Redesigning life after fleeing my home. This is how I built beauty from scratch


Escaping Syria was terrifying. But starting life over in a foreign land was a hurdle Adnan Al Mouselli could not have preempted. Despite being a psychology major in his home country, Al Mouselli was forced to sell fruit and vegetables in order to survive when he came to South Africa. “I had nothing and no one,” he says. Al Mouselli vividly remembers the baskets of courage and stamina it took for him to work his way up to being an interior designer today. “Many people feel the need to escape reality,” he says. “But few know the fear of needing to flee.”

On foreign soil, Al Mouselli had little time to draw up a new plan. War doesn’t leave many options to move forward – just the certainty that life must go on. “It broke my heart to leave my whole life behind,” Al Mouselli says. Using the earnings from his temporary job, he started studying interior design. With time, he grew to love it. “There are things that I don’t know how to express in English,” Al Mouselli says. “When I express them in interior design, I feel like somebody understands where I come from.” But he still faces significant challenges. Asylum seekers are not permitted to obtain a driver’s licence, apply for credit, or receive medical aid. Despite these limitations, Al Mouselli has found the thing he needed most in South Africa – the ability to truly be himself. “What was once a foreign land to me has now become my home,” he says.

By styling personal spaces, Al Mouselli is able to requite the comfort that he found in South Africa. “I am so grateful for the kindness shown to me by people who hardly knew me,” he says. Through his art, Al Mouselli pays it forward by revealing the intricacies of his heart in the homes of his clients. “Today my life is filled with beauty,” Al Mouselli says. “Being able to extend that beauty to other people is absolutely incredible.” His work decorates our country with more than just elegance – in its detail we find diversity, strength, and hope.