Interior Tales

01 July 2021


Meet Kinana: A maximist colorist who thrives on connectivity and nostalgia. Her laugh infectious, her style eclectic... she knows how to fill any room with compassion and warmth. Defined as a catalyst rockstar, Kinana loves to impersonate the style of her clients while encouraging them to reinvent the spaces they live in. Though only out of graduate school a few years, she’s already made her mark as a brilliant Interior Designer in Saudi. Her personal aesthetic, self described as a cross between Freddie Mercury and Yves Saint Laurent, we can’t help but love the way she mixes eclectic with modern. Take a stroll with us through the rock & roll world of @kinana.designs and leave feeling both inspired and electrified.

What’s your name? Horoscope sign?

My name is Kinana Bakr. I am a gemini, so connections really mean a lot to me. When I've completed a project it’s sometimes hard for me to move on because I become so attached to it. The stories that spaces tell, end up feeling like a piece of me that I can’t say goodbye to.

Where do you live?

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Where does your focus lie career wise?

Residential Design is my primary focus because I like to curate the story of the space according to the way the client moves and lives. When I’m designing I really like to take the client's personality into account and sculpt the design around who they are.

I look at it as designing an experience rather than a space. My goal is to get the client to be like “omg that’s so me”.

How long have you been working?

I have been working from the moment I left graduate school in London. So I have been working non stop for the past 6 years!

What are you currently working on?

My current project is a bit out of the ordinary. It’s for a business called International Animal Care. They are an all inclusive animal facility that features a hospital, pet shop as well as pet boarding. I actually helped them design their first location here in Jeddah and am working with them to design their second location in Riyadh. The space will be 1,100 sq meters over 2 floors and is set to open at the end of this year.

My favorite thing about this new project is that we are focusing on sourcing all materials locally, which I think will make the space more relatable to its surrounding environment.

What’s your process for when you feel creatively stuck?

When I’m feeling creatively stuck, I usually turn to my friends and help them with something related to their homes. Whether it’s something small, like choosing to leave their coffee table book open vs closed on display, or something bigger like rearranging their bedroom. Rearranging someone’s space, gives me something else to think about, and distracts me from what I’m struggling with.

I hate being a one trick pony who does the same thing over and over, so sometimes just changing my focus helps me navigate back to where I need to be creatively.

Who is your biggest inspiration in the design world and why?

There are too many to mention, but some of my current favorites include:

- Kelly Wearstler: She designed the Proper Hotels (located in Santa Monica, Austin, LA and SF) and they’re all mental! My favourite one would be the San Francisco location. The way she mixes the old structure of the building with new super modern design pieces and patterns is mesmerising! I would live in the lobby if I could!

- India Mahdavi: She designed Le Muy in France. I love how her interiors blend with their surroundings yet at the same time stand out so tastefully. It is truly epic to me! She knows how to make a space so comfortable to inhabit, you feel like you belong to it no matter what your personal style is.

- Mr Buckley Interiors: This team is INCREDIBLE. They use color insanely! Their designs are out of this world.

Also he’s not a designer but I’ve always been obsessed with Freddie Mercury. From his personal style to the way he moves on stage…He was incredible. I take a lot of inspiration from him and Queen in general.

If you had an empty room to design, what three items would you have to have?

1. A really great arabic/persian rug. The rug in my living room, I'd take anywhere I go.
2. A bright accent chair.
3. A really brilliant lamp is always an important piece. Something really cool and eclectic, It not only adds the right light (which massively effects a space) but it provides patterns and shadows. For example there was a restaurant in Manchester, UK, called Australisa. It was underground but felt like the brightest place ever! You could barely tell there were no windows at all... that is actually where my light interest began.

If you could have any other career what would it be and why?

I can’t imagine doing anything other than design. I’ve known I wanted to be a designer since I was 14 years old. But if I had to choose another career, it would definitely be a Vet! I’ve always loved being around animals and felt very connected to them. Also my little dog Lola (who is an 8 year old french bulldog) is so sensitive to everything. And when I first got her, there wasn’t a great vet system in place here, so I had to research everything myself. I think that’s why I took on my first design project in Saudi, designing a space for the International Animal Care. I knew how much we needed such a facility.

Activities or Hobbies?

Going to the Beach! I love spending time at the beach, it’s a massive part of my life. I also love to play tennis, and have played basketball while growing up. Though lately, I don’t spend much time doing any hobbies, because when I’m not working I’m usually spending time with my kids. Having both a toddler and baby is like having a full time job, I’m trying to give them all the time that I can.

How would you describe your interior taste?

My personal interior taste changes a lot. For example, I love the current design of my home, but if I were to redo it, there’s some much that I would change. When working with clients, I am very adaptable. The design usually depends on the client I’m working with, what's in vs what's not, and the list goes on.

I always try to help people utilize the things they have. So often people assume if something doesn’t work, we would have to get rid of it, but you can always change the legs of a table or the material of a lounge chair. Make sure to give your space a story. It’s what makes the space yours.

What is your interior styling motto?

I think the secret is having a really good scale to things. Bring in some color, and a little bit of jazz to make a space a bit quirky or cool. Really take what you currently have and give it a life. If you can combine the proper use of scale, pattern and have a sure fire way to give a space true character.

Favourite item from Once Upon a Chair?

My favorite pieces I’ve bought are: A clock and an old vintage phone

The clock is really special to me because it’s nostalgic and reminds me of this clock I loved that my grandma had. It has a glass top and round circles that spin at the bottom. Growing up I always wanted my grandma’s clock or one like it. And when I found this one at OUAC it meant so much to me.

The vintage phone is so fun. My 3 year old likes to play with it and acts like it’s a pay phone.

Current pieces in the shop I love are the Set of Midcentury Thonet Chairs, they are amazing. The Vizcaya Framed Tapestry is perfect. I love the colour blocking, retro vibe. It would give the perfect amount of character to any room. Also to feed my love of vintage pieces, the Midcentury Vintage Radio.

It’s pieces like this that can really make a space more than just a well designed space feel like home. That’s what I love about OUAC. You don't always know where these items come from but you know that they carry a story.

Favorite quote or words you live by?

I love the simplicity of the age old saying, “God has a plan”. There are many things that you can’t control, but things usually workout for you in the end.

I also think the quote “You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.” - Friedrich Nietzseche has always really reassured me in my decisions.

What would you tell your 8 year old self?

What is not acceptable now, will be thought of as cool when you’re older. I was always a tomboy... quirky and loud. I always felt different... but now I think I’ve grown into embracing my quirky androgenous self and appreciating the creative gifts that add to my life and work everyday.


Photography by Reem Kara
Interviewed by Serena Maris