In our series featuring the best design talent in the region and beyond, we speak to Hasan Roomi, one half of the H2R Design duo, and creator of beautiful and serene retail and hospitality spaces within the city.
If you see pared down design, subtle textures and raw materials juxtaposed with a muted, soft palette in an extremely tasteful interior, chances are you’re sitting within an H2R space.
This award-winning London and Dubai based design firm was founded by brothers Hasan and Husain Roomi. Being born and brought up in the UK and having lived partially in Dubai as well, has allowed their design sensibility a subtle and sensitive nuance to the Middle Eastern culture, while embracing modern aesthetics and a contemporary (read: young and hip) design language. Their portfolio of work includes renowned commercial and hospitality spaces across the continents, and their claim to fame? That H2R Design don’t just design incredible commercial spaces, they shape environments.
Hasan Roomi explains their near vertical trajectory of growth within the local design sphere, and offers a glimpse into his personal journey in becoming the interior designer he is today.
PLAIN, a new handcrafted dessert concept homegrown in the UAE and located in City Centre Mirdif,
How did your design career blossom?
“To be honest I was always infatuated with the idea of creating things that impact people’s lives in some way or another. Later in life, I discovered that meant designing spaces. I set my mind to study design and during that time, discovered an ambition to experiment and learn the business side of things as well. So I worked on a few freelance projects and it quickly spun out of control from there!
And what led you to practice design in Dubai?
My brother and I had briefly grown up in Dubai before heading back to the UK for studies. We had the opportunity to work on a project in Dubai, Tom & Serg, which created quite a buzz in town. One thing led to another, and we found ourselves landing quite a few projects here, so I guess our fate was sealed.
“Dubai is by far the fastest paced market in my experience. I guess that’s what it takes to create such an impact on the world in such a short period of time.”
What do you feel is most challenging about being an interior designer in the UAE?
Pace. Dubai is by far the fastest paced market in my experience. I guess that’s what it takes to create such an impact on the world in such a short period of time. That said, it’s due to this very pace that we manage to grow, learn, and create so quickly. So, it’s a challenge that yields great rewards!
The Alamein Hotel in Egypt
Any particularly exciting or challenging project that you worked on through your entire design career?
The one project that stands out for me is Alamein Hotel in Egypt. We had to design and develop it so quickly. I truly am still astonished that it was designed, built and handed over within a year!
Your design style, and sources of inspiration?
I wouldn’t say I have a style per se. However, I do try to remain neutral towards the brief or philosophy of the project.
Your favorite design sector
Any space that welcomes a high footfall fascinates me design wise. So, hospitality, retail and F&B are right up my alley. I love to see how people from diverse settings interact and use an environment. The psychological impact that we can have through the design journey that we create can be extremely challenging yet interesting.
Where do you see the interior design industry five years from now?
As the shift in humanity takes shape, it is very natural that all things that surround our lives, including design, follow suit. Thus, I see us being more conscious of how we impact our planet, what we extract from it, and how we can create sustainable, considerate design.
If not an interior designer, what would you be?
I always wanted to be a car designer, but that’s just a dream. It’s hard to imagine being anything other than an interior designer to be honest. Nothing else suits my lifestyle.
“I love to see how people from diverse settings interact and use an environment. The psychological impact that we can have through the design journey that we create can be extremely challenging yet interesting.“
If you could design anything without constraints…
I would love to create a hotel experience with no restrictions. Push the boundaries and evolve the industry from a design standpoint. It is by far the most constrained industry due to the large investment that it involves. But that would be an awesome experience!
Some design projects across the region include Fuzziwigs, Clinton, Artisan, Leopolds and Parkers
What are your design dreams?
My design dreams are to expand beyond the realm of space in itself. As design has such a broad spectrum to play with.
What is the best advice you have ever received? And alternatively, what would be the most important advice you would give new designers?
The best advice I’ve ever been given was to “relax… things always fall into place the way they’re meant to”. This has greatly helped me in managing my stress levels. The advice I give new designers, however, is to always tell a story, worry less about what the design would look like, and focus more on the story.
Lastly, tell us about Hasan, the person?
I’m a collector of cars, records, and pretty much anything beautifully aged. We are caretakers of the little ornaments that we have around us that tell our history, and that’s the philosophy I live by.