Building a venue for creativity

Her Highness Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi talks about designing her multi-faceted bohemian chic cafe - Heart in a Box.

24 Mar 2021, words by Aneesha Rai in Neighbourhoods

Heart in a box

Her Highness Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi is a multi-potentialite - an architect by education; she is also an accomplished artist, serial entrepreneur, published author and a humanitarian. We spoke to Her Highness on the opening of her cafe 'Heart in a box' in Downtown Dubai and how she's shaping it to be a spot for the pursuit of creative arts.

Q: How did you come up with the concept of 'Heart in a box'?

Sheikha Hend: 'Heart in the box' was born in 2007, it started out as a flower shop in Sharjah. We slowly started to get involved in floral decor for various occasions, and even got into party favors - everything from gender reveal parties to birthdays. We then started to move into offering chocolate, candles, stuffed toys, bespoke gifts, balloons and perfumes as an offering - we did quite well. I realized a significant part of the profits came from the food. I had also moved to Dubai, and so decided to open a restaurant. 

I was particular to make sure we had the best burrata in town and use good quality meats and fresh produce. We also have our own bakery and make our own hot chocolate pops. I also wanted a vegan menu to be inclusive. One of our bestsellers is a burger with our own house-made "mock meat" made out of mushrooms paired with a vegan cheese also made in-house. 

I also knew I wanted a private events area which can be closed off for various creative activities, including a book club, a space for artists to work, support groups, cake decoration, embroidery, painting classes, jewelry classes, business classes and more. People want to create and be part of something they will be proud of. I'm working on collaborations with various brands including Van Cleef & Arpels, Hermes, Natura Bisse, among others to provide an event space for their activations in the future once events are allowed. I have the pleasure of bringing them the right clients. We also help put together corporate orders together - everything from olive oil to jams. I also stock my perfume line 'By Hend' here.

Heart in a box Downtown Dubai
Heart in a box interior1
Interior 2 | Heart in a box, Downtown Dubai

Q: Why did you think of creating such a space? 

Sheikha Hend: I think a multi-purpose venue like this is just what Dubai needed. This type of space is the culture that I think Dubai would love to embrace. This is what an entrepreneur is all about - an entrepreneur searches for a niche, a problem, a lacking - and creates a solution for the customers. I mean, isn't that what God told Noah? Build it and they will come.

chinoiserie

Q: What are some of your design influences for 'Heart in a box'? 

 Sheikha Hend: Architecture is the backbone of everything I do. It really gives you a bird's eye view on things. We have design influences from all over the world within this cafe - it's a sort of art nouveau, bohemian chic concept. A lot of the concepts here are strictly industrial or classical. I've used everything from the parquet flooring to Harlequin floors, a french balcony settings, chinoiserie wallpaper and more. We have a touch of art from France, Mexico, Holland, and Scandinavia. I collect and paint art. All of the paintings we have here are painted by me. My favourite is the Gustav Klimt's 'The Kiss' - it's really special. I also really like looking at the Monet, you can just look at it everyday in a trance. What makes you feel alive is the 'lunch at the boathouse' piece. We also hope to host artists within the space. We plan to do a pop-up in due course of time by House of Hend, my fashion line.

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Bakery