Eclectic Grandeur: Prince Sultan Bin Fahad Bin Nasser Al-Saud Reveals His Stunning Riyadh Residence

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Oct 21 2019 / 11:48 AM

Artist and collector Prince Sultan Bin Fahad Bin Nasser Al-Saud’s Riyadh home is a treasure trove of eclectic art and design

Eclectic Grandeur: Prince Sultan Bin Fahad Bin Nasser Al-Saud Reveals His Stunning Riyadh Residence
Bayan Al Sadiq
Sultan bin Fahad in his living room surrounded by a large artwork by Khalid Oraije (left), a work by Ahmed Mater (right), table by Marc Newson and a metal chair entitled 'How high the moon' by Shiro Kuramata

Anyone active in the Middle Eastern contemporary art scene will not have forgotten Sultan Bin Fahad’s The Red Palace exhibition in Riyadh, which opened in March and moved to Jeddah’s Al Khuzam Palace in June. Not only did it mark the first time a historic Saudi palace was open to the public but also revealed Sultan’s artistic journey between the intangible and tangible memories and cultures that make up contemporary Saudi existence. A step inside his artful abode in Riyadh whisks one off to another time and place.

There’s a nod to the elegance of Venetian and Moorish architecture through Serlian-style windows, a long arched corridor reminiscent of French neo-classicism and urban brick walls that celebrate edgy modernism of New York-style living. “My wife, Deena, has a great imagination for detail and I have a good imagination for space,” says Sultan.

“The design of the house was a collaborative effect. I studied engineering and business but always loved architecture.” The couple wanted to have a house that looked old but had been renovated. “We wanted something that was mid-century but that had been renovated,” he explains. “I wanted a place that could live and that could last.” They settled on a house with a courtyard and a long corridor running along all sides - similar to an Italian cloister.

The entertainment room featuring lights by DEAR INGO by Ron Gilad Moooi Originals

Photography by Bayan Al Sadiq

“In Riyadh we don’t have views so we wanted to create our own views,” he says. Each room on the ground floor surrounds the central courtyard and looks out onto numerous gardens. The home itself is modelled also after the idea of a traditional Riad, a traditional Moroccan abode comprising numerous spaces in the format of a small village.

“The style that we incorporated includes elements from Islamic, Gothic and modern architecture,” says Sultan. The arched windows in the living and dining room areas peak on top in a pointy arch similar to elaborate Gothic windows one will find in Europe. “My wife and I also don’t like curtains - we wanted to show the full long window for its beautiful design,” he adds. “We were similarly influenced by old Arabian style mud houses and Moroccan traditional architecture and we tried to make the style of the house as eclectic as possible.”

Photography by Bayan Al Sadiq

Eclecticism can come in all shapes and forms. At the home of Sultan and his wife Princess Deena Ali Al-Juhani Abdulaziz it is found in the myriad architecture influences that the couple has incorporated in addition to the numerous works of contemporary art and design - all emblems of their taste for the avant-garde and cutting-edge with hints of history.

“It’s like a voyage - we want ourselves and our guests to feel as if they are taking a trip through various cultures and histories,” adds Sultan. Each room, each design object and work of art reflects the couple’s rich taste in art, design and history.

Table and minarets by Sultan bin Fahad; Takashi Murakami rainbow cushion; photograph on the far right by Steven Miesel

Photography by Bayan Al Sadiq

It took four years to design and decorate the entire house. “We collect things from all of our travels and it’s for this reason that the house must be eclectic,” he says. “The house doesn’t have a style. It’s not Art Deco or ultra-modern or baroque. It has everything.” Indeed, numerous fascinating objects and beautiful hardcover books can be found throughout the home, including antique theatre chairs, photographs by Ahmed Mater and Steven Meisel, and various vibrantly coloured cabinets and tables designed by Sultan himself.

There’s also a powder room designed by Philippe Starck designed in glossy black and white surfaces with lots of mirrors. “We mix and match and this is how we like it,” he says. “We did not hire any interior decorators because we knew what we wanted - designing and beautifying our home is a hobby of ours. There are no better designers for our space than us.”

A view of the living room area with a 1960s chair, an Ottoman candle holder and books on Oscar Niemeyer and Dia Azzawi

Photography by Bayan Al Sadiq

A great lover of design, Sultan’s home is filled with a mix of objects that he has collected over the years. Among his most loved items are metal chairs by Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata called How High the Moon.

“I don’t really use them, I just enjoy looking at them,” he laughs. There’s a Marc Newson table, pieces by Sergio Rodrigues, a chair by Brazilian designer Oscar Niemeyer and also a couple of pieces by Zaha Hadid. “She was a great and dear friend of ours,” he adds. “We also have lots of antiques even if my wife doesn’t prefer them very much. She loves the Art Deco style and items by Lalique, for example.”

The dining room featuring a large painting by Ranya Sarkbi, kartel dining chairs, a Daniel Arsham Teddy Bear and all additional cabinets designed by Sultan bin Fahad

Photography by Bayan Al Sadiq

Sultan has recently taken on a role advising the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Part of his aim is to promote young Saudi artists and designers to the rest of the world. “Design is a great passion of mine and even my artwork has a little bit of design in it,” he says. “There’s a thin line between design and art and it feels like they are almost the same for me.”

The majority of artwork in Sultan’s collection is by Saudi and regional artists but he hopes to start collecting Saudi designers too. “Saudi Arabia is a young country and now there are more emerging designers on the scene,” he says. “I want to be able to empower them and let them establish their own voices.” Sultan’s daughter is currently studying industrial design at RISD: Rhode Island School of Design. “She grew up in this world of art and design - the world that me and my wife inhabit,” adds Sultan. “Maybe one day she will become one of the changing faces of the Saudi design scene.”

From Harper's Bazaar Interiors