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Passion for interior design and money to be made

Awes Abdillahi is currently working on CARWO NEYRUS, an upcoming 8 storey shopping and apartment complex in the middle of Mogadishu. He was also involved in The Mogadishu Mall project, loves interior design and says it is a sure bet as a business.

People believe that interior design is a secondary need that should only be considered once they are done with the important structural aspects construction. Does it make sense to the property developers in Mogadishu?

Real estate investors and property owners here know and understand that they have to be unique to get the clients that they want. They understand the need for the service. This is one of the ways that boost their chances of getting returns on their investment. The aesthetics of an apartment building, shopping mall, residential home or company premises matter. They know this.

How can you define the architectural peculiarities that define the taste and style that most people go for?

They used to have class in Somalia before the war. That old school Italian touch still exists. But right now, home owners are going for something that beats the Italian feel. A Jacuzzi in the house? No problem. They are also responding to current needs, like some would want a bunker/ safe room in the house, it does not have to be underground. It should be capable of withstanding the most serious security threat. This means that we’ve had to incorporate European style and features in our work, plus the quality that come with such.

Does the market have enough interior designers?

When my company-SOMCO Engineering- where I am a co-director started, there were few people in the business. In fact, most of them were foreigners. Somali interior designers have emerged at the moment, they learnt from the foreigners, set up shop and are doing quite well, except the few reckless ones who bungle projects.

This must mean that there is competitive pricing- to the benefit of the clients…

Our clients, the real estate sector practitioners, business owners and home owners, have a variety from which they can choose. Everything depends on what they want, the finish and touch they looking for. Once they know those, they’ll know where they fall on the pricing index. So yes, there is competitive pricing.

Where does most of the interior design demand come from?

Individual clients who are looking for a personalised living space at home are the largest clients by volume. They are followed by commercial projects like shops, coffee houses, pharmacies and office buildings-like banks etc. These are business entities intent on standing out.

As a business, how profitable is the interior design sector of the real estate market?

Our project days are few, our labour costs are not so high and if you are good at your work, the referrals ensure a steady stream of clients; based on these, I can say that the field is lucrative, perhaps even more profitable (in the short term?) than construction.

How do you deal with the high costs of materials that you have to import?

We are trying to find better ways of handling the matter of the high cost of doing business as a result of importation of materials. Currently, we buy our materials in bulk, thereby reducing the costs. I also insist on importing on my own rather than letting someone else do it for me. 

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