The A List

Kristina Zanic: Artful Designs

Travel the world through the eyes of Kristina Zanic, favoring an aesthetic with an eclectic taste and seeking pieces off the beaten track. In a mission to create uplifting spaces, the interior designer ventured into territories as diverse as Europe, India, Africa, and the Middle East, incorporating part of each country's culture in her design vision.

Kristina Zanic
Kristina Zanic
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah

Kristina Zanic is an established name within the interior design scene and has been venturing into this world for 35 years, emerging for her strong design experience with projects developed in over 20 countries.

Her eye-catching designs, relentless enthusiasm, and personalized service have won the company a variety of prestigious projects in Europe, India, Africa, and the Middle East. Her focus developed on hospitality, working on some of the most prestigious and refined hotels and restaurants.

Her stylistic references range from the Art Deco world to some pop culture references however, the main element protagonist is nature, incorporated in every projects she chooses to develop.​

Join Artemest's conversation with Kristina and learn about sustainable designs at the forefront of this new era of design, new trends and her dream project.

You enjoy working on different projects for different reasons -it’s always very rewarding when everything comes together.

Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah

How did you first become involved in the world of design? Tell us your story.

Growing up, I was always very creative and loved crafting and sketching. I was also influenced by my older sister Marija who is an architect to pursue a career in design. My parents, who managed their own market garden in South Australia, instilled in me a very strong work ethic and a value for education.

I was accepted into a university which had a Bachelor of design in Human Environments course which is similar to interior architecture. My first year was broad where we got an opportunity to try out different disciplines in design and see where our path took us, I was strongly encouraged to specialise in the field of interiors, which I did.

After graduating, I worked for a few years in Australia and then moved to the UK where I was lucky to take on some big projects at a young age. Encouraged by my success and full of youthful confidence I had an opportunity to go to Thailand and after just one year there I decided to set up my own firm in Bangkok, where I then spent almost 20 years. That was also the start of the design firm DWP, which I helped lead and grow and then moved to Bahrain to lead the business in the region.

In 2012, I wanted a change and set up my own boutique studio in Dubai – Kristina Zanic Consultants. It was primarily to offer a more personalised service to clients. Ten years on, my team and I are very much where we want to be, designing incredible projects and working with clients that we’ve known for years.

Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah
Pierre Gaganire's Bistrot
Pierre Gaganire's Bistrot

How would you describe your personal style and what’s the personal signature that makes your projects unique?

My personal style at home is very eclectic. I love art, colour, antique pieces and neutral bases. Keeping things simple yet stylish. . I’m big on travel - I’ve been to over 70 countries - and love to collect interesting pieces from my travels. I’m a keen collector of art and always emphasize the role of art in interiors.

As a company I wouldn’t say that we have a distinct look or style that we’re known for. As a design firm, we cater our designs to suit different client and project requirements. We’re also a fairly large and diverse design team bringing a variety of styles to the table. Sometimes we’re low-key, sometimes dramatic. It’s never about us as designers, but always about the user of the space and meeting the client’s vision for the project.

I will say however that there is an overarching design approach to what we do, which is to keep things simple, honest, timeless and practical. We try to create uplifting spaces that speak of the location and the people connected to them.

Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaimah

Are there any specific trends that you’re currently blending in your practice?

I think trends come and go and whilst we need to be at the forefront of design we need to look at creating longevity of design for our projects so they are everlasting. It’s important to consider various factors that influence the design, the location, the people, culture and history. If we can look at these elements in a creative way to make a more modern approach to what we do makes the project more successful.

Where do you draw inspiration for your projects?

The inspiration for a project’s interiors can come from many things…. your visit to the project site, discussions with the client, or thinking about the end-user. Often, the story comes from the geographical, cultural or historical context of the project. It can be inspired by the art or fashion of a place or even its topography. And of course, the architectural style of the building always plays a key role in determining our design direction.

Remember also that design is a very collaborative process, and we get to bounce lots of ideas off each other amongst the design team and the clients and hotel operators we work with. That creative chaos starts to take a more defined and cohesive form, and the outcome is a blend of those different viewpoints and skills. That’s how every design ends up being unique.

We’re also lucky to be working on such a wide variety of projects, in terms of the type of project and its function, its location, the client we’re working with, the intended users of the space…all of this keeps things fresh and exciting for us designers.

Pierre Gagnare's Bistrot
Pierre Gagnare's Bistrot
St Regis Kuwait
St Regis Kuwait

What’s the decorative piece you enjoy selecting for your clients and why?

Art. I think art can centre a space, give emotion and create a talking point particularly if it’s a statement piece. I think art is many times overlooked or not considered at all from the onset of a project and I like it when we have the opportunity to pick the right piece for a space.

In a hyper-digital world, do you often turn to social media for inspiration? If yes, which is the social media platform you use and why?

I guess I use Instagram most of all …it’s a great tool to connect with people, designers, artists and so much more.

What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one project as I have so many that I am proud of for different reasons. You enjoy working on different projects for different reasons - whether it’s the type and style of project or just the experience with the client and suppliers, or the problems-solving aspect of it… it’s always very rewarding when everything comes together.

Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaiman
Ritz Carlton Wadi Ras al Khaiman

What would be your dream project to work on?

I do think about this often. It used to be a safari lodge and we just completed one which was really great. I think it would be amazing to work on an ice hotel or maybe something on the moon? Why not?

What do you think it’s going to be the next big trend in interior design?

I think more and more sustainable design will be at the forefront. I feel all design disciplines will collaborate more, fashion/industrial/fine arts with a focus on lifestyle. However, everyone is looking at the Metaverse and what we can create there, which is actually simpler to achieve than in reality.

Do you have an interior design master that you look up to?

I have various inspirations and I particularly like the work of India Madhavi. Her bold approach to interiors is quirky, eclectic and well thought out. Design is sometimes serious but we need to ensure we keep it fun as well.

What epoque inspires you the most in terms of aesthetic?

I really like the Art Deco style for details to be used as inspiration. However, the Pop art movement was quite revolutionary with simple bold colours and prints. There is so much inspiration for designers in all eras. Today, I like to keep things more natural and simple, modern with a twist and being more inspired by nature.

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