Omar Nakkash, Partner, Nakkash Gallery

Explore this Power Family's secrets in running a locally homegrown design firm.

“We both complement each other, while I tend to go for a modern look and feel, he brings the colors and balance to the spaces,” affirms Omar Nakkash, about his father and NAKKASH Gallery founder, Wajih. Below, the Design Director and art enthusiast expresses his aim in designing to complement his clients’ lifestyles and how the family-run business has thrived even during the pandemic.

About Nakkash Gallery

NAKKASH was established by noted architect Wajih Nakkash in 1983 in the UAE. For over three decades it has remained at the forefront of interior design as well as contemporary and classic luxury furniture in the region. The company has delivered interior projects to numerous hotels, retail boutiques and has secured major projects with key local and regional developers such as Emaar, Nakheel, and Jumeirah group. Its wide range of services includes interior design and architecture, furnishings and equipment selection, procurement and installation.

Now a family run enterprise, NAKKASH has become synonymous with offering high quality indoor and outdoor furniture and enjoys exclusive distribution with international suppliers for hospitality and commercial furniture. With a proven track record and experience garnered through working with a wide range of projects across a variety of sectors, our expert interiors team has achieved tremendous success, turning client visions into reality and positioning NAKKASH as a market leader.

Video source: Dubai Design District

1. In a nutshell, explain how NAKKASH Gallery came to fruition, what it offers and your mission.

NAKKASH Gallery was founded by my father, Wajih Nakkash in 1983. It began as a small interior and architecture business based in Sharjah until the first flagship showroom opened in Garhoud in 1993. This growth saw NAKKASH Gallery become a haven for iconic furniture and limited-edition pieces sourced from all around the world

Fast forward to 2014 when NAKKASH opened the second outlet in the heart of Dubai, right off Sheikh Zayed Road. The concept here goes beyond furniture display; the idea is to provide indoor and outdoor living spaces and a sense of ambiance to our clients. This showroom showcases a diverse array of contemporary and modern styles. And while it is divided by brand, we tastefully pair together furniture that embodies the ambiance of each space.

The company also grew when my sister Aya and I joined the family business. We grew up with the brand and understand it more than anyone else. By working alongside the team, we breathe new life and new ideas into the company.

In 2016 we relocated our flagship office and showroom from Garhoud to Dubai Design District, where it is now the headquarter of NAKKASH Design Studio, which I manage. We also added a new dimension to the business by launching an online gift service, which offers a gifting experience that is both unique and convenient.

NAKKASH’s design philosophy is based upon the belief that the life inside of one’s space should feel good in every sense.  A well designed space, whether residential or commercial should embody an extraordinary design that is timeless while maintaining a striking interior that is unique, luxurious, functional, livable, comfortable, and most importantly speaks the client’s language. Our aim is to add a distinctive touch of elegance to every design situation and refine the lifestyle of our clients. We at NAKKASH showcase diverse arrays of style and embodiment of luxury indoor and outdoor living. Our main focus is to go beyond client expectations by continuously being inspired by the past and the future.

 2. Enlighten us about your dynamic as power-family, running NAKKASH together. How do you complement your differing skillsets?

In our family, a hereditary eye for design, passion and creativity was passed onto me among my siblings. I was the only one who followed in my father’s footsteps and pursued my studies in interior design and architecture. Working with my father means that I am always learning. Business discussions don’t end at 5pm, in fact, they tend to go on during dinner, a family gathering and even on holiday. We’re constantly learning together and that’s what makes our work ethic so strong. I see a lot of myself in him, for instance we are both fond about details and our approach to design is quite similar- but I believe that having a distinct eye from yours is the perfect recipe when it comes to designing spaces. We both complement each other, while I tend to go for a modern look and feel, he brings the colors and balance to the spaces.

My sister Aya decided to complement the family business by pursuing a career in marketing. She has helped enhance the company’s brand image and continues to contribute to the gallery’s success. When NAKKASH was first established, the market was still not saturated and there was not much competition, so there was no need to have a marketing department. But times have changed, and in today’s world every business needs marketing specialists.  She has helped us rise above the noise of a crowded marketplace and continues to find new horizons for the family business. She also tends to act as the peacekeeper between my father and I, trying to ensure that everyone sees everything from other people’s perspectives.

3. What makes NAKKASH unique from other interior design companies in the region?

NAKKASH Gallery’s showroom is a haven for unique and eye-catching design pieces sourced from all corners of the world. Also known for being one of the leading interior design firms in the UAE, we are able to set ourselves apart from other design galleries by complementing any space with effortless style and elegance. Our furniture is playful, iconic, universally appealing, and full of surprises! NAKKASH constantly seeks to produce environments that have versatile characters that can unite the contemporary and classic in a subtle way.

4. How has COVID-19 changed the nature of the way your clients want to shop for furniture? How has NAKKASH accommodated these changing needs?

Undoubtedly, COVID 19 is transforming how people lead their daily lives and therefore how businesses are run across sectors. Furniture might seem like the last concern for people facing a pandemic. But the need for comfortable and productive spaces during quarantine has opened up a tremendous opportunity for furniture shops. People have been spending much more time at home, which has led clients to revamp their spaces. We accommodated the changes by providing our clients with a digital look-book of the collections and furniture display in store for those who were still reluctant to visit our physical showroom. Furniture shopping is very much of an experiential sale, and our customers still prefer to visit our showroom and sit on the furniture to get a feel of the texture and comfort of our products.

5. What are your thoughts about using AR with interior design? E.g. IKEA’s app where customers can download items from the site to ‘trial’ them virtually in their homes?

AR is definitely an added value in the interior design industry. Shopping for furniture takes time, but thanks to augmented reality and innovative technologies it is helping designers to connect and collaborate with the client from the incipient stages of a project. From helping them visualize the furniture layout, to the material and color selection, this technology will become indispensable in working with clients, especially indecisive customers. However, I believe that no technology or app will entirely replace the personal service a good designer provides to clients.

6. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in the region looking to support new emerging talent in the GCC?

They should begin by asking themselves how the emerging talents can support a collective culture yet enable high potentials to thrive. Look for cross collaborations of different industries, like design and technology for example, and create a product or service that will disrupt the status quo. The most important is to implement an adaptation strategy to meet local cultural and regulatory requirements.

7. What is in NAKKASH’s future? 

I believe it’s only natural for a gallery of such caliber to expand and offer its wonderful designs to a broader audience, and to continue to be innovative by introducing the market to new and refreshing brands. I hope to introduce other markets around the world to our style. For NAKKASH Design Studio which is our service division, I want to continue to focus on creating experiential spaces and unique concepts across our residential and commercial projects in the GCC.

"No technology or app will entirely replace the personal service a good designer provides to clients."