Ryan Saghian has become a true fixture on the design scene in Los Angeles. The 30-year-old Iranian-American designer has a career that’s currently on fire.
In 2022, he released a gorgeous coffee table book called Unapologetically Chic. Then, in 2023, he received an inaugural Stars on the Rise Award at the annual Pacific Design Center’s 23rd Stars of Design Ceremony. Considered the “Oscars of Design,” it was particularly meaningful for the native Angelino. “It’s surreal to receive an award of this stature, in the place I have admired for so many years. “To be recognized by my peers is an incredible honor. I hope to continue to contribute to this profession and share my passion for design. And for any of those dreamers and outcasts out there, if people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore!” he said.
I recently spoke with Saghian about his career, his approach to design as well as his best ideas for creating modern spaces.
Amanda Lauren: What drew you to interior design as a profession?
Ryan Saghian: I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I started reading Architectural Digest when I was nine. It’s always been a natural feeling, knowing that interior design is what I was meant to do.
Lauren: How did you get your start?
Saghian: I was constantly rearranging my family’s furniture as a kid. By the time I was fifteen, I landed an internship at Woodson & Rummerfield’s House of Design. It’s an award-winning, LA-based interior design firm so it was an incredible place to start my career.
Lauren: How would you describe your interior design style?
Saghian: I wouldn’t say I have a specific style—I love the history of design and happily work with many eras, but I do have more of a formula. With my interior designs, you’ll see continuity. I use powerful and eclectic combinations, unexpected materials, and global references applied with love and respect. I like to foster visual conversations between the super-luxe and the raw.
Lauren: Tell me about your book, Unapologetically Chic.
Saghian: The seemingly irreverent title is about how I don’t believe you have to rely on other people to give you permission to do things. In terms of the design, I wanted it to transcend any particular style, and look great on anyone’s coffee table, hence the sleek, all-black binding. And of course, I wanted it to represent both me as a person and me as a designer. In addition to the beautiful interior photos of my work, some of which have never been published before, I shared my origin story in a long introduction. As a gay, first-generation Iranian-American, it’s really important to me to inspire other young designers to follow their dreams. You’ll get some laughter too; every few pages you will find a quote to make you smile.
Lauren: What draws you to modern design?
Saghian: That sense of exploration and experimentation.
Lauren: One of the biggest problems with modern design is that it can be a bit cold. How do you warm up modern design?
Saghian: The best thing about modern design is its simplicity. If it’s not done right, though, it can come off as cold and unwelcoming. A vintage rug or puddling drapes are my go-to for warming it up. You can go with almost anything you want because that modernist simplicity of line and clean materials will keep anything added on from clashing.
From the start, the Modernist movement embraced minimalism, rejecting anything ornate. It was also based upon innovative technologies that came out of World War II, which opened up new ways to construct furniture. Then there is the idea that form should follow function (functionalism), which leaves out all the details that can make a space feel warm and complete. For that reason, true midcentury-style modernism can be felt, by some, to be a cold style of design.
Lauren: What are some practical ways to blend modern and contemporary looks?
Saghian: Artwork and drapes. People are so scared of drapes, especially if they are building or decorating a modern home, but drapes add warmth and can be done in a very contemporary way.
Lauren: What are some of your favorite places to source furniture and decor?
Saghian: The Future Perfect, in Beverly Hills, for studio-created works, one-of-a-kind, and limited edition pieces; J Alexander Furniture, which makes custom furniture in LA; Stahl + Band, a Venice Beach studio that does modern organic design; and The
Invisible Collection in New York for designer furniture.
Lauren: What is currently on the horizon for you? I see you also have a virtual showroom. Tell me more about that.
Saghian: I’m doing a collection for Caracole Furniture, which will be available in the fall. I’m also working on developing my first-ever lighting collection, which I’m so excited about!
This idea of the Metaverse, with virtual reality and virtual worlds, is going to completely change how we interact with technology. When 1ClickDesign approached me about creating my own virtual showroom, I jumped at the opportunity, because it allowed me to have limitless creativity. Anything I wanted to build was possible–even a historic Parisian-style apartment as the setting, but with palm trees outside the window. I hope you’ll check it out.
Lauren: What trends are you predicting for 2023 and how do you see design evolving this year?
Saghian: The last few years were all about minimalism, earth tones, and neutrals. The pandemic forced people to slow down and spend more time in their homes and the trends of that time reflected a desire for casual, cocoonlike comfort. Now I see people breaking away from that, embracing more dynamic and eclectic interiors, more color, more patterns. I’m also seeing more traditional, formal interior design styles being explored and redefined by younger generations.
The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.