LifestyleMy Space 09.12.2021

Inside Mian Ahad’s Home!

BY paperazzi

His Raiwind Country Home is the ultimate exotic retreat.

Mian Ahad sells a lifestyle, not furniture. This is apparent from the minute you walk into any one of his residences, because you do not notice a well-upholstered couch or an Italian-inlayed table, but rather a space that is so cohesive that it has clearly been fashioned by someone with a vision. Opulence is far too insincere a description of Mian Ahad’s aesthetic; it transcends the popular design appeal of today with his unique textiles, accessories and furnishings. Anyone who visits his Raiwind home, which he insists is made purely out of necessity, will agree that it is nothing short of an exotic retreat.

The landscaping at the entrance uses indigenous foliage and corresponds fluidly with the geometric, traditional patterns within the house. The house, aside from being incredibly beautiful to look at, is very functional. Mian Ahad declares: “I hate blocked visions,” and this manifests itself in the repeated division of windows on the facade of the house. Each window divides into two and once opened takes the space which is really just three rooms and a kitchen into what feels like a huge open area. The more one talks to Mian Ahad about the house, the more one begins to understand the methodology and artistic philosophy behind the designs.

Mian Ahad lives in three spaces; at a country house in Raiwind, in Lahore city, and in a flat in Paris located near the Place Vendôme. Upon garnering acclaim from his design work in Pakistan, Mian Ahad began to travel the globe. In places like Paris he learned that ‘‘designers are more than just creators of ‘a look’; they have a relationship with their work that surpasses a vocational calling, they have great respect for their material and consider their work a true art form.’’ Mian Ahad began to study and research design, thereby building his craft as any other artist would; his scope was not limited to simply what he thought looked good, but a deeper appreciation of materials, colour and design.

Mian Ahad’s philosophy is not just limited to his designs, but also his ethics. The quality and calibre of his pieces is apparent, and his clients understand that they are not just getting an item of furniture, but rather a piece of meticulously crafted art. His workers comprise of highly trained craftsmen who he has painstakingly trained, and every piece of his furniture is a reflection of the investment in time and development made over the years. It is rare to find individuals so dedicated to their work, and his dedication is apparent not only in the beauty of his pieces, but also in his success.

The man who started off as a quiet student at NCA, encouraged by his father to go into the field of design, remains quiet to this day.

He does not need to speak very loudly or very much at all, as his work speaks volumes. Mian Ahad was pushed to innovate by the limitations of materials and labour available in Pakistan. Today, his clientele ranges from the upper echelons of Pakistani society, to royalty such as the King of Morocco’s mother. Mian Ahad’s pieces are indeed the antiques of tomorrow, with a sound design foundation that can be appreciated internationally and are a source of pride for our local artisans and community. While his homes look unrealistically dreamy, practically they are very grounded. It’s no secret – the reason behind his achievements is not just his great sense of design, but also because he works hard and never sets his limits anywhere beneath the sky.

The name ‘Ahad’ means ‘one’ and I often wonder if names have an effect on the destiny of people. Is it possible to design our life as we dream it to be?  As I think about him words such as ‘beautiful’, ‘creative’, ‘articulate’ and ‘opulent’ come to my mind.

Our lives are reflected in our work and nowhere else is this more evident than in Ahad’s case. His homes have a sense of romance, a poetic elegance and a serene fusion of patterns, colour and fabric. The Andalusian French-Moroccan styles blend seamlessly with the more classical pieces of furniture and are influenced by his travels and his heritage, creating a celebration of design harmonised with colour and presented as a visual treat. There are personal touches like photographs of family that have been there ever since I can remember. His attention to detail, his synergy of patterns and his baroque style is evident in each corner of his home. It is no wonder that he lives in Paris: he always did belong there.

As I reminisce back to our college days in 1977 at the National College of Arts, I remember him well; all lean, fair, quiet and almost always observing. I do not remember him as being a conversationalist; he always let his work speak for him.  It was a time when we, as art students, were the epitome of bohemianism – and there was Ahad, almost always in a white collared shirt and black trousers.

Occasionally he wore pastel coloured shirts but never t-shirts. The signature tatty blue jeans and tees never did become part of his wardrobe. We knew each other and I always thought him to be enigmatic and aloof.  He left college, went away to the USA and we lost touch over the years.

Some years after he returned to Lahore we became friends. It was then I discovered the quiet ambition, focused drive and pure genius of his furniture design. He had a young firm operating from Model Town, which to date, has no sign outside and yet, his innovation in furniture was creating ripples in the industry. He was the first furnishing designer in Pakistan, who created designs in glass by sandblasting, and who could transform a space into opulent elegance if one could afford it. He is also reputed for being the only male host who has surpassed most female hosts in his generosity, meticulous attention to detail and elegant style. The scale of Mian Ahad’s entertainment is almost legendary and everyone wants to be his guest as they know an evening at his home is always a tasteful and classy affair. A talented designer and an exceptional host- that is how I always think of Ahad the man.