You enter the spiral corridor staggered with transparent glazed partitions. Delicate beams of sun and shadow are filtered through the layers of glass, ushering you into the space, drawing the eye to a panel of the sky at the end of the room.
Walking the rounded path towards the light, you find that the end is itself an entrance, leading to yet another aperture, this time opening onto a garden, resonant with the music of running water. Engraved into one of the sculptural stones reads the words of the 13th-century mystical poet, Rumi: “Both light and shadow are the dance of love.”
With subtle deliberation, the design of these rooms has just taken you on an exploration of both self and environment: a moving meditation.
This describes the experience of inhabiting The Chamber of Light, a meditation centre conceived by Yorkville University Bachelor of Interior Design student Yasaman Saeidi. The project was recently granted the third place award by the Interior Design Educator’s Council (IDEC) in the Advanced Undergraduate Student Design Competition category.
“You enter into a very spiritual and retreat-like atmosphere…and from the start you go on a journey,” said Saeidi, about her winning design.
For Saeidi, interior design is an art form that incorporates a multitude of modalities and philosophies including craft, architecture, spirituality, nature, and poetry. In particular, Saeidi finds inspiration for her interior spaces through poetry.
“This was inspired by Rumi’s dervishes dance, which is an actual meditation behaviour. It creates a circular motion, a circular walking space,” Saeidi explained. “You come in, and then you start to go down the path which will lead you to the garden. This is like a new start because it’s circular too. Either you can sit and relax and enjoy the nature and water, or if you continue along the path, you will see a stone engraved with the poetry of Rumi. There, you can feel unique in this atmosphere with the sound of water and nature, then you come back again in a circular way, to the centre.”
Saeidi was born in Tehran, Iran, moved to Geneva as a child, and then to Paris in her early adulthood where she attended Parsons Paris, before enrolling in the Bachelor of Interior Design program at Yorkville University.
“I enrolled at [Yorkville University] because … I heard that the school has a very good reputation. All the instructors I encountered were very welcoming and helpful to me, and I encountered many great professors there too,” Saeidi said. “Compared with other universities, we had smaller class sizes, and we had lots of contact with teachers if we had questions, so that was very important to me, too.”
As part of her degree, Saeidi completed an internship with an architecture firm that also provides interior design services, and she feels like she benefited from that experience. Like her designs and her background, her ambitions have an international scope.
“I want to be able to work on very inspirational and mind-blowing projects that make me grow as an interior designer,” said Saeidi, “And I’d like to be respected within a global company.”
Saeidi attributes much of her confidence and the pluralistic and creative approach she has to her field, to having grown up amid a family of creatives with a universalist perspective.
“As a child, I was surrounded by engineers, architects and creative people and I remember going with my dad to his office where I would draw,” said Saeidi.“It inspired me so much that I wanted to do something related to this industry. When I grew up, I found that interior design has more of a sense of art and is even more open to creativity.”
Her wide-ranging skill set allows her to see interior design not only as offering the practical tools for making beautiful living or working spaces but as a way to create an experience and a perspective for the individual guests or participants in her interior worlds—a kind of experiential poetry.
Indeed, one can almost picture Saeidi’s winning design in Rumi’s words as he ruminates on the paradoxes of plurality and space. “The real journey is right here. The great excursion starts from exactly where you are… You are the wide opened… Every heart is my temple.” Creating this sense of the physical environment reflecting and also impacting on one’s inner life is one of Saeidi’s cherished objectives.
“I have always enjoyed reading his poetry, it’s rich and has a universal meaning, it speaks to everyone from any culture,” she explained. “I wanted to design this space for everyone from any background, so I wanted to, through his unique and meaningful poetry, create a message.”