New York, New York
London, United Kingdom
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
Shida is an interior designer and architect specialising in the high-end hospitality market.
After a decade at world-renowned interior design firm, Yabu Pushelberg, she is launching international design studio, Customs Bureau, underpinned by Woods Bagot.
Shida’s aim is to curate luxury hospitality interiors that are as uniquely expressive as the people and places they accommodate. She looks at the human experience and how to evoke emotion through the spaces we create. Her designs aim to take a humanistic approach, considering the user-experience in every feature, while also looking at how to uniquely respond to each aspect of the client’s vision.
It is this attention to detail and consideration for the client’s distinctive standpoint that enables Shida to work with some of the most exclusive and highly sought-after brands, from the Four Seasons to Aman.
What does #EmbraceEquity mean to you?
#EmbraceEquity to me is all about recognising that not everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to equality. There are a number of other social constructs and factors in play – such as race, financial marginalisation, sexuality, disability, to name a few. To be able to get to equality, we need to recognize that people have disadvantages with resources and opportunities.
Race, social economics, even location (i.e., certain states in the USA where a woman can be prosecuted for having an abortion or the women life freedom movement in Iran) all need to be considered. There was a quote I’ve heard before about not all being in the same boat when it comes to a crisis – some of us are in tugboats, others are in yachts and so on – all based off our varying levels of privilege.
It’s also not just on women to fix equality for women. The patriarchal system benefits men, so we need men to take responsibility, understand their role and their impact. IWD should be talking about how men can do better too.
Can you tell us about your experience working in the architecture and design industry, especially on a global scale?
I have been in this industry since 2006 and have had experience in so many different locations – North America, the UK, wider Europe, the Middle East and more.
Even in the regions where the society considers itself to be more forward-thinking or progressive, I think there’s a lot of work to be done in terms of representation. When you’re in a meeting room or just generally looking at equality at work or addressing how men and women identify – I think architecture as an industry is still archaic and some leading voices in our field lack key awareness or the compulsion to speak up and out about equality. Even though professionals believe in equality there is still a big gap that needs to be addressed.
If you could give advice to anyone, especially young women, looking into a similar field / career path, what would you give?
Go for it. I would say master your craft, find a mentor and work your way backwards from a bigger picture – and know that most people in the room don’t know everything. Also, you don’t have to have everything figured out, but you should have the mindset that there is value and opportunity even in setbacks.
Additionally, there’s a difference between confidence and competency. Take the time to refine and become competent and work on your confidence. Don’t let men, or other women for that matter, make you question yourself.
What would you say to your younger self?
Go for it. I would say master your craft, find a mentor and work your way backwards from a bigger picture – and know that most people in the room don’t know everything. Also, you don’t have to have everything figured out, but you should have the mindset that there is value and opportunity even in setbacks. And one of the things I appreciate for myself is that I’m always trying to find ways to make everything enjoyable. Even when it’s hard, find some joy or fun in the situation.
“I would say to my younger self: it will be okay.
Just keep being resilient and move with discernment.”
What has been the highlight in your career / life?
The main highlight for me has been getting to a point in my career when I feel confident enough and competent enough. It’s a realisation that, even though I didn’t immediately know something, I could get there and still achieve what I wanted.
I’m able to put a vision together. And some days I don’t have the answers – but I’ve got to a place where I have the freedom to figure out what the vision is that I want to put out as a designer. It’s the accumulation of the experiences and pitfalls that have brought me to this place. I’m still figuring it out, but I know now that it’s okay to not always have all the answers.
We are always learning – but it’s so important to be curious and excited about what you…it’s a huge part of being happy in your work!
To reach out to Shida Salehi, you can contact us here.
Stay tuned for more stories celebrating women leading the way in the architecture & design industry, groundbreaking projects and celebrating #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day.
Following on from three exciting wins at the AHEAD Awards Europe, The Londoner has now seen even more success at the AHEAD Awards Global – a celebration and culmination of all the winners around the world.
27 Sep 23
25 Sep 23
20 Sep 23
19 Sep 23
18 Sep 23