Hazem Aljesr, founder of Cities Design Art & Lifestyle Store
When Hazem Aljesr opened Cities Design Art & Lifestyle store, he wasn’t just interested in adding a new home furnishings and decor store to the market. Rather, Aljest wanted to create a new philosophy on design and decoration that appealed to both customers and designers.
As the owner and founding Managing Director of Cities Design & Lifestyle Store with locations in Dubai, UAE and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Hazem Aljesr has an unusual and dynamic background which has helped him to become the man who started Cities.
Born in Lebanon and raised in Saudi Arabia, Hazem obtained a bachelor’s degree in graphic communication and advertising in America. London was the next step in his educational journey, where he obtained a Masters of Business Administration from Huron University.
Photo credit: Photos CITIES Facebook
Hazem’s professional career began in the UK at Tom Dixon Design Studios, where he gained in-depth knowledge of the world of high-end design. Upon returning to Saudi Arabia in 2006, Hazem opened Zoom Creative, an award-winning branding, website and design company.
While Zoom Creative’s success has been gratifying, Aljesr felt compelled to pursue his passion for design. In 2008 he founded Cities Design, Art & Lifestyle Store in Riyadh, which celebrated a successful start in the Centria shopping center. Rapidly expanding, Cities quickly gained a prominent place in the Harvey Nichols department store. Today, Cities is in its own independent location, which opened on Tahlia Street in central Riyadh in September 2015. A second Citieslocation was opened in 2014 in Dubai at the Galleria Mall in Jumeirah 1.
Photo credit: http://www.citiesdubai.com/
Cities encourages an eclectic and diverse fusion of styles designed to inspire clients, along with unique design and decor. The concept behind Cities is to allow customers to travel the world in one space.
In addition to creating a space that meets the needs of everyone, from the casual shopper to the discerning collector, Hazem also envisioned cities as a space to encourage people to learn more about the world of art and design. True to this goal, Cities focuses on sharing the works of emerging and regional designers in order to provide them with a platform to share their innovative creations.
It is clear that Hazem has taken the pulse of the design world as he continues to move forward with future expansion plans which include the opening of a new Cities site in February 2016 in the Dubai Mall. , and a possible Cities magazine. Whatever he pursues, it is certain that Hazem will accomplish it with his unique and innovative brand.
What does your average day look like?
I usually wake up in the morning and start my day at my desk with a cup of hot tea or hot lemon water with honey. I surf the Internet, read the news, answer phone calls, and plan my day. If there are any urgent issues that need to be addressed, I address them first and also try to catch up on emails. Then I usually go to the store or warehouse to take care of things there. I try to schedule meetings for the afternoon, and there are often social events in the evening that are business-related, so I can go out for dinner or a drink. There really is no average day. Currently, we are planning several exhibitions for the cities, we are putting the finishing touches on our second location in Dubai in the Dubai Mall, and we have several future projects that are under discussion and planning. Plus there’s also the management of the Dubai store and Riyadh location so I really never know where the day is going to take me.
What are the five main elements of your office arsenal? Why?
First of all, there is my Mac computer which is my lifeline and absolutely necessary for work. I start the day by reading the news and surfing the internet before getting to work. Second, there is my Libratone speaker, it’s connected to the internet and has its own app, and you can hook up the speakers wirelessly so you can have music all over the house. I have a desk lamp from the Cog collection by Tom Dixon which we also offer at Cities, because the lighting has to be both functional and stylish. I also have a Baobab candle; a pleasant scent is a good way to stimulate the brain and make you feel energized. Finally, I have an assortment of pens and pencils, a few small sculptural toys, and my phone charger; I need a few things that I work with when I think, and my phone always needs a charge. I work best when I feel my atmosphere is complete and all my senses are engaged. So, good music, good lighting and an attractive scent are necessary components of my office.
What’s the office item you just can’t live without?
I must say that having a point of view is essential. I can’t just sit there without looking at anything, or have to stare at a boring wall. I have my desk against the window so I can face the outside and take in the view. It’s inspiring, relaxing and reminds me that there is life outside of work. It also forces me to get things done so that I can go out and enjoy the day.
What are the must-have interior design pieces for this year?
Bright and vibrant colors are great. If you’re feeling shy, you can add them in small doses with accessories, but bright and colorful animal sculptures like the ones from TexArtes really make a statement, and they look great when combined with a mix of textures and materials to create a stunning and modern interior space. Arabic styles are very popular, both in a simplified style, as well as in the intricate and traditional patterns found in Etqaan wood designs. It’s really about showing the quality of the workmanship, but the more modern approach is designed to complement a number of design styles, so you can accentuate your space and add character. The creations of the Orient 499 and the mother-of-pearl accents found in the pieces by Nada Debs and Khaled El Mays are quite representative of this style. Of course, you can never go wrong with Tom Dixon’s industrial-style designs. His collection of Cog home accessories is very popular and very versatile.
What is your biggest inspiration?
I have to say it’s probably Oscar Niemayer. I find his architectural designs quite inspiring, but I also admire him for his work ethic and the influence he has had on the world of architecture and design. He’s accomplished so much, but he’s stuck with his vision for beauty and function. His use of curves reflects nature and our surrounding environment, and he combined that with these hard, unyielding materials to create something modern, durable, and beautiful.
What is your favorite place in Dubai?
Cities of course! It was born out of my passion and love for design, and I’m a fan of every item we offer. The style of the Cities reflects our modern way of life very well with the various influences and the fusion of styles and cultures that we have become accustomed to, so entering the Cities is familiar and heartwarming, but also exciting and inspiring. There is no place I would rather be.