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Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style

No one can justify this statement better than Ward al Muna Al Khonji. Young, vibrant and unconventional, Ward al Muna is the force behind her brand. One of the most passionate people that we have  come across and her refreshing honesty makes us love her even more! She is that one person you wouldn’t want to miss in a large crowd of interior designers.

With that said, let’s take a peek into her life through an energetic and charismatic interview!

 

Why did you choose interior design as a career and qualification?

This goes way back into my childhood. As a child I was always surrounded by art. My mother was a teacher and spent a lot of time drawing and sketching, while my father had photography as a passion. Maybe, my environment was the reason I was always inclined more towards art as such. I learnt that the trick with design was that you didn’t have to be amazing at drawing. It was more about visualization.

So I took up art as a subject during my IGCSE. Somewhere along the line, it spoke to me on so many levels and my gut feeling pushed me to pursue it further on. I then went to a boarding school in Britain for two years. It was an A level programme where I had to choose a combination of four subjects. I chose fine arts, photography, design and mathematics which were a diverse choice.

When the process of choosing a degree came into play. Without thinking too much, I dived right into interior design maybe on the basis of instinct.

After  my  studies  I worked  with  a  company  for  a  short  stint  where our wavelengths matched. I grew in this job. I’ve always preferred change and new adventures every year. So while I was working at this place ,  I decided to establish my own office & brand name. I wasn’t sure on how I would do this but with a few helping hands for the logo and other small elements, I managed to do it. This was very exciting and I had my whole life ahead of me to make this the best choice. And trust me, it was.

What’s the story behind the logo?

My name is my logo. Since I was a child, my visual idea of an office name was something that is close to my heart. In simple terms my office represents who I am and nothing can be better than my name itself.  My name is the brand. It makes the recognition process way easier because it directly refers to me and  my  work.

My tagline is “It all starts with a thought.” It is simple and straightforward which is a complete reflection of my personality. And personally, this defines what I do in the best possible way because everything originates from a single idea, a single thought. It describes what I stand for.

This is especially for our B&G readers, what are the points you consider when designing a home for a young couple?

Your first  home   after  marriage  is  always  special  .   it is  your  personal  space  and  it defines  you   in  so many  levels . It’s difficult  for  an  un trained  person  to execute  what’s  in  your  mind ,  it  helps  to  talk  to an  expert  .  A  good  interior   designer  can  bring  to life  what  you exactly  have in  your mind  . Its a smart  investment  .

How do you keep up with the industry?

My well-rehears

ed answer would be that we research and work towards new concepts but the thing is we implement it here in Oman and that is not entirely true in this industry. Yes, we do require research and creativity but that is pointless without resources! Ultimately we are all dependant on the suppliers. If they don’t create something different we can’t add in new elements. Comfortable and available supplies are one of the essentials. Creating something from what we have so that it is economical and accepted here, is our main aim. The basic mentality in the market demands exported or lavish designs or items, but we manage to provide the same at cheaper rates.  So we are playing smart by being economical. This way, local suppliers also get support and we get in more items! The idea is benefitting the client but indirectly benefitting a larger spectrum.

When it comes to implementation I’ve got a lot of advices to read up and look at pictures but I personally believe it all comes through experiences and reality. I can take inspiration for creative ideas but I can’t execute them without my experiences and instinct.

What holds more value- Functionality or Appeal?

Personally I feel both are important aspects of design. They are like the two faces of a coin. As a designer, for me functionality comes first. It holds more value than appeal. But the thing is, after the functionality part is covered we need to make the place look good. Even though functionality has a slightly higher importance, we cannot disregard appeal. It just isn’t our first priority.

In your mind what’s the right combination to have a successful project?

There are a lot of things involved when it comes to a project, ranging from suppliers to clients to budgets and so on so forth. The trick here is to make sure all your aspects match. And that also requires a lot of effort from our part. Firstly, we need to be transparent and open. We need to make sure it’s reasonable and economical even within my team.

For me an ideal project is not completely business minded. I would want to take up projects that talk to me and instil the passion in me. I need creativity, movement and growth. 

There are some circumstances where the clients just sit back and relax and trust us to do the job efficiently. That is one of the best scenarios because that was the whole point of reaching out to an expert: to trust them to do the job well.

 What do you find more challenging, commercial or residential designing?

That is a tricky question.  When it comes to residential it is satisfying an individual and as far as commercial goes, it is a group of people. Both would be equally challenging as they are actually very similar. Both start off with the concept and move onto the creativity and technical aspect.

Now on the basis of experience, if a residential project is at hand ,they get to choose their way of living, the colour sequences and even the minute details. So it’s slightly hard for a designer because you need to push aside your opinions and work on the basis of theirs. Commercial projects on the other hand, have the advantage where the client just gives a proposition and the basic gist of what he requires. So the whole concept, designing and specifics are in our hands.  Of course you consult the client but they only give the basic pointers or requirements. The ball is in our court. Moreover, when we are designing we have a clear cut idea on how the design should benefit the company as such. We focus on the business appeal. Your creativity is at its peak because you need to be diverse and different

What do you think about Oman market?  Is the role of an interior designer is  appreciated  ?

Some  Designers  think  that  execution is the key to earn but they forget that the basis of it all is design. There are some cases where the names are big but the designs are too mundane. What people need to realize is that the money should not go into the name but into the quality and essence of the design itself. There should be a story behind designing. That’s what the market and even clients for that matter should realize. Designing is an art not a job. Sometimes people are  confused. They think design and execution is the same thing.

For example, if I am designing a house- I do it step by step, while the client jumps to the execution part which is confusing and creates a chaotic and messy environment for the both of us. When we design we do cover the practical aspects but when you rush to the end you miss out on a lot of things. The clients feel the need to make a lot of changes. In case of colours, before designing a particular shade a lot of thought and technicalities goes into it. So asking us to change it shakes the whole concept and design. That’s why I started execution to make sure the design isn’t modified way too much.

What do you think about client’s intervention?

Every client is entitled to give his or her opinion. I am completely open towards suggestions but if what they want is visually appeasing but not practical, I would sit them down and explain it to them till they understand because that is what I am here for. As an expert, you are professionally more inclined to knowing whether it would work out or not, so the argument is pretty convincing.

Is there any special piece of your portfolio or work experience that you are proud of?

Interior  designing ,  as  a  field involves a lot of experimentation and experiences.   Recently  I was  approached  to  work  on an  exhibition  project, the  exhibition  was  mainly to promote  Omani  entrepreneurs, this was a turning point for me. This gave me an opportunity to put my name out there, to be recognized as an interior designer. I learnt to work with a minimalistic budget .This was like a marketing experience for me. This experience   defined me as a designer. I figured out the way I work and  my points of focus. I created the pace, the concept and the design. It was so enriching. I knew how to handle the budgets well enough to get everything done with minimalistic amounts. You can say this almost framed my thinking process. I knew we had to think outside the box using the available items. I realized that I knew what I wanted from this opportunity and how I needed my space and recognition to move forward in this area. This experience was a learning and nurturing step for me. It gave me an insight into what I’ll be working with and what the future holds for me. I got a lot of recognition after this. This was one of my most cherished experiences!

About Swathi Seshadri

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