MEET LULIE FISHER
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Lulie was brought up in the UK in a creative family environment. Her grandmother was the first female Architect to study at the Architectural Association in London where she met Lulie's Grandfather, also an Architectural Student. Lulie grew up with a love of fashion, art, reading, architecture and design. Following her grandparents she studied Architecture at University in Liverpool and after graduating was accepted for a position as a Junior Architect at the esteemed Foster and Partners studio in London. She spent 12 amazing years there before following her dream of living in Italy where she established her own Design Studio restoring historic properties and remodeling the interiors. From her Italian Studio she started working again for Foster and Partners but this time in the field of Interior Design which she had a passion and a flair for. From there she moved to Dubai as Design Director at Aedas Interiors.
"I didn’t know much about Dubai and we didn’t know if we would like to live here as a family. This was just before the economic recession hit the country. I remember thinking that it was crowded, and you couldn’t get cabs easily, yet it looked fascinating. I immersed myself and walked around the souks, and thought we could settle here as a family and decided to give it a go for two years."
8 years later and then fast forward to 2016, she decided to again follow her heart. Lulie established her own design company, Lulie Fisher Design Studio, which she formed with some very talented and like minded designers.
"I started the firm out of my villa in Umm Suqueim along with Mentalla Said, my former colleague from Aedas. We were lucky as we found some great clients in the beginning; we worked on projects which got realised quickly.
I’ve been in the region for a long time, so I knew a lot of people. I found that being a small company, people actually respond to you in a different way. People like underdogs. They relate to you differently even though I was the same person who had worked with them in a different capacity when I was in a corporate set-up."
Lets start with, if you were a movie, what is your story?
Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I am nosy by nature and like to invent stories and scenarios. I also often get the wrong end of the stick!
What has been your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?
Making a speech at the royal opening ceremony of the London School of Economics Library (I had to stand in for Norman Foster on short notice and I was terrified). I steadied my nerves with a glass of champagne!
How would you define your design style? What do you think has shaped the way you design?
My design style is eclectic - sometimes quirky and colourful, sometimes paired down and elegant, depending on the nature of the project but always as a response to how the spaces will be used and enjoyed. Travel, reading, fashion and awareness shape the way I see things and design things.
As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to other young designers who want to have something of their own one day?
Be prepared for sleepless nights and a lot of hard work but hopefully it will be worth it. It’s a bit of a mountain to climb. The first challenge was to find a client. We knew a lot of people, but we didn’t have any projects in the bag. Everyone told me I was mad to start on my own without any projects in hand. I didn’t even know what exactly I wanted to do. I wanted to do some jewelry design, furniture and interiors among others. Reality hit me a bit later that I needed to earn also.
Top 5 favourite designers / architects
Name a mentor or someone who impacted your career and life. And how?
David Nelson, Head of Design at Foster and Partners who taught by example – he showed me amazing design, humour, humility and how to handle clients so they didn’t even know they were being handled!
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Bringing up my daughter Lily who is now at Film School in London
Talk about a time you failed at something or thought you did and how it molded you in some way.
I have had a presentation that has gone particularly badly. After you’ve done the post mortem and got it out of your system, you become more resilient.
A quote you live by…
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The hardest part of your job is….
The part of the design process you love most.
The Concept phase
"I’m 100% hands-on with my projects. I do the sketching, presentation, selecting furniture and hand-holding. Clients like that personal touch."
The part of the design process you least like.
Doing the specifications (I don’t do them actually – the team does but I feel their pain)
Do you have a dream project? What is it?
Art Gallery or Museum
Is there something you would do differently if you ran a design school? What do you think there should be more emphasis of in design schools?
Hand drawing and sketching. There is too much emphasis on designing by computer.
If there is one thing you want people to know or be inspired by from your story – what is it?
There is nothing remarkable about my “story” – just hard work and dedication that everyone has the capacity for.
Are there any other outlets you express creativity? How did that come about?
Cooking because I love food.
What makes you happy?
Floating in the sea.
What is your morning routine before you start working?
A cup of tea and brown toast with marmite.
What music do you listen to when you design (if you do, that is)
In the Studio we don’t listen to music as we all have different tastes but at home I blast out the Smiths.
If not architecture and interior design, what do you think you would have chosen to do? Why?
Jewelry or Fashion Design because I love both.
What is an important lesson you’ve learnt over the years as a designer that you would like to share with other designers?
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Lulie acknowledges that as a small firm there is a lot of things that need to be done. Fisher spends a lot of time doing admin work, and churning out fee proposals at night.
"You have to write your minutes of the meeting, empty your rubbish bins and clean your own office. Organising payments and bills are a few of those things that you wouldn’t think about if you work for a big company. It’s been an amazing learning curve, challenging yet exhilarating. It’s lovely being in-charge of your own destiny — it’s fulfilling."