Nothing beats the power of passion and enthusiasm for Hazem Al Zaro, principal, Zaro Architects as he talks about his promising projects, design trends and what’s in store for future

What are the current projects the firm is working on in the UAE and abroad?
As we are a multi-disciplinary type of studio, we provide the full suite of contemporary architecture, and interior design solutions and services, working with clients ranging from F&B outlets through to healthcare and residential properties up to master planning. We’re currently working on a number projects varying from resorts, hotels, residential, and, commercial developments. At present, we’ve noticed a huge need for waterfront developments, and are currently designing two – including a seven-star honeymoon destination, located directly on the sea-front with bungalows, cabanas and a stunning view; as well as a beach project consisting of two hotels and 300 villas. Although most of our work is based across the UAE, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, we’ve been commissioned for a few projects in India, Czech Republic, Austria and Guinea Bissau, which is very exciting.

How was 2016 for the company? Have you seen any effect because of the current economic climate?
2016 was a great year for us. It involved a lot of hard work and many long nights on the implementation of our expansion plan and launching our studio in Dubai, but it was worth it! Yes, the economic climate has had an effect on the market, but we are fortunate that it hasn’t been detrimental to our business. We focus on building strong relationships with our clients, and it definitely helps that we provide a wide spectrum of services. We’re also aware of how important it’s to keep abreast of our industry issues. We try to participate in industry events as much as possible and are always keeping an eye on emerging trends.

What trends have you observed in the regional architecture and interior design market?
 In this industry, there is a constant stream of new and upcoming trends, but we believe in contemporary architecture – the architecture that serves the current era. Popular and modern styles today will look classic in the future, and the wheel turning. Innovation is our key to stay up to date, and our team fully believes that design is based on proposing new, creative ideas. Our role is to integrate innovation and creativity, and that’s definitely accompanied by research, along with functionality and practicality. Our vision is based on this integration with the factor of flexibility – we don’t just design spaces, we design spaces for people to inhabit. In other words, we design people’s movement and behavior. Having said that, we like to put an umbrella of simplicity above all of our ideas.

What kind of response have you received from your new office in Dubai Design District (d3)?
Dubai Design District itself is an inspirational zone. It’s undoubtedly “a home for creativity”. It’s a place where designers – people from the same field but different backgrounds – come together and the result is that innovation reaches its peak. The creation of an ongoing development like d3 shows that the industry here is progressing, and to companies like ours, it attracts exceptional, talented people from around the world. We’ve been participating in Dubai Design District for around eight months now, and in that time ten big events have taken place, and we’ve taken part in three of them. It’s a lively area with a really positive vibe, which makes it the perfect environment for designers to work.

Do you plan to open any more offices in the region?
We definitely have a real ambition for expansion, and would like to extend our presence into other markets in the future. Right now, however, we are focusing on building our Dubai studio, as well as maintaining the Cairo studio. From our two offices, we are targeting Egypt, the Gulf, North Africa, Europe, and India and it’s going very well so far. It’s exciting to see what projects are coming up, and how we can handle a much wider range with the new studio.

What are the new projects in pipeline for Zaro?
We’ve recently received a number of exciting requests for a broad range of developments. Two hotel developers to design the interior of their projects have approached us, and we’ve also received a request from a hospital in Abu Dhabi. We recently signed a collaboration between Zaro Architects and the Al Jalila culture center for children, where we will work closely with the children to codesign installations, products, and landmarks that will take place in Dubai’s cultural hubs and hopefully some public areas as wel l. This is a really worthwhile project and one that the team feels very passionate about. Additionally, we were commissioned a series of resorts in the Red Sea, Egypt that are really interesting in their ideas, locations, relationship to waterfront and other exciting characteristics. We can’t wait to see these projects born.