Bringing art to your home

Samar Habayeb is the founder of the region’s first fine porcelain brand, Silsal Design House.


From casual dinnerware to wedding gifts and decorative home accessories to stylish storage, the brand revives precious artistic moments from the Islamic world’s past, reinventing them onto tableware.

Her products are stocked in over 45 outlets across six countries and has collaborated with international partner organizations, such as Emirates Airlines. Below she talks us through her career and shares advice for those who want to do the same.


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What was your favourite subject in school?


What was your first job?

I interned at an architectural firm in Boston, called Kao Design Group.

What inspired Sisal?

The Silsal story began in Jordan back in 1989, when my mother and aunt launched Silsal Ceramics, as a way of reviving the country’s dying pottery tradition. After they retired, Silsal Ceramics closed and a year or so later I picked up the torch, launching Silsal Design House, which was heavily inspired by Silsal Ceramics, but with a brand new focus and ethos: affordability, quality and scalability. I was inspired by the need for beautifully designed homeware that was affordable and accessible. I was also dedicated to creating pieces that were specifically crafted for the Middle Eastern market and inspired by the Arab and Islamic worlds. The Middle East is a land of contrasts, one where ancient heritage and modern culture sit side-by-side. With every collection, we hope to preserve time-honoured traditions, breathing new life into them and reimagining them through the frame of modernity, and in the process creating something new and beautiful we all can enjoy.


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What are the key elements of your role?

At Silsal I oversee everything from the initial stages of the design process, right through to accounting, customer service and operations..

Talk us through your daily routine.

I wake up at around 6am every morning, and get the kids ready for school and nursery. After I’ve dropped them off I head to the Silsal office in Dubai Design District. At work no two days are the same, and no day goes as planned, since there are always ‘unexpected’ tasks that pop-up. Generally, I divide my workday into five parts, allocating one part to a different department, depending on where and when I’m needed the most. Of course two of those five parts go towards my job as CEO and focusing on the bigger picture of what’s next for Silsal. So, I’ll spend some of the day focused on tiny (but important) details, like the thickness of the ribbons for our newly launched gift boxes, and other parts of the day working on large-scale tasks, like our sales strategy and hiring practices. I tend to leave work around 6pm and head home to check the kid’s homework. Once that’s out of the way, we spend some time playing or reading together before bed. Once the kids are settled, I’ll either check my emails, read whatever non-fiction book I have on the go, or enjoy some quiet me-time.


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What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

First and foremost, make sure you love, and believe in, what you do, because when the going gets tough, it’s going to be the only thing that keeps you going. For a long time, you’re going to have to be your own cheerleader. So, you have to believe in yourself and your products. Also, it’s really important to surround yourself with people who lift you up. Finally, ladies, learn to shout about your successes, as women, we don’t do it enough. 

Which brands can we find in your work wardrobe?

While I am not brand-focused, I gravitate towards labels like Zara and Tod’s. I tend to choose clothes that are elegant yet functional and put together outfits that can take me effortlessly from work to dinner at a lovely restaurant.


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What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Adjust and adapt. I read it in an article and realised that was exactly the mind-set I needed to have.

And what is the worst?

To hire based on education level.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

When my Mother and Aunt decided to close Silsal Ceramics in Jordan, I decided to launch Silsal Design House in Dubai. Despite the shared name, it was a brand new company with a brand new focus and product offering, so it was very difficult starting over from scratch in a new country with new laws and regulations.

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