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We get to know Sameera Ameer, founder of the Dubai-based interior design firm
Words by Laura Cherry in Design & Architecture · May 8th, 2023
A youth spent in Sri Lanka has contributed to designer, Sameera Ameer’s appreciation for nature’s proportions and palette. Years later she applies her sensibilities to the environments that she uplifts through her own design firm, Studio Tsubi. For Sameera, the reward of seeing the public engage with her spaces and the realisation that design has the power to cultivate a positive emotional shift are driving forces. We sit down with Sameera to delve into her recent foray into feng shui and her mindful approach to commercial design.
Sameera: I’m Sameera Ameer, the founder, and head of design at Studio Tsubi. I’ve been living in Dubai with my two daughters for the past 14 years, having relocated there from London. I enjoyed an exotic childhood growing up on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka surrounded by a mixed family that has Sri Lankan, Lebanese, and Yemeni roots. I studied interior design while still living in Sri Lanka and then went on to the Chelsea College of Art and Design, in London.
I come from a foodie background and love to cook all types of Asian food - anything creative appeals to me! When I’m not working, I’m reading by the pool, working out at the gym, or having friends over for dinner.
The UAE is where we have chosen to raise our children and there are many opportunities for exponential growth in the interior design field here. Dubai is where I established my name as a designer. I began my design career with my own bespoke children’s furniture brand and then expanded toward residential interior design.
Now, at Studio Tsubi, we focus primarily on commercial projects that draw influence from nature and colour. Our goal is to create a positive shift within our clients’ environments through mindful design and attention to detail. We place emphasis on cheerful yet functional interiors. Our clients hail from a range of backgrounds thanks to the diverse nature of Dubai’s population which keeps it interesting. When there’s a synergy, the work flows. As a small studio, our clients benefit from a highly personalised design experience. We spend time understanding the brand and design brief and take time to guide clients through the design journey.
My early years in Sri Lanka have been influential in several ways. Nature is a constant source of inspiration in my design work - the colours, textures, proportions and shapes - I think this stems from my youth on the abundant island. I’m also drawn to twentieth-century and post-modern design with clean lines and pops of colour although as I get older I find myself drawn towards colonial design elements, I think this also stems from my youth in Sri Lanka and exposure to Colonial architecture. Designers Kelly Wearstler and Athena Calderone are also deeply inspirational to me. My taste in music is very eclectic and at any given time I have music playing in the background - it’s the most beautiful way to uplift the atmosphere in any space.
Overall I think that my years spent living and working in different communities have resulted in far-reaching design sensibilities. On a practical level, fourteen years spent in the UAE have supported me in establishing relationships with bespoke joinery factories, suppliers and contracting companies. My ability to take on residential as well as commercial design projects means that clients benefit from a wealth of knowledge across sectors.
I’m now a Feng Shui certified consultant which I believe adds to the depth of our designs. We propose a balance between pieces that are functional and influenced by nature. As humans, we thrive in environments that are uplifted by the natural world - it replenishes the mind, body and soul. On a global scale, design has returned back to the basics. Nature offers design inspiration at its finest and most raw and brings balance to the fast-paced and industrialised world that we inhabit.
I believe we all possess an innate creative ability with a need to express and expel it - art and design are an extension of that very human need. I love walking around art galleries and drawing inspiration from someone else’s creations and interpretations of life. Designing comes naturally to me so most of the time it doesn’t feel like I’m working, except when I have to work on Excel sheets!
A favourite project of mine was the headquarters of Wio Bank in Abu Dhabi. It was the largest commercial project we have designed to date. We learnt so much during these nine months. We managed to implement their branding elements whilst maintaining a simple yet bold aesthetic. Another favourite is a store we designed called Le Petit Marche in the Town Centre mall that recently opened. The client was a dream to work with and designing spaces for children comes so naturally to me. What I enjoy about designing commercial projects is the reward of seeing my spaces used and engaged with by so many people.
Right now I'm busy styling a show home, working on B2B opportunities and excitedly awaiting the opening of a restaurant we designed in Box Park, Dubai.
Images courtesy: Studio Tsubi