The Gabriel hotel in Cairo
Soufraki developed the name and overall design of the hotel, choosing every detail from the bathrobes down to the cutlery. The Gabriel opened in 2012 and has since amassed several awards, including one for high-end design from the World Luxury Hotel awards. “The challenges I had working in Cairo were definitely unique,” he says. “I was trying to source a carpenter and went to meet one in Maadi [district]. We sat with his family and my driver drinking tea and a lamb and baby camel went by. I thought, this would never happen in London.” The fall in tourism amid fears about security has had a devastating impact on the hotel sector in Egypt. While Soufraki still maintains managerial control over the Gabriel, he is hoping to expand on his interior design ambitions instead. “I never did a degree in interior design, it was more a passion I had,” he says.
His enthusiasm began during his student years, when he showed more interest in art than his business degree. He would also design the show flats for his father’s residential projects in London, which would be the first ones to sell. “That was when my passion started and my apartment was featured in the 25 most beautiful apartments by Tatler,” he says. But while the economy is suffering, the well-heeled still have cash to spend. Soufraki is planning to have showrooms in both Cairo and London, which he plans to finish by September. The eponymous Nuaman Soufraki Interiors aims to add his personal touch to designs. “People will hopefully hire me for a particular lifestyle that I sell,” he says. “My inspirations come from everywhere—travel, magazines, places I stay. I cannot sleep at night sometimes if I start thinking about designs.”
“I was a bit of a rebel as a teenager. I paved the way for the rest of my siblings”
2016 MAY / JUNE