10 Minutes With Zainab Alsalih

The founder of Dubai-based event company, Carousel, opens up about wedding planning, the challenges of COVID-19 and her new interiors venture, Carousel Casa.

1. Please tell us why you started Carousel Weddings.

I have always loved making people happy. There’s something deeply gratifying about bringing people joy. I always knew that whatever I did, it needed to give me the opportunity to make people happy, and have a positive impact on people’s lives. With time, I also began to better understand and appreciate my strengths: a creative flair, a gift for communicating, and an almost obsessive attention to detail.

I was also lucky to have people around me who recognized these talents in me, and encouraged me to develop them. I find it interesting how we can look at ourselves from within and not recognize some of our gifts, and it often takes someone on the outside looking in to help us recognize and appreciate our own strengths. My husband, my friends, my mother – all of them played a key role in encouraging me to do what I am doing today.

I started Carousel back in 2008, but I did not start out with a clear path of how to get to where I am today. I love the saying, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” so it was not so much about having a plan, as much as it was about the way I did things. It’s more my attitude towards what I do, how I do it, and who I do it for. It was never about me, and always about my brides. Looking back, I can now “connect the dots,” as Steve Jobs once said, and recognize the path that brought to where I am.

2. As a wedding planner, what are your favourite wedding favour ideas?

While wedding favors are optional and not a must for every wedding, they are a fun way to add elements of personalization and help differentiate a wedding and make it more memorable. As more and more couples grow concerned with the idea of not being wasteful, the need for more sustainable and functional favors is on the rise, which is why we always look into sourcing gifts that the guests will be able to use and treasure. Personally, I love Silsal’s mini vases, scented candles and trinket trays.

3. You recently launched Carousel Casa. How did that come about, and what is your focus with Carousel Casa?

Naturally, due to the nature of the shutdowns caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the wedding and events industry was one of the hardest hit, as everything came to a screeching halt overnight. Most of our weddings and events were canceled and anything in the pipeline was put on hold. With the uncertainty, most people decided to putt their lives and planning on hold. As it became clear that we are not going back to “normal” anytime soon, I recognized that we had to adapt to these uncertain times, and be able to reinvent ourselves. Then, came the idea of Carousel Casa.

Of course, celebrating life beautifully has always been at the heart of everything we do at Carousel, and we have spent the last 10 years creating stunning events to help people elegantly celebrate the most significant milestones of their lives. Now with Carousel Casa, we will apply that same creativity and experience to helping people celebrate their everyday life with style and beauty. Now more than ever, there is a deep appreciation for the things that really count: family, home, comfort and health.

Whether it’s for those special occasions or weekly floral arrangements, Carousel Casa can design and curate stunning florals and plants to enhance the beauty of your home and bring the outdoors in.

We also help curate and design entertaining collections Including dinnerware, glassware, table decor, service ware, crystal heirlooms, silverware and kitchen equipment for everyday use, or special occasions. We also want to add a touch of comfort and luxury to your living environment, including bedding and bath linens, table linens, hosting essentials, curated home scents and unique and functional accessories from all over the world. 

4. Where does your passion for home curation come from?

To me, true and meaningful luxury must be lived every day, and I have always focused on creating beautiful living environments. Spending time with family, cooking, baking and gardening are all things that I love to do. When I started designing weddings and events, I applied that same design ethos, to create events that were not only aesthetically beautiful, but that were also meaningful and comfortable, and that allowed the families to celebrate their joy together, in beautiful surroundings. So for me, my passion for design and creativity started at home.

5. How do you start a Carousel Casa project? What are the steps from the original request to the final concept?

We always start by asking our client’s a simple, but deeply meaningful, question: What does a perfect day at home feel like? We first have to understand our clients’ needs and wants, and we do that by asking a lot of questions. We want to understand how they utilise their home and how they intend to live in it, what their priorities are and what they envision their life looking like. We then ask them to put together a mood board of everything they like – whether it’s fashion, jewellery, architecture, travel destinations or favourite places, to help us understand their style and what they love. Then, we work to create the initial design direction.

Every project starts with a deeply creative process, and then evolves into the more technical design process: layouts, elevations, renderings, furniture and material specifications.

6. What do you believe makes a truly beautiful home?

The joy you share and the memories you create with your family. No question about it. A home is a stage to the theatre of life, and we want to create a beautiful stage, to allow our clients to live a beautiful life.

7. What space/place forever changed your way of working and outlook on home design?

Italy. The Italian lifestyle has always inspired me. Especially, the simple beauty, the inherent quality, the authenticity, the history, and the connection of the people to the place, and to each other.

8. What tips would you give to people looking to give their home a refresh?

Start with a vision of what you want your house to look like, and more importantly, to feel like. Develop a mood board, with pictures and images of things you love, and then, and perhaps most importantly, personalize it. It’s not only how it looks, but more importantly, what it means and how it makes people feel when they step into your home.

9. What will the living spaces of tomorrow look like?

Functional, comfortable yet beautiful. People want to be able to “live” in their homes and surround themselves with everything they need to make their lives as comfortable as possible, but they would want to do it in style. There will also be a focus on health and your home will need to be designed in a way to promote healthy living, sleeping well, eating well and exercising.

10. Can you share advice for people looking to inject some personality into their home, while still keeping it looking and feeling cohesive?

Personalization is the ultimate luxury, and I am a big fan of injecting personality into your home. In doing so, you must focus on decorating your home with objects that tell your story. In our home, all of our paintings, accessories and objects have a story and a meaning behind them. Whether precious gifts for special occasions, things we have curated over the years, or that we have collected from our travels.

11. What are the entertaining essentials everyone should have in their home?

Beautiful table tops: dinnerware, flatware, napkins and glasses.

12. How do you combine beauty and function?

By investing in high quality materials. When designing and decorating your home, always make sure that you opt for the best quality. I am also a big supporter of the “less is more” moto and sometimes simple and functional designs, when done well, add so much beauty and richness to your home.

13. What inspires you?

I am always inspired by my clients – their joy, their excitement, their hope for the future, their love. This is what truly continues to inspire me and make what I do so meaningful and gratifying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles