Hazem K. Aljesr spent his earlier years in Lebanon, where he was born, and Saudi Arabia where he was brought up. Starting his career at Tom Dixon Design studios in London, which is a design and manufacturing company of lighting and furniture, Hazem gained experience in the world of high-end design.
After gaining extensive experience, he felt confident enough to return to the Middle East in 2006 and open his very own branding, web and design firm, Zoom Creative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Under the umbrella of Zoom Creative, in 2008, Hazem launched Cities – Design and Lifestyle Store, in Centria Mall, Riyadh. Cities has been a great success in introducing to the country the latest in modern and avant-garde home accessories’ designs from around the world.
“We wanted the store to be a place where, if you’re bored on the weekend, you can come, browse and see what’s on offer,” explains the founder and owner of Cities, Hazem Aljesr.
The main concept of the store, says Aljesr, is for it to be versatile and ever-changing. The pieces on display now might not necessarily be in the same place a month from now. “Everything is on wheels,” he says, pointing to the bottom of the stands. “So we try to change everything at least every month. You come in and think it’s a different store, but actually we’ve just moved the furniture.”
Walking through the store, it’s obvious that Aljesr has created a carefully curated selection of pieces from a variety of designers. “We cover all price ranges,” he says. “And we cover a lot of Middle East designers who are up-and-coming, as well as a lot of other artists and designers from different parts of the world.”
The pieces around the store range from giant ceramic apples by the Brazilian-German duo Bull & Stein to plush chairs by the Lebanon-based Bokja, which are pieced together using materials hand-picked from the Silk Road.
In a store so diverse, it’s difficult not to feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Every item seems to have its own story, and when asked which is his favourite, Aljesr finds it difficult at first to pinpoint one. Eventually, he identifies a sculpture of a pair of very large red trousers by the French artist Richard Orlinski. “They’re quite interesting,” he says, smiling. “They’re art pieces really. And now Orlinski is becoming very big in Japan and in the [United] States. The gallery has stopped sending us large quantities of his work because they’re not being given enough time to create them.” While it’s not entirely clear where one would place a sculpture like this in their home, it’s certainly a conversation starter.
Source – The National