Interview with Shiva Pouryousef

The first Iranian woman who won the first prize AIA U.K Charrette for the leadership of community generated power converted into social trade project.

Her collaboration with the best architecture and design companies in the world such as Foster+ Partners in London, Haworth, Rockwell Group, RAA and TMA in New York defines a high level of her proficiency. She got interviewed by multiple national media and is known for her international projects and architectural criticism as the most influential interior designer in Iran.

She is the only Iranian woman in the country registered as an active senior associate and the allied member of the world’s most noteworthy architecture and design organizations; American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), American Institute of Architects (AIA) and International Interior Design Associates (IIDA). Her work has been exhibited in Glass Tank Gallery at Oxford, Haworth Showroom in Chicago and Roca London Gallery by Zaha Hadid.

Her academic background turns back to Oxford School of Architecture and Pratt Institute (ranked number one nationally in the professional survey in Design Intelligence). She is certified in more than ten intensive design and human environmental health courses accredited by IDCEC and Hanley Wood University in Washington D.C. and her last certificate is from Harvard Graduate School of Design in Architectural Imagination.

In 2015 she assigned as an interior designer at Ted Moudis Associates and soon after she got in charge of design for prestigious corporations and organizations such as JPMC, MetLife, and HQ of NASCAR. One of her latest projects was headquartering of NASCAR in Manhattan, New York which recently selected as one of the top 25 most popular offices in the world in 2017 according to Office Snapshots. She moved back her hometown lately and established Pouryousef Design Agency; working beyond interior design and pioneer in the field of strategic design, spatial branding, art marketing, and design thinking education.

“Shiva Pouryousef has a keen sense of spatial awareness and her ability to communicate conceptual designs through her strong presentation techniques make her an outstanding asset to any design firm. As a member of one of my design teams, Shiva instantly proved to be an inspiration to her fellow designers and gained immediate trust and respect from her new client base.  It is rare that a new team member, with almost no experience in the New York market, should exert such influence on others so quickly.”

J.Barr; Design Principal of Ted Moudis Associates

“It is my opinion that Shiva Pouryousef’s talents are noteworthy and warrant special recognition. Her contributions to the U.S. design community inspire innovation and will keep the field active in the expanding global marketplace. Ms. Pouryousef continued pursuit of design will inspire innovation among her peers and colleagues alike.”

B.Anderson; Project Director at Ralph Appelbaum Associates

ZH: What is the philosophy behind your projects? 

My projects offer an experience to the end-users; people. My clients are my partners so I have to imagine their life pattern and cycle very well which is fundamental in the design process. If I can experience their culture by their food, I would taste it. I listen to their memories, look at their appearance, favorite pictures and understand which decade their soul might belong to! My philosophy is to understand people so I call it observation, whatever it is, it comes from the identity of clients so the philosophy would be rich research and analyses, digging in dreams and emotions.

ZH: Why interior design, not architecture?

Architecture is not an interior design so the architect is not an interior designer as simple as this. To me, interior design matters as an interdisciplinary major, with a tangible scale. It can touch your heart, you can design a lifestyle, an incredible experience creating unforgettable memories. The interior design engages all of the human senses. In my world of design, none can remove the smell or sound away from it. Interior designer has to know about details and connections as well as walls and functions of building the structure in practice to be able to have the right level of conversation with related people in their project.

ZH: Where do you get your direction from?

From Imagination but with an understanding of my surroundings. My education is part of my understanding from the academic perspective but the rest comes from nature, people and their habits, books, and experiences of myself and the others. The imagination is multiple while the understanding is singular. Imagination is active and that is what I gained from art. I believe the future is art + design. I have to confess that as a designer I follow artists; in my opinion, they are the only community who understand the past very well with imagination and randomly right perspective of the future. each artist has their own taste of colors forms and subjects and I pick the art piece based on it’s a possible connection to my project.

ZH: Do you think that your studies in an interior design influenced you in one way or another?

Absolutely, it definitely changed me as a person and changed my approach to how to work. Oxford and Pratt’s period was sensitive; I would say it wasn’t a time of joy and everyday challenges reminded me that I have something I’m ready to fight for, get criticized and stay creative.

New York City itself was another battle and becoming part of one of the most successful interior design firms of the united states in the most influential hubs in the field of interior design was an honor for me.

ZH: You have moved around quite a bit living in London, New York and then settling back in your home city of in Iran. Can you tell us a bit about your decision to go back home and how it inspires you differently to those other cities?

Tehran is full of contradictions, even though my soul always belongs to New York City. Being in your homeland gives you strength. London or New York are references for me and the sense of absence of rules in Tehran is an opportunity to create my own rules. What I love about the United States in the field of design is the opportunity of designing for multicultural people in the same family and you can imagine how diverse would be the whole society and any sort of future brands. In the U.K you can never ignore the power of British culture which is timeless and always glamour.

ZH: How do define the future of interior design?

Interior design in the future would be way beyond organizing a functional space circulation and giving a glamour touch to spaces. Now a day it is an academic discipline which is not only for upper level class of society but everyone and what I am trying to establish as an interior designer would be a communication agency like an interdisciplinary method of thinking that teaches middle and lower class of any society to be creative and discover their habits to adapt their space accordingly. To me, it would be designing a lifestyle and visualizing dreams of multiple generations with the vast number of cultures who want to experience a better life and sometimes some people just need to change their perspective and nothing of their environment.

ZH: What are you currently working on?

Well, it’s multiple projects besides my own profession. I am exploring a novel concept of applying intuition and higher consciousness with Dr. Shima Beigi. Our collaboration highlights the fundamental need of linking modernity into the emerging future and currently we are recording a series of podcasts.

Also “Art is Not Safe” is a project designed by my sister Mona Pouryousef and myself to understand and analyze the future of art in virtual reality. Currently, we are directing a team of artists and professional designers. And I am examining the spatial quality of poetry in collaboration with Mr. Alireza Koliai, one of the most influential contemporary Iranian poets in a format of research and art installation.

In collaboration by ZH media 

Photo Cover by Zoha Babazadeh

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