Inside the Life of Vancouver Interior Designer Aleem Kassam | #MYMOESJuly 29, 2019
Moe’s Ambassador Aleem Kassam speaks on inspiration, what design truly means to him, and the importance of quality items.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Aleem formally began his career in Interior Design at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Following a passion that was more than simply entering an industry, he yearned for more. After his education, Aleem studied abroad, gaining a Bachelors Degree of Interior Design & Sustainable Interior Architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago He then left for the Domus Academy in Milan and soon found himself studying at Central Saint Martins in London.
He was able to reach a wide audience on From the Ground Up, a series broadcast across the world. Soon though, Aleem found himself being drawn back to Vancouver and the company he started years before, Kalu Interiors.
Aleem sat down with us to discuss the fluidity of a successful designer, his own journey, and, of course, his love for Moe’s Furniture.
Design for you doesn’t just come into your work, it comes into your lifestyle, your own home, your personal style. What makes you tick? What inspires you?
Aleem Kassam: “What makes a successful designer in any field — whether you’re working for yourself or for someone else — is how you approach it. It’s embedded into your lifestyle, you’re not checking in at 9 and checking out at 5. It’s not a desk job. It’s something that is embedded and ingrained in your lifestyle. It’s in every motion, part, and aspect of your life.
Whether it’s from travel to fashion to your own home and work, to a meal out… [Design is] something you need to be in tune with, in not only your own aesthetic and your own life but also in your aspirations. A lot of times designers get stuck in a set style in what they acknowledge themselves to appear as, whether that’s a pattern or a colour, a design, a style – a lot of times we get stuck in that image and what we want to portray. The way I’ve always approached design is that it is an evolving thing.
If you look at my stuff from several years ago, it’s a complete 180 from what I am doing today and the aesthetic I’m portraying myself as. It’s an evolution. What I get inspired by and what makes me tick and bring into and absorb into my aesthetic is everyday transitional fashion. Travel is also a huge inspiration for me with textiles and colours.
I think of travel in two spectrums: historical and projected future. When I visit a new place I really try to hone in on how that society and culture originated, where they are today and where they’re going in the future. Whether I incorporate that physically into my design or conceptually based on theory or space or other elements.
Side by side, travel and fashion are not only my favourite leisurely things to do but they’re also the source of my greatest inspiration.”
What Brought You to Moe’s?
AK: “Moe’s has really transformed over the years — I’ve seen them evolve with their aesthetic and it’s been interesting because as creative as designers want to be, we are at the mercy of our suppliers and retailers. One of the things I have always appreciated about Moe’s is the selection and range of styles — the options they have are next to none in the city. You can find anything from traditional to contemporary to transitional along with a lot of finish options and fabric customization.
By also offering pieces which are readily available or customized options catered for a specific space, this provides us with flexibility on all of our projects! So many of the times we’re at different stages in our design process, so options at this point are key.
Overall, the quality is great. They hand-select their manufacturers and suppliers across the board, whether it’s overseas or in the US. They have quality items with affordable pricing. Sometimes when the client doesn’t have the biggest budget but they want something of good quality — it can be hard to find. Moe’s fills this gap in the market.
I also always feel confident sending my clients into the Showroom, as I know that they’ll find what they need, and sometimes all I need to do is provide a style direction. The products are always thoughtfully curated, and settings presented in a manner that tells the whole story, allowing my clients to envision what might work in their own space. The showroom associates are also friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable, and this confidence is so necessary in a designer and retailer relationship.”