Article Writed by Olga de Benoist for the project:
“People and the City. Literature, photography & travel”
Hello Nour! Thank you for participating in my project “People and the City”. Let’s start from the very beginning. Can you please describe yourself just in a few words?
Hi Olga! Thanks for inviting me to participate in your project, it sounds so cool!
In a few words, I would describe myself as a global citizen always longing for learning new things! I am also a design entrepreneur and a business consultant aiming to help business owners by sharing with them my passion for visual aesthetics.
Great! Nour, today I would like to speak about your career as a businesswoman, a graphic designer, and an artist. It’s always exciting for me to see how people manage to succeed in their lives and discover how everything started for them. So, by the way, how did you decide to become a graphic designer?
I thank my father who was an architect and my mother who doodles perfectly well while on the phone with her friends! 🙂
As a teen I used to paint, draw and also express my emotions through music. I dreamed of becoming an artist. Also, I was always curious about business intelligence.
With time, I discovered that graphic design and branding are one of the most invaluable tools for companies to boost their business and reach a higher potential.
Tell us a little bit about your home country and how your origin influenced your tastes and your career choice?
Well, I would say, I am so lucky because of having several home countries. My parents are Lebanese-Syrian, they were expats in the UAE. As for me, I was born and raised in Abu-Dhabi, and at the age of nineteen, I moved to Paris.
I was growing with more than a hundred of different nationalities, that made me more open-minded, curious to learn more about other cultures, ready to listen, analyze and appreciate the diversity.
For me, being specialized in industrial and graphic design, was the way to develop this natural curiosity for cultures and taught me to always think outside the box. For every single project, I am trying to jump in with both feet into multicultural worlds.
“Today, many companies need to change their visual identity and way of working to adapt themselves to the new world. They need someone who will personally accompany them in that change. This position doesn’t really exist in traditional advertising or marketing agencies. And that’s what I am aiming to do.”Nour Ezzedeen
How did you decide to move to France? Paris is surely the Mecca of artists. But why this city, not, for example, New York or London?
Why Paris? Well, probably because I adore the beauty of this city and its history. Also, I desired to learn more about communication and making market products and services in a refined and high-end style, in a true French manner.
You were born in Abu-Dhabi, then you moved to France, have been working on lots of exciting projects. You are beautiful, young and today it’s you who choose your projects and who decide on what your life should look like. But perhaps it wasn’t always so. How did you start your career?
Thank you, Olga, for these kind words. I had the opportunity to start my career in a printing company which was more than just a printing company. We worked with top luxury clients and partners from all over the world. Innovation and collaboration were our major ways of thriving. Not only my first manager taught me technical skills but also transferred to me true professional values, that helped me grow professionally during my whole career. He is still mentoring me today.
Where did you study?
I obtained my Master’s from CREAPOLE – Ecole Supérieure de Design Industriel – the school of creation management based in Paris.
Once you told me about your graduation project. You even received an award. It influenced a lot your career…
Yes, I did receive an Award for my Master’s project. In fact, I created the concept ‘Black Essence for Dame Vivienne Westwood’.
It was an esoteric flower shop composed of only black flower arrangement and offering an haute-couture style. All flower arrangements are designed and decorated with elements of Westwood’s collection.
So interesting! You started your career in a printing house working with premium and luxury projects. You also worked in startups, enterprises, and multinationals…
Yes, I did work in different industries and business structures. Being a curious person, I needed to experience various environments in order to find what works best for me. Each experience helped me to build the professional and businesswoman that I am today. I learned how to work in a team, at all levels, nationally and internationally. For me, empathy and emotional intelligence are the keys to success.
You worked in a multichannel communication. There is a strong competition in this area. How did you manage to stand out from the crowd?
Consistency and quietness helped me a lot. It’s not easy to find your way in a multichannel jungle out there. But my skills matters in this world, because nowadays not only brands need to be sure that they have the same DNA (or visual identity) on all their digital and none digital channels but they also need to choose wisely how to reach their audiences.
What about your creative process? How new and original ideas occur to your mind?
First, when I start working with my clients on a design project, I always listen carefully and ask as many questions as possible. I have a special questionnaire describing different requirements for work, which were improved a lot with time. Its main goal is not to bother my clients with questions but to be a sort of collaborative tool for our project.
