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Checking In: Saar Zafrir

One designer’s mission to transform tired corporate properties

June 21, 2021
Checking In: Saar Zafrir

By Katie Kervin

From a former life in finance, Amsterdam-based designer Saar Zafrir transitioned a decade ago to interiors and hotel development. He now combines his creative skill and financial savvy to drive more successful projects. 

What motivated you to switch careers?

After 12 years in the capital world, I decided to take a year off and used my shares to buy a property in Tel Aviv. Working on the renovation familiarized me with design, and I taught myself how to use Sketchup, AutoCAD, and congeneric software. I totally fell for it. It was such a success that I began to design for both my family and friends. Two years later I bought into the hotel industry, and I sold my apartment.

How does your former finance role help you in your current business?

It has helped me a lot to be able to oversee a project. I keep the design, the expenses, and the profit in mind. [I can] look at the project from a business standpoint, instead of keeping the main focus on design, in order to fit the right product with the right hotel.

What was the inspiration for your latest project, the ReMIX hotel in Paris?

The client presented us with a large building that needed total renovation, originally built in the 1980s. I had always dreamt of designing an ’80s-themed hotel and long been a fan of the song ‘’Forever Young’’ by Alphaville. We wanted to create a space reflecting the true essence of the ’80s, bringing back roller skates, pop, neon. The initial idea was to not just open one ReMIX hotel, but more of them.

Will your approach to updating corporate hotels into boutique concepts be beneficial as we move past the pandemic?

This is the future! Despite the pandemic, the younger generation now looks for hotels that offer more than just a business place; somewhere they can enjoy both design and content. The whole hotel industry is changing—regardless of the pandemic.

This article originally appeared in Boutique Design’s Spring 2021 print issue.

Photos: Courtesy of Saar Zafrir Design

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