Rami Selo, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sedar Global, discusses the design philosophy of his family business, how he was drawn to the business at a young age, the latest offerings, and how he believes strongly that technology can be used to attract potential clients—Gen Z, and his vision of putting the brand on the global map.

By Roma Arora

It’s one of the few companies that is synonymous with the region’s advancement, and for Rami Selo, CEO of Sedar Global, it’s been a fruitful and fulfilling journey, and seeing the evolution of design across residential and commercial spaces over the past several years is a fantastic achievement. When it comes to blinds, curtains, drapes, shades, wallpapers, and folding doors, Sedar Global is the only name that comes to mind. This is the influence it has made in the region with an extensive range of designer products and international collaborations.

Rami’s early involvement in the design industry stems from the fact that he was raised in a business family. His father would take his brothers and him to the factory and several ateliers throughout the world to see how the design and fashion worlds changed.  This drew him to the design industry, which he knew he wanted to follow and establish a name for himself in. Rami shares: “I graduated with a degree in Interior Design from the American University in Sharjah. I have been with Sedar since 2006, and since then embarked on various ventures within the company, leading processes such as manufacturing, operations, and strategic planning in addition to leading design innovations. I’m passionate about understanding design variations and global trends within our field. For over 130 years, Sedar Global has been an iconic brand strongly established in the heart of the Middle East. I come from the founding family of Sedar, and since joining the company, I’ve seen how our brand transforms residential and commercial places all around the region.

True workmanship

So, one of the most significant questions we asked Rami was, “What is the recipe for this incredible growth and success?” He then quoted: “Our commitment to offering the finest window fashion in curtains and blinds as well wallpapers have set new standards in the industry. We’ve not just furnished spaces but have significantly contributed to the evolution of interior aesthetics in the Middle East because we have been around for a long time, we are seen as trend setters in the industry by assuring a business model that continues to focus on high quality lifestyle products, stock list of in demand global brands and providing what Sedar have become best known for – their “golden service” with delicate customer care, on-time delivery, follow up and ultimately a customer centric attitude.”

Sedar Global has reinvented itself several times over the past 130 years, matching and attempting to stay ahead of its clients’ shifting objectives and tastes.  Surprisingly, the company began as a hardware store for spare parts before evolving into its first window covering, the vertical blind. The goal was to provide a practical solution for sun protection as well as privacy. Rami recalls proudly: “Actually, many people in the region referred to the vertical brand as ‘Sedar’ in the same way people nowadays refer to “Kleenex” as a napkin. Later, the folding door and roller blind were introduced and shortly after with customers shifting to focussing more on aesthetic yet practical solutions fabric curtains and blinds were introduced into our product lines.”

Sedar has always been a brand that focuses on lifestyle rather than just products or services, which is why, in addition to developing their product and service lines, the entire family and team has focused their efforts on ensuring that the shopping experience moves with the times. Rami believes in the power of technology, stating, “Most recently, we have rolled out a new look and feel throughout a number of stores across the GCC to give a more friendly and approachable visual identity for consumers.” Our e-commerce has also been updated, with the addition of a virtual store and a high-end-to-end shopping realistic VR experience.”

The design philosophy of Sedar resonates intimately with the rich tapestry of Middle Eastern tradition. They are inspired by local architecture, traditions, and landscapes, as well as favoured colour palettes, which they then translate into exquisite textiles and finishes. The best part is that their collections are a harmonic mix of old and new. Rami explains: “Echoing the region’s preference for opulence but with contrasting lines that offer subtleness and modernity. We always keep up to date with the latest interior trends by attending key exhibitions and talks throughout the world. Our team of skilled designers attend these exhibitions to ensure our products remain on trend and continue to appeal to the progressing tastes of current customers whilst attracting future generation consumers.”

Rami believes that GCC clients have high standards and distinct preferences. While meeting their changing tastes is difficult, it is also rewarding. “With a clientele that has very high expectations, especially those paying for premium products, we are always expected to be at the top of our game, so their deep appreciation for quality and aesthetics drives us to elevate our offerings constantly,” he asserts.

According to Rami, the creative process is critical to the success of a product and thus the project. Extensive market research, brainstorming discussions, an awareness of current trends, and a thorough dive into Middle Eastern aesthetics are all part of his process. “Our teams work together to bring these concepts to life. We recognise that each market has its own set of interests and tastes. Some markets like more detailed and intricate patterns, while others prefer minimal and contemporary designs. We always strive to ensure that every product embodies Sedar’s promise of luxury and quality, and is always designed with our customers in mind,” Rami explains.

