Welcome to the weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with Yasmin Farahmandy, founder of Ydesign Interior, an architectural and interior design firm based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Known for its reputation in providing innovative quality pieces for clients according to their needs.
Focused on one-of-a-kind designs, refined details and impressive quality, the company transforms different scale projects from preliminary concepts to beautiful, bold, luxurious and surreal reality.
sat down with this interior designer to find out more about her creative process and what inspired her to launch her own sophisticated brand.
What was your favourite subject at school?
My favorite subjects from elementary school all the way to my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees were always related to art and design. In Art class, I was always intrigued by materials, colors and textures and I found things came naturally to my eyes at a young age. I have been blessed with opportunities to explore different mediums in both art and design over the years – from graphic design to fashion. I created a series of fashion shows aged 16, and in my work today I continue to admire and be inspired by the fashion and art scene, from how I dress to how I design the next beautiful space. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Furniture Design in Canada and ended my educational journey at Domus Academy in Milan, where I obtained my Master’s degree in Interior and Living Design.
What was your first job?
Since I was young I have been driven to work and learn, not just to earn money but because I have always been curious and wanted some independence. When I was 15, I was working as a barista and then restaurant manager and I then went on to run a retail store until I was 20 when I started working in a global design firm. All those early employment experiences have added great value to being a designer today, helping me understand spaces and the need of a venue or brand much better.
What brought you to Dubai?
I moved to Dubai when I was five years old then moved to Canada when I was 13. Later on, I moved to Milan, the design capital of the world, to complete my Master’s degree. I returned to Dubai because to me it is a city of opportunities and the design and art scene has grown at an exciting pace here, especially over the last 10 years. Now, it really is one of the main hubs for design and for me, working in the hospitality sector, where better in the world to be than Dubai.
What inspired you to enter the interior design space and launch Y Design?
Being a designer was a vision I had since a young age. I always knew I wanted to be part of the creative world and felt it was where I belonged. The older I got, the more obsessed with interior design I became. I love how all design disciplines can be incorporated into interiors. I learned so much working with some of the world’s best global design firms such as HBA and Gensler. That experience, coupled with my lifelong obsession with beauty and luxury, opened the doors for the most exciting chapter of my life – launching Ydesign Interior during the pandemic.
Talk us through the inspiration of your pieces.
I am inspired by different cultures and spaces therefore traveling is one of the biggest parts of my inspiration journey. While we like to stay up to date with recent trends, we also try to incorporate historic styles. Like fashion, design trends repeat themselves, whether that be through style, material, or design.
What are the key elements of your role?
As a designer and as an entrepreneur, it is very challenging to maintain both identities every day. The designer side of me is a creative soul with a vivid imagination, and day-to-day I manage projects, clients and construction sites. But as an entrepreneur and business owner, I have to wear many different hats and play different roles. I am a representative of my own brand, and I manage the company’s finance, accounts, and team members, all while building new relationships and business leads.
Talk us through your daily routine.
Exercise is very important to me. I believe it elevates your mind and your mental health as well as your body, which as an entrepreneur and designer is very important. I need to be able to create and be inspired, and my brain and imagination is my main tool as a designer. It is like a muscle you need to train therefore exercising is part of my daily lifestyle everyday. I wake up very early and either go for a run, do weight training, or hot yoga. I do this every single day before I begin any work. My day is a mix of catching up with emails, meeting my clients and suppliers, and visiting construction sites. After work, I visit newly opened restaurants, hotels and bars to firstly admire the interior spaces, but also to understand and observe how people relate and interact with the spaces, which is a huge part of the concept journey for any hospitality or commercial project.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Be passionate, persistent, and patient. Passionate: “Do what you love, and love what you do”, always in whatever you do in life. I always advise younger designers – when you do what you love, it is no longer an 8-5 job, it’s your baby, that you are growing, and will always be part of you. Be persistent as starting a firm is not easy, but you should always remain persistent and maintain the same drive everyday – have a vision and go after it. Also, be patient: Your dreams or goals don’t happen overnight. When you start your company, you need to be financially stable while you are growing, because you won’t have a steady salary. Make sure your finance is in check. Be patient. There might be some days you have a couple of projects at the same time, but some days when you are waiting for one project. Be prepared for good and bad days in all areas – whether that is finance or team capability. We have grown today to a team of five designers at Y Design in the past three years, but only because we’ve been ‘passionate, persistent and patient’.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
As long as you are really passionate about what you do every day, you will find some joy in both the good and bad days.
We are living and working in a very competitive market, but if you can maintain energy, passion and a positive energy, you will attract clients who admire this and want to be a part of your journey.
And what is the worst?
“You are too young to start your own company”. There is no right or wrong time – it is different for each one of us. It’s going to be scary, challenging, and push you out of your comfort zone whatever age you are – only you know if and when you are ready to take the challenge.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge was the launch of my company, as it was right in the middle of Covid. I had been contemplating for a year when the right time would be to start my own boutique firm. We were in the midst of the chaos and in lockdown, and I had lost my job. It was the scariest and most challenging decision I have made not knowing how the market would respond or if I could succeed. But here we are three years later, and I can say that all that chaos resulted in the most beautiful outcome with the launch of Ydesign Interior.
What are the future plans for your brand?
I would like to expand Ydesign Interior globally and work on international projects, while still maintaining our identity and feel of a boutique firm. We are very selective with the projects we take on and operate with an ethos of quality over quantity, which is key to our brand identity, as a luxury boutique firm. I feel it is important to build and develop a great friendships with our clients – that is what makes the journey enjoyable, even amid the inevitable challenges we face with every project.