No, we are not encouraging you to leave the designing of your new home to the last minute! In fact, Last Minute is the very original and creative title of one of Muscat’s leading interior design companies, that was established about three years ago and quickly garnered recognition for its out of the box ideas and solutions for designing homes. As the general lifestyle in Oman has changed, more and more couples are now opting for smaller spaces, with modern landscaping within. B&G met with Riyadh A. Suleiman, the industrious Managing Director of Last Minute Design to talk about his company, and the interior designing trends springing up amongst the younger population in the Sultanate.
Tell us a little about yourself and your qualifications.
I graduated as an Electrical and Electronics Engineer from the Sultan Qaboos University, and have a Master’s degree in Telecommunications and Interior Designing from Australia. I worked in the Ministry of Information as a television engineer, and also worked with Oman TV and ERA, where I was involved in a lot of projects. Last Minute was established about 3 years ago.
What drew you from engineering to interior designing?
Basically, I am an artist. My childhood was inspired by art. I wanted to know whether my art was appreciated by the people. Appreciation, in one way, is if people are ready to pay for your work. By experimenting with my love of art, I found my passion in interior designing. It is like an artist’s canvas on a larger, three-dimensional scale that contains not only interiors, but exteriors and landscaping as well. The challenge is much bigger, and so is the appreciation.
What is the story behind the title of your company, ‘Last Minute Design’?
This name was recommended by a friend. It is a standout, which gives the company a lot of attention. In a way it is actually true, since when I started working as an interior designer, everyone was looking for that last minute interior designer to work on their home! People want someone who can do things right at the last moment. In Oman, the concept of interior designing isn’t that popular, it is perceived as an over-the-budget idea. Most of my clients come to me only as a last minute decision, hence the title of the company.
Do you specialize in residential projects or commercial projects?
I started as a residential interior designer, since there isn’t a strict deadline to meet. Residential designing can take anywhere from 15-18 months, which gives a lot of time to see the project through. Commercial designing is fast-paced, and is all to do with business and money. You have to be thoroughly occupied in it. I should mention that even though I started as a residential designer during my freelancing days, my very first project was a commercial one, which subsequently led me to taking on more commercial ventures. Today Last Minute Design does a lot of commercial projects, from offices to even restaurants.
The general mindset is that you need an interior designer only for a big house. Is this true?
The younger population in Oman is now moving out and there a lot of smaller families. The lifestyle has changed, and people now prefer an average sized space with modern landscaping within. Larger houses require a large amount of maintenance, and hence have a considerable sized budget. Youngsters are now more aware that even a small residence or a flat can be made absolutely beautiful and modern, with the right kind of designing.
Is meeting an interior designer necessary only when setting up a new home?
I would say no. Actually, people want to renovate their existing houses more than setting up a new home. People who have lived at prime locations since years would rather refurbish their space, than move to a new one. Meeting an interior designer for the renovation of your home is truly worth it. Last Minute Design understands this aspect of the people in Oman, and can break down and reconstruct an entirely brand new house for people in the same location where their old house was.
What are some of the interior designing trends popular in Oman?
About 20 years ago, the general trend in villas here was Classic interiors. Today people are open to lot of modern ideas..
Do you use the local Omani flavour in your designs?
I try to incorporate the element of Omani heritage and nature in all of my projects, and have done residential designs using stones from Bahla that have incredible colours and patterns. The Bahla stones have ideal shades for interior designing in Oman, and they look beautiful. I am drawn to the beauty of Oman’s villages and natural elements, and try to apply the same in my work.
Tell us about your favourite project.
My personal favourite project was designing my own home. It was exactly to my taste, and I wanted to show my capabilities through it. I brought new ideas in my home, which were never heard before in Oman, such as an indoor garden and wooden steps. My second favourite project was designing the biggest Nawras Data Centre in Oman, and I am very thankful that Nawras put its faith in me.
What is your advice to couples for setting up their new home?
Young couples should remember that their new home is a sanctuary where they should relax, and get to know one another more. This environment should be healthy, both in terms of design and colour. It should create a positive energy throughout. Residences should have softer, matte colours, with mixed shades to promote a good feeling. Different rooms have different colours that are symbolic: your bedroom should have colours that are romantic, while the tea corner should have refreshing colours, etc.