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Dara Shashoua

Dara Shashoua: A Passion is Born

Dara’s enthusiasm for her industry and Byzantine Design’s boutique product collections, within an industry not well known for its approachability, is refreshing. It has been her energy and authenticity, in addition to Dara’s passion for interior design, which have drawn both repeat clients and covetable suppliers to her doors. Dara is a design force to be reckoned with, with her company evolving into a design destination for exclusive product, outstanding product knowledge and opportunity to tap into Dara’s expertise.

Dara’s fascination with the unique qualities of stone started as a child after a family holiday to Queensland where a small bag of gemstones were purchased with pocket money, ‘I looked at those stones most days of my life, up to the later teenage years’ Dara states. Having also studied Ancient History and Archaeology at school cemented her interest in ‘old stuff’ she says.

Over twelve years ago marked the start of her career within the tile and stone industry. A keen interest in Interior Design lead her to work in her first tile store whilst studying Interior Design and specialising in bathroom design. Dara Shashoua recalls a fellow co-worker telling her ‘once you start in this industry you’ll never leave’. A slight giggle was the response to this sage piece of advice at the time.

Today Dara still designs some bathroom project commissions upon request, but her real passion is for working with exquisite products and enabling other designers to fulfill their design vision, with using bespoke finishes, layering textures and colour and working with new materials.

 

Mars and Venus

 

Dara recognises that at this stage of her career, the industry is still largely a male domain, however she believes her gender gives her an advantage. Throughout her career, Dara observed that while men were very technically focused and great at managing tradies involved in project work, many were less creative. She noted that women starting within the industry were generally wanting to be designers or studying. The perception was that working in a tile supply organisation was their entrée into the industry, and they were therefore able to offer qualified insights to clients. Dara notes that most designers in the industry are women, so she understands them and can visualise what they are trying to achieve.

Dara’s qualifications as an interior designer, rather than simply a distributor, means that her expertise is often called on. She works closely with her suppliers to interpret international trends. She provides advice on what will be commercially viable and she loves being involved with new products. She enthuses, “I have a new Northern Italian limestone arriving soon which will be my first exclusive product which is very exciting. There are times when I see something and can't wait to try and use it somewhere”.

Dara is always keen to share her industry knowledge and observations, including the latest trends for bathroom and outdoor spaces. Here she shares some insights;

 

Bathroom Trends

Dara has seen the evolution of the bathroom becoming more of a retreat, a haven like a day spa. “Several years ago people began investing more money into bathrooms and restaurant and clubs were making them 'cooler' which I believe transferred into the home renovation market. 

People can put their own personality into a bathroom, more so than a kitchen. Kitchens are larger and more visible and tend to be a lot safer in design. Powder rooms and ensuites are generally where people make a bathroom more of a sanctuary. Perhaps as an antidote to the pressures of today, there is a desire to be able to switch off, have a bath, watch TV or listen to music”.

 

Paving trends 

The outdoor market is another area in which Byzantine Designs are making their mark. “People tend to prefer stone for outdoor areas, however slipperiness is an issue. I have heard many horror stories of people being sold stone that is not fit for purpose for outside and children constantly slip over. Stone is so beautiful, it really ages well as opposed to concrete products which will either fade or lose their finish over time.

Tumbled finishes remain my favourite, however I do notice that the trend is heading back to slate, which I also love. The benefit of using stone is that it can be molded to create bespoke finishes for edging such as bullnoses, while sandstone can be carved on site to match. You can't do that with porcelain or concrete”.