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Three things with Yasmine Ghoniem: ‘It’s very important to have a good pair of tweezers’ | Australian lifestyle


Yasmine Ghoniem has just stepped into her debut television role as co-host of ABC’s Grand Designs Transformations. Alongside Anthony Burke, the series sends her around the country to meet Australia’s boldest and most inspired home renovators.

It may be Ghoniem’s first gig on the small screen but it’s the latest in a career as one of Australia’s most awarded interior designers. The Sydneysider credits her love of design to her upbringing. Raised between Kuwait, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, surrounded by “very non-eventful desertscapes”, her bedroom became her world – and she grew obsessed with how the objects in her space would make her feel.

Today Ghoniem still believes in the power of belongings. Her most prized possession is a collection of records handed down by her parents. Here she tells us why she would make a mad dash for that vinyl stash in a fire and shares the stories behind other important items.

What I’d save in a fire

My parents’ record collection. They had great taste in music – that’s actually how they fell in love. My mum is Australian and my dad is Egyptian but they met when they were living in Libya. They were neighbours, Dad asked Mum to come over for a video night and that was that. But music was a big part of them connecting.

A collection of vinyl records
‘It’s about 1,000 records all up, all in mint condition’: some of the albums from Ghoniem’s collection, passed down from her parents

They’ve got Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Hot Chocolate – a wide selection of music from the 1960s to 80s – about 1,000 records all up, in mint condition. They labelled each record with their name, so there’s beautiful little handwriting at the tops. And they still have the stickers from where they bought the record and how much it cost.

The records were originally in our family home. Then, when all the kids left, my parents downsized, and they went into storage. My dad now lives in Cairo and he was super upset that nobody else in the family wanted the record collection, so he spent a lot of money to ship them to me in Sydney.

My most useful object

A pair of tweezers I bought in Vietnam when I was 27. Being Arabic, I have lots of hair, so it’s very important to have a really good pair of tweezers! They’ve never lost their sharpness.

If it was anything else, I would have lost them by now. But because I love them so much, they live in a special drawer in the bathroom. If they’re ever not there, I freak out.

The item I most regret losing

I studied at the Savannah College of Art Design in Georgia, in the US, where I spent four years creating a massive portfolio. It was a big black folder with hundreds of pieces of art that I’d created.

I left the States relatively quickly and left the portfolio behind with my ex-partner in Portland in 2008. It’s since disappeared. I’m so sad to have lost these works because that’s how I fell in love with what I now do – design – and maybe would have explained some of the threads that I continue to find in my work. Now I’ll never have that beginning point to know where it all came from.



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