A life well travelled: Leyla Uluhanli

The interior designer and author lays open her travel journal

I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in the ancient city of Baku. Some of my earliest memories are of the grand architecture of the old palaces and sacred mosques. I also had the chance to experience the exquisite décor of some of the best private homes in the city. In many ways, the city continues to speak to me now and is largely reflected in my work. 

I constantly draw inspiration from the amazing spirit, people and architecture of Moscow, where I live. I love working on interiors projects there, especially in the older parts of the city, filled with historic buildings so deeply intertwined with the lives of artists, poets and actors.

I spent eight years capturing the mosque photography for my book, visiting a selection of world-renowned mosques and discovering their intricate patterns and ornaments. Córdoba in Spain impacted me the most – its Grand Mosque is an exquisite and rare gem of Moorish architecture. The materials and patterns used for the decoration are out of this world, and the place presents an amazing example of a harmonious union between East and West.

I’m a citizen of the world, so I don’t have a favourite destination, but I love the sea and the ocean. These places bring me calm and bliss, allowing me to recharge and get ready for my next work marathon.

A place that’s still on my wish list is Polynesia. It’s somewhat of a childhood dream to visit an exotic place so far away; something you have only seen or read about in books. Plus, it seems like a great vacation spot. 

Leyla’s book, Mosques: Splendors of Islam, published by Rizzoli New York, is out now