Sohail Anwer Saeed, known for his fashion infrastructure narrates his flair for fashion in an exclusive interview with Fashion Central.
Q. Tell us something about your architecture designs in Xinhua Mall and Mall 1? How are they different from the rest?
A. Both Xinhua Mall and Mall 1 are the forums for high-end fashion and entertainment. The main difference between the two is the magnitude. Xinhua Mall is an 18-storey mix-development commercial project with four levels of underground parking. It has five levels of shopping with a beautiful atrium that visually links together all the floors. It has glamorous and modern interior decorated with some vibrant colours. The interior blends art with hi-technology.
Xinhua Mall is a theme mall where the owner has been very selective about the brands to be accommodated within whereas other buildings in the city don’t usually reflect any specific theme. Their fundamental criteria is “first come, first served” irrespective of the nature of business hence no particular theme develops. Mall 1, located at Main Boulevard, Gulberg has three levels of shopping. The main chunk of the mall is occupied by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) that became catalyst to bringing together various famous brands and fashion related activities like fashion shows, exhibitions and much more.
Q. What’s your philosophy behind the designs that you create for the malls?
A. I wanted to create a building that not only fulfils the shopping needs but at the same time visiting the building should also be a joyful experience. Linear showrooms at the front quickly grasps the attention of the visitor and the shopping experience starts there and then. I wanted to make my projects a hub, so people should not leave the premises and explore the options under one roof. Since all the brands are brought together as one, people quickly find their desired item after a bit of search.
Q. How far you see your design infrastructure progressing in future?
A. Both Xinhua Mall and Mall 1 have very rapidly become fashion hubs for the city and these are the trendsetters for future buildings, particularly in Gulberg. This phenomenon has occurred due to the fast growing fashion industry, which is in demand of spaces and places to accommodate their products and activities for instance fashion shows, fashion previews, exhibitions, etc.
Q. How have you amalgamated fashion and entertainment together at Mall 1?
A. Mall 1 is the extension of the same concept as far as the space layout of the front showrooms are concerned. The building was fortunate enough to attract PFDC that became another hub of fashion activity, which attracted the fashion lovers in town, not only through its exhibits but also through its sleek and modern architectural design.
Q. Tell us something about your design philosophy in context with fashion at Xinhua Mall?
A. Xinhua Mall project right from conceiving to its becoming a reality has been a very exciting experience for me. The concept behind was to create a shopping hub that would not only be a profitable financial venture for the developer and the shop owners but also a spot where shopping should be an entertaining experience which would be done by creating an exciting ambiance and finally carefully selecting the most demanded brands. For that I must give credit to Nadim Malik for giving me a free hand in designing construction budget and Nadim Qadir for sharing his inspiring ideas that made this project an ultimate destination for fashion lovers.
Q. Were these fashion infrastructures seen before in Pakistan or are you the pioneer of bringing this architecture in the country?
A. This kind of phenomenon has never been witnessed in the country before. There have been some malls in the past but did not run successful due to an indifference towards many ground realities and the needs of the end users. Perhaps it was the right time for the right project with the right client where I was at liberty to experiment my concepts that I developed over a long period of time with experience.
Q. What’s next in your projects?
A. Now this new concept has stimulated many clients who are ready to harvest the benefits of this successful concept without any risk. Mall-94 adjacent to Mall 1 is my new upcoming project, which will be very compact but at the same time an advanced version of its predecessors. Value Heights in DHA, Lahore is also another very ambitious and futuristic project designed by myself, which would be in the market shortly. It would be the largest in the city comprising of about 700,000 square feet on three acres of land. I foresee a very flourishing market of this category of buildings in coming times.