Ieva‘s curiosity about the Middle East was built over time through several projects she worked on whilst based in London. After a short stint in Abu Dhabi, she approached HOK, who then presented her with the opportunity to start and build their regional interior design team.
Her experience is broad and diverse – spanning across three continents, having lived and worked in the US, UK and now in the UAE. From high-rise residential towers to workplaces, small sales offices to large shopping malls – each unique and challenging in its own way. Among these are The Executive Offices in KSA & The Francis Crick Institute. The former – her first in the region – is an entire building of 12 floors with no element in the color black, and the latter her largest project, one that proceeded to become an icon of UK architecture.
HOK plans to expand their presence and services in the Middle East, and are set on reminding the region that being a global firm does not dilute their understanding of the local culture. We caught up with Ieva to get to know her better and what drives her imagination.
Ieva: I have lived in well-known multicultural cities: Washington, DC, and London. However, Dubai is far more diverse. Working in this city is exciting. People come from different parts of the world and bring with them very different experiences. Some of them you appreciate, some you chuckle at and some you ignore—but from all of them, you learn. Our designs here are a result of this diversity – when everyone comes together with their knowledge, experience, likes and dislikes. To work in an environment like this is a unique and exciting experience, and leads to interesting work.
Ieva: I haven’t had a least favorite design so far. I’ve been lucky to have had great learning experiences on all my projects. As an interior designer, I don’t spend too much time looking at one project or at least at one specific area of the project. I get involved in several components and that’s what excites me. There’s no time to get bored ! From small spaces like washrooms to large auditoriums and atriums, it’s always a different challenge. The trends are changing, as are people’s habits and experiences. Each design becomes different not only in aesthetics but also in function. What is always exciting, and helps, is when the client is open-minded and looking to get more or something new out of a space, be it a shop, a hotel or an office.
Ieva: I’m working on a leading bank’s headquarters. It is interesting to watch it get built. The tower houses very different spaces: from executive floors to open offices to public spaces. I always enjoy working on different tasks and designing types of different spaces within one project. These new headquarters will be a different and new type of space for this company. In addition to this, I’m also working directly with the stakeholders, which is an interesting challenge. I listen to them, address their needs, and in the process, get them excited about the upcoming workspace.
Ieva: I like simple, minimalistic design. As a child, I would hide vases and decorations from the shelves inside the cupboards. Clean lines and clean design is my preferred style. As interior designers, however, finding a design that best suits our client is what’s important. For good design, it is important to have a purpose, follow the functions and have high-quality details.
Ieva: Firstly, new designers need to enjoy what they’re doing. They need to have fun working with the client and project team. They shouldn’t be afraid to propose solutions. Even if they might sound silly, they could lead to something great. Focus, test your ideas, research them and believe in your design. Your conviction will help you sell it to the team and the client.