Annabel Karim Kassar: A chat with the award-winning architect and designer

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The architect and designer talks brutalism, the importance of rugs and the iconic interior product she wishes she’d designed

interview by Catherine Coyle

How has your style evolved over the years?

I’m French, grounded in European sensibilities. But I’ve lived and worked in many countries: Lebanon, Morocco, the Gulf, the United States, China and now Britain. I love putting together and layering cultural influences from the north and the south.

Helena_Desenio

Who or what are your biggest influences?

Architecture frames space, and inhabiting space is always psychologically emotional. I’m influenced by psychoanalysis (Lacan), cinema (Godard), painting (Cézanne). I love the architectural masters: Bauhaus, Le Corbusier and my university mentor, Aymeric Zublena.

Who is your design hero?

I hate the ‘star architect’ syndrome. Perhaps Lebbeus Woods because he’s a maverick.

What is your favourite building?

I am a closet fan of what is erroneously called ‘brutalism’, because of its provocation and its
spatial quality.

Annabel Karim Kassar
Photo by Mark O’Flaherty

Describe your dream home

I am working long-term on the renovation in Beirut of one of the city’s few remaining Ottoman-era mansions. I love the non-western interior layout where every room leads off a central living space. It makes for community rather than isolation.

What makes a home?

Colour and rich textures. The walls and floors should speak for themselves, not be reduced to empty spaces to hang pictures or lay rugs. And make the bathroom central and a place to enjoy, not an afterthought – you spend a lot of your life there.

How do you approach a new interiors project?

For me, each project is unique. I’m always intrigued by transforming memory into contemporary design. I’m not afraid of doing things differently. It is very depressing to see endless repetitions of white, black and metallic greys! Light is always important. It is a physical material, as visible as any concrete wall.

How do you relax?

A hot bath with a cup of herbal tea – and no mobile phone.

How do you invest in yourself?

Running in Regent’s Park. It’s when I think most creatively.

Which iconic interior product do you wish you’d designed?

The Alcove sofa by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. It works so well mixed with traditional Lebanese mattresses and Moroccan cushions.

The one luxury item you really want to have is
An Arsenal season ticket.

What should we be investing in right now?
Cooking.

An object you’d never part with

My phone, my sketchbook and my art materials. And a good bag to keep them all in.

The last thing you bought and loved

A Rocket coffee machine and good speciality coffee from Latin America and Africa.

What are you sitting on right now?

A Mezze sofa from my Salon Nana collection for Moroso.

If money’s no object

Time is worth more than money.

Scotland’s greatest attribute is

My partner, who is Scottish!


Inside the colourful life and home of Anna Campbell-Jones

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