Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Iraqi brothers Hasan and Husain Roomi started out building their careers by taking on a few small projects in London while they completed their studies and worked for other design companies.
When they started to get a lot more work due to word of mouth, the Roomi brothers decided it was time to step away from their permanent positions and start their own studio – H2R Design.
“This eventually meant we didn’t have time to contemplate working full time for anyone else, and so H2R as a business just seemed to happen organically,” explains Hasan.
“The brother dynamic is definitely a huge advantage to us on the communication front, although we’d be lying if we said it was always smooth sailing. Depending on who you ask, we each take care of everything!”
Hasan adds that at H2R, the focus is on spaces that are properly integrated and coordinated with a single vision. The emerging studio offers its clients a full concept design package, from interpreting the original brief to transforming it into reality.
Husain notes: “Our philosophy is to keep pushing boundaries, to keep delivering spaces that meet our clients’ briefs and to craft great experiences for the users of the space. We always strive to give each project its own personality, which is catered directly to the concept and brand.”
While H2R launched itself in London, England, it recently established a second branch in Dubai in October 2014. With the two offices, the Roomi brothers have managed to achieve a massive international reach.
Hasan explains: “Our hearts are torn between London and Dubai. They are both incredibly inspiring cities for different reasons. We think it adds a layer of design-thinking to our work that helps us stand out from other local design firms. We have a pretty broad global experience within our team in Dubai, and there is a bit of travel involved, so we have to be constantly communicating – Skype is our best friend.”
He adds: “We launched in Dubai in October last year, mainly driven by the amount of work that was coming to us from here, and business so far has been great. We have been lucky to have some incredible clients, some really fun projects and plenty of new things on the horizon. Our team has grown and we have loved setting up the new office.”
According to Husain, the new office has a fun and lively atmosphere – but when it comes to working on detailed elements of each project, visitors will catch a number of staff putting on headphones to aid focus. He adds that H2R encourages its clients to stop by for workshops, keeping the process transparent and collaborative.
“There also seems to be a dangerously constant flow of bottomless coffee,” he jokes.
H2R has an impressive portfolio filled with food and beverage projects, retail and workspaces. As Husain puts it: “We do love the opportunity that food and beverage design gives us – they are exciting spaces, where the operations and the people influence the environment as much as the other way around.
“This is a challenge for us as designers, and pushes us to solve spatial problems creatively, as well as allowing us to really develop a brand and concept into a space. That said, and for the same reasons, we also love and have experience in both retail and workplace design. We have actually noticed that these three sectors tend to merge in their thinking and approach. We like to think that we design spaces for people, whether they are working, learning, eating, drinking or shopping.”
H2R’s portfolio includes projects like Paperfig Deserts in Sharjah, Tom & Serg Café in Dubai, The Sum Of Us Café in Dubai, Disiac in London’s Soho district and Breteuil in London. It’s not fair to ask them to choose favourites, but the brothers say they thoroughly enjoyed working on Tom & Serg as well as The Sum Of Us.
According to Hasan, the success of these projects can be chalked up to the coherent vision, understanding and collaboration among the entire team, a combination that brought forth refreshing spaces for Dubai.
“This combination, among a few other elements, gave us the necessary ingredients and tools to push the boundaries in design and create unconscious benchmarks,” Hasan adds.
Aside from full design concept and implementation, H2R also offers graphic design services and furniture design. As Hasan puts it, offering graphic design grew from the need to have “integrated environmental graphics, and it’s great for our clients to be able to develop identities and branding alongside their interior spaces”.
This well-rounded approach is also what drove the design group to start producing bespoke furniture pieces. Husain notes that furniture is a big part of an interior space, and the brothers found themselves designing custom pieces for all of their projects, giving each space a new point of difference. He adds that wanting to provide their own pieces for each project was a natural progression.
Having only established their practice in Dubai a year ago, both brothers seem to have hit the ground running and they’re not about to slow down any time soon. When asked about their 2015 vision, they answered in a way that perfectly reflects their tendency to be silly and serious at the same time.
“Aside from world domination?” Hasan jokes. “We have a few exciting projects in the pipeline that we can’t wait to see completed, and our vision is to keep going the way we are. We enjoy what we do, and it’s important to us that this spirit continues to live on throughout the team in 2015 and onwards.”