Committed to Design
Shaikha Al Sulaiti, Senior Manager of Interior Design at Msheireb Properties is an award-winning designer who has been educated by the best in the design field.
“Every single skill that I have, I owe it to Msheireb,” says Shaikha Al Sulaiti, the interior design manager at Msheireb Properties. She has a reason to be grateful to this organisation that hired her as soon as she graduated from VCUArts Qatar in 2009. Msheireb Properties was in its launching stages and many of the luxury hotels were being designed and then being handed over for interior decoration and fit-out. Shaikha, new to the profession of practice, had arrived at a juncture where she imbibed and gained experience from each collaboration made with renowned designers that Msheireb had collaborated with from around the world. That aided with her experience of working in a country that was her own, Shaikha soon had a flair for executing projects of large scale and luxury with a certain confidence that is admirable and belies her age.
In her capacity as the Manager of Interior Design at Msheireb properties, Shaikha ensures that the unique architectural language of the region and the project is seamlessly transitioned to the interiors. “I had to ensure that the Qatari elements are present throughout Msheireb Downtown Doha. During construction, my role was to monitor contractor progress and ensure the quality of the highest possible standard,” she says, “Our mission is to set a new benchmark for design, detailing, and construction quality in Doha and the Middle East, utilising knowledge and insights gained from signature designers, architects, and operators.”
But for a creative personality, Shaikha was not so sure of her creative vibes early on in life. “I always dabbled in art but was not sure whether this would be my career for life. It was more like a passion. But I am happy that it worked out for me. It all started with studying interior design in VCUArts and the rest is history,” she says, adding, “VCU gave me the degree and Msheireb gave me the experience and honed my skills.”
For a person to really shine in what they are best at; they need an employer that encourages and teaches them to take the tiny steps and eventually pave the way to take on leadership decisions in the company.
“I worked very closely with designers and that was great exposure. I was also in touch with the contractors and hence all these helped me in seeing the entire process of designing from inside out which has helped me in shaping my design career,” she says.
The first project that Shaikha took care of while at Msheireb, a project that she describes as a beautiful experience from beginning to end, was the Mandarin Oriental. “The architects of this building were John McAslan and the Interior Designers with whom I was in constant touch were the London-based studios David Collins for the rooms and common areas and Jouin Manku from Paris for the restaurants. Eventually, I handled all three hotels within the Msheireb Down Town area. The designers for Park Hyatt were Ong&Ong from Singapore, Crème Design from NYC for restaurants, and Gensler for Alwadi. I was also handling the fit-out, onsite management and material management, and selection. All this moulded me as a designer.”
Shaikha had the best educators from around the world to handhold her in her formative years as a designer, with contractors and onsite insight adding to her experience. She tries to formulate the particular qualities that she imbibed from each designer.
“I learned different things from different projects. But I always remember what David Collins and his team had mentioned in many of the team meetings: “A designer is as good as his library”. I feel this is what differentiates designers, of the various luxury materials that can be dipped into to create the best possible outcome, to elevate a design.”
As the hotel was Mandarin Oriental’s debut in the Middle East – and, as such, a landmark destination – it was vital that the design acknowledged both the hotel group’s Asian heritage and Qatar’s own pedigree and Msheireb’ s commitment to quality and it was this project that established Shaikha’s design journey.
Shaikha is also working on establishing and launching the Doha Design District, in Msheireb Downtown Doha.
The vision of Doha Design District is to position Doha as a regional design hub, by collaborating with established international brands and designers from around the world while promoting local designers in Qatar. And the idea was from one of the feedbacks from the internationally acclaimed architect David Collins who while walking through Msheireb remarked that he had not seen a place like this with so much detailing and design thinking and hence was highly inspiring. “That made me think that this is the perfect place to motivate and create the hub for an army of designers from around the world and from Qatar,” says Shaikha.
“Our mission is to create a cultural design ethos and create an environment where designers and the general public can gather, create, and be inspired. The Doha Design District will be a blank canvas that designers can make their own. It will become a cultural destination where heritage, art, sustainability, and creativity will collide to give birth to a truly vibrant hub that will unite the design community not only in Qatar but all around the world,” she says.
M7 is also a design hub that creates a platform for new designers from the country while Doha District is a platform for design majors from around the world to come to Doha and be inspired and inspire the community.
“The ground floor of this District is dedicated to retail showrooms and commercial showrooms. Multi-brand showrooms will include brands such as Minotti, B&B Italia, Giorgetti and Poltrona Frau, to name a few. The first floor will have spaces for offices and the Makers Space. We are planning to have educational features with a space to promote local designers. We have a collaboration with VCUArts and soon we will have similar collaborations with other institutions,” explains Shaikha.
Msheireb is one of those spaces that with its design brilliance inspires creatives to dream and create and Shaikha, one of the first designers to be associated with this property is the inspirational designer we need to watch out for. With the Design District Doha and her interior design practice, Shaikha is out to make a mark in the design world.
All pics Courtesy Shaikha Al Sulaiti