One look around the six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home 28-year-old Emirati Alamira Noor Bani Hashim shares with her parents in Abu Dhabi – where she was born and raised – and it’s obvious that an eye for detail and style is in her DNA. The two-storey house, which was built two years ago, is filled with natural light which is complemented by a neutral and grey colour scheme. “We wanted it to be airy. We stuck to whites, greys and natural materials like concrete and wood because they wouldn’t go out of style,” she says. “It makes the house feel quiet and still.”
“The tabletop is from Marina Home, and we added the wooden legs to it. The chairs were collected from a few different stores, some vintage and the others from Bloomingdale’s Home. The shelving unit in the back came from Mudo, which has now closed down.”
We imagine that those two words aren’t ones she uses often, given that she’s currently working four jobs – she’s the co-founder of underground supper event The Dinner Club No.57 (“I’m the design half of the duo, while my business partner Buthaina, is the ultimate foodie”), the co-owner of No.FiftySeven Boutique Café, an urban planner at Masdar City, and an interior set stylist. “No two days are ever the same. I love waking up early; I get the most done while the rest of the world is still sleeping,” she tells Bazaar. “I then go to my day job as an urban planner, and in between I rush to deal with things at the café. After work, I drive to Dubai for Pilates (don’t ask!) and then rush to meetings for The Dinner Club. I usually end my night at furniture stores looking for pieces for my next styling job, then drive back to Abu Dhabi, ready to collapse!”
Alamira Noor Bani Hashim
It’s no wonder then, that Alamira’s bedroom is her favourite space in the house. “I love that there is nothing in there other than a bed, a side table and a tray of trinkets. I’m an incredibly visual person so I love being able to go to bed and wake up to a clean, white slate. It’s like I’m starting fresh every day.”
This incredible statement bathtub was a superb Dragon Mart find. “Sadly it’s never been used as I never have time for a bath,” Alamira laughs. “But knowing it’s there makes me happy!”
It’s easy to see that the controlled chaos of her professional life translates into a more minimalist approach in her personal one, particularly when it comes to clothing. Alamira lists her style icons as the Olsen twins – “they’re always minimal, elegant and effortless” – and her favourite labels as Céline, The Row and Razan Alazzouni. “I love The Row for its incredibly perfect, tailored basics; Céline for its minimal-but-artful pieces; and Razan for when I want to feel pretty and powerful.” We’re curious, after spotting several swoon-worthy items around the house, such as a pretty pair of Manolo Blahnik heels for example, what are her can’t-live-without items in her wardrobe? “Anything Céline, I’m obsessed. I also have truly overworn my Chanel slingbacks. I love my Piaget Possession rings and Kamushki ear cuff, which adds a little edge to any look.” A true fashion lover, she confesses, “I think I’m mostly obsessed with clothes. Then handbags, then shoes,” before adding, “That’s not true. I love them all equally, please don’t make me choose!”
Her appreciation for simplicity was something she learned from her mother as she searched for pieces for the house. “It was difficult finding the right ones. My mother spent years collecting items from all over, like vintage stores in London and random knick-knacks from America. Most of the items we were seeing here were overly decorated and we like to keep it simple.” Although she admits that she’d alter one thing if given the chance. “I’d love to change the light fixtures in the rooms to something a little simpler. My mum had chandeliers installed in all of the rooms, and they aren’t my favourite!” she laughs.
There are plenty of spaces within the house that look like they were made for entertaining. Alamira agrees, telling us, “We love to have my cousins, aunts and uncles over often. I also love having my friends over for dinner on our terrace.” There’s an incredible table in the living room that catches our eye. “This gets used most often, not for actual meals, but rather when I do a test set-up for The Dinner Club!”
“This table was from a furniture store in Egypt. It came with a glass top but we had a marble one fitted instead. The stools were a great find from a random hole-in-the-wall shop in Abu Dhabi. The photos are all clippings of articles and features on The Dinner Club or the café, along with nice letters and thank you notes. I also have my diplomas from Harvard Graduate School of Design and UC Berkeley hanging up alongside little box frames of every dinner – they each include the invite, menu, place card and signature animal”
West Elm, Marina Home and Crate & Barrel are among Alamira’s go-to stores for interior pieces these days, but she cites the now-closed Turkish homewares store Mudo as one of her all-time favourites. When it comes to her own interiors buying philosophy, the creative is influenced by fashion trends and admits that she “definitely purchases items for their aesthetics. I’m the kind of person that buys things at the grocery store purely for the packaging.”
The beautiful, light-filled interiors are perfect for social gatherings with family and friends
With the holy month upon us, Alamira tells Bazaar that “Ramadan is my favourite time of the year. Things slow down and I get to spend more time with family. I love the spirituality of the month. It’s a time that I get to really focus on Islam and strengthen my faith.” It is also, she tells us, a chance for Alamira to take a step back from her hectic schedule and recuperate. “It’s easy to get caught up in the business of life throughout the year so Ramadan is like a reset button for my priorities and well-being.”
Whilst for the rest of the year she opts for abayas, during Ramadan Alamira switches up her style (“I also stop wearing make-up and give my hair a break from the salon”), opting instead for jalabiyas most of the time, particularly in the evening. “During the day, I’m only ever usually at work so I’ll wear a simple abaya, whereas for the evening, I’ll choose a jalabiya in a muted colour by Razan Alazzouni and pair this with a bisht on top.”
"These books were mostly from this amazing, tiny used book store in Abu Dhabi that we randomly discovered when we were looking for cheap books for one of The Dinner Club events. It was hidden behind a mosque and had the most beautiful, old tattered books that were super cheap.”
During the month, she and her family celebrate in a number of ways. “I love cooking iftar with my mum, breaking our fast together and reading the Qu’ran.” There’s also a rather sweet family tradition that takes place every year. “My dad and I love to play Uno after our prayers around midnight,” Alamira smiles.
Alamira Noor's closet mirrors her signature cream-to-greige-to-black colour palette
While her family typically breaks fast at home as “everybody is usually tired from fasting and wants to be at home with one another,” Alamira says she likes to head out for suhoor. “I’ll usually head to our café for suhoor. Last year, we transformed it into a boho tent and this year we’ll be revamping it into something else.” Can she give us any hints as to what we can expect? “Let’s just say we’ll be bringing the outside, inside.” Watch this space.
– Words by Maddison Glendinning. Photography by Ethan Mann. Styling by Gemma Deeks. The full version of this article appears in the June 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia