At Home with May & Emad Zawaideh
Posted February 18, 2014
When it comes to May and Emad Zawaideh, opposites do attract. The outgoing, social May is the yang to the more reserved Emad’s yin. She loves parties; he prefers quiet nights at home. She is artistic, having studied fine art and design; he is scientific, with degrees in thermo-nuclear engineering and plasma physics. Formerly with Hughes Aircraft, Emad is the founder and CEO of the Carlsbad-based Scientific Computing International. The couple, who met at UCLA and have been married for 27 years, have formed an enduring bond while growing a successful business, raising two accomplished children and supporting many charitable causes both here and abroad.
Their opulent home in the Del Mar Country Club Estates is Italianate and romantic, with marble floors that seem to stretch for miles. Holding center stage in the living room is a Steinway baby grand piano, a limited edition marking the piano maker’s 150th anniversary. Many of the fine furnishings and objets d’art are from McNally Company Antiques, Bellini, Ebanista, and the former Treasures. Luxe touches abound: murals and faux finishes by Joel Sharp and Studio 2; leather-and-brocade pillows by Jennifer Chapman; bejeweled boxes by artist Phillipe Kulik. May is a passionate collector, from Russian icons to antique Santos, German dolls to vintage Valentines, many of them hundreds of years old.
For parties, the Zawaidehs and their guests spill out onto the balcony to drink in the views all the way to the coast in Del Mar, with hot air balloons often hovering overhead. Says Emad: “It’s very important for me to see the sunset.” Guests can warm themselves by the outdoor fireplace or take a dip in the vanishing-edge pool. The party room boasts a bar and a Wurlitzer, with plenty of room for dancing.
Daughter Lena’s drums fill the music room and library. The 22-year-old musician, an economics major at UCLA, plays in Bad Things, the band fronted by Olympic snowboarder Shaun White. The band, which has just released its first album, played at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, and will begin touring again after the Olympics. The couple’s 25-year-old son Mazen graduates this year from UC San Diego’s medical school, and plans to specialize in neuroradiology.
The Zawaidehs, who were both born in Jordan, support many international causes, including Doctors Without Borders and the International Seakeepers Society. Their support of Refugees International led to dinner with Jordan’s Queen Noor to celebrate the 80th birthday of May’s mother Elizabeth. May also met Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, through her support of victims of Hurricane Sandy. May will chair the Birds of a Feather Gala for the Epilepsy Foundation this spring. She also supports The Vision of Children Foundation, Voices for Children, and Miracle Babies. A mixed media artist also known for her creative tabletop designs, May and Emad support many arts organizations including the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the New Children’s Museum, and the Timken.
Asked what they like to do in their spare time, May is quick to respond: “I want to meet people who have made a difference in the world,” whether in politics, art, or fashion. Emad prefers a “simple life” filled with gardening and nature, although he admits to a fascination with technology, and holds several patents for his hi-tech inventions. “He doesn’t play golf,” says May with a laugh. “He plays computer.”
After a long and happy marriage, the couple has learned the secret of a successful union: “Love, respect, and giving each other the space for the things we like to do,” says May, “and always agreeing on how to raise the kids. We may argue behind the scenes, but never in front of the kids.” And in the end, their dissimilarities may be the very source of their strength as a couple. “Being different adds spice to the relationship,” she says. “We’re so opposite, we complement each other. Andrea Naversen