Co-founder and owner of fashion and interiors emporium O’De Rose, Nadine Kassem-Khoury, invites MOJEH into her home
Anyone who’s ever been to O’De Rose, the award- winning fashion and lifestyle emporium tucked away on Dubai’s Al Wasl Rd, would probably not be surprised to discover that the home of one of its founders, Nadine Kassem Khoury, is as charming and bohemian as the store she has created.
Located in a leafy side street just minutes away from her boutique, the sprawling Umm Suqeim villa is a glorious showcase of Nadine’s innate sense of style, easy-breezy attitude and love of Middle Eastern art and design.
“My home is my haven,” says Nadine, as she welcomes the MOJEH team into her lounge with a plate of home-baked cookies and a pot of steaming hot cardamom coffee. “It’s a reflection of my passions, my spirit, and at times, my state of mind. I guess it would best be described as pretty eclectic. It’s a very personalised decor that is unique in its diversity.”
Arriving in Dubai in 2006, while it would be more than reasonable to assume the effortlessly stylish Beirut native was a graduate of Esmod or Parson’s School of Design, Nadine’s career didn’t begin on such an aesthetically- focused path.
“This wasn’t what I planned to be doing at all!” she laughs. “I started my career working in medical supplies, and when I moved to New York, I was in real estate. I never thought I’d end up in retail. But I’ve always been attracted to anything related to art, design or fashion, and everything handmade. So O’De Rose kind of became my dream come true.”
House-hunting in one of Dubai’s most-wanted neighbourhoods for the perfect family home, Nadine’s realtor eye came into play the moment she set eyes on the large white villa, surrounded by trees and trailing bougainvillea.
“I fell in love with the villa as soon as I walked in,” says Nadine, who shares the house with her husband, twin boys and a handful of local cats who happily hang out in the garden. “I love large rooms with high ceilings, and I love it when the garden seems almost a part of the indoors. The flow of light, airiness and openess between the outdoors and indoors of the villa just sang to me,” she explains.
Citing the lounge as her favourite room in the house, the open-plan room brings together a beautifully-curated collection of eclectic pieces picked up on Nadine’s travels around the world. “How would you know I like colour?” she laughs, as she leads us around her vividly-accessorised living room, wearing rainbow-striped Valentino Rockstuds and a scarlet raffia tiered skirt picked up in a Beirut market.
“The colour palette in the house reflects my spirit in all of its colours – every layer of the spectrum,” reveals Nadine. “I’m unconventional, and don’t follow any specific guidelines. I believe that if each item is carefully selected, the ensemble will result in a dialogue between the different pieces in a way that challenges the ordinary and becomes visually exciting.”
An art collector for as long as she can remember, Nadine is always on the lookout for new pieces to add to her collection, and loves to shop during her travels in the hope of discovering new designers and artists. “I met gallerists as well as Middle Eastern and Lebanese artists in Beirut, and later on at art fairs. It’s my passion for art that took me to those places where I bought the pieces that I couldn’t resist,” she explains.
“So when I moved to Dubai, I was thrilled to discover there was such a vibrant art and design scene that helped me build my art collection, and fuel my obsession further.”
Currently coveting the colourful sculptures of Anni Morris, Nadine treats buying pieces for her home like a romantic encounter – first needing to fall in love with the piece before she introduces it to her home. But once it’s there, the artistic love affair is a lasting one.
“I love everything in my home, but I’m particularly in love with my paintings, because I’ve acquired them over such a long period of time, and each has a story and reminds me of a particular period in my life. I’ve also met a lot of the artists, whose stories have made me more attached to the piece. But what they embody is so much larger than the artwork itself.”
Involved in the most recent Dubai Design Week, hosting pop-ups for new designers in her boutique, Nadine is a regular at exhibitions held in Alserkal Avenue and Sharjah Art Foundation, and never misses the annual spectacle that is Abu Dhabi Art or Art Dubai.
“I’m an avid Middle Eastern art collector, and so happy to see the talent here recognised on a global scale, increasing in value and demand,” she enthuses. “In the boutique, we work with designers that fit with the O’De Rose spirit – individualistic, unique and bold. My own personal style is much the same, and this is absolutely reflected in the way I styled my home,” says Nadine.
“I appreciate the handmade and the artisanal, and shy away from the mainstream and mass-produced. I have a bohemian spirit, and love to discover new design talent, because it helps me to keep nurturing and reinventing myself, as well as my own individual style and my inventory at home.” Naturally, the crossover between what makes it into the boutique and what makes it into Nadine’s home is high.
“It’s an occupational hazard!” she laughs, nodding to the nest of coloured acrylic tables by Kray Studio sitting atop an ombre rug that perfectly complement one another. “I have to fall in love with a product to get it into my store, just like I have to fall in love to get something through the front door at home. Therefore, I cannot help but add pieces to the house every once in a while. Especially when they’re so pretty, right?”
Balancing the hectic day-to-day operations of the store with being a mother to young twin boys, Nadine admits that her life can sometimes get a bit crazy. “No day is the same” she smiles. “But I always try and get a bit of ‘me time’ to keep myself on track. Whether that’s yoga, which is a must for me because it became a lifestyle, or waterskiing, which I love, being outdoors and going to the beach with my family on the weekends is just one of my favourite ways to enjoy Dubai. I also think it’s really important to share sports you love with your kids, so I taught them to waterski. Now they love it too!”
Along with collecting art, Nadine’s wardrobe is constantly evolving, her fascination with fashion and jewellery is more than apparent in her personal style. “I think the way in which I dress is exactly the same as the way I think about dressing my home. A piece has to speak to me. I love anything colourful and unusual, or handmade.”
Swishing playfully in her red raffia skirt for MOJEH’s photographer, having fun with fashion and interior design is clearly a priority for Nadine, whose home and individual look radiate joie de vivre in every way.
“I’ve realised that I collect skirts,” she laughs. “I love them in all colours and shapes, including this one, which I just bought in a market in Beirut. It made me smile when I saw it, so I immediately knew I had to have it.”
So does she have a style muse? “If I had to choose a style icon, I’d say interior designer and New York fashion legend Iris Apfel is a constant source of inspiration – her bold, colourful look is so fresh and youthful, and she has the most exceptional eye for detail.”
As far as favourite designers go, much like her eclectic choice of furniture and artworks, Nadine likes to mix up her wardrobe with a range of talents. “It’s difficult to choose because I love so many,” she says.
“But lately I’ve really loved Marco de Vincenzo and Mira Mikati because of their colourful collections – and you know I’m a girl who loves colour. But for eveningwear it has to be Rabih Kayrouz – his design work is nothing less than magical.”
- Photography by Ausra Osipaviciute
- Words by Lucy Wildman