Designer Profiled – Zahir Abdul Latheef from Design Nomad

Zahir Abdul Latheef is the founder and principal of Design Nomad

Zahir Abdul LatheefZahir Abdul Latheef

How long have you been a designer?
Professionally, I’ve dedicated a decade to design, leveraging a strong background in the arts that spans my entire life. This lifetime pursuit of art and design has significantly influenced my approach and style. 

Why did you start Design Nomad (DN)?
Design Nomad was born out of my passion for sketching and drawing. The initial impetus came from receiving project inquiries from fitout companies. In 2015, I established a small license in Muscat, learning the trade through hands-on experience. The motivation behind starting Design Nomad was driven by a deep-seated desire for independence and the creation of exceptional art.

How has the company expanded over the years?
Founded in Muscat in 2015, Design Nomad started with a small team, primarily focused on supporting fitout companies with detailed design and technical assistance. Our initial success came from contributing to the burgeoning mall era in Muscat. Over the years, we introduced 3D rendering and expanded our services to include F&B, retail, office and residential design, along with project management and procurement. Our commitment to project delivery sets us apart, seeing projects through from design to completion.

In what countries do you design?
In the current year, our projects have spanned the UAE, Oman, the US, Saudi Arabia and India, with upcoming projects in the Maldives and the UK. Previously, we’ve also undertaken projects in Qatar.

What’s been the stand-out project for you in the last year? What makes it unique? Were there any particular challenges in, or unique methods used for, the design?
A recent stand-out project is Chocoberry, a UK-based pastry and chocolate brand located in Emaar Downtown, Dubai. Its uniqueness lies in the volumetric aspects and the interplay of simplicity and complexity. The design of the ceilings adds an extra layer of attention to detail.

What are your goals for the company in the coming year?
Our aim is to triple the number of projects in the coming year, building on the success of 2023 where we experienced some serious growth. We plan to invest more in robust concept design and material development and explore design process automation and project management through R&D. Being a 100% BIM company, we will continue to invest in and explore advancements in that segment.

Do you have any expansion plans? If yes – where, when and why?
We’re doubling our team in 2024 and eyeing a soft expansion into Riyadh. The local ecosystem is becoming conducive, with our industry partners setting up local companies, facilitating our entry into the market.

What projects are DN working on at the moment?
We’re actively involved in strategising the first MLS Butchery in Dubai in Motor City, a partnership with the largest meat supplier in Oman, set to be operational in January 2024. Additionally, we’re engaged in the design of four Filli Cafe outlets in the US, and one each in Dubai and India. We’re also concluding the design for Al Kabeer’s new head office in DAFZA, alongside their Jeddah regional office.

What does an ideal day look like for you?
An ideal day involves a tranquil December day, free from meetings, site visits or calls. It’s a day fully dedicated to design development with the team, perhaps capped with a rare lunch together.


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