We speak to Ajay Hargreaves and Robert Richmond about their company's ethos
Words by Aneesha Rai in Design & Architecture · Aug. 16th, 2022
Quintessentially British, Mayfair Interiors offers a refreshing take on how interior design companies should be run in Dubai. The designers behind 1 Residences talk about what sets them apart and their approach to running their business - by delivering a strong emphasis on social impact.
Ajay: We entered the UAE market about two years ago, but we've been operating in the UK since 2004. One of the things that we saw is that there are quite a lot of construction companies, developers, and interior designers, but there weren't a lot of British and European companies. We also have listened to experiences and feedback in the marketplace. A lot of the service levels were not quite meeting the points that they should. So, our approach was to try and get the service levels that we expect to receive ourselves and that we thought were lacking in the Dubai market.
Ajay: We operate our business very differently from a lot of other companies. There are a lot of international people that live here - a lot of different cultures, a lot of different nationality owners. We have quite a flat structure in the sense that we value everyone the same. So whether someone's a labourer or an electrician, or a carpenter or their manager, you're only as strong as your weakest link. Every single person across the team is important to delivering the project. We think a lot of other companies have a slightly different perspective. And some of the tradesmen aren't necessarily kind of treated or paid well. What we've done instead is to put in a kind of a profit share on projects so that we meet things on time to specification and within budget. It results in a happy client and we can then distribute profits across the whole board so everybody gets rewarded. That reflects in our staff being paid higher than the average, which results in a positive social impact, which is quite important to us.
You know, it's good to make money, but if you can have a positive social impact on communities, then that's most rewarding to us. So being able to do that in turn, should and does motivate people to work harder. It creates a kind of loyalty across your team and makes for a stronger nucleus. So I'd say that some of the key principles that we've taken with us from the UK are probably one of our key USPs.
Ajay: Talking about our design process - the first thing a client would need is the design, because until you understand the design and the vision, then you can't really accurately price how much it's going to cost to execute it and realize the vision. So stage one with a client would be the design stage. Once we understand their vision and inspiration, we then provide mood boards to reflect that so that we can capture the essence of what they want to achieve.
Once we have that, we then create the design so that the client can see what to expect and so that it all reflects what they are looking for. We have an estimation department that works out exactly how much it's going to cost to execute. Once that's all been approved, we then have an approval stage so we can work with clients to get permits for these changes from the master developer. A lot of parties are involved in this process. It's a bit of a headache and a minefield because each organisation has its own nuances. We have a department that can manage of all that submitting. Once we get the approvals, we move on to the execution. Once that's complete, we have the interior design elements, which is a part of the design process as well. We do the whole spectrum of design approvals, execution, fit-out, furniture, and interior design. We can execute it internally or work with partners.
Ajay: We are currently working on a French beauty salon in Dubai Marina and are working with some award-winning architects and design consultants. We're also working on a renovation for a luxury villa in Umm Suqeim for very affluent clients. We started off with the bathrooms, but now have moved on to the cinema room, spa, gym, library, and massage room. We're also working with some Chinese investors on a hotel lobby - a very big project. We're also working on a hotel in Sharjah. As a brand, we are luxury-focused, but without being overwhelming.
Rob: We're very flexible in terms of the design. At the end of the day, the client is the person that's going to be living there and it's their project. But ultimately, it's our experience that enables us to give an overall better project. We like to work with the client and give them our professional expertise and collectively, the team comes up with the finished product.