Interior Tales

15 April 2021


Meet Lina: a 21st century renaissance woman with a zest for life and a passion for the  artistic phenomena of her daily landscape. What we love most about Lina is her infatuation with her everyday surroundings and how she artistically captures them in a multitude of ways. Whether with a camera or a paint brush, Lina is constantly designing new adaptations of the world around her. She truly embodies the essence of a visionary artist.
Dive into the life of Lina @linamalaika with us and walk away feeling as inspired and refreshed as she does after a swim in the Red Sea.

What’s your name and where do you live?

Lina Malaika. I live in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Where does your focus lie career wise?

I’m one of those people who do a lot of things. Ya know, a Jill of all trades. I studied film, fashion AND graphic design which has led me to be a creative multitasker and freelance artist. I bounce between a lot of projects. Sometimes, I take the lead as a Creative Director and work on everything on a shoot or project.

For example I will oversee a project's concept, the set design, styling, social media (specifically the graphic design and topography). 

Also I am an avid photographer. I love documentary style photography and frequently wander the streets around me capturing street art and cultural pieces.

What are you currently working on?

-A Fashion Editorial. I can’t say too much but I am in the midst of developing the concept, scouting the locations, figuring out the styling, and selecting the props.

-A Creative pop up in the food industry. I am designing the concept behind everything about the pop up from the packaging to the location, the menus to the physical spaces aesthetic. The one thing I can share is it will feature a mixture of Saudi International Cuisine. I’m really excited about this project because I am very passionate about food and have always felt like it is something that’s very artistic. 

-A Coffee Table Book. This should be coming out next year and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It features 90% visuals and 10% text. All of the images have been an accumulation of a photo series that I’ve been documenting for the last 15 years. It’s an homage to Saudi. Filled with Saudi street art, cultural art, religious art, pop art and more. I like to capture things people pass by and don't think about or even notice, things I actually find very inspiring.

How do you prepare for a photoshoot/project?

Sometimes I prepare just by referencing nature, the streets around me or food I’m eating. Other times it’s taking inspiration from people I see, books I have, trips I’ve been on or purely my own nostalgia.

I often like to just sit with myself and be. Taking in what’s around me and letting my thoughts run their course. If a client doesn’t have a specific vision I feel liberated to pull ideas from my deck of imagined creations and execute something I’ve been dying to see brought to fruition.

On other occasions if the client has a specific direction they want to take, I try to take what they want and evolve it. I sit with their collection and take it in as inspiration, then begin implementing the project.

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

When I’m in need of inspiration, I like to listen to a lot of music and flip through some of my visual books. Meditation also plays a big role. When I have a clear mind I am much more able to focus on creating. I also will go online and browse new trends, check what’s up and coming, what the new pantone colors are, new looks and feels. I will look at both local and international fashion magazines and collections to get an idea of what people are doing and are currently interested in.

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

1. I would love to be a race car driver. I recently started carting and I am obsessed. I am turning into a true adrenaline junkie. It’s something I want to keep getting better at.

2. I’ve always wanted to be a host for a show like Unsolved Mysteries or William Shattner’s Rescue 911. There is something about conspiracy theories or murder mystery shows that I find unbelievably exciting.

3. This isn’t a job but I’d love to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Haha.

What is your interior styling motto?

Stick with neutral tones. Only use bold color with accent pieces and decor.

How would you describe your interior taste?

Simplicity with an edge. I like spaces that are mostly minimal and refined with neutral tones. I feel like the colors of a space and the furniture should be simple so that the focus is all on the art or accent pieces.  I like decor that is bold or quirky, something really unique that stands out, like a mirrored side table.

Share your styling tips for living spaces:

I like minimalism. Everything in my house is very neat, organized and accessible. Nothing is random. I find it’s important to display items in a tastefully curated way, rather than placing them at random, or shoving them in a corner.

I also love incorporating sentimental pieces into the aesthetic of a home. I encourage people to display family heirlooms or artifacts they’ve collected. My grandfather had a film production company in the 60’s and was one of the first people to create film in Saudi Arabia. Recently I found a dealer who had original posters of the Eygpitian Films my grandfather created and I purchased them. I can’t wait to get them framed so I can incorporate them into my home. It’s special pieces like these that are truly priceless. 

What is your favorite hotel? What's its aesthetic?

My favorite hotel is: L’hotel Marrakech;

It’s Moroccan interior and exterior are usually overly busy and adorned. What I loved about this hotel’s aesthetic, is its refined and simplified version. Rich with culture and heritage, yet tastefully curated. I absolutely love it’s double Venetian mirrors and wooden shelled furniture pieces in contrast with it’s extremely plain and neutral colors.

Activities or hobbies?

I do a lot of hiking. So far I have hiked two major peaks but I have a goal to hike all seven summits around the world. I have hiked Annapurna base camp in Nepal and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There is something about being disconnected from the city, way out in nature. It pushes me outside my comfort zone and is a place where I can go to find myself.

Favorite quote or words you live by?

Something I live by is to always follow my intuition, with everything. The way I dress, live and function, everything is led by my inner knowing. Whenever I go against the grain and don’t follow my intuition, I regret it.

The other big factor in how I live my life is gratitude. When I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep I always write down the things I am grateful for. If I’m feeling low or down on things, I try to give it some gratitude energy and it reminds me to be grateful for what I have.

The perfect housewarming gift?

I like to give personalized items. I like to create a piece of art specific for the person who's hosting the house warming party. Either an illustration, a painting or a photo I took, which I always get framed. There is nothing more special than giving a gift that's original and timeless. I know it’s something I would appreciate, so I hope others do too.

What is your favorite piece from Once Upon a Chair?

Epione & Asclepius Framed Tapestry by Artist Mike Willcox
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What would you tell your 8 year old self, knowing what you know today?

Never doubt yourself for a second. Never doubt your intuition and never change. I love you.


Photography by Reem Kara
Interviewed by Serena Maris