Mohamed Hazem: Designing Happiness
Miro Architects is dedicated to producing intelligent, beautifully crafted, and inventive interior and architectural spaces, as well as actively participating in the design of a more sustainable, inclusive, and cosmopolitan future
An Interview with Mohamed Hazem, Founder of Miro Architects
Miro Architects is dedicated to producing intelligent, beautifully crafted, and inventive interior and architectural spaces, as well as actively participating in the design of a more sustainable, inclusive, and cosmopolitan future. Leading the way in innovative design solutions, Mohamed Hazem better known as Miro, CEO and Founder of Miro Architects, established his firm in 2016, assembling a staff that "doesn't back down from a challenge;" they actually enjoy it and use their solutions to demonstrate the unfathomable depths of their knowledge and ingenuity.
Mohamed Hazem made history by being the youngest designer in the world to win the prestigious International Property Award in 2020, later on winning in the Best Architect Studio category at New York’s Luxury Lifestyle Awards in early 2021.
He Magazine had the ultimate pleasure to have an inspiring talk with Mohamed, digging deeper into his journey of success.
When talent dominates from a young age
Miro’s father was a real estate developer. So, he grew up seeing lots of constructions happening around him, but he was never satisfied with what he grew up seeing in architecture. He has always loved everything about art, including music, painting, etc., and of course architecture fascinated him since he was a kid. He went to London to study architecture, and from there, everything has changed.
“I have never put in the work to become an ‘A’ student at school. I was an average ‘B’ student and was always fine with it. Then when I studied architecture, I became inspired to become the first in my class, and since then, my education journey was different in every aspect. It consumed so much time and effort, but it was all worth it and I was happy doing it,” Miro stated.
At university, Miro used to go on trips, and worked on real projects on-ground; it did not only involve theoretical learning.
“In France, I had an interesting learning experience, and picked up on the work of some museums there.”
One of the biggest architects in the UK, Piers Gough, CZWG’s owner— a London-based architectural design practice— offered Miro a job. “This was an incredible opportunity. Finding a job in London is really hard, especially for foreigners.” But Miro’s enthusiasm and talent made them see potential in him.
“I always aimed to see the bigger picture in things,” he said. “I was excited to see the core of matters, and how they initially take place. At work, the curious attitude was not so common coming from an undergraduate, and my manager used to comment on… and what I learned there was very crucial to the person I would become.”
The world’s first youngest architect to win International Property Awards for African/Arabian Region for Architecture Single Residence
Later, Miro went back to Egypt. Once he returned, he got contacted by a friend in the hospitality business in Egypt, asking him to help in designing their family’s hotel in Aswan. “The owner was a good friend, and he offered me this opportunity to help with the project. But I wanted to take a bigger role. I knew I could do something big out of it. And indeed, I convinced his uncle (the CEO) to lead this project.”
Miro worked on this project from scratch, giving it his all, and with the first deposit he received, he hired someone to help. This was the first step to growing, and since then, he hasn’t stopped working and advancing.
He was 28 when he won the International Property Award. “This was like a dream coming true! It made me realize more that it’s never about the money you make and it’s everything that has to do with achievement that really matters.”
“Time is what you sacrifice the most for success”
Success doesn’t come easy, and everything has a price. For Mohamed, spending most of his time at work, made him sacrifice the time he could spend with friends and family.
“But you know what, by the end I realized that real friends stay”, he explained. And with that, what he was fearing to lose didn’t happen. His loved ones stayed while he was exceeding in his career.
Mohamed won Luxury Lifestyle Award in 2021. It was another amazing success; a highly recognized achievement.
“Things were happening so fast, and we were trying to cope with the speed— we still are actually. And as we structure our company, new challenges arise, but we always keep the confidence that we have the ability to overcome whatever gets in our way”.
At the time when everyone was rethinking their business operations because of the pandemic, Mohamed was lucky enough to boom
“Everything was highly affected by Covid, and some businesses have even closed, except for the construction industry,” he said. It was a period when he built “a team of family, not a team of employees.”
“Everyone here calls everyone by their names. We are family, acting as friends, listen to each other, and we support each other.”
In the beginning, Mohamed made sure to be very involved with everyone and in everything, and even as the team kept getting bigger, he is still trying to get involved as much as he can.
“It is a very harsh environment; a very intense job, a lot of deadlines. It is very challenging,” Miro said. “Dealing with big clients at a young age required a lot of effort to be put because my portfolio was still growing and I had to make extra determination to gain the confidence of clients at first. But now we came a long way that people are reaching for our name.”
“Challenges is something we enjoy and take very seriously”
One of the biggest garments manufacturing factories, Mecalex, owned by Alex Apparels, reached out to Miro Architects to design the interior and architecture of their latest factory which would produce a very empowering product that resembles their name and reflects their strength.
