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Iranian-American Interior Designer Ryan Saghian Shares His Top Tips on Giving Your Home an Expert-Approved Makeover

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

What does it take to put together the ideal space? Ask Ryan Saghian, and he’s quick to dish out bullet points in a blink of an eye. The award-winning Iranian-American interior designer may have just hit 30, but he’s already a name to watch out for in the design industry, and counts drummer Matt Sorum, and NBA stars Anthony Davis, Tristan Thompson, and Trey Lyles among his most recent clients. In the midst of all his demanding projects, the young interior star now has one more milestone to celebrate: Unapologetically Chic, a new coffee table book that chronicles his fascinating experiences “starting as an intern, to the impact my passion for interior design had on my journey, to coming out.” A collection of anecdotes and beautifully curated interiors (some of which have never been published before), the new drop tells Saghian’s story in his own special way. “You can expect my signature, unapologetic humor,” he shares with Vogue Arabia.

As the world gears up to dive into Saghian’s world, we sat down for a special chat with the man who’s upping the ante of home decor one space at a time.

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Tell us a little bit about your journey so far. What was it like to be awarded Interior Designer of the Year by the city of LA?

“Living my true-life purpose” would be the best way to describe what my journey has been like so far. To be able to wake up every day and express my creativity by creating beautiful environments for people is the most fulfilling thing for me. And to be awarded interior designer of the year by the Los Angeles Rewards Program, as a native Angeleno, was nothing short of a fantasy fulfilled.

What inspired you to enter the interior design industry? What’s your first memory of falling in love with it?

From my first playhouse to my first copy of ‘The Sims,’ I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I drove my parents crazy with the amount of times I re-arranged the living room, and I’m sure it may drive my future partner crazy too!

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

How have your Iranian roots influenced your taste when it comes to designing? What are three distinct elements one can see in your work that reflect your Iranian culture?

Living amongst two cultures as a first generation, Iranian-Jewish American helped me shape what I consider to be a very eclectic design style. My emphasis on fine art, entertainment focused layouts, and rich use of high contrast are all distinctly influenced by my Iranian culture.

How about your American roots? Are there any tell-tale signs of your American culture in your homes?

Of course! Specifically, the culture and spirit of Los Angeles. From the mid-century modern case study era, to the golden age of Hollywood… it’s hard not to be influenced by this all-encompassing city.

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Bringing all your learnings together, how would you describe the trademark Ryan Saghian aesthetic?

I wouldn’t call it a trademark aesthetic, but rather a trademark formula. A novel mix of raw and refined layers that create a powerful and eclectic combination. Always giving a wow factor. And never coming short of sensual.

You’ve designed some spectacular homes. How do you handle challenging requests?

Not a day goes by where I am not faced with a challenge that, in the moment, seems like the end of the world. Whether it’s combining two people’s differing styles, tight deadlines, or last-minute play ups, every single challenge has a solution. All you need to do is be transparent with your client, patient with your team, and always stop and listen.

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Which personality is on your dream list for the future?

 J.Lo, of course!

What’s the most common mistake you see people making when trying to spruce up their home?

When they source most, if not all, of their pieces from commercial retailers, because that is a sure way of making your home feel like it has no soul. Energy flows where attention goes, and a refurbished vintage chair you found at a flea market will add much more [to your space] than the stylish chair you ordered from a catalogue. There is a time and space for both—but not most of your space.

 According to you, what are three decor elements that have the power to make any space look more put-together?

Beautiful drapes, exquisite lighting, and a well curated collection of coffee table books.

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Can you please share 5 fail-safe rules people should follow when they’re trying to amp up their space?

1. When in doubt, go with black.

2. If the budget permits, splurge on art.

3. Primary pieces in neutrals with pops of color in accents.

4. Always keep the sofa a few inches away from the wall.

5. Trust your gut. Design is intuitive.

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

Photo: Anthony Barcelo

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