Yasmin Farahmandy is the Founder of Dubai-based YDesignInterior. She talks to the Industry Leaders about her career journey from Italy to Canada and the Middle East, and the importance of looking back when creating our future spaces.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
Through, primarily, a love and genuine passion for design!
I've been obsessed with design for as long as I can remember, but my first "official" step to turn this obsession into a career was moving to Milan and earning my master's in Interiors and Living Design. I then made a move to Canada to earn a bachelor's degree in Furniture Design. Once qualified, I moved back Dubai where I started as an Interior Designer and procurement leader with Kempinski, before moving from HBA to Gensler, to A++, working with clients ranging from Dubai's Address Boulevard to Emaar Ellie Saab, and launching my own bespoke furniture line in between.
What kind of work does your role involve?
Designing spaces for people to enjoy; ranging from private residences, hotels, restaurants, offices or even yachts. My role is to create spaces that fit clients' needs and provide them with a living experience. Day-to-day that means I'm meeting with clients and giving a lens to their vision: understanding them as people, their identity, guiding them on how to achieve the ultimate design with the space they have and bringing those final shared ideas to life. My days can be spent sketching, being on-site at projects, or discovering new materials and meeting with suppliers.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Every project is a challenge. Every project has its own needs. Every project is different, and every brand is unique. With every project, I have to think outside the box and create a space that not only makes the client happy but creates an impact. That means there's a path of discovery on every single project I do. Following that path into the unknown to eventually come up with a client's dream design will always be thrilling to me. People feel differently whatever space they're in, and spaces have the ability to improve people's moods and lifestyles. I find it really exciting to be able to be at the heart of that.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I was once told that every place you design needs to tell a story, and that advice remains at the heart of every project I do. For me, it's not just about designing a space; tt's about creating a story that reflects either the brand or the client. The space needs to tell a story that anyone experiencing it can understand and walk-through.
What, or who inspires you?
Everywhere I go and whatever I see – whether that be nature, the work of other designers, or different environments or cultures I experience – I find inspiration. Different cultures give me great inspiration because within every culture there's a real authentic palette of colours or patterns that have developed often over hundreds of years that remain true and honest to that place or its people. These designs are instantly recognizable, and I find inspiration in having the opportunity to implement these colours and designs in modern ways within the spaces I create.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Firstly, always be looking to try new things. That could be a new restaurant, a new hotel or even a new sport. You always have to be out there experiencing all the possible spaces around you so that you're not only the designer of spaces, you're the user. This means that you can give insight from your own experience when you speak to and design for the client. By doing that, I feel I stay really on top of where things are going in the industry. The interior world is also blessed with many high-end magazines guiding us on trends too, plus shows around the world year-round.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
To me, it's the personal nature of residential projects that are the biggest challenge. When it is someone's living space, their home, and the place they want to be designed around them, it becomes essential to perfectly capture everything about the client's personality. It has to be a perfect reflection of that person and their life in that home, and if it's not, then that's a failure on my part. When other family members become involved, I then have to design a space that works for multiple different personalities, that's when I'm made to work even harder!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would travel. I would love to visit every possible different country, try all their food, experience their cultures, and live through their various seasons. Just to experience every way of living imaginable! That would just inspire me so much.
I'd also love to use the money to create a communal design learning space for young people to come and learn about design through the lenses of all the different design industries. It would cover everything from interiors and furniture to fashion and art – showing how they intersect and allowing for a greater understanding of what lies at the core of great design.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I play tennis in the morning or at night. I also love trying new sports and pushing myself, so you'll regularly see me out on a paddleboard, playing golf or at a gym class. I also switch off with one of my greatest loves: eating, and fine dining, especially here in Dubai! I'm always out and about at restaurants and love going anywhere new. And yes, it might be work-related, but I also love going to new places simply to check out the interiors and see how they add to people having a good time. I love that kind of learning and actually find inspiration like that helps me switch off, weirdly!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
I feel like we are moving away from experiential design as everything is becoming more technical and digital. The future and this 'virtual world' are amazing, but I believe we miss human connection within our spaces. Every space we design should be designed to gather people together, to connect, whether that's in a kitchen or when using furniture. For me, I want the future of design to almost go back in time, back to its roots in craftsmanship and the history of design and art. After all, this is what inspired us up until this point. It would be sad to move away from that almost forever.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Three books I'd recommend are:
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Art's Principles by Arthur Gensler – which I find so impactful in regards to how he grew such an enormous business, and
The Four Colour Personalities For MLM, which talks about the psychology of different personalities. This is so important if, like me, you're working with different types of people, because you really need to understand people to work closely with them.
How should people connect with you?
I always love to hear from new people. The best ways to reach out to me are through my Instagram @ydesigninterior, or through my website at www.ydesigninterior.com.
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