One in a milieu

Designing a space comes easily for French-American designer, Bruno Guelaff, who seems to have stumbled upon his calling a few years back. With his Dubai-based studio well into the works, we can now look forward to more commercial and residential projects from the emerging designer.

Born in New York to a couple of French expatriates, Bruno Guelaff was already on his way to having an international lifestyle. The duality of his background did not only prove to add depth to his character, but also continues to serve as an advantage point for his budding career.

“My father has been through a lot and he’s worked really hard to get to New York City, and I’m proud of where I’m from. And I think it gives someone a story, you know? I’m a French New Yorker,” Bruno comments on his weighted identity.

Like many first generation kids in the United States, Bruno initally followed the used-and-abused path studying sociology and later becoming a stock broker after attaining his undergraduate degree. “I did sociology for four years in upstate New York, and then I was a stock broker for a year after that, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I hated it. I couldn’t stand it. I did it for a year and I passed all my exams, but it just didn’t do anything for me.

“Then I just started messing around and people loved my apartment, and soon people would be like, ‘you know I have a friend who is gone for a bit on a vacation. Would you mind doing his apartment and I’ll pay for everything’, and I thought, sure why not? I really enjoyed it,” Bruno explains.

Having been encouraged to enter New York School of Design by a peer, Bruno suddenly found himself on an entirely new path carving out his fate step by step.

Bruno says: “The reason I’m in Dubai is because at the end of the school year, I received an award which allowed me to travel around the world. So I travelled all around that year on my own. My trip was called, ‘Going Coastal’, and I studied how the ocean and the coast affect the architecture and interior design from place to place. I also looked at how architecture and design differ from different cultures and how different cultures accept interior spaces.

“One of the stops on my trip was Dubai. I went to places like Bali, Japan, Maldives…So I just went to see all the resorts, and study how different resorts are in these places. Like in Bali, they have one big room that they sleep in, and hang out in, and that they do everything in. Then I went to Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Seychelles,” explains Bruno before laughing in perhaps disbelief of his own good fortune.

He continues: “But you know it changed my life for sure. I met some people from Dubai and then I went back to New York and I worked as a head designer for a firm in New York City.”

It seemed that Dubai made a lasting impression on him as after two more years in New York, the designer phoned up a couple of contacts from the region and made the move across the world. However, his first working experience in Dubai proved to be less than inspiring, and after a short eight months, Bruno left the company that initially hired him and he started his own company: Studio Bruno Guelaff.

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