Kasun Illankoon spoke to Aziz Zacca, Founder and Managing Partner at Indoors High End Finishing to discuss about the ever evolving fit-out industry, their latest projects, the usage of technology and digital transformation, and so much more.
Aziz Zacca graduated with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the prestigious American University of Beirut (AUB), which consistently ranks amongst the top engineering schools both regionally & globally. Established in 2010 with Zacca at the helm since its inception, Indoors High-End Finishing boasts more than 20 years of experience in construction, project management, and interior fit-outs in the UAE and Lebanon. Zacca has become synonymous with exceptional high-end design works and fit-out projects – curating and executing spaces with the utmost care, precision, and taste. For the past 20 years, he has offered his roster of high-profile clients an environment they can truly cherish and enjoy and is constantly innovating new techniques and designs to remain ahead of the curve.
How do you see the fit-out industry evolving?
The market for fit-out has been booming and growing with increasing intensity. This market has grown substantially specifically in GCC countries due to government investment and the presence of spectacular monuments in the region. Clients are currently looking for a personalized service and a one stop shop for all their fit-out and renovation requirements. The more practical it is for them, the better! Turnkey project is the new way of catering to a client’s needs; Having one team take care of everything from A to Z starting from the design all the way to the fit out.
What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the fit-out and design industry in the region over the next 5 years?
The Global Fit-out Market is changing with changing living standards, dynamic social environments, and growing economies. I believe that Numerous technologies such as virtual designing, 3-D rendering techniques, and others are becoming significant in the future of the fit-out and design industry. The Fit-out Market is adapting to digital solutions to enhance the quality of services and products to be delivered to the client in a fixed timeline. This way customers can visually experience their project and products which will enhance the selection process before it comes to life and make necessary changes. Thus, the penetration of advanced technology in the Fit-out Market is one of the most significant trends for raising the market revenue.
What kind of trends and tendencies do you see in the UAE fit-out market with digital transformation?
I believe the high cost associated with the fit-out technologies and solutions limits the market growth. Thus, contractors are focusing on providing modern technology fit-outs rather than digital transformation to cut down the expensive cost while maintaining high finishing standards. Clients have recently been integrating more technology into their spaces. Built-in sound systems, lighting systems, CCTV and home automation systems are very much in demand at the moment. With so much data emerging, designers and contractors can think more critically about how space is used and pursue bold new ways forward without the guesswork.
In terms of technology, are there any particular technologies that you are working that we should be aware of, but are currently under the radar?
Again, Home automation is the big craze now. The future of fit-outs includes remote monitoring, 3D visualization and augmented and virtual reality. Some of the latest tech tools include smart badging data, wireless access points, network login data, phone apps and sensors. Clients are adapting more to interacting with the space and with each other within it.
We are also noticing big innovations in the lighting industry. Smart Lights for instance allow you to connect bulbs to mobile devices through Bluetooth. Mobile apps are then used to control them. These smart lights can perform a variety of tasks depending on the bulb. The demand for these smart light bulbs is increasing due to their energy management, convenience, and safety. Another one would be advancements of LED technology. The Department is making huge steps towards more efficient and longer lasting LED lights to reduce lighting consumption by half, and even be a solution to climate change. Costs of LED lights are soon expected to fall as LED advances and become more common thus making them more affordable to consumers. Finally, high-efficiency ballasts are making life more efficient. Manufacturers are trying to maximize the energy savings and make ballasts more energy efficient.
What have been your key milestones and projects at Indoors High End Finishing?
As a fit out or contracting company, you are always growing. There are always more projects to undertake which is why project management is a huge part of a job, and without the proper organization, projects fall apart. The challenge is to balance growth and work quality as more doesn’t necessarily always mean better. The key elements to keep this balance is having a process for onboarding clients, decision making and project communication. Researching lead times on materials, establishing deadlines and accountability, being properly staffed, and having a highly organized back office. This is what we focus on at Indoors finishing. One of our pillar principals is to deliver high end quality work. Therefore we formed the company in the first place as we realized that there were very few fit out companies producing high quality work.
We have worked on several residential, retail and commercial projects. Villas, Offices, Apartments, Galleries and Restaurants but I think the ones that stand out are the more original and iconic ones such as Sacha Jafri’s art studios in Al Quoz and DUQE Free Zone premises on the QE2 Ship with all the history that comes with it!
Can you talk about the projects you are currently working on?
We are currently undertaking several projects, some of the notable ones are phase II of the DUQE Free zone on the QE2 ship and an exciting new project in the Royal Atlantis Hotel, which will surely become amongst the most famous and luxurious hotels in the world.
Over the past 10 years you must have seen a wide range of trends come and go, which trends were particularly memorable in your industry, and did you embrace them or let them pass you by?
Trends are exactly that, limited in time. Over the years, we have indeed seen many come and go, specifically when it comes to preferred interior colors, materials and fabrics. Our job is to follow our clients taste and requirements in order to provide them with the outcome they are expecting and better. Some of our trendier clients tend to re-do their fit outs as trends change.
What can you tell us about your plans for the growth of Indoors High End Finishing in the future?
Our values are built around 2 pillars: Quality Work and Honesty, which are the two traits we found are most valued and considered when selecting fit out contractors. We aim to continue to invest in the best craftsmen in the industry and continue to be transparent with our clients. This is vital to us as most of our projects come through our referrals. Throughout the years, our customers have had great experiences with us hence referring us to colleagues, friends and family keeping our pipeline of projects quite full.