Beachroad Magazine head to Beach Centre Mall in Jumeirah 1 to meet Ayah Halawani and Nada Al Bahri the co owners and founders of NOOK a boutique that specializes in accessories for the home. NOOK offers an assortment of Scandinavian inspired, minimalistic décor, the brand stands for offering a selection of designed items at affordable price points.
Accessible via its online shop and through a brick and mortar store located in the adored community mall by Dubai’s old timers – Beach Centre, Jumeirah. The world of NOOK is an urban, trendy and warm space for eager home décor aficionados. Founded by long-time friends Ayah Halawani and Nada Al Bahri, the concept store is home to clean, contemporary and modern pieces sourced from interior décor hubs all over the world such as Denmark, Morocco, France, Australia and the like.
With a background in architecture and a finely tuned eye for design, Ayah and Nada were always on the lookout for pieces that lend a fresh perspective to a space but found a gap in the market for items that were unique and didn’t break one’s wallet. This passion and search led to the start of the store purveying a wide spectrum of dinnerware, home-ware, light fixtures, rugs, wall pieces, cushions and adorable little bits for kid’s nurseries and bedrooms. A compliment to the concept is The Flower Bar located within the store, which aims to bring fresh blooms with a quaint edge to the city.
Where do you like to eat, shop and socialise in Dubai.
With both of us being born and raised here, we are really spoilt for choice. We love hanging out in the mall just as much as grabbing a bite from the local cafeteria in Deira’s old town. That is what we love about this city, you never run out of options.
AYAH AND NADA ANSWER THE BEACHROAD MAGAZINE Q&A //
NAME? // Ayah Halawani & Nada Al Bahri
YOUR FIRST JOB? //
Ayah: Event Designer
Nada: Junior Architect
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION? //
Ayah: Managing partner of Nook and Architect
Nada: Managing Partner of Nook
WHY DUBAI? // We were both born and raised here, it is our home!
WHO ARE YOUR FURNITURE / DECOR AND INTERIOR INFLUENCES? //
Ayah: I fall for anything and everything handmade, and a little imperfect. I find lots of soul in the work of craftsmen.
Nada: Scandinavian designers. I love minimalistic pieces that lend special attention to detail.
WHAT INSPIRED / MOTIVATED YOU TO START NOOK? //
Ayah: I have always loved product design. When Nada approached me with the idea it just made sense. Combining both our passions we started Nook & The Flower Bar
Nada: When I had my daughter, Meera, I was on the lookout for cute bits for her nursery that were high quality and affordable but I found that there was a lack of such options in the market. This is really what got me to work on the concept with Ayah.
LAUNCHING NOOK, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? //
Both of us are of a background in Architecture and design, so choosing the products and presenting them was the easy part. The tricky part was the business side of things, and we had to learn a lot as went along.
INTERIORS ASIDE, WHAT INSPIRES YOU? //
Ayah: Nature and outdoors
Nada: Anything well-designed and functional
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BEACHROAD FOR NOOK? //
Beachroad is a prime location. It was one of the most popular places to be growing up, and it still is home to some of the most unique shops and businesses in Dubai. The Beach Center is especially close to our hearts as it brings back so many memories and feelings of Nostalgia.
WHAT INTERIOR / FURNITURE STORES ARE YOU A FAN OF IN DUBAI?
Ayah: West Elm, Bo Concept and Crate & Barrel
Nada: Ikea, West Elm, Aati and Obeji
GLOBALLY WHAT WOULD BE YOUR 5 DREAM LOCATIONS FOR NEW NOOK STORES? //
We both agree on this, anywhere in Italy would be a dream. Next would be London, Tokyo, Istanbul and Cape Town – basically all around the globe.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVOURITE PIECES IN NOOK? //
Ayah: The Moroccan rugs, the paper vases and the concrete diamonds.
Nada: That’s so difficult to answer! If I must choose then I would say I love the geometrical pastel colored Planters, the graphic cushions with tassels, and what I like to call the Face Pots.
WHERE DID THE NOOK NAME COME FROM? //
We were looking for a short, catchy name that implied feelings of being at home, and was focused around accessories and gadgets. After a lot of research we chose Nook. We like to interpret it as follows:
- An interior angle formed by two meeting walls.
- A special place which nourishes dreams and imagination, or holds sacred memories.
WHO DESIGNED THE LOGO / BRANDING? //
We designed it together, from the logo and the business cards, to the overall look-and-feel of the shop.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? //
Nada: The Internet
YOUR GREATEST FEAR? //
Ayah: Losing someone I love
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? //
Ayah: Road trips to Oman, Buraimi with family and friends. The memories I am most fond of include some sort of travel.
Nada: Swimming every Friday and Jumeriah Beach with the family back when Dubai beaches seemed to be endless!
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? //
Ayah: My university professor. He taught me everything I know about design, and showed me that it is really a way of life.
Nada: My father. He is the most hard-working person I have known and I always try to follow in his steps
YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST? //
Ayah: Michelangelo – I’m obsessed with anything renaissance
Nada: Frida Kahlo – I love her revolutionary ways!
YOUR FAVOURITE CLOTHING BRAND? //
Ayah: Stella Mccartney
IF YOU WERE NOT RUNNING NOOK WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING ? //
Ayah: Probably working on another concept – I love start-ups.
Nada: Definitely working in the design field. It is my passion.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE JOURNEY AND DESTINATION? //
Ayah: Road-tripping the Amalfi Coast. Amazing beaches, beautiful people and divine food.
Nada: Anywhere on a beautiful, pristine beach with nice and sunny weather.
IF YOU COULD OWN ANY PIECE OF ARTWORK WHAT WOULD IT BE? //
Ayah: “The Kiss” – Gustav Klimt
Nada: One of Frida Kahlo’s Paintings
IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANY DESIGNER ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE? //
Ayah: Tadao Ando
Nada: Karl Lagerfeld
WHAT IS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? //
Ayah: a flower bouquet
Nada: a shirt
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURE POSSESSION? //
Ayah: My laptop. My entire life is stored there.
Nada: My hair dryer, it is an absolute essential!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN? //
Ayah: Go outside
Nada: Play and put down the gadgets
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT? //
Ayah: My growing pregnant belly!
Nada: My daughter
YOUR WORST TRAIT? //
Ayah: I am very stubborn, and love things done my way!
Nada: I am guilty of being too organized, if there is such a thing.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? //
Ayah: Pessimism. Negative vibes really put me at an edge.
Nada: Not being punctual – it drives me mad!
YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIES? //
Ayah: Cinderella Man and the Lebanese movie Caramel
Nada: I prefer TV shows, and I am currently obsessed with Suits!
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE? //
Ayah: Scarlett Johansson in Lucy
Nada: Kiera Knightly in Black Swan
FAVOURITE MUSIC //
Ayah: Alternative Music
Nada: Old Arabic Music
LAST RECORD / DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT? //
Ayah: The XX’s latest album
Nada: I don’t really buy music, I prefer listening to whatever plays on the radio and keep it fresh
FAVOURITE BOOK? //
Ayah: I Capture the Castle
Nada: The Kite Runner
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? //
Ayah: Thug Kitchen – a vegan cookbook.
Nada: Villa and Courtyard Houses of Morocco
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? //
Ayah: I was once going to get run over by a tram in Istanbul, my father jumped to my rescue.
Nada: Of a heart attack on a roller coaster – I am terrified of them!
FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? //
Ayah: Sri Lanka. The coconut-fringed beaches and the laid back atmosphere is a cure to anything.
Nada: Istanbul. It is a wonderful combination of the grandeur of Europe and the soulfulness of old Islamic cities.
LEAST FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? //
HOW DO YOU RELAX? //
Ayah: Massages are my drug. I go for one every time I get a chance.
Nada: Curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and watch and episode of my favorite show.
BEACH OR DESERT? //
Nada: A little bit of both
URBAN OR RURAL? //
CATS OR DOGS? //
Nada: None, I am terrified of animals
COFFEE OR TEA? //
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? //
Ayah: My husband
Nada: A funny joke will always get the best of me
WHATS MAKES YOU CRY? //
Ayah: The news. The world has gone mad.
Nada: Sad movies, I am a hopeless romantic
YOUR MOTTO / MESSAGE? //
Ayah: Be the energy you want to attract
Nada: Better late than never