trends and outlook in an exclusive interview with Eng. Khwlah Ibrahim Al-Sultan
Interview with Eng. Khwlah Ibrahim AlSultan, Founder and CEO of Design by Khwlah
What is your overview of the architecture and design sector in Saudi Arabia and the region?
The architecture and design sector in the Arabian Peninsula has adapted to the region’s geography and climate and reflects the uniqueness of Arab culture. The architecture and design sector has changed and evolved drastically over the years in Saudi Arabia. Modern architecture offers a perfect combination of function and design while reducing costs. King Salman’s Charter for Architecture and Urban Planning has inspired industry not only here in Saudi Arabia, but also around the world. At Design by Khwlah, we inspire our work by applying the core values of the Charter which represent authenticity, continuity, human-centeredness, livability, innovation and sustainability. From a personal point of view, I am proud to be considered one of the ambassadors of the Charter.
What are the main products and services you offer at Design by Khwlah?
Our main activities include visualizing and sketching design plans based on client objectives, sourcing products and materials, determining costs and inspecting construction to ensure alignment with design specifications are met. Our philosophy is based on key elements such as space, line, shapes, light, color, texture and pattern, as well as local culture; and keeping all of these aspects balanced is the key to creating an aesthetically pleasing interior.
Our core business is design and architecture in commercial, office and residential projects. We provide other design related support services like marketing and business solutions, especially in the real estate industry.
What sets you apart from competitors in the industry? What are your competitive advantages?
Our competitive advantages are simply based on realistic and achievable designs with new features and fast delivery. At Design by Khwlah, we believe that what sets us apart from others is our seamless process, our unique style, our selling proposition and our ability to tell a story. However, our audience is the main differentiator as well as the customer experience.
We mainly focus on GCC market, mainly Saudi Arabia. However, we have recently started to explore global opportunities and talent to form a global consortium. This will unify the local style with international standards and give a unique mix. Moreover, the synergy of these efforts will give us a greater opportunity to participate in megaprojects everywhere.
What are some of your successes and accomplishments that you are most proud of?
On a personal level, I received a Guinness certificate at the very young age of 11 when I represented KSA in an international art competition. I pursued my passion for design until I graduated from architectural design school with a bachelor’s degree. I have created many successful businesses in Saudi Arabia, one of them being a registered trademark in Saudi Arabia called Design by Khwlah. Moreover, in business, we believe that our success is truly represented the moment we see the smiles on the faces of our customers.
What challenges does Design by Khwlah face and what have you done to overcome them?
We believe that challenges exist in every industry. However, we are used to being adaptable to these changes and we approach them professionally with alternative solutions. The pandemic has affected nearly every current and planned design, development and construction project. Public health news, safety legislation and OSH laws are constantly changing, and with them, so are the needs of our customers.
What is your medium-term vision, three to five years, for the company?
We are currently in the process of expanding our multidisciplinary team and our footprint by collaborating with global companies. Our vision is to be a reliable, feasible and sustainable design company within a global market, delivering inventive designs and superior quality finish. Vision 2030 and its related projects have provided great opportunities for designers, especially Saudi designers, to be more innovative and collaborative and to be able to deliver unique projects.
What is your personal inspiration? What drives you to do what you do?
There are hundreds of resources designers can draw inspiration from and they are different from each other. Exploring new cultures, people, civilizations and experiences by immersing ourselves in a region far from home forces us to step out of our comfort zone and open our eyes to new possibilities in our creative endeavors. I believe in the concept of “biomimetics” which pushes us to create design products by reverse-engineering nature. Simply put, it helps us study natural phenomena to get insights from nature and apply them to solve real-world design and architectural challenges. It encompasses how we live and change our planet for the better when planned and designed in alignment with our ecosystem.
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