Designing From the Heart

Meet Razia Anis, Interior Architect, who designs from the heart and is intent on creating beautiful spaces and friendships that last.

Razia Anis is a practicing architect who is also making her mark as a social media influencer. She is hard to miss in the Instagram world with her handle @designs_by_razia, constantly giving tips and insights into her designs, helping with colour swatches and she can perhaps be called the most approachable and friendly designer in Doha. Being an influencer does not make her work as an architect and interior designer any less significant, in fact, it gives her designs an added advantage, introducing her to projects and collaborations that help her flourish.

Designing children’s room is Razia’s USP, she loves the detailing and the playfulness involved in the concept and planning.

“Designing and refurbishing rental homes and decorating kids’ rooms gives me immense pleasure. My favourite room to decorate is the kids’ room, right from wallpapers to detailing of the furniture,” she says.

Decorating is In

Doha had never had a plethora of designer rented apartments due to its floating population. The expat community lived frugally, saving for the rainy day when their contracts would expire and they would bid adieu to this small country.

Come Covid, and the accompanying lockdown fears that minimised travel, gave way to long hours spent locked up within the four walls of our apartment. The house becomes the new muse. Doha-ites find a new passion: gardening and redecorating their houses; two businesses that have thrived during the lockdown. It is on this wave that Razia rides high in Doha. With her market research in place, this architect with a Master’s in Sustainable Architecture realised that she should invest time in her passion for creating beautiful spaces.

“What I felt was that there is a niche to be explored in rental homes in Doha for women designers and architects. Most of us keep our homes very simple and basic but given a chance, and an opportunity, many of us would love to recreate our homes and invest in beautifying them. The fact is that many didn’t know that this was possible and affordable too. I am sure, I was one of the first few people who made it possible for people to dream about their beautiful homes within these rental walls,” says Razia, “I know of so many people who are ready to invest a lot into rental homes.”

“In one of our projects we created wall panels which was not ever explored in rental homes before and it was a revelation for many who wanted to replicate this in their homes,” she says, “Though I would love to move on to designing larger spaces, the satisfaction that I derive in making rental homes a dream home for the clients, who become close friends in this design and execution process, is invaluable.”

“I need to delegate,” says Razia, “I like to look into all details myself and that is quite impossible when I have six to seven ongoing projects.”

Razia was never an interior designer in the real sense, as she was used to working on exterior facades and planning buildings in India before she moved to the UK, where she worked on thermal imaging for buildings. Coming to Doha, Razia worked for a sustainable consultant until Covid struck when they laid off many employees. This turn in events led Razia to explore interior designing as a career option. This career turn was a decision Razia has never regretted. “I absolutely love what I am doing. The details that I envision and then carry out through contractors and workmen, the running around for decorating, the wallpaper prints, the furniture sourcing, etc, though tiring, are activities that give me immense satisfaction and joy.”

The Blue Room Creation

The kids room in Afshan’s house is one of Razia’s favourite projects because of the success of the design and the strong friendship made.

One of her favourite projects and the one that captured the social media attention was the children’s room of the very popular blogger, plant mom, and owner of small businesses @gonutsqatar, Afshan Sayed. This was a project that Razia describes as a “fun project”.

“The transformation of this single room was quite mind-blowing. From a small makeover, it turned into a phenomenal design alternative that wowed everyone who saw it. The blue room with storage spaces added and a window nook became a pin-up board for everyone and soon I received many orders for such makeovers of children’s rooms,” she remembers.

“What I learned from this project was to listen to my instinctive design solutions and not doubt myself. I was not sure about the blue colour scheme and at one point was even ready to give it up but I stuck to my instincts and the effect is for everyone to see,” she says.

Future Projects

Razia endears herself to everyone she meets with her passion for the job at hand. “I did not envision this as a huge business venture but as a home-building activity with the owner, something that is done with a lot of love, from the heart,” she says.

Another project that was a result of collaborations and Instagram friendships is Golestan, a flower shop. The beautiful spring design is a result of excellent communication between the owner Jafna and the creator Razia.

A recent project is a flower and chocolate showroom, Golestan Flowers and Sweets, owned by Jafnath Beevi, who has now become Razia’s friend. Here Razia has created a garden indoors with a rustic, spring-inspired décor that literally transforms you into a garden and a space that Jafnath loves as Razia seems to have truly captured the essence of the brief.

One of the restaurants created by Razia.

Now from a single room redecoration to shops and home interior designs, Razia is now designing at least seven projects at a time and is slowly moving onto bigger projects like the Lego Showroom that is ongoing.

But if you ask her, she says, she is happiest designing small projects, designing children’s rooms and picking fabrics and wallpapers, loving the space, making friends, and creating friendships that last. “I design from the heart. Whether it is a small space or a big project, I go all in, give my best and create spaces to treasure.”

All Images Courtesy Razia Anis