As one would expect of the home of a fashion designer, Haya Jarrar’s apartment in Dubai’s financial district is a beautifully curated collection of highly-desirable pieces. Exploring multiple design fields during her education in London, taking a degree in fashion design at the London College of Fashion and the Condé Nast College of Fashion, as well as an interior design course, the 25-year-old Jordanian’s eye for detail extends not only over the design work for her label, Romani, which she launched in 2018, but also her love of interiors.
“I designed the interiors of my apartment myself, which was so much fun. I did an interior design course in London, and I think if I hadn’t gone into fashion, I would have pursued a career in that field instead,” smiles Haya. “I really love furniture.”
Haya’s passion for both design disciplines is more than evident on first glimpse inside her spacious apartment. Dominated by a huge portrait of one of Haya’s greatest style inspirations, 1960s fashion icon Brigitte Bardot, which hangs above a vast charcoal grey velvet sofa, Haya admits she has to curtail her spending when it comes to indulging two of her greatest loves.
“When Carrie Bradshaw upgraded her apartment in SATC, and said, ‘I’ve been cheating on fashion with furniture’, I completely identify with her. I just love furniture too much! How Carrie feels when she moves into her new place with Big is exactly my situation,” she laughs, comparing herself to the fashion-obsessed central character of the iconic TV show.
“Since I launched Romani, I stopped shopping for clothes as regularly, because pretty much everything I wear I’ve designed myself. But when it comes to what I buy for my home, I really have to try hard to make myself stick to a budget, because if I didn’t I’d go crazy buying furniture and decor. I mean, I have to at least try and keep myself grounded. ‘Try’ being the operative word here!”
Describing her apartment as bohemian in style, Haya explains that her home is an absolute reflection of her fashion line’s dominant mood and aesthetic – an expression of the free-spirited lifestyle and rebellious nature of a woman with an unapologetic desire to stand out from the crowd.
“Gabriella Crespi is undoubtedly my favourite interiors artist, and her apartment in Milan is one of my favourites in the world,” says Haya of the famed Italian designer who made beautifully-crafted furniture and objects and passed away in 2017, aged 95. “The way she mixed colour and print and silhouettes speaks to me so much – she was so bohemian and free – I just love her taste. Both she and her work has inspired me a lot, not only from a design perspective, but in life in general.”
With distinctive similarities between the decoration of Gabriella’s apartment and Haya’s home – animal prints, bold sculptures, luxurious, tactile fabrics and ashes of glamorous metallics are key – the globe-trotting collector trait is very much a shared characteristic between the 25-year-old designer and her artistically-acclaimed Italian muse.
“I travel a lot, and have lived in three major cities in my life, so every time I visit a new place or stay in a new hotel and like the design concept, I take a picture and keep it in a folder of inspirational ideas,” says Haya. “If I like the vibe of somewhere, like a restaurant or a boutique I visit, or I see something on Instagram or a blog I follow, I’ll just add that element of inspiration to my home.”
An ever-changing design project, Haya says she’s impulsive when it comes to creating her space. “I keep redesigning the apartment every two or three months – it’s just part of my thing about loving furniture too much,” she explains. “I’ve been here for about a year now, and keep buying new pieces and changing the look of the place. I don’t think about what I want to do beforehand. If I see an item and I like it, I base the entire house around my new favourite piece.”
Inspired by the flawless canvas she had to work with – the apartment is an elegant combination of dark wood floors, white walls and large windows that flood the space with light – Haya’s interior jigsaw puzzle started with her dining table. “When I saw it, I knew immediately that I had to have it,” she says of the circular, heavy wooden piece that works perfectly with the flooring.
“It’s exactly how I would design my dream table – it’s very bold and simple, which allows for it to be accompanied by more intricate pieces, like these acrylic chairs inspired by Philippe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost chair.” Admitting that she doesn’t have a go-to store for buying pieces for her home, preferring to simply pick up items she loves as and when she sees them, Haya does have her eye on one particular new addition – the much-coveted Froisse mirror by Hungarian artist, Mathias Kiss.
“For me, it’s a true work of art,” says Haya. “You see your reflection from so many directions. If you look at it from the front, it’s so pretty, like a jewel. Then from the side, it gives a completely different viewpoint. It’s so sharp and rigid, but it has a really deep, cultural meaning behind it. It’s definitely one of my favourite contemporary sculptures.”
While most of her most cherished pieces with sentimental value remain at her family home in Amman – “I’m not allowed to take anything, or move anything from the house in Jordan,” she laughs – Haya does have possessions that have moved around the world with her.
“Most things in my apartment are relatively new, but I do collect books, and the ones I have really mean something to me,” she says. “I had the books on my coffee table with me when I lived in London and I brought them with me when I moved to Dubai. I have loads of books all over the place – some are on the table, some are on the cabinets, some are by the sofa, some are by my bed… they’re actually everywhere in the apartment. My goal in 10 years time, in my future house with my husband, is to have a huge library so I can continue my love a air with books.”
Citing the living room as her favourite room in the apartment, because it contains the majority of her most prized possessions, when she’s not working on her fashion collections, hitting Barry’s Bootcamp for a daily workout or horse riding, Haya likes to chill out here with her Teacup Pomeranian, Bella, curled up on the sofa with a book, or watching one of her favourite TV shows.
Despite having no plans to leave Dubai, Haya’s passion for globetrotting will inevitably lead her to move somewhere in the future. And with her label named after the language of gypsies, and the nomadic ethnic group bound by no specific homeland, Haya and her animal entourage will certainly be exploring the world’s fashion capitals soon. “Maybe Paris or New York,” she smiles, “let’s see.”
- Words by Lucy Wildman
- Photography by Ausra Osipaviciute