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How did Pipsa Jaamaa Interiors come about?

I was passionate about Interior Design and studied it when I lived in Singapore. I’ve been living my passion for about 10 years now, doing interior design on a professional level and enjoying every moment. A few years ago, I decided I’d learned enough to launch my own company, and that’s how Pipsa Jaamaa Interiors was born.

How would you describe your design style?

My design style has a Scandinavian base, which I suppose could be due to my calm personality and Nordic background, but is influenced by my time in Singapore and my time in Dubai as well.

How do you describe Nordic style?

I would describe Nordic style as neutral, calm, simple lines, a lot of texture as opposed to a lot of colour, the use of natural materials, such as wood, wool and linens. It’s light and airy, and it’s also uncluttered.

What can clients expect their homes to look like when they hire you to design for them?

My style is contemporary, modern, sometimes even whimsical, and always timeless and fresh. It varies as I like to keep my design in tune with the client’s lifestyle and personality and I design around that. I’d like to think that each project is as unique as each client.

How do we get started and how involved is the client?

The first meeting with the client is usually on site. During this meeting, I find out what the client wants, what the scope of work is and we touch on subjects such as style and colour preferences, and of course, budget.

I am then able to write the proposal based on this meeting which covers the scope of work, and, based on that, I calculate my fee. Once the client is happy to proceed, we move onto the full briefing. That’s when I start the design process which includes the floor plans, space planning, furniture layouts, renderings, and elevation drawings. I then source all the elements that go into the design which includes items such as flooring, tiling, wallpapers, textiles and furniture.

I have a methodical process, but I find that the cohesive collaboration of materials will help to achieve the desired outcome. Like a puzzle, all the different pieces have to fit seamlessly together for a polished result. I like to keep my clients feeling comfortable and I always keep them in the loop, so at this point, I give a presentation of the full concept to the client. Once the client approves of the concept, we move onto pulling together figures which includes preparing the bill of quantities and the quotations for all the materials involved. After all the above is completed and agreed upon, I then like to have sole custody for the remainder of the allocated time so I can swiftly move onto the renovations, followed by the final installations, and then, finally, the big reveal.

How long does it take between the confirmation of service to the finished product?

The answer to this is very circumstantial. Good design takes time, you have to allow for research, finding suitable suppliers within the given budget, sourcing individual interesting pieces that fit together. When it comes to a new build, or a larger renovation, time span depends on a number of factors, mainly the size of the project, the availability of materials chosen and the scope of work. I do have a great number of suppliers at this point, which helps speed things up of course, but ultimately these sorts of materials have to be agreed on before I can give an accurate timeframe specific to each client.

Would you consider yourself a high end designer or a budget friendly designer?

I do believe that quality comes at a cost, but doesn’t have to be excessively expensive. Buying expensive items doesn’t guarantee a beautiful interior. I personally like to mix high end with affordable pieces. With my experience, I feel that I know when it pays aesthetically to splurge and where you can use affordable materials and it doesn’t make much of a difference.

What has been your most challenging design job to date and why?

One of the most challenging and exciting projects I’ve done is a small hotel just because of the sheer scale of it. Project managing big renovations are challenging because everything has to happen in an orderly time and they require a lot of juggling to keep on top of the tight deadlines. Finishing is important, quality is important, and sometimes it involves telling your contractor to redo a job whilst still sticking to the deadline.

With time and experience, I’ve been able to plan around delays which aren’t within my control, however, you can imagine, for larger scale projects, the delays mean that I need to schedule in a lot more time for troubleshooting so that everything falls into place time efficiently. That said, it’s wonderful and very fulfilling to see my work on a grander scale.

What is the most challenging aspect of working on comparatively smaller scale projects?

I love working on homes, I absolutely love incorporating the story of the homeowner in my design. I have been told by the people that I work with that I am always agreeable in my approach, but, I am a professional with years of Interior Design experience and there comes a time when I feel it is my duty as a professional designer to tell them if they are about to make a huge mistake that will cost them a lot of money. That can be challenging as it could potentially cost you the job.

How do you feel about clients who just want their curtains done?

At this stage in my career, I am lucky enough to say that I am able to prioritise turnkey projects over smaller projects, but of course I still get pleasure out of doing smaller projects when time permits. If a client just needs curtains done, it sounds small but it can make a huge difference to the beauty of the home. This is when I invite clients to come to the office where I have a huge library of beautiful materials and brands and we can go through the books together and I can advise them on what will complement the décor of their home.

How do you charge?

For larger projects, I charge a fixed flat fee. I don’t do a percentage of the budget so my clients can rest assured that whatever pieces and materials we choose for the project doesn’t affect my profit, negatively or positively. I’m very transparent with how I charge, and what I think is worth spending on, and I find it works out best if we have a fixed fee. The client knows upfront what the service will cost, which makes it comfortable for everyone, and it’s based on the scope of work. How I do the calculation is based on time it takes, and I talk the client through this all before we start the project. For small projects, I charge an hourly rate which I communicate with the client before we begin.

How do you get your projects?

I generally get my projects on a referral basis. I also have an Instagram page, a Facebook page and a website for potential clients to browse through to get an idea of my aesthetic.

What were your most fun projects to date?

I have genuinely loved all my projects but if I must pick a few, I’d say that the yacht I did at the end of 2013 was my favourite yacht. It was a total refit and it was interesting because my client only asked me to use a specific colour pallet but other than that, gave me a complete free reign. I did everything custom, down to the embroidered monogrammed bedlinen and china, and the best part was that he was so pleased with my work that he gave me his modern duplex apartment to do. For that, I sourced some beautiful one-of-a-kind art, set up a fitting backdrop to compliment some whimsical statement pieces that he had to create a chic yet young and quirky finish.

I’ve also really enjoyed the turn key projects that I’ve done when I have free reign which I have been able to do for my International clients who have their holiday homes in Dubai. My favourite ones have been minimalist with contrasting colour pops and fun art that reflects their interests that they’ve expressed to me so that their apartments really are a home away from home.

The truth is, I do have many memorable projects, but for me, the most exciting part of my job is seeing the clients’ reactions. I just love them to see how it all comes together. Each project is unique to reflect each client, and they are all very dear to me.