Zahrat Al Khaleej – Janan and Joel Thomas: We are better together


Knowledge with knowledge and accumulation of experiences are factors that make success and if we add to the combined efforts of the two creative sisters in the field of architecture, interior and lighting systems; Successes multiply and business pays off. Jenan Waheed Touma and Joel Waheed Touma, the two righteous Aleppo girls living in Dubai and Beirut, joined the road at their company called “JWT Design Studio” after they just posted on Twitter for many years and gained a lot of experience from their previous jobs and projects. We met the two engineering sisters, in a long conversation; To talk about their careers, which is full of extraordinary engineering projects:

  • crazy

• How do you define yourself?

– Jinan: I studied in Aleppo, and completed my postgraduate studies in architecture in America. I started my business in 2004 in Aleppo, and I am also familiar with interior design work. Based in Dubai, our design team has been working for 12 years. Joel founded himself and recently we joined the “JWT Design Studio” in Dubai, and as you know, Dubai is the hub, and we have projects in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. I had a company in Syria before the tragic events, but I closed and kept the team of 12 people, who worked all the time remotely, wherever they were. Currently, I am excited about the success of my partnership with my sister, happy with our unions at work and very confident in our skills and expertise, which we loved before the war. I also like the top work system in the Emirates, and I do not think I can work anywhere else.

  • Joel

– Joel: After graduating from high school, I moved to Lebanon and studied interior architecture at Alba University. After graduating in 2010, I went back to Aleppo and got into my sister’s job, then the events started at that time; What made the work stop, and I happened to attend a wedding for one of my relatives in Lebanon and found an opportunity to work; I joined the company and stayed in Lebanon. I worked in the field of sales, interior engineering, and then in a lighting equipment company for 5 years, where I learned everything and in addition dealt with individual engineering projects. I have experience in furnishing and lighting. Through our company, we design and implement projects of luxury residential buildings, offices, beauty salons, restaurants, hotels, and we have interests in the entertainment sector in the future.

family business

• What is the name of the company «JWT Design Studio»?

– Joel: The company name is derived from the first letter of the names Jinan Waheed Toma and Joel Waheed Toma, and (W) after our father who died when we were young. Joel was 14 years old while I was 21 years old.

• How do you do projects together?

– Jinan: It’s basically family business, knowing that family business background is in the restaurant and hotel sector, but we had a passion for architecture, interior design and design. Our mother is our first muse; She has always encouraged us to go into everything related to design, that little ones would enroll us in drawing lessons; She is also a painter, and loves to decorate the house and restaurants. My first project was to transform a traditional Aleppo courtyard (an old house) into an authentic Aleppo restaurant for my dad, and I learned a lot by doing the work of this restaurant. In terms of work between us prevails harmony. Joel has clients who know her, and I know her too, and she has a penchant for modern and fashionable design, and I lean towards contemporary and original design.

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• From A to Z. What job does your company offer?

We start from scratch and do everything; If the client comes up with an idea in his mind, he likes – for example – to build a villa, a restaurant, or some other project; We start from this summary he gives us; We hear it well and our strength is that we apply it in different styles and I learned this in America, where I specialized in the design of residential buildings. We start with architectural design, ie space planning, interior design, lighting, we define the specifics of curtains and furniture, and even the implementation – if required – we definitely do that.

• Do you design custom furniture?

– In some projects, if we want to design the bar, tables, consoles, etc .; We do, and they are our signature projects.

3D display

• Is what we see in the “3D” project applied on the ground?

– Jinan: Every project can be implemented as it is and can not be differentiated from the real one; In our projects, you can not distinguish between “3D” and real, because the strength of the engineer lies in the fact that when the client gives a design, he must know a few things, such as: that the design is feasible, how to implement the design . according to the client’s budget, and that he is an expert in determining the specifics of the materials used in his design. I am against ideas that surprise the client, and in implementation become very expensive, which we never do; We are so realistic that the materials we use are already available and we do not even imagine. But of course we are always looking for the latest materials and design innovations, choosing bold and distinctive materials that are rarely used. When the client comes to us, he wants to build his dream of a dream house, and it is a personal journey, in which we discover his personality, his background and his lifestyle, we walk step by step with him; Let the design express it and when you understand your client well; You can do exactly what he wants.

• To what extent has technology facilitated and better implemented your projects? And how important is it?

– It is very important, of course; Technology is everything, from idea design to 3D presentation. We are implementing a project that the client has already seen and this is very important. Second, technology stays on social media as well, as everyone has their own advertising company. For example, our Instagram account is our private advertising channel, through which we display our projects worldwide. In addition, technology allowed the customer to know what to expect and expect. Depending on his budget, we can take him on a virtual walk through the project; It feels like he is walking into his house. It is good for the client to see his house in 3D, make comments about it and move the house as he enters. Also, there is an electronic program called “BIM” through which we build and it provides information on the amount of stone blocks needed to build the building and gives a “VOQ” for each material you use in the project.

growth and prosperity

• How did your work together affect the growth and prosperity of your business?

– Joel: Of course, “together is better”; Because Jenan has complex relationships in Dubai, and I have my relationships in Beirut; Combining two cities is very rewarding, and we work in all countries, and we are complementary, and Jenan is also an expert in the entertainment sector because she has worked in several companies and gained a lot of experience. We work hard and persevere, we have gained great experience and we have great ambitions.

• In your opinion, what are the most prominent trends in the world of architecture and interior design?

– Jinan: I noticed the tendency of the Gulf people towards simplicity and originality; The “boho” style, for example, is in demand and desired; Its simple atmosphere brings joy, and the design of the house reflects on the character, the simplicity of style that gives a sense of comfort.

Joel: There are some “trends” in interior design, mixing old and new, and the ingenuity lies in how to use “trends”, making them modern and adding innovative and special touches to everything that already exists . But, personally, I think there is no one direction; There are: Maximum and Minimalism, Contemporary and Modern, Vintage and Retro … There is a mixture of everything.

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• What can you tell us about the “SK” project in Lebanon, whose photos we are reviewing?

The “SK” project is located in the Adma area, with a total area of ​​380 square meters. Our field of work was a complete design and implementation; To realize a complete change of home. We had to review all the spatial planning, including the interior architecture, despite the structural challenges. The interior design of the villa is modern, contemporary and elegant, created as an individual concept and adapted to fit the look and feel desired by the client, taking into account the functionality and aesthetics of perfection.

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