“It was a challenging project because of its size and function. It is the kind of work I have never done before,” he mentioned.
This project was indeed on a different scale. Miro and his team had to learn about the garments industry and understand the client and comprehend the brief of understanding certain criteria of energy flow aspects.
“The owner has a belief of how energies should flow within a space and is quite fond of this area of interest.”
Miro was afraid of how big and different this project was at first. He was working on projects within his comfort zone and was already satisfied with what he was offering until he got this opportunity; which he accepted because it is a challenge, and knowing Miro, he doesn’t walk away from challenges.
“It was a new challenge, one of its kind, and different in so many aspects…and this is what we love to do every once in a while…dealing with the new, the exciting.”
Unlike the normal procedures taken when planning for a design, in this project, people had to circulate in a certain way, in an open space with over a thousand employees enhancing it. There were a lot of machinery which involved a lot of mechanical, electronic and plumbing studies, and they still wanted to create a good-looking building, showing the garments and highlighting the overall beauty of it.
For this project, Miro Architects has been nominated for the esteemed Golden Trezzini Awards in the public building category for their renovative design work on Mecalex.
The Golden Trezzini Awards is led by one of the most esteemed museums of the world, The Guggenheim, and is judged by one of the best architects of today, Sir Norman Foster. Once again, Miro Architects got nominated for one of the biggest architecture awards, which hopefully they can add to their hall of fame.
What made this project remarkable is that Miro Architects took a different approach when dealing with the challenge faced. “We chose the strategic plan of juxtaposing the reconstructed building with contemporary components rather than entirely redeveloping it,” Miro pointed out.
Technology is key in any industry today: “What you see in Europe, you can get here”
Technology is making a difference in all industries, even in design and architecture. Some programs make designs more efficient, like Revit, or CAD previously. “Today, we use Revit, as it helps to calculate a lot of things. All the components of a project are gathered in one program. This facilitates the process and makes it more efficient. For example, when any change is made in any part, the program amends all other specs accordingly. We always try to be up to date to make the best out of our designs implementation,” he mentioned.
“Not only the BIM technology that makes the design more efficient, the integration of virtual reality in the design, which allows the people to be able to walk through the design and experience how it will be is the new revelation, that I think will make a huge difference in the upcoming years,” Miro continued.
He also spoke about another dimension, which is “automation”. Today, most homes and restaurants use this technology. “They all have automation, not just out of luxury, but to make things more efficient. This saves energy and makes life easier. Eventually, this has become an important part of what we do.”
Miro Architects is up-to-date with the world’s most advanced technology. “What you see in Europe, you can get here. We’re on the same level as the companies abroad. We import the technology at the end of the day, and the world is very open right now.”
Creativity flowing to different parts of the world
Miro Architects embraces exceptional works of arts across London, Miami, Paris, Dubai, Amman, Riyadh among other regional and international areas. Yet, Mohamed still sees a huge potential in the Egyptian market.
“Egypt is a promising market, as new cities are being built. We are living in 5% only of our land… we definitely need to expand, and the expansion taking place in Cairo is a great example. As you can see, a lot is happening here, more than anywhere else, mainly because of the population and the ongoing expansions. Enhancing that would be done by the architects; we have a big role in it. It is very exciting to work in Egypt.”
Mohamed talked to us about his latest projects, mentioning an office building in Dubai, a restaurant in one of Saudi Arabia’s commercial malls in Riyad, a mall in the New Capital City, a hospital, in addition to many other residential projects, and other projects in North Coast. On a final note, Mohamed mentioned Nabat Eats restaurant– a new concept, architecture based on technology.
“We are also building our office in London”
Miro Architects has also several offers to expand in different countries, like Australia, France, USA. And, finally, they’ve finished their office in Maadi. Its opening ceremony was on the 18th of December.
“You design for people’s needs. So human behaviour decides the trend, and we, architects, design and showcase it in a beautiful way”
Mohamed is inspired by Canadian-born American architect and designer, Frank Gehry. “He is one of the people I very much respect and look up to,” he mentioned.
“Work very hard, do not create any boundaries for your dream”
Mohamed believes that nothing is impossible, and in such an aggressive competition in the market, he advises all young architects to work very hard, and dream big without boundaries.
“And if anyone tells you that you can’t do it, you need to believe in yourself, don’t listen to anyone who makes you doubt your capabilities. If it has been done before, it could be done again,” he finished.
Art Director: Noureldin Selim
Photography: Gearbox Studios Jr
Interview by: Perihan El Etreby
Stylist: Noureen Amin
Special Thanks to: Hazem Rasmy