Sedar Global is known for its collaborations with renowned designers and artists; we asked Rami how these collaborations have benefited the brand’s product variety and global image. He shares: “These collaborations have infused fresh perspectives into our collections, ensuring our range is globally relevant while retaining regional charm.” We are proud of our collaborations with Somfy, Swarovski, Armani, Versace, Missoni Home, Karl Lagerfeld, and many other worldwide companies.”

He then goes on to divulge some details about their historic collaboration. “Our soon-to-be-announced relationship with the MET Museum will be a monumental step for Sedar, incorporating world-renowned art and history into our product ranges. By incorporating aspects from the MET’s historic collections into our designs, we’ve perfectly merged timeless artistry with current interior fashion. These collaborations not only boost our brand’s global reputation, but they also strengthen Sedar’s commitment to fusing culture, legacy, and luxury in every production, while also expanding our catalogue as a brand synonymous with international standards,” tells Rami.

He talks about the styles and trends that are making waves in the industry. Rami says: “Our most recent collections are characterised by basic, less patterned contemporary designs. Curtain and blind textiles that incorporate minimalism principles have become fashionable in neutral and earthy tones of linens and cottons. Customers want to optimise daylight while also providing shade in their homes. Aesthetically, consumers want to embrace simplicity and functionality in their living spaces, which has led to an increase in demand for Somfy, our automated window décor technology. This window style pairs well with contrasting textures; most recently, we released an uber luxurious collection of wall coverings that represent this trend, with the interwoven natural fibres providing a tremendous tactile sensation.”

The company is pushing the frontiers of wall covering lines with designs available in wicker, straw, grass-cloths, and silks with practically any design. “We continue to appreciate bringing the outdoors in; biophilic-inspired design is difficult in desert locations, but our wallpaper collections with nature-inspired graphics provide a pleasant reprieve and diversion from cityscape. We are seeing consumers experimenting with dopamine hits of colour within interiors again in 2023, and have added pastel and candy hues to upholstery and fabric lines to tap into a trend that has largely seen a resurgence in interiors due to its coverage on social platforms like TikTok,” observes Rami.

The most recent addition to Sedar Global’s product services for summer 2023 is upholstery, which was established due to industry need for sustainable interior choices. When it comes to renovating house décor, consumers can be more eco-conscious by transforming existing furniture.

Rami shares with enthusiasm: “Our new upholstery service pilots in the UAE, and is a natural extension of our commitment to offer comprehensive interior solutions. The new service has been created in part to the industry demand for sustainable interior choices, reupholstery is the ultimate commitment to recycling and reusing pre-loved furniture. We will soon expand the service to other GCC countries. Customers can stop by our store, choose from a wide variety of upholstery fabrics and then leave the rest to us. We will transform their furniture ensuring a seamless design flow in their spaces.”

Rami understands that the market in which he operates is competitive, but he has learned from the best throughout time to thrive and lead. He observes that the Middle East mixes rich culture with rapid growth, resulting in a wide range of interior design needs. This means that there will be a lot of competition as firms try to suit both old and new wants. Sedar Global caters to both. He explains further: “Our main customers are quality oriented individuals with an interest in maintaining levels of aesthetics.  Top design companies work with us, and big venues like hotels, schools, hospitals, and government buildings pick our services. We succeed by mixing traditional values with modern styles. Given this dynamic landscape, competition is fierce as brands strive to cater to both heritage and innovation. What sets us apart from the competition is that we provide comprehensive services ranging from manufacturing to delivery and installation after the sale.”

Fashion is continuously changing, and so are the audience’s behaviours. He knows that their biggest task will be to anticipate, adapt to, and lead design trends in order to stay the first choice for their clients. He goes on: “Gen Z are our next potential clients, and because of their nature, we need to emphasise the personalisation part of Sedar, as GenZ is more concerned with self-expression, personalisation, and art. With the rise of e-commerce, our biggest challenge is to adapt and streamline the journey for our customers, especially because the nature of our products and all the intricate detailing that goes into them, customers still prefer to order online so we are finding ways to bring our store experience to them. The challenge would be translation of the Sedar experience online through a virtual metaverse experience making it difficult due to the nature of our products.”

In future, Rami sees Sedar broadening its horizons even further, influencing global design narratives while remaining true to its Middle Eastern roots.” As for me, I wish to continue to nurture innovation, ensuring that Sedar is synonymous with luxury and avant-garde design in the world of interiors.I want to expand the concept of a one-stop shop, with its unique concept of full-service offerings, high-quality products and brands, taking it beyond the Middle East, and advancing the Sedar experience on a global scale,” Rami concludes on an upbeat note.

Kempenski Palm Jumeirah project by Sedar Global