When Zayan Ghandour, co-founder and head buyer of S*uce and designer of the clothing line Zayan, first moved in to a modern four-bedroom villa just off Al Wasl Road seven years ago, she says it provided the “perfect blank canvas for all the fun pieces I’ve collected over the years.” A fusion of customised, quirky objets d’art and toys, furniture and vibrant bursts of neon colour, the home – which she shares with her husband and six-year-old twin daughters – is the perfect blend of playful aesthetics and sophisticated style.
“My home is a mash-up of pieces collected on travels and every item in the home has a story,” Zayan says. “I believe in furnishing your house with what you love, not what you need. Whether it’s a vintage barber chair, like the one in my living room that I shipped from Beirut as a gift for my husband, or a limited-edition Murakami, or even a piece by an unknown designer, if I fall in love with something, I buy it.”
This philosophy, paired with Zayan’s keen eye for design, has resulted in a cornucopia of funky furniture, interesting artwork, soft furnishings and accessories making their way into the home over the years. While Zayan freely admits she is a fan of both colour and quirk, the crisp, white walls of the villa were an intentional design element. “I’m inspired by clean white lines,” she says. “Blank walls allow every piece in the home to stand out and tell its own story.”
Her love of white is most evident in the somewhat whimsical space at the home’s entrance. While it might have once been a traditional foyer, it’s now home to an array of design classics and one-off treasures. A pure white piano and traditional English table heaving with vases and fresh flowers sit comfortably alongside Eames chairs, an Illusion table by John Brauer and Louis Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck. Idiosyncratic accessories, including an embroidered doe from Japan and a hot-pink toy soldier from New York, complete the room.
“There are so many elements of this space that I love as it’s a real combination of both my husband’s and my tastes,” Zayan says. “My husband is a big fan of Charles and Ray Eames’ work, while I am a fan of anything kitsch and Japanese. I adore flowers, so I decided to turn this area into a flower installation. It always looks different depending on the floral arrangements I choose. The hanging chair is the best place to cuddle with my girls. As for the piano, I don’t play, but my girls are learning.”
The family spends most of their time on the ground floor of the house. “The living room is my favourite. It’s also where most of the socialising happens. It’s small and cosy but allows loads of sunlight in. Adding stools and chairs to the space is an easy way to host a big group of visitors when we need to,” Zayan says.
Alongside the living room is the dining area, a decidedly more masculine space that features a mix of different furniture styles. “We bought the bench and table when we were in Bali on our honeymoon,” she explains. “I’m a big fan of the designer Philippe Starck so I tried to fit as many Louis Ghost dining chairs as I possibly could in to this space. We don’t entertain much, but when we do, people always enjoy lingering here into the early hours.”
Artwork is also a big talking point in the home, with massive paintings and canvases adorning several walls, including the stairway. “The staircase features personal artwork, family photographs and objects, like my husband’s vintage Swatch watches, that we have collected over time. We also enjoy James Holdsworth’s work and own some of his Bambi and Minnie Mouse paintings that hang near the piano.
James collages newspapers and then paints Disney characters on top of them to encourage people to change their perspective about the constant flow of sad and negative events in the world and to concentrate on positive things instead. I really love that idea; it reflects my overall outlook on both life and design.”