Sam Armstrong and Carly Berry

Carly Berry(L) & Sam Armstrong (R). Image credit| Sam Armstrong

Dubai-based boutique interior design studio Zephyr Interiors was formed to create contemporary spaces that the reflect client needs. Run by British and South African expats Carly Berry and Sam Armstrong, the studio aims to make every living space magazine-worthy yet practical at the same time. Working on local and international projects, Zephyr specialises in residential and boutique commercial projects and home organisation. The pair derive their design inspiration from their collective love of travel and the melting pot of cultures that Dubai has to offer.

Carly and Sam are currently working on fully renovating a villa in the Arabian Ranches. Their clients preferred sophisticated beach vibes and a minimal monotone aesthetic over the brown and beige tones common to other houses in the community.

“Every corner of this villa has changed and we’re looking forward to revealing the final look (in around 6 weeks time) which includes front and back garden landscaping,” says Sam. The results of the project so far are quite captivating- the house has been completely transformed into a beautiful space that incorporates classy and elegant elements with the furnishings and room decor.

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These pictures make us really want to move in! Image credit| Sam Armstrong

Another project the pair recently completed was the interiors of an apartment in City Walk. Aiming to create a cosy yet contemporary space, Zephyr repurposed the existing sofa in the apartment and added strong textural elements to elevate the look and feel of the three-bedroom space.

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A blend of bold colours and delightful decor. Image credit| Sam Armstrong

By keeping the existing white walls and adding hints of rich navy, forest green and copper tones, an element of warmth was brought into this living space. The statement feel of the apartment was maintained by including large-scale furniture pieces that kept with the proportions of the apartment.

The Styling Duo- Sarrah Ajabshah and Huma Mirza

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Huma Mirza (L) & Sarrah Ajabshash (R). Image credit| The Styling Duo

Founded by two mothers, The Styling Duo is an interiors concept run by Huma Mirza and Sarrah Ajabshah. The pair are both equally passionate about colour, design and bringing ideas together to beautify spaces. Hailing from Karachi, Pakistan, Huma and Sarrah have been in the UAE for over 7 years and began their journey by collaborating with a start-up known as ‘The Styling Duo’.

One of their recent projects is a modern minimalistic take on a young couple’s villa in Jumeirah Village Triangle. Their clients were particular about having enough natural light for the living space which led Sarrah and Huma to design a space that was casual yet functional at the same time.

“Since having natural light was a high priority, we took into account to highlight the windows and painted opposite facing walls in a beautiful Silver Moon shade to pop the white window frames. This automatically connected both sides of the room and brought in cohesiveness,” explain Sarrah and Huma.

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Another one of their projects is a guest bedroom revamp in the Arabian Ranches. Their clients were a family of four who wanted to redo the space to make it calm and welcoming for guests to relax and unwind.

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Tasteful and decorative pieces make the colour blue pop. Image credit| The Styling Duo

The duo wanted to play around with colours and choose something that suited what their clients described. They selected blue as the theme of the room to give the feeling of tranquillity. The choice of colour, bedding and tasteful minimalist Scandi decor has wholly changed the aesthetics of this room.

By Mabel Roy

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