Despite his youthful looks, Ryan Saghian has many years of experience in the intricacies of what makes a home an amazing abode. Having worked his way up as an intern at the age of 15, his knowledge and design prowess sees him earning his stripes in the world of interior design, heading up his eponymous firm, Ryan Saghian.
Ryan, tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles by Iranian immigrants who left after the Iranian revolution of 1979. My father is an architect, and my mother a homemaker. They are both my biggest cheerleaders! I found my passion for interiors very early on and began interning for Ron Woodson and Jaime Rummerfield of Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design when I was 15. I was committed to staying with them throughout high school. I wanted to learn as much as possible. After my first year of college at the Art Institute of California, I moved up to design assistant and project manager. I had never felt fully accepted before. In high school, I’d always felt out of place. Ron and Jaime got me and understood me, and they saved me in more ways than one. I then launched my own firm out of my parents’ garage when I was 21. Over the last 7 years, I have built what many are calling a ‘design empire.’ I am so grateful for my career and daily doing what I am deeply passionate about.
In 2016, I opened a flagship showroom, Ryan Saghian Home, at Robertson and Third in Los Angeles, and have since introduced several home collections.
Did you have an influence in your youth that shaped your career path?
My maternal grandfather had an immense impact on my work ethic and hustle. He was one of the hardest working people I have ever come across. Jaime Rummerfield, my mentor, and employer for the first 6 years of my career, were among my greatest influences. She shared a passion and love for the industry that, to this day, I haven’t seen matched by anyone else.
You founded your firm Ryan Saghian at the age of 21. Now at 28 years old, what are the advantages and pitfalls of starting so young?
The biggest advantage is the major head start and justifiable mistakes. The pitfalls of starting so young are earning peoples’ respect. In an industry where years of experience are expected, it was, and at times still is, very difficult to earn your stripes.
What and who inspires you?
Everything and anything. I know that sounds kind of cliché, but I can be inspired by a piece of art, a building, cultural background, or even a song. I pull inspiration from everything around me.
Do you have a signature style when it comes to interior design for clients?
I call it a signature formula. Elegant, glamorous, and layered with a bit of edge.
When working with clients, how do you persuade them to see your vision without it coming across as if it’s your idea?
Ultimately, it’s always a collaborative process, but it’s always filtered through my creative lens. That is what they come to me for.
What are/have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Proving to people that my age does not determine my talent and pushing boundaries for the next generation.
Important lessons along the way?
Love people and stand beside them.
The favorite part of your job?
The schematic design phase. This is where I let my imagination run wild!
What is the best thing about being at the helm of a principal designer service?
And the worst?
Everything falls on you.
Is your home as stunning as those of your clients? I’m thinking of the old proverb of the shoemaker’s children that have no shoes …. hopefully, that’s not the case with your abode.
Of course! My home is a reflection of me, and it is filled with everything that I love. Years ago, I read a quote that said, “I just put everything I love together in one room, and it worked,” and that has been my philosophy ever since.
Your dream recently came true with the purchase of your white picket fence house. Talk us through the different design elements you incorporated to make the space into a home for you.
I am all about eclecticism and juxtaposition. My home is a classic Cape Cod with a white picket fence, but when you walk inside, you are presented with an industrial steel and lucite stairway, black rift oak cabinetry, black plaster fireplace, exposed white reclaimed wood ceilings, and bleached white oak floors. My furniture is a mix of mid-century, glamorous regency, and high style modern pieces. I’ve adorned my walls with all types of art, and the scent of my Ryan Saghian candles fill the air.
What are your favorite rooms in your own home, and why?
My living room. It has the most personality, and I spend most of my time when home.
What key pieces in your home can you not live without?
My bed, my sofa, and my Warhol of HRH Farah Pahlavi of Iran.
Talk us through a timeless interior design style.
A grand Georgian estate with a black and white checkered foyer, natural walnut flooring, satin black doors, and incredible lighting. I believe a timeless interior is all about the backdrop, but your art, décor, and accessories should be what you love, classic or contemporary. It’s the dramatic mix of self-expression that makes a home timeless to me.
Is there a right and wrong when it comes to decorating? Please explain.
Decorating for me is intuitive. It is personal and subjective – I don’t believe in rules. With that said, there is a right and wrong when it comes to scale, color theory, and proportion. It is those elements in the execution process that make a space right or wrong.
How does one keep things modern/timeless without having to break the bank?
By doing it slowly. I would rather have clients invest in quality pieces overtime to don’t feel like you are breaking the bank. There is no need to rush.
Do you believe in repurposing dated pieces, or should one shop for new ones?
It is case by case for me. Occasionally you find a one-of-a-kind piece that you could never reproduce or purchase new. Sometimes you want a piece beyond your budget, making more sense to buy it used and repurpose it. I say whatever makes sense is the way to go.
You have done some exquisite interiors. Do you have any favorites?
Each project is like my baby. I love them all.
Have there been projects that you have declined? If yes, why?
Yes. If I feel a potential client and I don’t see eye to eye. Or a budget seems unreasonable; then I tend to pass. I want to enjoy each project, and if I get a feeling that I won’t, then I save us both the stress.
You travel for business and hopefully pleasure too. Which have been your favorite places to travel to that have left a lasting impression?
That is such a hard question, but I would say my favorite places are Istanbul, London, Paris, and Israel.
What do you do for fun?
Before Covid-19, it was finding new restaurants, traveling as much as I could (even if it was just a day trip), and going dancing. I love to dance! Post-Covid, I like to go walking on the beach, vintage shopping, and start painting again!
Any exciting plans on the horizon?
Launching my new tile collection for DOMVS and starting a new project in Dallas!