Second, the Internet is helping me to get rid of boundaries so I can travel through space and time, and connect to people and ideas all over the world, however, for me, it’s definitely not enough. That’s why I love to create my personal library, filled with inspiration and ideas; besides, I am a regular customer of design bookshops and libraries in different countries, not only in my city. I also like interviewing potential clients, if needed, to learn more about the rapidly changing industry.
Finally, all the ideas, organized and presented in a visual and easy-to-understand way, are presented to my clients. Thus, my clients are included in the process from the beginning until the end. So, I do my best to respect their needs, wishes and accompany them in their project if needed.
Understanding people and their needs, as we like to say today, emotional intelligence, is the key in my business. After all, our time is a luxury that has no price, and I try to be as efficient as possible. My clients do appreciate this approach.
What is the best working environment for you?
Connection to nature inspires me a lot and gives me motivation for my work and projects.
Also, diversity! I have my home office, but I appreciate working in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, even at the airport waiting for my next flight. It all depends on the nature of the project and my mood.
You speak fluently English and French, and also conversational Arabic and Spanish. How do these languages skills help you in your career?
It helps me greatly! Languages are one of my favorite tools to understand multicultural business and artistic environments. We all know that expressing an idea or an emotion in one language could be completely different when expressed it in another one. It also helps me in cross-cultural collaboration. By knowing other cultures, I am even able to forecast future design trends and apply them in my work.
You traveled a lot and lived in different cities. Which city influenced and impressed you more than the others?
The city of Ivalo Lapland, in the arctic pole of Finland, where local art is exposed in a subtle way, tightly related to northern mythology. There, I was so fascinated by the shapes, the use of local materials, for example, wood. When you look at this art, you feel like you see eternity articulated through it.
How did you come up with an idea to start up your own business? What helped you the most in this difficult and brave decision?
I wanted to benefit from the multi-cultural background I grew up in. Also, I wanted to get more flexibility by linking Europe to the Middle-East, building creative synergies between these two regions.
On the other hand, I wished to share my knowledge in design & branding. So, I decided to work as an independent creative consultant for companies and also transfer my skills to others as a professor.
I have developed an expertise in a specific niche. Today, many companies need to change their visual identity and way of working to adapt themselves to the new world. They need someone who will personally accompany them in that change. This position doesn’t really exist in traditional advertising or marketing firms. And that’s what I am to do.
What are the latest trends in graphic design? How do you manage to keep up following them?
I follow industry trends for at least an hour a day, through newsletters, blogs, magazines, and web series, I also attend conferences and seminars. Of course, I share with my audience the most accurate and innovative news that help our world to grow into a better one.
As for the latest trends, I would say that with apps and the Internet accelerating, simplicity in design will be determining. Typography will go disruptive, logos are becoming more functional. Branding will use more dynamic graphics.
“As for the latest trends, I would say that with apps and the Internet accelerating, simplicity in design will be determining. Typography will go disruptive, logos are becoming more functional. Branding will use more dynamic graphics.”Nour Ezzedeen
In the world of today, which qualities a woman entrepreneur needs to have in order to stand out of the crowd?
I am still learning how to deal with this. It is challenging in our world to set up the right boundaries between the opposite genders in the workplace.
My advice is to honor our intuition, cultivate self-love, passion, and curiosity, have unbreakable belief in success and let the universe play its part.
After all, just enjoy the journey!
I know, it’s quite difficult to select just one project as your greatest achievement, but still, would you try, please.
If I had to pick up just one it would be a Paris-based pizza shop that I branded. They offer Halal and organic pizza. They wanted to have a modern and catchy identity. And I created it, their brand identity, their logo, etc. We have collaborated hand in hand for a year. From then, they are working on a franchise program and are successfully expanding.
Today this pizza shop has become a go-to place in Paris and my clients are really happy and grateful. I am so satisfied with these results!
“My advice is to honor our intuition, cultivate self-love, passion, and curiosity, have unbreakable belief in success and let the universe play its part.”Nour Ezzedeen
In the future, I wish to build bridges between Paris and the Middle-East through my consulting and teaching activities. Keep in touch!
Nour Ezzedeen is a Paris-based branding consultant, graphic designer and artist. Having spent many years in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates) and in Europe (France), she developed unique skills in cross-cultural relations while acquiring a strong sense for brand equity and vision expression. Drawing on over 18 years of professional experience, including as a freelance art director since 2004 and founder of two companies, she advises and train leaders in branding strategy. Using her branding knowledge and image management experience, she empowers companies by building their brands and defining their visual signature.
This article was written by Olga de Benoist for the project:
“People and the City. Literature, photography & travel”