We sat and talked with our talents

Ever wondered what it’s like to work at Da Fonseca Design? We interviewed some members of our creative team to get an insight into their daily lives, and find out what goes on at our Dubai headquarters. Read on for the five minute excerpts to see what happened when we caught up with our luxury design professionals.

 Payal Thawkani – Interior Architect

Payal Thakanwi

What is your first memory of your interest in design?

Mine came quite late, I had a project in university which always stays in my mind. It was my first independent design project; a residential seaside villa in the Maldives. It was really creative and stimulated my mind, and I realised this is what I really wanted to do.

What’s your favourite country that has influenced your design process and why?

During university I visited Florence and Rome, the Italian architecture was just beautiful and also formed the initial desire to learn about design.

Describe a typical day.

I wake up at 5.00, I have a cup of coffee, and then go to the gym. A typical day at work starts with checking emails and making checklists to organize my day . My day can include site visits, supplier visits, viewing new products and services, choosing fabrics, lights, furniture, drawings, elevations mood boards and presentations.  I go to the gym again in the evening, and then go home to my favourite part of the day where I play with my niece and nephew and then have dinner.

Name two challenges you have to regularly overcome.

People’s budget – not their financial capacity but their perception of value – which is different in the Middle East to European clients. In the Middle East people also have their own style in their mind and are not ready to experiment fully which can hinder creativity.

What would be my dream design project?

Design a restaurant, as I love food!


Artemio Valle – Architect

Artemio ValleWhat is your first memory of your interest in design/architecture?

As a child I loved to sketch designs, I started with self-portraits, and then in 11th grade I used to enter a competition for drawing, mostly based around nutrition, science and technology.  In college I was always in the top three competitions for design. I love architecture because you get to see your drawings come to life.

Describe your design style in three words.

Contemporary, luxury, urban.

What is the one characteristic you think every designer should possess?


Describe a typical day.

I wake up at 6.00am take a bath and ride the metro at 7.00am to get to the office.  I have a banana and water for breakfast and coffee if in need and feel tired from the day before!

I have been given a chance to make my own designs and suggest fresh ideas at Da Fonseca. Every day I am sketching, researching, using AutoCAD and 3D software. When I finish work I am also mentoring other professionals for their review for the Board Exam for Licence for Architects. Four times a week I teach up to 70 students so I am very busy!

What would be my dream design project?

A multi-use development as it would be a huge challenge.

Juhi Sharma – Interior Architect

Pink Palace indiaJuhi Sharma
What is your first memory of your interest in design?

Touring the palaces of India. They had many different kinds, with mirrors, lakes, and skeleton palaces; there was one called Cloud Palace, up in the mountains surrounded by mesmerising clouds. They fascinated me the way they were designed for the Empire at that time, demonstrating history and culture which I love.

Describe your personal design style in three words.

Eccentric, colourful and contemporary.

Describe a typical day.

I wake up 6.30 and I plan my wardrobe. I find the brightest colour that I can wear on that day! On a day with a scheduled client visit I select my clothes according to the design of the building, such as the colours we are using so we are in synergy. Fashion is an important part of my life as well as interior design.

I arrive to work and organize my plan for the day, using checklists. I review design trends and news, to keep up to date which keeps me inspired and energized about the creative scene.

As an Interior Architect my day can be hugely varied from brainstorming sessions, design work and technical drawings to site visits, client visits and supplier meetings.

What would be your dream design project?

A penthouse in New York on the Upper East Side.

Take a look at our other journals which describe the exciting goings-on here at Da Fonseca.