A twist of fate


UAE: Perla Lichi has had a full service interior design business in Dubai for more than five years. She has offices in Florida, New York and Abu Dhabi with another one about to open in Brazil.

She recently visited the School of Architecture & Interior Design at the Canadian University, in Dubai, to talk to students about ‘Design around the World’.

Well known for her high-end residential work, her clients include royalty, entrepreneurs, business executives and sports professionals.


She is currently designing a number of units at the Infinity Tower, a skyscraper by Cayan Real Estate Investment & Development in Dubai, which is set to be 330m (1,080 ft) high with 73 storeys, and the building has a twist of 90˚ similar to the Turning Torso in Malmo, Sweden.

The tower will have residential apartments, conference rooms, tennis courts, pools, gym, nursery and a spa. “I believe my success here is due to extensive marketing, magazine features, TV interviews, tradeshows, and, of course, it doesn’t hurt that I absolutely love people and I absolutely love what I do,” said Lichi.

“Back in the US, I formed a partnership with Steven Zelman.

“Our company, Lichi-Zelman Style Interiors, designs projects anywhere in the New World and beyond, from its Pompano Beach and New York offices. We are also in the process of opening a satellite office in Brazil.

“I live here and split the majority of my time between the UAE and Florida. But we are almost always on the road visiting clients, whether they are as close as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, or as far away as South Africa or Eastern Europe.”

Talking about her speech, ‘Design around the World’ Lichi said there are many differences in people’s style preferences and some of these are unique to customers in the GCC.

“In the end, all my clients want is the same thing. A comfortable, yet elegant and beautifully put together style that they can enjoy with their families,” she said. “Clients today are looking for value, more than ever before.

But design is very important to them. Yes, they want ‘the look’ that only comes from having a professional designer, but they also want the best value. And they like to compare. My advice to them is that they shouldn’t always compare apples to apples. You can get two cars, a Toyota or a Bentley. Both are cars.

Both will take you where you want to go. But do you want basic transportation or go all out for a luxury car? A lot of people are not aware of that principle when it comes to home furnishings.

“The Middle East is one of the most exciting places to be when it comes to cutting edge design and architecture. It never ceases to amaze me.”

Lichi said after 25 years in South Florida, she began to feel things were slowing down which is why she decided to head to the Middle East and set up her company, Perla Lichi International.

“We have completed many luxury residences throughout the UAE including; The Autumn Palace, The Palm, Dubai and The Majestic Palace, Sharjah, UAE,” she added.

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