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Alidad reveals his secrets for timeless interior design

Nobody creates timeless and sumptuous spaces like award-winning interior designer Alidad, who speaks to Effect Magazine about his distinctive, unforgettable style and how he came to develop his extraordinary talent for texture and detail. 

“My work is my life,” laughs Alidad as he fervently reveals his love for interior design and how he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. “I could do a little less maybe,” he continues, “but passion is everything in this business and it’s certainly not about cutting corners. My team often ask if we must go this far or worry so much, but I care! I am probably unwise as it takes much longer but for me, this is how it has to be.”

After growing up in Persia and moving to London at the age of 16, Alidad initially studied subjects such as mathematics, statistics, and computer science. “I couldn’t speak English,” he says, “so I had to choose subjects that didn’t require written English. Alidad read statistics at University College London, and secured a place at LSE for his Masters in order to – in his words – study “some unpronounceable subject”. He says: “I didn’t want to do it. That was when I opted to study a course at Sotheby’s instead – and my parents agreed to it. They were very understanding.”

Moving into Sotheby’s is when Alidad says his life changed. Immersing himself in worlds of art and design, he felt at home, working his way through the ranks to become the departmental director for Islamic works of art and textiles – the youngest person to take such a position at the renowned auction house. “I loved every minute of it,” he recalls. “The world they created for you, the friends I made – I didn’t need anything else outside of it at that time.”

Taking the next step into interior design was something Alidad had been thinking about while working at Sotheby’s: “As I was getting older, there was a niggling feeling in me saying that I could get into iconic homes such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, but it wasn’t in my name. It was very childish, but I am glad I had it as it made me realise that I needed to do something on my own.”

Despite not wanting to leave, Alidad says how he made himself go. “Stupidity set in,” he says. “I thought I would become an interior designer, but I didn’t know what it really meant! All I knew was antique textiles.” Despite this, Alidad says his naivety worked in his favour as it gave him the confidence he needed to succeed. “Nobody had trained me or said do this or don’t do that, so I followed my instinct entirely. I went with whatever felt comfortable and without me realising, I soon had my own style.”


With his early designs contrasting the trends of the 1980s, Alidad began to turn heads. Exhibiting at the first British interior design exhibition, he recalls how the press made a lot of his work, because of the way it stood out from everything else. “I wasn’t conscious of any of it,” he says. “I was just having fun and it really started from there.”

Since those days, Alidad says he hasn’t looked back. While his style has become eponymous in the design world, he discloses how it has adapted a lot since starting out. “My style is there but now I don’t have to do it, I just have to do something within it,” he says. “My whole concept when I approach a project is that I want it to be timeless and still as current in 20 years’ time as it is today.”

My whole concept when I approach a project is that I want it to be timeless and still as current in 20 years’ time as it is today.

Alidad, interior designer

Alidad feels especially strongly about this when looking at the functionality of a space. “A timeless room will never need to be built around,” he say. “Everything will have been thought through. I drive myself crazy thinking about how it functions, how it operates with the room next door, or as part of the whole house. It is something that is ingrained in me from my background. I go about things in a very mathematical way.”

With his passion for interior design exuding from him, Alidad is hoping to share his knowledge in other ways. Recently partnering up with Create Academy to produce an online course on designing timeless spaces, Alidad says it is something he is hoping to explore further. “I loved sharing my ideas with people and when I talk about things it becomes clearer in my head, too, so I feel like I am learning as well.” The course, which includes 35 lessons and tutorials, is a way in which Alidad feels he can slightly change his direction without it affecting his artistic and creative side.

Speaking to those starting out, Alidad declares the number one rule is to believe in yourself. “There has to be something in you that really wants to do it,” he maintains. “No matter how little you know, the drive and enthusiasm have to be there. You have to be a fighter as obstacles will come your way, but they can be solved quickly if you have the right attitude.”

With Alidad’s projects including many prestigious homes and spaces, the pressure is something he is well accustomed to. “This is a job in which you are often more a psychologist than an interior designer,” he says. “You have to hold people’s hands and make sure they are OK, as this can bring out the worst in a lot of clients, especially when they are exposing their private space to the world.”

Another important value he raises is humility. “Many in my sector can be quite grand but for me, that highlights insecurities and means you’ve stopped learning. If I ever become like that, please tell me! The day I stop learning is the day I should go somewhere else. You must be happy with what you know and never assume you know it all.”

Despite loving what he does, Alidad laughs as he says people have a misconception about interior design: “Many people think it is all fun but actually, it’s 90% hassle! There is a chain you have to keep, and it’s a huge creative process. There is obviously the 5–10% which is fantastic, and when the clients come back in with huge smiles on their faces, that is enough for me – the drama and worry go away at that point.”

With his design work speaking for itself, Alidad’s superb attention to detail has gained him a wealth of clientele all over the world. From finding expert craftspeople to preserving the integrity of the buildings themselves, Alidad concludes with a statement which perfectly summarises the reason behind his success. “I always say to clients, it could be two identical homes, but they look completely different as each home is one glove which only fits one hand. I love making a home for somebody and it has to be one that represents them personally.”

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto