Appreciation for the exquisite, and admiration for ‘the perfect proportion’, shaped the family home of Talal Y. Zahid and Nadia A. Al-Zuhair. Talal‘s passion for beauty, is wholly complemented by Nadia‘s boundless enthusiasm; and similarly, the architectural design of the stately home, fashioned in Mudéjar style, provides a superb backdrop for their impressive collection of antiques, period furniture, paintings and objets d‘art that they have assembled during their 37 years of marriage.
The Mudéjar style emerged in Spain in the late 15th century. It is a synthesis of the eight hundred year architectural heritage established by the Islamic dynasties, with the addition of Renaissance and Gothic elements, to forge this unique style. This style focused on castles with internal courtyards, decorative motifs in engraved and incised marble and zilej, gardens and fountains.
The Zahid home combines a glorious synthesis of cultures with the unique charm inherent in its design and decoration, in which a multitude of period details have been painstakingly preserved in such a treasure trove of collectibles. Heavy wooden entrance doors, carved with the Ayat al Kursi, welcome family and friends into the spherical-shaped foyer, which is surmounted by a Moroccan zilej brick dome, and supported by a moqarnasat border. Limestone walls are impossibly beautiﬁed with 17th century Belgian tapestries, while zilej tiles embellish courtyards, and ﬁn-de-siecle curious add history.
Any visitor to the Zahid residence will be intrigued by every meticulously acquired object and inspired by the architectural precision employed. Now, art and architecture enthusiasts have been invited to share this love that has labored the Zahid family home. Z Hermitage is a pictorial experience that celebrates the amazing feat that is Talal Y. Zahid and Nadia A. Al-Zuhair‘s home, giving the monumental task of putting the illustrious history of the house between two hard covers and into the hands of a skilled group of photographers and editors. The book in and of itself, is very difﬁcult to classify, for one minute you’re stunned by some amazing architectural concept within the house, and the next you’re blown away by Talal’s engraved poems on the stained glass windows.
One can safely say there is something for everyone in this cultural tour de force. Botanists will have a ﬁeld day exploring Talal’s Garden, getting acquainted with some of this world’s most stunning array of ﬂowers, not to mention the fascinating Rafﬁa palm tree found in South Africa. Architects will have a hard time keeping up unless their geography is up to date, for the different rooms reﬂect different eras and wide-ranging dynasties, for one can ﬁnd himself coming down a grand Andalucían staircase, only to ﬁnd himself staring at the Aqsa mosque on a beautifully colored stained glass.
Book aﬁcionado’s will be naturally drawn to Talal’s private library, which houses countless precious books inside antique bookcases, and whose perimeter is bordered, by hand-painted tiles inscribed in Damascus by the 99 names of Allah. Art in all its’ splendor is woven into the house, with most designs, ideas and layouts spearheaded and hand drawn by Talal’s wife Nadia, a truly remarkable woman and a visionary in her own right. Talal’s love for her permeates every nook, be it through his poetry, through his speech given on his 60th birthday, and numerous other subtle details.
ou close the book feeling enriched somewhat, but not sure how. Was it the Tarek Bin Ziad painting, with its telling historical message, or was it the Octagon Room, with its collection of antique daggers, swords and pistols, or was it the natural sunlight engulﬁng the house’s interior, allowing the mind a fresh and unencumbered outlook of the surroundings? You are left wondering and pondering, and can only thank Talal and Nadia for the gracious hospitality offered inside their remarkable home.