Farah Al Humaidhi holds an MBA from Kuwait Maastricht Business School (2010), is an Interior Design graduate from The American University of Sharjah (2004). Farah started working on her own from the very start. At first her clients were family and friends, over time as her work got admired, word-of-mouth being a powerful marketing tool, she was recognized for her creativity and she started taking on bigger projects and expanded her client base and by the year 2007, she had established her own company ‘Interior Art’. Eventually, Farah created a home accessories and furniture line ‘Pieces by Farah’. Since 2012 she conducts interior design courses all over the GCC as well.
The official website (farahalhumaidhi.com) went online in 2016 and will soon be expanded to incorporate online design courses as well! In addition to that, Farah has her own television show on KTV and a YouTube channel that highlights different aspects of interior design. Everything is in Arabic as her aim has been to fill that language gap in the industry; an industry she has been instrumental in paving the way forward for, since 2004.
Tell us more about what inspired you to become an interior designer? My father is an engineer, my brother is an architect, and my mother is obsessed with interior design, she even has her own home decorating magazine, which was the first Kuwaiti interior design magazine. My family is design-oriented, and I loved to draw, so it made sense to pursue interior design. I was very passionate about it, and still am.
What were the difficulties faced at first, and how did the public react? At present it is quite common to seek out Kuwaiti designers and other local talent for specific purposes; however, back in 2004 the preference was to hire the services of a foreign design team, Italian and other reputed designers from all over the world, especially to design homes and interiors. It makes me proud to see more trust expressed in local talent, our work has proven itself and we have established what we are capable of. In addition, interior design is not just about learning how to design; you need to learn how to read your clients, as most clients come to you without any idea of what they exactly want. That was a difficulty I overcame over years with experience through learning how to deal with the personal aspect of people and their choices and their desires.
What advice would you give first time clients who are seeking interior design help? They have to know exactly what they want. The more information the client gives us, the better the design turns out to be. Sometimes the client thinks that by giving us too much information they are doing our job. On the contrary, I need to know their lifestyle, to apply what I know, to complete the design in terms of what they desire as a starting point for the design. They also have to trust the designer. Every designer has a different style; so do the research and choose the designer that reflects your style and trust them to do the job. Another point is to reach out to the designer at an early stage. As soon as the decision is made to proceed to build a home, which would be the right time to seek out a designer rather than after the construction begins.
Does your passion for design affect your personal style? If so, how? Of course! My passion for design affects my personal style, and my personal style affects my passion too. I have a certain style and everyone who follows me on social media knows my style. That limits me sometimes, I cannot stray from my style as it is how I like to think, but it also means it restricts the type of clients that approach me.
What was the reason behind going public on social media? For example, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram etc. When I first started I wanted to create a brand that is not affiliated with a person, as I always believe it is teamwork that creates and completes a project. That is why I named my company ‘Interior Art’. Over time I realized that we are a very warm culture that works better with personal affiliation. When I took the next step, which was ‘Pieces by Farah’, I made sure to include my name in it. When people spot one of my pieces, they see me in it; marketing-wise it is a good strategy. Surely there is always a team behind it and I would never choose to work solo, but there should always be a face to the brand. After that, social media came in the picture. My accounts were private, when I traveled I would snapchat design elements to my friends and family, as that is my passion. I started receiving requests from strangers, as well the people I know where asking for more. I realized that people do want that, they do want to learn. Once I started conducting courses, I decided to start my blog, and a YouTube channel as an outlet to learn, and made sure it is in Arabic. Soon after, KTV approached me regarding the program, and we are now shooting Season 2.
How did social media affect your business? It turned out to be a marketing technique without even knowing it; business increased, people liked my style and what I posted so they would approach me for interior design services. Pieces by Farah was also getting more attention from social media. The first time I planned a course, I announced it on social media and it filled up in a day; I had to organize a second one, there was a very long waiting list for that too; and the courses have been on high demand ever since.
What do you advise young girls who have a passion for interior design? First, study. Interior designers need to have good taste, talent, and the educational foundation for it. Yes, there are those who are providing good services without the education, but there is a limit that they cannot cross, they would need help at that point. People with a good educational background do not have this problem. There are those that fear achieving success with a future in interior design; however, I do not agree; anything that you have a passion for, you can create a future for. I am an example for that.
Tell us more about the courses and what your future plans are. I provide short courses covering different aspects of interior design in Kuwait and the GCC. I now have a separate company managing this aspect – ‘CBF Courses’. My future aim, in the next two years, is to be able to establish a small Interior Design Institute here in Kuwait; offering short courses, not just by myself, but also by guest speakers and other designers. The aim would be for professionals to further develop their skills, or just to explore your hobby. They would be short courses, aimed at those with time restraints, or for visitors from other countries; importantly, all courses would be offered in Arabic, there is a void as everything is available in English.
How does being a mother affect your career? Before I became a mother it was much easier as I would be in the office from 7am to 8pm. People say your work should not be your priority, your kids should be. I do not put work or family as a priority; my priority is to pursue what makes you happy as I know for a fact that when I am happy, my family is happy. Stick to the plan you have. For me personally, if I throw all this away and just stay at home, I know I will regret it in time. Time management is the key. Weekends are purely for family and work takes a complete back seat. When I over-work myself, I make sure to give time back to my kids. Remember, quality over quantity; it is not the amount of time I spend with my children, as opposed to how much attention I give them when I spend time with them, which in my case is all the attention. I want to set an example of success; when a child watches their mother go to work or chase a career, they will learn the right way of putting in the hard work and effort to be successful.
Words by Rawan Qabazard
Photographer Jalil Marvin / Art Director and Stylist DoubleA.Studio
Wardrobe Harvey Nichols / Makeup MakeupByHanouf / Hair Lee Xiaomei